Thursday 4 October 2012


INTERZONE cover art

Hi all. Today on Sludgelord I am Interviewing WHEELFALL - one of the best Sludge/Stoner Metal Bands coming out of France right now. They have just released their amazing debut album - Interzone - which I reviewed here recently.

Interzone is being critically acclaimed across the Sludge/Stoner Metal world. Especially on many great blogs and websites. And why should it not. It's fucking brilliant. If you haven't checked them out well why not. Your missing something truly special.

The members are:

- Niko El Moche : Bass
- Cactus Flo : Guitar
- Wayne Furter : Guitar/Vocals
- Niko Elbow : Drums

Anyway lets get to the interview.

Q1 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

Niko El Moche (NEM): Wheelfall was founded in May 2009. Initially Flo, Quentin and Wayne tried making a Stoner Rock band, and they contacted me to take the bass in it. After a few months of composition and some shows, we embarked on the recording of our first self-produced EP "From the Blazing Sky at Dusk".
A few months after launch of this EP, Quentin (the drummer) left the band for personal reasons and Niko Elbow came into the band.

It was at this point that the band’s songs began to evolve, more Stoner / doom focused. So it was with him that the composition of Interzone began. We recorded the album in summer 2011, and after a lot of difficulties with some labels, we finally released it in 2012 with Sunruin Records.

Q2 – How would yourselves describe your sound.

FLO : A heavy and rocky sound, gut-wrenching and smelling the hot sand.

WAYNE : Our first EP was completely into stoner / desert rock. I think since the EP, we have matured, we found our own identity and managed to digest our many influences to finally arrive at "Interzone".

NEM : Talking about drums, I know Niko has a very heavy drumming. Actually, we have the impression that he's trying to hit his drums as hard as possible haha. You just have to see how many things he explodes on his drums (not to mention drumsticks, but rather the cymbals, drumheads etc..).

About guitar and bass, we are big fans of gears and fat sounds. Indeed, in the band, when we get to have any chance of investing in new gear, we do it haha!  A little extra: we work with Arts In Bloodshed custom effects.This is a guy who makes great custom pedals. So each order placed with him, we get exactly what we were looking for.

Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music.

Niko Elbow (NE) : In the band, I think everyone has his own musical personality, more or less distinct and different but they all merge on stoner / doom in the broadest sense. Let me explain, we all listen to the same bands (like Goatsnake, kyuss, sleep, electric wizard, monkey 3 ... classics) But one of us will be more attracted by slower things or rock and vice et versa ... then adding all of our other influences that have nothing to do with stoner or doom; I think we will all agree in the band if I name Nine inch Nails. 

A bit of everything for me (of extreme metal, through a lot of very calm things, pop sometimes through more hardcore stuff, or anything that touches me ... whatever the style), Wayne : extreme and experimental in general (Entombed, The Melvins, ...), Moche : everything slow and marginal hehe (Om, Sleep, ...) and Flo : more rock things (Wo Fat, Karma To Burn, ...) and a little bit of everything except heavy metal. Just to say that despite our differences, we all are agreeing to our main styles: stoner / doom. 

And I think we all complement each other through our differences and similarities, and it brings a personal touch in the way we play, I think this melting pot of influences means that this album is not limited to stoner / doom music genre in my opinion, which still is our favorite music genre.

Q4 – Is the band a Full Time Project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band.

FLO : Each one has its obligations, some are working, others continue their studies and have small jobs beside. The band is not a full-time project, not for now anyway (unfortunately). If one day it becomes a full time project, it would mean that we may live from it, and that would be the most beautiful achievement a band can hope for. Beyond all this, the band remains the primary activity for each one outside our respective obligations.

Q5 – Your about to release your brilliant debut album – Interzone. How was the recording process for that.

NE : First, we spent almost a year to create, sort and refine this album (September 2010-July 2011). Then, once ready, we recorded and mixed at "far beyond studio" with Gorgor for 2 weeks from July 2011, we didn’t want to rush, to leave nothing to chance. We are very happy and proud of the result. Nothing was done in haste, and Gorgor helped us a lot for the sound (although we knew exactly what we wanted) and arrangements. We left the studio with a real result, a true sound we continued to refine for a few weeks with Gorgor.

 He understood our expectations very well and we were on the same wavelength. A mix of pressure, jokes, serious, decompression, alcohol and necessarily good laugh ... and great memories of living together as a group. We never understood those bands that record their parts separately without ever being together. We do not see it as a "work." Although sometimes some of them do it this way for professional reasons, we respectively preferred stop briefly our jobs / studies, for the best possible result and take the maximum advantage of this opportunity and to be credible as a group. I think these small details are noticeable on Interzone.

NEM : Actually, we were looking for the heaviest sound we could make (we listened a lot to The Melvins, Goatsnake and Black Sabbath for this). Concerning sound taking, we tried some mixes in terms of amp, speakers, pedals... The maximum we could get and anything that sounds good!

Q6 – How did you come up for the idea for a Stoner Metal Sci-Fi themed alien invasion storyline. It's simply breathtaking to listen to. Had me on the edge of my seat.

WAYNE : It is obvious that science fiction is often used in stoner rock: in my opinion a legacy of the space rock bands who have strongly influenced a whole side of stoner rock ... But I honestly think Wheelfall moves away from that simple influence and for several reasons. We have always been big fans of (speaking for myself) concept albums like Voivod’s The Outer Limits, Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral and opera rock like Pink Floyd’s The Wall, The Who’s Quadrophenia. 

Personally I have always admired those albums that tell a story, and what’s even more interesting is that this story affects your music and vice et versa. In this way, it actually uses a little bit more of the richness of the music when it is associated with emotions, which has the effect of swallowing up the listener into its world ... as long as the listener is affected of course haha!

I have quoted these two opera rock albums in particular, of course, because they have resulted in films, and I think that those who follow us a little know that we're big cinema fans. With Wheelfall, it is as if we combined three passions, one for music, one for images, one for stories: this is why for each of our release, the artwork is specific, in particular "Interzone", each song is illustrated (in digipack version).

Talking about the themes of the stories we tell in our compositions, it goes far beyond the alien invasion ... In "Interzone", we are very far from the space opera since everything happens in a terrestrial and real context: if we give a genre for our stories, it would be “speculative fiction” (which is a sub genre of science fiction). Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. Extraordinary but still anchored in reality, as Lovecraft did in his stories for example. The context is secondary, it is the action that matters. 

This is not a mythology that we used, these are facts. While the songs do not make you travel through time and space, no lasers or other noises, the sound brings the action in front of you. I often refer to JG Ballard with whom I share the vision of science fiction. The context is secondary: the tripod is a big metaphor of the unknown, the forbidden knowledge, and for example the alien parasite is treated like in "The Body Snatchers": a circuitous way of dealing with real issues using fiction / science-fiction to appease the whole thing. In Wheelfall (in the ep it was really less developed of course), we try to put a character and a society confronted with technological developments or events that result of them (some discoveries of extra-terrestrial civilizations for example), and try to say "how would we react? How would we transform ourselves with these discoveries and developments? How would we apprehend our body and therefore the real and the unreal?" and of course everything that can result...

Q7 – Your going to release Interzone on SUNRUIN RECORDS. How did that came about. What are your expectations for the album when its released in September (digitally) and November (physically).

NE : Since the recording of the album, we’ve contacted a lot of labels, we had a lot of negative answers (answers are quite appreciable, but not always obvious nowadays) often for the same reasons and positive answers we received, have never really seduced us. We were quite demanding while searching for the best offer for this album from promotion to distribution. At the same time, Moche, Wayne and Pauline funded their label: SUNRUIN RECORDS. After a time without result and the will to release the album before 2013, after more than a year to refine and canvass the album, we came to the conclusion that the album will be released on SUNRUIN RECORDS.

WAYNE : Actually, SUNRUIN RECORDS has nothing to do with Wheelfall: the label was created while Wheelfall was in negotiations with another label. Initially it was even out of the question that the first release of the label was "interzone" precisely to avoid assimilation between Wheelfall and Sunruin Records. Besides, I should point out that the label is run by Niko ElMoche,me and Pauline, who is completely external from the band. What motivated the release of Interzone on Sunruin is the impasse where Wheelfall was in with other labels, and the fact that Sunruin, after talking with several other bands, needed a band that really trusted the label for a first release. Sunruin’s primary motivation has always been to help emerging bands, and we hope that the release of the Wheelfall album will make other bands to trust us. Otherwise, "Interzone" seems to be very well received for the moment and it's damn good news! Presales are going pretty well, therefore we are not worried for the physical release of the album...

NEM : If we chose Sunruin Records, it is beacuse the album has been ready for about 1 year, and to be honest we were very tired of waiting. As for the physical and digital output I hope it goes very well haha! For the band and the label. But I think having digital download by simple pre sale two months before its physical release may appeal some people.

Q8 – How do you cope with families, full time jobs and being part of a band. It must be a struggle at times.

FLO: As we said, out of our responsibilities and our obligations, nothing else is more important than the band. With good planning, you can manage everything. Family, friends, work, school ... Beyond all of this, there is a time to work towards the band, I’m talking about rehearsals. But we meet together more often out of rehearsals. And that is important for the band to meet.

NE: For myself, I am still studying and I’ll be into active life early 2013. My music studies are encouraged by my family, infinitely understanding. They always encouraged me in my choices and helped me in my investments for the band…No worries !

WAYNE: The music is for me a breath of fresh air between studies and work. My ultimate passion is music, art ... I'm lucky to have a wife who fully understands this passion, so it did not really tear me: everything happens naturally.

NEM: there's no real compromise in fact. From my point of view, we live with Wheelfall and manage to do things alongside! We will say that the hardest thing is going to work the day after a show haha!

Q9 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

FLO: When someone finds a riff, he suggests it, we play it, try to put a bass line and drums over it, all played in a loop; ideas appear, others riffs, passages, breaks, choruses, verses and….BANG there’s a song !

NE: I personally played a much more important role in the arrangement in the compositions, a role that suits me much better in my opinion. But I know that everyone would be happy if I propose a riff... but the talent and inspiration… hehe. So this is a group work, all our ideas are listened, analyzed, processed and sorted according to our expectations or feelings. But we need everyone to agree that we can play something, and we are almost always on the same wavelength so no reason to complain, it works just fine and it’s perfect.

NEM: Wheelfall composition work has changed quite a bit actually. Before we worked more like: one wrote something, proposed it and if it is OK, we worked on these bases. But now (I think that it has happened since we have had Niko) we work on jams together. But one method does not prevent the other.

Q10 – I love the album cover as well. It doesn't fit in the mould for Stoner Metal. But it does give you a great idea what to expect. Who came up with that design.

NE: We really care about offering a quality piece of artwork to illustrate our album in the best possible way, while finding a strong identity to be recognized and stand out. We stayed on the same model of the EP (which was a more sunny and warm in the artwork and music) while playing on dirtier and apocalyptic shades which reflect better Interzone, which turned more doom and counts more inspirations. Always with the same tripod for our concept. It is almost as important as the group name on a cover in my opinion, if not even more. You're not going to forget it! And we also wanted a very cinema/comics kind of illustration, which, because of this, stands out from most metal or stoner albums available now.

NEM: It is true that the cover is pretty cool haha (and besides, I want to thank Pol Banon and Anal Art is Anal for that).

In fact, as we have said earlier in another question, the goal we have with "Interzone" is to really tell a story to the listener. And I think a great illustration is a good summary. Moreover, when the digipack comes out, the buyer will have his booklet with 12 pages, one illustration for each song of the album. It is like a kind of mini comic.

Q11 – France is becoming one of our fave countries for Sludge and Stoner Metal. Bands like yourself, Abrahma, Huata and, Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel are bringing something different to the genre. Is their a healthy Sludge/Stoner Metal scene in France. Or is it that overseas fans are starting to take more of an interest in French Sludge/Stoner Metal that a lot more bands are starting to get noticed.

NE: I think France has never been a country very interested in culture in general and sports, etc ... French people do seem interested in nothing but their own life when I compare with our German neighbours. Due to this fact, all French people who really have a passion, seize it. Therefore, our small stoner / doom fan community is bound and has a very strong identity and accept more than ever its membership in this scene. So I think all people like these live their passion project thoroughly and thus bands such as Huata, Abrahma, or even LDDSM, Glowsun, Blaak Heat Shujaa and Mars Red Sky are at this level in this scene today. 

All these bands are composed of enthusiasts who fucking whoop against winds and tides to make their music heard and share and discuss over a drink with any fan of the genre they meet. I think with so much effort, sometimes it pays. When I see the evolution of all these bands, now recognized throughout Europe for this style, and when I see their past, there is no one who has not struggled during the first years. I think that thanks to these bands mentioned, stoner / doom French bands have clearly gained interest and credibility with our European neighbours, and that in that we have a place to take with Wheelfall.

Q12 – Do you gig a lot in France or do you have to travel further afield to get your music across. Any plans to tour abroad.

FLO : For now we have stayed focused on France, but it is not for lack of desire to go further and see what is happening around and how people would react to our music beyond borders. We really want to make it happen as far as possible and share our music as much as possible.

Q13 – Have you toured with any famous bands and have you got any interesting stories from your tours?

NEM : We had the chance to share the stage with some famous bands. I know I have good memories with Karma To Burn. Otherwise, personally, I have a lot of fun with Jim, bassist of The Wounded Kings, who is a super cool guy. We spent half the night talking together even though I almost can’t speak English (especially because of alcohol) ahah.

NE: There is this MetalRide Fest show where I beat my record of broken drumsticks per minute ... I got 4 drumsticks broke in 20 minutes leaving me without spare pair for the last 10 minutes haha , so the error was somehow prohibited from that moment on. HA and something rare enough to be reported this evening (and I think one of the reasons for my motivation behind the drums) we had a pogo from start to finish for the first time, even on our 60bpm songs... I never saw it in doom metal haha. Surprising but exhilarating! When I told the audience was over-excited ...

WAYNE: We had the chance to play with some famous bands, despite the fact that we have not yet toured in the strict sense of the term, Since 2009, we are trying to do 1 or 2 shows per month. I have very good memories of MetalRide Fest for example, where we played with Moonspell and Punish Yourself. And we have recently played with Wounded Kings (who are great guys) and Ramesses (Adam is very nice indeed, and despite our quite bad English)!

Anecdotes? I will always remember this outdoor show in the forest: it was raining heavily, and a big wet dog came up on stage ... and just lay on the pedals and power outlets! Despite the patience we showed (it was initially quite funny), his master, drunk and probably inbred started to take the piss out of us. Unable to stay calm, if I could have detonated an atomic bomb I would have done, nervousness.

Q14 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

NEM : For the moment, everything is good on my side haha! I hope it will continue.
As I have said in previous answers, we all have the same vision concerning the band and its future. For now, everything goes roughly as we would like it to!

FLO: I search for what I like the least with this band, there's nothing. The best side for me is the brotherhood cohesion that has been created and is by far the most enjoyable thing in Wheelfall. Far from being a simple band, it is above all a bunch of close friends sharing the same passion, and therefore the same band.

Q15 – What is your view of bands and blogs giving away music for free. Lot of bands and people have different perspectives.

NE : the eternal debate... On one hand I am happy to live today : I’m often sick and tired of people saying constantly "I was born 40 years too late" ... From a cultural point of view we have never been as free as now. We have the luck to have, with one mouse click, every type of music and band possible, the most famous to the most underground. For me it is a part of the culture that counts a lot because without money, you cannot fully open up if you're a little curious. With the internet, everything is possible and everyone just promotes their band as they wish or Whipping up a storm if this is quality music. Everyone can make his choice according to his needs, desires, moods ... I think it's great. Without the free download that was wanted from us, the EP would have never received so many returns.

Concerning downloads, what bothers me is people who do not make ANY effort to support a band. Personally I listen to a lot of things and discovered a lot of styles, but when I like it, I make the effort to buy the album for the object and the artist who bleeds to offer his music. But unfortunately you cannot buy everything. Then with all the downloads, the biggest problem is the overuse of music. Not in the sense that I listen without moderation but in the sense that the person who loves something will immediately download the entire discography, listen to the whole thing in shuffle mode then reject that he don't like occasionally on a sudden impulse. 

That means no respect for the work of the artist, there is no concept or cohesion in the sequence of titles, all of this is thus violated. More and more artists are now releasing isolated songs to please the greatest number right away ... I'm not sure that helps the music out. I will also never be satisfied by mp3 formats, I find these infinitely impersonal. When you love music I think you have to love the connection thereof. For me it goes only through respect for the artist, his work and what he proposed, so the concept and all the graphic or video (clips) that accompanies it. And thus ideally ... vinyl is now the strongest symbol of protest and the saturation of the digital and impersonal sound on the Internet.

Finally, for all these blogs as yours, I think it is great because in 5sec accessible through the net, it will allow you to discover things and not forcing "consumers" to buy a product that they may not love thanks to reviews. And all of these help bands like ours in giving them a voice and disseminating their message. Allowing, for the curious fans who would never have known otherwise, to be able to buy the album offered. This is great for bands and fans that have satisfaction from discovering a lot of things. If ever these people came to download the album for free, this is no big deal as it will make the process of interest in the concept and everything that has been proposed in conjunction with music to illustrate our " work 'for me this is the main purpose, and if this allows us to expand our small public again this is good ... 

And at our level we have no claim to earn money with stoner rock and even less with Wheelfall, as we break even and possibly earn a little to evolve the band; the main purpose is still to try to not lose money but not to earn much. We have our jobs for that. So until we get there, the main goal is to interest the maximum number of people in Wheelfall.

Q16 – Finally what are the future plans for the band.

NE : Tour as often as we can, quickly start to compose the next album but first look at the story that we will tell in this album. And why not conquer other lands of art ... cinema, even literature! Therefore a whole bunch of interesting things... Wait and see ...!

FLO: A second album received as well as “Interzone” by the media and a tour with who knows ... Electric Wizard? Kyuss? Karma?? haha

NEM: Well we'll have to do a little promo for "Interzone" for first haha! We'll try to make more shows for the album. Otherwise, we are already talking about a successor to "Interzone" with the guys in the band. Basically we try to have the greatest possible idea on the topic to get something big haha (well at least we hope!).

WAYNE: The next album will go much further Interzone, whatever its aspects. We always want to offer more than what we have done before and especially to have fun, we will let ourselves go, and we will work to get the best possible result!

Well guys thanks for answering these questions. All the best from all of us at Sludgelord. Thanks. Steve.

Wheelfall : Thanks a lot Steve, it really was a pleasure to answer your questions ! Thanks a lot to all our fans, all the people supporting us… And don’t hesitate to check our album out, “Interzone” here, full streamed: 

Encore merci pour tout !

Great Band, Great Guys and what a brilliant album behind them. Check Out These Hugely Talented Stoner Metallers below: