Karcius emerged in early 2000’s and since its inception the band managed to keep a constant progress, keeping the indelible mark established with their debut Sphere. After ten years and four albums, these Montrealers are determined to change the face of progressive music in the new millennium. Where will that takes us all, let’s find in the interview with the band’s guitarist Simon L’Esperance.
Karcius was formed in 2003 and for ten years you released four albums. Can you clearly see the progress you managed to make between these records? If you compare your debut „Sphere“ with the latest record „The First Day“, how much did you change your approach when working on new music?
Yes in fact it’s a major evolution. We started as very young players and we evolved a lot as musicians and as human beings too. We created this project to follow the steps of bands like Liquid Tension Experiment and Bozio Levin Stevens, even Return to Forever, for 3 albums we were more focused on a fusion between any style we liked. It was a band with no boundary. In 2009 we hired Sylvain Auclair to replace Dominique Blouin on bass. We were looking for a change of direction at that time so Sly just got in and was also an incredible signer. Two for one ! He has a enormous background in prog, rock and metal so it so the fit was right on. We wanted something more fluid and less complex in a way so it turned out we were songwrtting more than we actually compose instrumentaly. I think it’s a great turn for us and for the purpose of our music.
Comparing „The First Day“ with previous album „Episodes“, I would say that art rock element is more emphasized on the new album. Did it come on purpose or as a natural shifting?
It was totally in purpose. We were looking for a sound alike Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and even The Beatles. We wanted a music with more space and more ambiances. Something where the listenner can travel and can be moved in different moods and emotion. I am really influenced as a record producer by Daniel Lanois and he uses the term « sonic landscapes » I love the image. I think the shift in the music was in purpose but the changes are very natural and guided by our evolution as musicians too.
Though you try to make a balance within the instrumentation on „The First Day“, piano parts navigate the album course. How do you go about composing in general? Do you usually bring your own pieces and work together on them ?
This album is based on a 4 days jam we made in a beatiful place in the woods.We got together and created a lot of the ideas you hear on this album. We worked a lot more on this but the basic ideas were there. We usually work together some riffs or melodies someone bring, it’s really rare someone brings a final idea in this band. It’s always been a 4 pice band with 4 brains working together. This is the essence of Karcius :Friendship and creativity. We do not calculate the space of each other in the record we just go for the music.
Let’s talk about the influences everyone of you brings in the Karcius’ music. We can hear tons of classic 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, classic rock, metal, ambient, even funk.
Wow, you are opening the Pandora’s box ! We have influences from classical to jazz, rock to world beat 60’ to actual music …To make it simple we love music and we love to listen to music. Let’s say Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Sting, King Crimson, Return to Forever, Foo Fighters, lot’s of African music for rythms, lot’s of soundtracks, Steven Wilson, The Beatles, Daniel Lanois, U2 and so on….
One of the quotes taken from your press kit says that you guys are helping to bridge the gap between prog rock and jazz fusion. I agree with that, but what is going on that bridge? You have a totally new world in between that has to be explored.
I think it is a way of saying that we dont’ stick to traditionnal song forms and we blend a lot of improvisation with written music. It’s not a new concept at all in music but bringning a jazzy twist to a heavy rock song or having some big African drums in a Pink Floyd kind of song is what we try to say in this phrase. No limits with the fusion of genres.
When working on new music, do you often see it as a challenge?
This is the most challenging thing in life. It’s really hard to find a purpose for new music, a direction, a message, a story… then it’s harder to deliver this message properly This is intense and we love it, we live for it and we love challenging each other with new ideas.
You are not for the first time on the Progstravaganza sampler. We featured you guys on the fourth edition of our compilation series with the song „Purple King“ taken from 2006’s „Episodes“. On the new sampler you are featured with „Water“ (The First Day). Both songs come with sort of a laid-back vibe, with organic sound. Can you make a parallel between these two tracks ?
The producing of both records I think. We recorded all our albums at Studio Victor in Montreal. It’s our home base in a certain way. The Hammond B3, the Piano, the room, the console, the mics, I think this is were we get this sound. Thomas and me worked a lot on the producing of these records and I think you can hear our producers sound in there. Any band who would like to be produced or mixed by us can contact us anytime, we love working with new bands.
Over the years you’ve been pretty active playing live. Share a story, something interesting that happened to you while being on the road.
Last tour we did in French Guyana was amazing and quite surprising. We did the trip to play The Crescendo Guyana festival. We knew the producer but we were way far of expecting this crazy country. Bugs, heavy heat, very roots conditions, the jungle and all thèse crazy conditions.…This was the trip of a life. We made the soundcheck at around 120 degress under the sun, my pedal board just stoped working, we were totally cooking there !! I think we lost 5 pounds each this day. The show was amazing and the crowd just crazy but this stage was in the deep jungle, we never taught there would be so much people there and we just gave everything we had ! Hello to all these guys, it was unbeleivable. This is one crazy place in the world trust me !
What are your future plans?
We are currently working on some new material and I beleive we will be recording next year, we are working on a project with videos and filming. We’ll see where it’s going !
Thanks a lot for having time to answer my questions and thank you very much for being the part of Progstravaganza 13.
Thanks to you! Prog on!