A New Beginning For Canadian Hellions
An interview with Obliveon
by: Alain M. Gaudrault
Three years have passed since the release of their last album, _Nemesis_. While their future may have seemed bleak at times, what with the lack of a label, and relatively little exposure, Obliveon is alive and well, still calling the Montreal area home. Set to unleash their latest full-length, _Cybervoid_, the band is bracing themselves for the reactions to their change in musical styles, not to mention the addition of a new singer. I recently managed to get some feedback from founding guitarist Martin Gagne on the new album, the line-up change, and the musical direction they're currently pursuing.

CoC: There has been much speculation as to what label has picked up the band. Do you have a record deal, or will you be promoting the new album yourselves once more?

Martin Gagne: Well we do have a record deal with the Canadian label A.S.A., which is a division of Cargo Records. It's a two-way deal, 'cause the album _Cybervoid_ is only licensed and they have a recording option for the next album. The distribution is in Canada and France, and we haven't yet signed for the other territories, but that's coming soon! The reason why it's only a licensing deal for _Cybervoid_ is that we produced it all, and all they had to do was to print them and put them on the shelves.

CoC: To be blunt, what's taken so long? _Nemesis_ came out 3 years ago!

MG: I'll try to make it short, but I'm not sure I can do that! Well, first of all, we were kinda waiting for a licensing deal for the states concerning _Nemesis_ (their previous release), and that never [came] through. We really believed in our chances and we thought that it was a done deal, and we were really anxious to hit the road! "To be blunt," we were stretching _Nemesis_'s life in Canada, in the hope of giving it a new life in the States and Europe. After realizing that we had to move to something else, already a year had passed! Then, we made a 4-song demo with our new singer. We sent it to a couple of record companies, it got some attention but nothing serious, again. It took six months to get that "nothing serious" attention. So we came to a point where we had no choice but to produce the next album by ourselves. And it takes time to come up with $20000 or so, don't you agree? So we took to the streets and started selling chocolate bars!!!

CoC: The album has been completed for some time now. What has held up its release?

MG: Well you're right... The album was all finished in July of 1995!!! And as far as we're concerned, we wanted it out in September, at the same time the school year started. But when we started dealing with Cargo, (in May 1995) they told us they were putting out a new division (A.S.A) in January 1996 and that it would be better for us to be on A.S.A. We said no, we want it out :NOW:. They said 'okay, no problemo, it's in the pocket, sure, why not, we understand...' So it was "supposed" to come out in July on Cargo Records. But they stalled us up to January with their contract mumbo jumbo to say: 'hey, our new label's ready!' After more contract mumbo jumbo, we came up with this deal which was worth the wait.

CoC: When will _Cybervoid_ be gracing the music store shelves?

MG: For Canada and France, it came out April 16th. For Europe and the States, we have some more contract "mumbo jumbo" to do!

CoC: Tell us a bit about your new vocalist.

MG: He's 29, has blond hair, green eyes, 5'10", what a hunk, eh? Seriously, he used to play in a band called Sarkasm, and it came to an end right when we were on the lookout for a new singer. Pierre (Remillard, guitar), who is also a sound engineer, had the occasion of working for Sarkasm a couple of times and he knew right away that Bruno (Bernier, new lead vocalist) was the one we needed. We auditioned him and he turned out to be the perfect guy for us. In fact, he's the only one we auditioned!!!

CoC: What prompted you to bring in this new member?

MG: When we started writing new material, we realized, as did Stephane (Picard, bassist and former lead vocalist), that Stephane's vocal style and range didn't fit as well as in the ol' days. We tried and tried new ideas to make it fit, but we came to the inevitable conclusion that the music was evolving and that Stephane could not evolve with it, no matter how hard we tried. We sat down and talked it over a lot, and we said that we would give it a try with someone else. But we knew right away that Stephane would have the last word on it due to the fact that he would still write the lyrics (and play bass of course). That four-song demo I talked about earlier was where Bruno really became our new singer. It was the first time we heard some Obliveon with different vocals, and we had no bizarre or weird feelings about the new stuff, it just blended really great. Stephane was happy 'cause he could do more vocal arrangements due to the fact that Bruno's voice was more varied than his own.

CoC: How do you think your fans will react to the new direction you've chosen for your music?

MG: Some see Obliveon as a technical death metal band, some see Obliveon as a progressive metal band, some see Obliveon as a space metal band?!?, some see us simply as a heavy metal band. The only thing I can say is that some will like it and some won't like it. The important thing is that we feel comfortable with what we did.

CoC: _Cybervoid_ has a colder, more mechanical feel to it, while still rife with many memorable melodies. Who is largely responsible for the new sound?

MG: I do most of the music while Pierre does most of the musical arrangements. All this with respect to everybody's opinion in the band. So we are all responsible for it, because we're not afraid of telling each other what we think, since we really are old friends. But I can tell you that sometimes, pots and pans fly around, but that's normal!!!

CoC: Will the band be touring to promote this album, and if so, where will the tour take you?

MG: We should tour Canada at the end of summer, and since the album is not out yet in Europe or the States, I don't know about that. But you know: I CAN'T WAIT TO GO THERE!

CoC: What type of bands do you see yourselves touring with?

MG: We'd like to tour with as many types of bands as possible. You can't just stick to your style of music, you have to go get them where they are if you want to convert them!!! Even if that means a couple of bad experiences or so.

CoC: Will Stephane Picard be performing any of the old material in concert?

MG: No, but he does a lot of backing vocals which was something we didn't have before. I think it brings a new dimension to our music. And I can tell you is that Bruno really tries to keep the old material faithful to what it was.

CoC: Many are proclaiming the demise of metal, these days. Is the metal scene in Montreal still flourishing?

MG: Now I'd like to know who is saying that? Maybe it's someone who's waiting for the new Krokus to come out!!! Down here, everything is going great except maybe for the lack of encouragement from record companies. Here in Quebec, there are a lot of places to play around the province, and the fans really show up anywhere you want if you do your job on the publicity side. And you can hear many different styles of (too many to name) bands doing well. Anyway, je radotte la! All this to say that the ones who are proclaiming this "supposed" demise are probably not into metal anymore and are afraid to say so. That's what I think! Well gotta go and thanks Alain for the interview. Longue vie au Chronicle du Chaos.

For more info, including details on purchasing _Cybervoid_ and other Obliveon merchandise, be sure to check out their WWW page at:


(article submitted 9/6/1996)

6/9/1996 A Gaudrault 10 Obliveon - Cybervoid
5/13/1997 A Wasylyk Obliveon / Blood of Christ / Solus Obliterating Obsolescence
7/17/1996 A Gaudrault Obliveon / Mundane / Q.R.N. La Manie Reigne a Montreal
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