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24/11/2008 – Interview with DEDICTED

Belgium has several great bands, mostly in the Death and Black Metal categories, but there's this band I got to know several years ago at a small festival called Velorock, in Ostend, Belgium. The name's DEDICTED (official website) Their music sounded heavy, a bit IN FLAMES-like, from what I could detect. But I didn't think it was that super to buy the demo. Time went by and our roads crossed each other again when Jason, the drummer and one of the driving forces, asked for a review of their second demo, "The Judas Window", consisting of three songs of Progressive Thrash. This was a very entertaining release and thus hopes were high for the debut album, "Argonauts", which came out many months ago this year. You can read my review at this location). The DEDICTED stamp was still there, but the music was different, much groovier, from that on "The Judas Window".

As a result of this release, I was curious to know more about the band, their ideas, music and some other, small things. Drummer Jason seems to be the man in charge for all band communication and therefore agreed to do the interview. However, this should have been done at least three months ago, but due to time issues and a line-up change (vocalist Mehdi left the band), it's only now that I got the answers back.

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Your debut album, "Argonauts", has been out since a few months. Are you still as satisfied as you were when everything was done or did you notice certain things that could have been done a little different?

I think every musician who has made a cd will have some points he would do different on the next one. We also noticed that the screams on "Argonauts" from R. Lombrez could be more diverse. But it's a learning process and we are very eager to take that road.

Dedicted bandThe material on "Argonauts" is very different than what you presented on "The Judas Window". I had the feeling (and hopes) you would continue that path, but it seems different decisions were taken. How come?

The material on "The Judas Window" had a more Thrash edge. And at the end of the day we wanted to make something more open and experimental. With different grooves and more focused on the songwriting itself. We also tried to put ideas of every single band member into the album, including new members that arrived during the writing process. As a band you evolve and there was a major time gap between the demo and the full cd.

"Argonauts" gets lots of praise in many reviews, while others are more critical (incl. mine *cough* ;-)). Do you consider reviews a fun read or do you keep certain criticism (reviews, family, friends, colleagues, ...) in mind?

Reviews are always fun and the critical ones will also come. That's something we had in mind. We knew we could not satisfy everybody. But we tried our very best to make something decent. And the bad ones fade away very fast when you got some really positive ones. But we 'review' lots of reviews ourselves to understand or to look and learn which criticism we have to take in mind for the next album.

Adrien Grosset from HACRIDE offered assistance on "Virgin Soil Epidemic", "Crystalline", "Heretic" and "Argonauts". How did he get involved and did he agree instantly or did you have to try to convince him?

That wasn't really that hard. I emailed him and that was it. We gave him 1 song ("V.S.E.") to put his solo on and some synth lines. But at the end he did like 4 songs. He really liked the project, so we were very happy to have him on board. It was a relaxing collaboration.

The recording was done by Xavier Carion (SONS OF JONATHAS). What was it like working with him?

What a funny man!! Xavier is very pleasant to work with. With all his experience, it was almost vacation recording over there.

What was the biggest challenge when writing or recording "Argonauts"?

Maybe a strange answer, but the biggest challenge was not writing or recording the album, rather finding a good balance in the band itself. During and after the recording process we had a few line-up changes. Now we got the line up that everybody is really exited about.

The mixing was done by Valle Adzic at the Deadline Studio. The mastering by Dragan Tanascovic and Valle Adzic at the Bohus Sound Studio. Who are these guys and did you have contact with them or was everything handled by Shiver Records?

We did all the contacts ourselves. Xavier told me to listen to some stuff from Valle. Then I found out about ONE MAN ARMY and IMPIOUS and made it listen to the band and we've decided that Valle was the right person to work with.

Any producers you'd like to work with in the future?

I think every musician would like to get in the studio with top producers, but unfortunately we are a small band that's struggling even to get the album paid like we did now. So I think it will be rather difficult in the near future to have some top producer next to us. But we are really happy that we can work with persons like those we worked with for "Argonauts". So, you don't hear us complaining.

Regarding the lyrics, did you take inspiration from Greek mythology? (Wikipedia NL and Wikipedia ENG)

Mostly artwork and the feeling when you listen to the cd that you can conquer the city of Troy.

Argonauts coverFor the cover art you chose a very non-conventional direction. Whose idea was it to use a painting and with these colours? In addition, did you give carte blanche to Tiemke Gauderis?

We wanted something non-conventional and very artistic. And Tiemke made that happen. We tried to break with conventional rules of 'Metal artwork'. We talked about different ideas and she knew what kind of music it was. We then gave it to J.pollet to do some additional graphics and it turned out really cool.

How are songs created? Does each of you work on ideas after which everything is assembled at one of the rehearsals or are you mostly creative when the whole band is together?

Both. Everybody works at home and sometimes we write at rehearsals. Both ways have some down points, but it depends. Sometimes it's easier to start with something if the foundation is already there. And other times there's an inspiration in the rehearsal room and then you have to take your time to create some riffs and capturing that moment.

Generally speaking, where do you get inspiration for the music and lyrics?

Everyday life, positive or negative. And history will always be a form of inspiration. It can be anything.

How balanced is the level of lessons and self-teaching, regarding your instrumental/vocal skills?

Nobody in the band has had lessons, we have all been playing since we were 12 years old. And we tried to learn as much as we can by ourselves. It took us a while to learn some stuff, but we've enjoyed it the whole way.

After two demos you finally scored a record deal, albeit with Shiver Records. Which labels also showed interest and what made Shiver the better of the pack?

Shiver showed interest, some others didn't. And Shiver had the best deal for us, so that wasn't a hard decision.

Speaking of labels, how important are they, in your opinion? I mean, many fans find them greedy due to the high prices, the many versions of a release, re-releases, etc... On the other hand, it's them who have the budgets, the contacts on an international scale for the distribution to the shops and so on.

I can't argue about the prices. They are high, that's a fact. Who's fault that is, I don't know. The one thing I know is it's not ours. We tried to keep our prices down, you can come and check that out on our shows. But if you want to have some publicity you have to get on board with decent labels. Maybe they have some disadvantages, but on the other hand you have to choose between selling your album in every local/big recordshop or your town bar.

For the promotional side of DEDICTED you're working together with Sandstorm vzw. How did this collaboration come about? How satisfied are you of their work?

We are not the band who will talk shit about people, so let's just say we are not working together anymore.

Many times I saw bulletins where you were asking for gigs and according to your schedule there are/were indeed large gaps between certain dates. Are you too selective in where to play or is it because your music isn't like the countless Death/Black/Thrash/... bands?

We are certainly not selective, but sometimes they find it hard to put us between some bands. But we are booking shows as much as we can. 99 percent of the shows that come in are accepted by us, because the most important thing for us is sharing our music with the masses. Therefore, in 2009 we will start working with a new booking agency and we are hoping that there will be more shows in 2009.

Related in a certain way: since DEDICTED is hard to classify, what bands do each of you listen to? And has your taste changed over the years?

The most of us started out listening to Hardcore and then evolving to Metal (SOILWORK, SYL, ABORTED, MESHUGGAH, ...). But it could also be bands like THE SEDAN VAULT, FOO FIGHTERS or LED ZEPPELIN.

Graspop finished last week and you were one of the bands. Did you expect to play at this festival this year? And did you prepare differently than for other gigs? In addition, what was it like and what do you think of Graspop in general? ;-)

That show was truly amazing and no, we didn't expect that at all. We didn't do anything special before that show, but we lived towards that gig for 5 months. We had some shows in between, so we prepared ourselves for the biggest gig we've ever had. If you look at the pictures and the videos afterwards, it was amazing! Afterwards we couldn't really enjoy Graspop, because we threw ourselves like hell. An hour after the show we returned back home, threw ourselves in the couch and thought: "FUCK, we just played at Graspop!"

Festivals or seperate gigs in venues, which carries your preference and what are the (dis)advantages of both?

Like we said, we accept anything and everything is great for us as long as we can share our music.

Did you record your performance at Graspop (or any other gig so far) for future bonus tracks or maybe just for internal use?

We recorded it for a few videos so we could really take our time and evaluate ourselves. And some of the videos are on Youtube.

Belgium has lots of great bands, yet there aren't as many active on an international scale as for example German, Scandinavian or American bands. Some (big) examples, has lots more (click here): AFTER ALL, ABORTED, INSANITY REIGNS SURPREME, ENTHRONED, ANCIENT RITES, AXAMENTA, OCEANS OF SADNESS, SERPENTCULT, ... Is it because labels these days don't know what to sign anymore? Is there a lack of promotion for Belgian Metal?

I just think that there are too many bands to choose from, which is nice, but if you really want to stand out these days it's a big challenge. But Belgian bands could use some more promotion, I agree.

Ear protection: important for music fans, but also for artists. Do you use earplugs or something when performing or going to gigs? Plus, have you ever had hearing problems?

No problems so far, we are keeping those protected. Most of the gigs we do with earplugs and even when we go see other bands. If you only listen to music once a week you don't need that stuff, but when you're day in day out in the rehearsal room you could use some serious protection.

Last question: since several years albums have been available on sites like iTunes. How do you feel about buying mp3s as opposed to or alternative for CDs? Do you still buy CDs or even LPs?

I'm not the person who will download albums or songs on iTunes. I like going to a recordshop, listening, looking at the artwork and then buying the CD/LP. Call me old-fashioned, even if I'm only 25. :-)

This is it for me, so far. Many thanks for doing this interview, it's greatly appreciated. :-) I'll leave you with the best wishes with things to come and if there's anything you would like to add, fire away.

Book us. :-)

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