After revelling in the brilliance of the latest album by Mares of Thrace, “The Pilgrimage,” Christine from ThisIsNotAScene got the chance to talk with Thérèse Lanz. They talked about music, inspirations, women in metal, Iron Maiden and much, much more…
During the creation of your second album, The Pilgrimage, describe to me the process. What came to you first, the instrumentals or the lyrics? Did this process differ from your last album, The Moulting?
My process for all my output, all my life, is that the two evolve independently of each other. Often it’s a comical process of shoehorning lyrical phrases into riffs, then re-learning to play the riffs over top. It’s very rare that I’ll write riffs intended for a particular set of lyrics, or vice versa. I’m not the most prolific writer; inspiration strikes sporadically, without warning, and often at inopportune times. Sort of like a herpes flare-up.
Some of us have those photos or captured moments in our childhood where it’s evident that we’ve discovered something we were meant to do. Do either of you have a photo/video of yourselves glued to a record player or whaling on air guitar at a school talent show at a young age, that you feel sort of represents the point in your life where you fell in love with music?
Not a photo, but some of my earliest memories were sitting in my father’s classical guitar case watching him play. I grew up with the strong conviction that nothing in the world is more awesome than guitars, and I began playing one as soon as I was large enough to reach the top string while holding one (age 12).
Also, I’ll have you know that my highschool talent show band was a real band and we made it to the semi-finals, only to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the highland dancers and that stuck-up twat who performed “Memory” by Cats.
Thérèse, there’s always mention of your time as a bassist for KEN Mode but Stefani, have you been in any other projects fans of your sound might want to check out?
Stef is in a Meshuggah-inspired side project at the moment, but doubts they’ll venture beyond the guitarist’s basement. I haven’t heard them but am willing to wager they’re probably amazing. They’re called Putz.
When I think of sludge, it’s usually more the Southern and Eastern United States that comes to mind. Was there any underground sludge acts in Canada that inspired you to take this sort of direction with your sound?
But of course! I wouldn’t call them “sludge” so much as noise rock, but two of the most influential bands in my youth were an Ontarian band called Shallow North Dakota (who, as of this record we are labelmates with, a fact that would have undoubtedly blown my 14 year old self’s mind) and a Calgarian band called Placebo4, starring my friend Kieran and Leslie Feist of Leslie Feist fame. Canada has always produced largely globally-ignored musical ass-kickery.
I think at this point, it’s taboo to think that women are underestimated as musician, considering so many in the industry, like the women of Gallhammer, Walls of Jericho, Cerebral Bore etc. have proven that chicks can be just as fucking heavy as any man out there. Do you still find yourselves faced with naysayers even with the success of other women in heavy genres?
Yes and no. Our peers and people in the industry have always treated us with respect, professionalism, and complete, implicit, ain’t-no-thang equality.
However, the internet abounds with orangutans that, while still mastering the use of their opposable thumbs, have managed to find electronic avenues in which to hurl their own faeces. It’s an occupational hazard, really.
You’ve been compared a lot to Made Out of Babies, although I’d have to say your sound is quite unique and deathly beautiful in its own respects. Do comparisons bother you or is it flattering to be
compared to some bands you might think are really killer?
Why, thank you! I think the reason that everyone compares us to Julie Christmas projects is because if your record contains a distorted guitar and a female voice, people will compare you to the next closest record with a distorted guitar and a female voice in their record collection (as stylistically diametrically opposed to your band as they may be).
Frankly, being compared to Julie Christmas projects (which we are very much fans of) is a huge relief after being compared to shitty nu-metal or even power-metal bands with a woman in it. It blows my mind, though, that people still think “has a woman in it” is a genre.
Being a two piece act with really no need for more musicians by the sounds of things, would you ever consider adding to your line-up if you felt someone could contribute something to your sound or would you rather just learn a new instrument and incorporate it to keep the duo dynamic going?
Much as we love the duo dynamic, it is limiting in some ways… every time I hear a band with a killer bassist, I toy with the idea of getting a bassist. We adopted the duo format purely out of pragmatism (and by pragmatism I mean “musicians are annoying and we hate putting up with their bullshit”, haha!) not necessarily as a stylistic choice.
So absolutely, the idea’s not 100% off the table. I’ve thought about doing the next record as a four- or even five-piece. We’ll see if we can put up with musicians’ bullshit. Also, sidebar: There’ve been a half-dozen shows where someone, usually a drunk guy, will come up to us afterward and attempt to convince us that he should be our bassist. Youll notice that we are still a two-piece.
You guys are going on tour in the next few months. Any troubles getting along while on the road together for so long? I know that sleeping on floors and late nights don’t make for the best cheery
personas all the time.
Haha, no. Stef and I have been touring together for 8 years and we are a very harmonious unit. And if someone gets in a bad mood, there’s always tacos, craft beer and In Yo’ Face! Volume 1: Funk and Soul’s Greatest Hits.
If you could tour with any band, who would you choose and why?
There are a few dozen currently-active bands who I would love to tour with. Really, that jaded-old-fart attitude of “heavy music was better when I was in highschool” is so foreign to me- I think heavy music is overflowing with great bands right now, personally.
I don’t know, I am tempted to say Iron Maiden, because I’d like Bruce to give me a dissertation or two on the underlying causes and repercussions of the Franco-Prussian war.
Aside from other bands, what would you site as a source of inspiration while creating, be it literature, people, world events etc.?
A million things. There are people out there, Beelzebub bless their blackened little hearts, whose world starts and ends at heavy music. Stef and I couldn’t be more opposite– we’re inspired by everything: our particular flavours of academia, current events, science, politics, nature… rather than incestuously creatively self-pollinate, I’d say we are perpetually looking elsewhere and everywhere.