The new Zeal & Ardor self-titled album arrived on February 11th. Overall, their third effort could be their strongest record, with more experimentations mixed with heavier beats. We caught up with the group’s mastermind Manuel Gagneux to discuss their latest offering.
How has this overall pandemic affected the writing process for the new self-titled album?
We had way more time to think about stuff and be more direct, I guess. So it’s not just like a collection of songs like the other albums, but it’s rather a whole record that makes sense in itself because yeah, we had a lot of time.
That’s definitely been the vibe these days. What challenges did you face recording new music?
Yeah, I mean, it’s super boring. We just had, you know, like I said, insane amounts of time and we built a studio of our own where we recorded everything and it’s super spectacular. But yeah, I’m really happy that it’s all in basically the family so no real challenges.
I enjoyed the songs “Feed the Machine” and “Erase.” Can you talk more about them?
“Feed the Machine.” It’s funny because like I have demos on my laptop where I do scratch takes of everything. And we had to slow that one down because it was faster. And Marco, our drummer, made it clear that he’s not too amused about that. And he said, like, we got to slow this down.
“Erase” is kind of like the smartest song on the record. I’m proud of it because there’s modulations in the melody such as the licks, the melody in the beginning and in the end is actually the same, but transposes to four but it’s done in a way that you don’t really notice as a listener.I hope you don’t. So there’s some trickery going on in that song.
Interesting. The new album feels very powerful. But, how would you personally compare it to Stranger Fruit?
I think it’s just more cohesive. It’s like your latest thing is always the best. And I think maybe like in six years, I look back and think it’s terrible there’s no comparison. But right now I’m really happy with it and it just kind of maintains the same atmosphere throughout, but we just try to figure out how much we can get away with within that kind of realm. And that is right now to have the feeling that we made it work.
What was the experience like to finally be back on the road last fall sharing the stage with Opeth and Mastodon?
That was insane. Basically every tour that we had announced or thought about announcing wasn’t sure, obviously, and we weren’t certain that we would actually get to hit the road with them. But it was really refreshing to see basically these gods of men and people being so kind because you have this image of people that you adore. You know, you adore their work that they’re these recluse geniuses who don’t even speak to you or don’t give you the time of day. And they were all fucking delightful. And it was such a pleasant surprise.
In addition to your upcoming European tour, do you have any other plans for this year you can reveal at this time?
We’re thinking about touring later on this year, headlining. But I’m kind of not too eager to announce stuff too early because everything’s subject to change. We have a brand new war now. So I don’t know how that will, change things. Yeah.
Is there anything else you want to say or add about the new album?
I’m certain that it’s not for everyone, but I’d say give it a spin if you’re into new stuff and the worst thing that could happen to me is you don’t feel anything if you hate it. That’s kind of cool because you have a feeling and if you love it, that’s also cool because it evokes something in you. Yeah, don’t invade countries also.