The COVID Chronicles #4: Montreal’s Necronomicon

As we’ve reiterated throughout our ongoing COVID Chronicles series, musicians were—and continue to be—kneecapped financially by the pandemic. Its repercussions in the workforce, economy, and the arts are too great to be measured.

With musicians from across the world telling New Noise the wildly different experiences they had, it’s abundantly clear that their homelands responded to the pandemic in varying ways and to varying degrees of success.

All of which is to say that, after buttering you up with some lighter stories in this series’ first few installments, today we bring you an account that’s tougher to swallow.

Canadian death-metal legends Necronomicon—a reference to Sam Raimi’s over-the-top Evil Dead films—recently told New Noise about their trials and tribulations of dealing with the Pandemic That Shall Not Be Named. You know the one. COVID.

Hey, that’s for chatting with New Noise. Are you in Montreal right now?
Yeah, at my house.

Is that where you were when the COVID outbreak flared up for the first time?
[Necronomicon drummer] Morgul has very personal health issues we’ve been asked not to talk about. [When we heard an] agent talking with Morgul, holy shit, it took everyone by surprise. Me, [bassist] Raum and our manager said we had to do something. So we had to cancel the Canada tour. Two weeks prior, we had received an offer for Europe too. Everything was confirmed.

And everything was a lot of money—everything was already processed and paid, we were just waiting for the green light. We even paid the rent for the transport we were going to use: $10,000 down for that tour. And that shit happened.

In a moment, Raum and our manager were super-proactive. I was super-calm, kind of like, “What the fuck?” There wasn’t a moment of panic. I was just like, ‘What are we doing now?'”

So what did you do?
Got angry. That happened to me a lot [in those days]. So much stuff happened with COVID, five cancellations … [At the end] of the tour, we were hearing really bad stuff, so we said, “Let’s go home, take some time off, figure out the European leg.”

I was pretty bummed out. But then I saw what Suffocation had to go through—getting stuck in Europe, losing a shit ton of money.

Now there’s some relief from the Canadian government, but there was nothing for a good while, even from my bookmakers nederland partners. If you had concerts [for which] you had a contract and plane tickets, [you could get reimbursed in part]. But since Necronomicon stayed home because our tour was canceled, we [couldn’t access that financial relief].

So you kept planning as tight as you could under the circumstances? Are you a strict bandleader?
I have an anxiety with previous band members saying they were prepared but playing like shit. Prior to starting the tour, we have a studio we rented so we can have all our gear there and practice during the day. We’ll practice during the day of the first show if we’re not satisfied.

We had a choice to work on a new album. I was talking with our agent, and he said he was cool with whatever we decided. We got fucked with [2019’s Unus]. The credits were amazing, and COVID happened when the hype was starting. Many magazines were saying it was one of the best albums, and COVID took the world by surprise. So I feel like I just got screwed. The sales were super-good.

So I decided that was the time I was going to wait to enjoy Unus. I want to tour that album properly. It’s not that I don’t have new songs—I do—but when I’m sitting in the studio, I’m not feeling it yet.

Why is Unus so special to you, other than it being Necronomicon’s latest album?
Production-wise, we went a different way. I’m really old-school, when I’m producing albums, I want to use a more one-take approach. I know a lot of people do riff by riff and build a song. We don’t do that. We play a song six times, take the best one, then correct some parts or take some parts that are better in one version. It’s more old-school.

With Unus, we recorded pretty much the same way almost—less editing as possible—and I said, “OK, for the mix, it’s where we’re going to go really to another level.” I brushed away everyone I had been working with. … I started to listen to this and that, because … you need to have some reference.

Fleshgod Apocalypse — I liked some of their stuff, didn’t like other stuff, though it started going somewhere. Someone said, “Have you heard the new Septicflesh album?” It sounded fucking phenomenal. So I decided that was the sound. It sounded way bigger. You can have someone who knows how to mix a full band, but when you’re dealing with a full orchestra, you need to let the sound breathe. Logan Mader — he worked with Machine Head — we kept talking … and [eventually] went with him. We became really good friends. We went to mix with him in Vegas for a week and that was awesome.

Are you still bitter about the outcome of Unus, then?
I don’t have a problem with that, actually. These three years have been rough for a lot of people. I’ve been alone, but that’s a long story. It didn’t upset me. The biggest part was not being able to be on tour, that was the major thing, but if you remove that, my life was not very different. I have a different lifestyle than most people. I don’t go out. I’m really picky. I like quality. I usually don’t go out with people. That said, when I meet the fans on tour, it’s totally different.

Check out the previous installments in our COVID Chronicles series:

Amenra frontman Colin H. Van Eeckhout (Belgium)
Carcass frontman Jeff Walker (England)
Malist mastermind Ovfrost (Russia)

 

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