Interviews : Scarve

Scarve : Business as Usual
With Dirk Verbeuren
Interviewed by

Early this year, France's Scarve released a nuclear warhead of an album in Irradiant. In my mind, this album crushed everything the band had ever done before, and left me with a zillion questions about how they accomplished such a feat, and how the band's future plans were shaping up. Thankfully, I convinced Scarve's blast-artist, Dirk Verbeuren, to take a minute out of his impressively hectic schedule to answer a few questions about Scarve and this disc.

Scarve has always seemed to me like a band with an unpredictable style. The difference in style from "Luminiferous" to "Irradiant" seems enormous to you look at the progression and feel that it's big step forward, or just business as usual?

I would be tempted to say 'business as usual". We definitely didn't change our style on "Irradiant" because the album contains the same elements as our previous work. The only thing we were consciously aiming for is to make it a coherent entity: since the new songs happen to be somewhat less technical and tortured, we thought it would be a good idea to go for a crystalline production to bring out all the little details. "Luminiferous" had a very overwhelming, chaotic aspect to it, whereas "Irradiant" is more stripped down and closer towards our live performances. This being said, I think there has been a good progression in the songwriting as well, and we feel very confident with the more 'direct' aspect of our new material, especially when playing live.

How has "Irradiant" been received so far by both the press and the fans?

Very positively! Reviews are better than ever, even in countries like Germany or England who weren't necessarily super-enthusiastic about Scarve in the past. W've been receiving quite a lot of great comments from fans and musicians from all over the world, and the shows we've done so far have been great. It was a pleasant surprise to play before big and excited crowds at festivals such as Graspop and the Fury Fest. When people start knowing the lyrics from beginning to end, it can hardly get better!

Are the band's favourite tracks the same as those that everyone else seems to like best? Any surprises for you?

The title-track often seems to be one of people's favourites, and that's not a surprise because we really love it as well, with all the different atmospheres and the way it builds up after the 'soft blast' part. It's a very unusually constructed song, but it still flows.

On the other hand, I'm surprised about the reactions to "FireProven". That's a pretty damn long and tortured track, which was about halfway finished when we entered the studio, and we put it towards the end of the album because we figured it would take a little longer to get into. As a matter of fact, we didn't even intend on playing it on stage, but a lot of people have been telling us that they really loved it, so we had to kick our asses and learn to play the goddamn thing!

What inspired Scarve to have Fredrik Thordendal and Gustaf Jorde for their guest appearances on the album? Did you have the songs already written and realize that there was no way you guys could pass up these guys expertise for these tracks, or was it a collaborative effort from the beginning?

We never planned to have any guests, it just kind of happened. Except for the vocal lines, both "Asphyxiate" and "Molten Scars" were entirely written when we started recording. Gustaf Jorde and Lars Laven from Defleshed dropped by the studio one day, and Pierrick and Guillaume ended up partying with them pretty severely. Since we love Defleshed and they're very nice guys, it was a natural thing to invite Gustaf. His voice is very particular, and it really adds something to "Molten Scars". As for Fredrik Thordendal, that was more of our producer Daniel Bergstrand's idea. He really got hooked on "Asphyxiate" and thought it would please Fredrik as well, so once we got back home from mixing the record, we sent him a CD-R with the song, not really knowing what to expect. A few days later, Fredrik sent us back his solo with some truly enthusiastic comments. Needless to say, we were euphoric! Meshuggah is one of the rare bands all six of us unanimously love, as well as Fredrik's incredible "Sol Niger Within" album. And his solo on "Asphyxiate" is just spine-chilling! No matter how many people use it as the perfect excuse to slag Scarve as a cheap Meshuggah rip-off, we'll still be just as happy and honoured to have Fredrik's great solo on our album.

Tell me about "FireProven". I fucking love that song!

Ha! There we go!? Seriously, it's pretty funny, because the main riff of that song has been lying around for years. We were already playing around with it when doing the demos for "Luminiferous", but we never found a suitable structure. This time around, I had a pretty clear vision of the song's dynamics, so I recorded the first half of "FireProven" in the rehearsal room, just on drums. Sylvain worked out my ideas by adding the acoustic guitar-riffs on the verse, and then he came up with the fast middle section, which we worked out together. Daniel also added a lot to the song by helping us elaborate the vocal arrangements. We weren't really sure how it would turn out, and we definitely didn't expect it to be among people's favourites.

Which tracks on "Irradiant" are the most representative with where you think Scarve will be headed for the next album?

Good question, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea! So far, we've recorded a few riffs and rhythms, but it's way too early to tell what the new stuff will sound like. We haven't had the time to discuss things either, because we've been on the road and busy with other activities pretty much all the time. We're just gonna write the best songs we can, and make the next album another step forward for Scarve.

It seems like nearly every country in Europe has its own metal sound (or at least there are particular characteristics that bands from particular countries often exhibit). What do you think are the most noticeable traits exhibited by French metal bands in the scene currently?

I would say a certain technical proficiency combined with a strong personality and individualistic songwriting. There isn't really a "French style", because our scene ranges from black to death to atmospheric doom metal (and you can't really compare Anorexia Nervosa to No Return), but the overall quality has grown very steadily over the last five years. A lot of younger acts sound and look very professional, and all they need is some attention from abroad as well as good label support to climb higher.

In the past three years or so French metal is finding its way onto the map, largely due to recent success (and label promotion) for No Return and Scarve. Is this just the tip of the iceberg, and if so, what other French bands do you predict will be "making it big" in the near future?

I can only immediately think of Gojira, who will shut most sceptics' mouths. Their DVD "The Link Alive" is highly recommended to any metal fan! Garwall, Eostenem, Yyrkoon, Solekahn, Anorexia Nervosa, Warscars, Mortuary, Pitbulls In The Nursery, Kaizen, Benighted, Kabbal, Klone, Act Of Gods, Carnival In Coal, Division Alpha and Burgul Torkhain are some very promising acts to check out. And one of France's best melodic death metal bands, Lyzanxia (whom I recorded the drums for on their most recent "Mindcrimes" CD) will be touring though the US and Canada in September/October with Freakhouse and Sybreed. Don't miss them!

When's the Scarve US tour, then?

We'll be playing in France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia and Switzerland in the coming months, and a European tour is in the works as well. And believe me, crossing the ocean and playing in the US would be a dream come through!