Belgium’s melodic black metallers Saille (pronounced sahl-yeh) will be releasing their fourth full length Gnosis this week via Code666. Saille was formed in 2008 and over the course of their previous three albums the band has grown and matured exponentially to what we have in front of us now on Gnosis. Their original goal was to create melodic black metal with an “epic and threatening feel” and they’ve done just that since the beginning but here the fruits of their labor are fully realized: the brute force of “Prometheus”, the sweeping scope of “Magnum Opus” and the british heavy metal meets epic power feel of closer “1904 Era Vulgaris” proves the point beyond any question. Being inspired previously by horror literature and HP Lovecraft themes each album features a different concept and Gnosis is no exception as the band explores the Promethean ideal and its Luciferian counterpart (aka striving for knowledge and the consequences thereof). But they also lightly touch on Aleister Crowley’s Thelema — huge themes for a band to tackle but Saille does it with ease and makes a believer out of the listener with their skilled songwriting and musicianship. We recently got the chance to ask drummer Kevin De Leneer our set of Profile questions, see what he had to say after the jump.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
I got into playing music mostly because of my parents. My dad was a guitar player and was often playing his guitar in the house or garden as we grew up. My parents also had a vast collection of records (the very first record from Black Sabbath, but also Deep Purple, Status Quo, Rainbow and the likes), there was always music playing in our house. Many years later I heard that I was beating a small Fisher Price drum from when I was 2 years old, so I guess that part was meant to be. Although I chose the drums originally because I thought you didn’t need a lot of skills, let alone read notes, to be able to play that instrument. And you look cool sitting in the back behind your gigantic collection of drums and cymbals. When I really got into the instrument at the age of 14 I quickly realized it wasn’t just hitting anything you like haha. So I analyzed a lot of records and tried to figure out what the drummer was doing. No Internet, no Youtube videos, no drum books. Old school way of doing things.
As for the success part I can say that personally I never thought I’d get to this point. I’ve played with childhood heroes like Marduk, Origin, Morbid Angel, Satyricon, Mayhem… Bands I used to go watch as a fan were then on the same stage as me. And in the meantime I played festivals as Graspop, SummerBreeze, Bloodstock and many venues in different countries across Europe. So in that perspective I already achieved the level of success I never dreamt of having.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
I never really debased myself to get in the spotlight in any sort of way. I’m too down to earth for that. But in my years of touring and recording all over the place I’ve had a lot of fun and got to play on fantastic locations. But I also witnessed some strange and awkward situations. Being held at gun point at the border of Croatia, the same at the border of Poland or in the middle of the night somewhere in the north of Spain. Being welcomed by the organizer at a gig while his girlfriend weilded a knife in front of us. Shows where the police pulled the plug because of “volume limitations”. The usual stuff haha.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
A good direction is that people start longing for organic productions more and more again. I’ve never been a fan of the over polished and clean productions. It must sound good of course, the time from tape recordings with no depth in sound doesn’t need to come back for me. But the productions like Suffocation’s Despise the Sun e.g. still give me goose bumps.
Worst things: everyone plays in a band. It’s something that has been happening for a couple of decades now, but it seems that because of the easier recognition that you can get through the internet, more and more people start to play. Even when they don’t really have a lot of affinity with metal. Same thing with the popularity of metal. Mainstream people think it’s “cool” to go to a bigger metal festival, just cause they go to a lot of festivals in general. It used to have more atmosphere when metal was for people who really love the music and everything around it.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
For me personally the only thing I’m that passionate about is animal rights and the environment. But, perhaps unfortunately, there’s no room to include this into our music. We’ve always been and always will be a non-political band who focuses more on the spiritual side of things. There’s no room for any of these issues, just as there’s no room for other political or social conflicts.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I came across metal because of a music show that was playing on the radio back then. I was already searching for something heavier than the records of my parents or the Guns ‘n Roses albums that I had. And when I first heard a Sodom record at the age of 14 I was hooked instantly. The next one was Deicide and things just got better from that point on. My mother wasn’t too keen on the screaming vocals in the music, but both my parents got to appreciate my passion for it. My dad came to a couple of gigs from my first bands and listened to all the tapes I recorded on his way to work haha.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
After a party a blackout so bad that I have no recollection of more than 10 hours during that night. It still didn’t come back even after I saw all the pictures and videos I recorded during my drinking spree. My alcohol consumption has diminished a bit since that night.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Just keep writing decent honest reviews that really give a better insight in the album or band. I know there’s a lot of music out there, but it doesn’t help a lot if you read something like “they play a melodic black metal I can really get into” haha.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Apart from the big amount of shows we already played abroad, we’re trying to focus more on the longer tours. Spreading our music and playing live is what we love. Apart from that I’m into cars a lot. I’m always working on my very small collection of cars. Maintaining them, fixing them, welding… I love doing a lot myself instead of hiring someone else to do it for me.
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
I’ve always had quite a wide taste of music. Metal is always my favourite, but besides that I also listen to some jazz and classical, I still love a lot of the 80’s music, lounge and even artists like Christina Aguilera and Parov Stelar are on my playlists. Metal wise I have spinned the shit out of the latest Meshuggah album “The Violent Sleep of Reason”. Damn good stuff they recorded again.
Many thanks to Kevin for his time!