|Bertrand at the first Starlight Ritual gig as part of the 2015 Grimposium with Cardinal Wyrm in August.|
J-F Bertrand, also known as Athros or Athros Nordmen, is a musician from Québec who's in Forteresse, Brume d'Automne, Nordmen and more recently released an album with Starlight Ritual, a new traditional metal project (read my review of their debut album here). It's my dearest pleasure to have this chat with him.
- You're well known for your contribution to many Québécois black metal bands but you recently released an excellent album with Starlight Ritual, a band exploring heavy metal and traditional doom metal. Did you wanted to do something more akin to traditional metal since a while? It's a project that's really different from what we're used to from you.
Yes, totally! Guitar as always been my main interest and with Starlight Ritual I can explore this instrument further. I’ve always been a fan of classic metal, not only the songs but the sound. The music is so alive on old recordings, it is very inspiring. Starlight Ritual is not a side project but my main band and only focus. Musically it as nothing to do with my previous work so I choose not to use my MNQ name.
- What were your influences and inspirations for this project? Also, what are your recent discoveries?
There is a lot, in the band we have diverse influences and it helps to create a unique vibe. As for myself, classic and hard rock, heavy and doom metal, overdriven old Marshalls tones and screaming solos are my thing. I am always satisfied discovering new bands with the old school spirit. My latest discovery is the Canadian band Spell.
- Tell me how the band got formed. Did you knew these guys for a while?
|Starlight Ritual's self titled|
I knew Lou, Dan and Forge for years, and we jammed together for a long time until we decided to form Starlight Ritual. Lou Weed and I used to jam together after school 17 years ago. It was about time we put something together! Damian (vocals) joined the band shortly after it’s creation, and his powerful vocals complete the line-up with force. It’s the loudest project I’ve took part in to date!
- What's up with having several projects like you have, how do you plan your time for each of them?
Well, Starlight Ritual is my main band and we rock weekly. My black metal projects are mostly studio projects and don’t require steady rehearsals except when Forteresse is playing live.
- Do you think the politics surrounding Forteresse is a burden? I remember this whole debacle about the band playing the first Messe des Morts some years ago... How can it be compared to playing in a band like Starlight Ritual that isn't socially or politically engaged?
I never liked politics, and there was a lot of trouble going on around the first few Forteresse gigs, but I did enjoy the controversy haha! I remember we got pulled off the bill on the first MdM, since we were wrongly accused of being an NS band, probably a false interpretation of Quebec’s nationalism. I’ll say it again just in case those fools are still around: Forteresse is not an NS band. We finally played the gig anyway, drunk, and with no sound check. It was awful, but I keep good memories of it. It feels good now to only care about rock and roll!
- Can you tell me some information concerning the next Forteresse album? What's the direction the band is choosing to take?
The new Forteresse album is going to be very intense, continuing on the same path as Wendigo. Moribond, Fiel, Matrak and I will complete the line-up. They have composed some insane songs, stay tuned.
- Brume d'Automne just announced that they'll play their first gig ever at the next Messe des Morts (the 5th edition) this November, any comments about that?
Well, I won’t take part in this event and I don’t approve it. As the guitarist, bassist, drummer and song arranger, I can hardly see how this gig can be a true Brume d’Automne gig. The fans need to be respected, so Nordet and those guys better do their homework, and do it well.
- A question for the gear fanatics: what's different between Starlight Ritual and your other projects. Guitars, amps, tones, etc…
|Picture courtesy of Damian Warner|
Starlight Ritual is playing with vintage gear. Old Laney and Marshall heads cranked up to get those huge overdriven tones. The guitars we use are made by Indie Guitar Co from Cornwall, Ontario. They have hot ceramic pickups which helps in making those old amps bark and scream. When I’ve recorded my black metal guitar tracks, I mainly used Fender Strats with single coil pickups and a Peavey 5150 amplifier. Quite different rigs.
- Thanks for the interview, do you want to add something in particular?