» Frédéric Leclercq - Sinsaenum
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Interview conducted August 4 2018
Interview published August 8 2018

"I'm not gonna live in a fucking forest. Well, maybe some day, but not now."

Extreme power metallers DragonForce came to Skogsröjet festival in Sweden for a show and Metal Covenant used this golden opportunity to meet up with the band's bass player Frédéric Leclercq in order to talk with him about the death metal outfit Sinsaenum.

Sinsaenum is sprung out of Fred's own vision and ideas and since he in fact is a guitar player first and foremost, that's also the instrument he mostly handles with this project. A second album, Repulsion For Humanity, is out on August 10th and this is, among other things, what Fred told Metal Covenant about it:

Tobbe: Repulsion For Humanity. What does those words mean to the band?

Frédéric: It's not a gimmick; it's just the truth. I mean, I don't wanna talk for the other people in the band, even though I know they feel the same. To me it's just like I've reached a certain level where I actually can't stand, you know, what I see on social media and the way people react in general. I'm not talking just about, you know, the way that humanity handles pollution and what they are doing with the earth, but also just like the interaction with everybody.

For example, you know, like the Zombie Boy died yesterday, I think, and then suddenly everybody is like "Look at me! Look at me!". I look at everything in a maybe not so very positive way, but I just don't like the way people are… I mean: Yeah, I just don't like people anymore. I can be also very social and that's the duality of it, so people are like "Oh, you don't like people, but you need people to buy your albums.". I mean, I read that somewhere we said that we were fueling the hatred and people are just like "Oh yeah, you're fueling the hatred, but please buy my albums.".

You know, I mean, I didn't choose to be born, but I'm here, so I might as well, you know, make a living. I'm not gonna live in a fucking forest. Well, maybe some day, but not now. So I try to take advantage of what's around me; doesn't mean I like it. So I turn that hatred into something I can do, which is music. 'Cause I don't think we are the only ones to feel that way, so I think it's nice to have, like, an outlet for us and for people.

We're like "You know, that sort of, like, hatred: you transform it into an art and you listen to music and that helps you to go through the day and then you go back to your, you know, shitty existence; our shitty existence.". So that's Repulsion For Humanity. I mean, I could go on forever. Basically it's just the way I feel and it's, I mean, self-explanatory.

Tobbe: Musically: What did you kind of bring from your first album [Echoes Of The Tortured, 2016] into the second one?

Frédéric: The first one was written in a long period of time. Some of the ideas are from '98, or so, and I had no idea who I was gonna do the album with when I at first wrote those songs. All I wanted to do was just, like, to do a perfect death metal album. You know, based on my criteria. I just wanted it to have, like, the riffing of Morbid Angel, but with the sort of production and vibe of, like, Pestilence - Testimony Of The Ancients [1991] and also have like, you know, the slow, chunky Obituary or Bolt Thrower kind of vibe and the evil of Deicide.

And I inject some of the black metal bands that I like. I put some Dark Funeral there and some Mayhem. So basically I was just trying to make it, like, big from everything I've grown up listening to and make it, like, a perfect blend of my own… You know, basically it's just like: make my own cocktail, if you will.

But also I wanted to, like, tick all the boxes, because being in DragonForce, I guess, for people it's more like "You're the power metal guy, right? So you really can't do death metal. That doesn't work.". I think for me it works because people just know me as a bass player in a power metal band, but really I'm a guitar player and… you know, you know. So the first one was like that. Maybe a bit too much by the book, I suppose.

So when I started writing new stuff, I knew who was involved in the band and I guess that helped to determine… Not on purpose, but the fact that I know that Joey [Jordison, drums] is gonna be there. He's got a certain way of playing and that influences the way I'm gonna write stuff. And obviously everybody has been bringing in a bit as well, so I guess it's more Us and less by the book.

There was no formula. We have a song that's, like, 9 and a half minutes; the last one [Forsaken]. We have a long, very melodic solo at the end. And we have, like, more slow songs. There was no formula and, you know, I was writing whatever the hell I wanted. And because everybody has such a strong musical personality, in the end it sounds like us, which I think is great. And I read that some people said that it sounded like us. You know, more personal than the first one and I guess that's an achievement.

Tobbe: Half of the tracks were short, instrumental stuff on the first one and how come you have no such stuff on this record?

Frédéric: Well, I guess: I had done it once, so I didn't see the purpose of, like, repeating myself. That was something I wanted to achieve and it took a lot of time and I'm just very happy of the way it sounds. So I think there's no way I could have done it better; at least this time around. Also I read that some people were criticizing that and they said that it was, like, killing the flow and the rhythm of the album. Which I think is completely wrong, but either way that also probably influenced me.

So I guess everything that I hear or everything around me, you know, influence the way I'm gonna work. We had, like, good reviews, but people were just usually picking on those, so I guess that that probably influenced me. Well, I shouldn't bother, 'cause it fucking took a long time as well to actually make them. But I don't see the point of, like, doing the same. I think it's nice on an album, but you don't want this to repeat on every album. So now we have a bit of that. There's always that sort of cinematic element. You know, like horror movies vibe, so. We have sounds here and there. Yeah, there was no point recreating that. Maybe on the next album. We will see.

Tobbe: To what extent did you guys get together to make this album? Or was it just sending files all over the place?

Frédéric: Well, I mean, it always starts with sending files. I'm still writing the majority of it, so I guess that's how it starts. You know, I'm sending a song to them and I need their approval, because it's one thing to write most of it and… Okay, I'm involved in the, let's say management aspect, if you will. I'm the boss of the, you know, blah, blah, blah and I take control and everything, but there wouldn't be anything without them.

So it's very important that they are there, at every step of the writing and everything. I don't do anything without asking the rest of the guys. So it starts with sending stuff and then they're happy with it or not and then what happened was: Joey flew to France and we rented a house. So it was Joey, Stéphane [Buriez, guitar] and myself. Joey recorded the drums and we were there so we could rearrange things and exchange ideas. You know, in the flesh, as opposed to on the phone or just like you get something and "Can you get back to the studio and change that perhaps?".

And then Sean [Zatorsky, vocals] and Heimoth [bass] joined us the week after. So it was way more interaction this way and way more, you know, spending time together this time around, which was great. And it helps to cement sort of a more personal sound and to sound more like a band as well.

Tobbe: You guys are out touring for a month this fall and it's the first time you're out together and will it be any different in comparison to when you guys tour with your main bands?

Frédéric: Maybe it's gonna be more excitement 'cause this is gonna be the first time. The Americans are flying in on the 19th of September, if you wanna know everything, and we're gonna rehearse one week solid. So everybody has to prepare beforehand. I'm fine because I wrote most of the stuff. [Laughs] No, actually I'm not fine; it's difficult, you know, and you tend to forget.

So yeah, we just gonna rehearse and make sure that everything fits. So no, not really anything different than the other bands. Like I said, maybe more excitement because it's something new and fresh, but I'm also kind of stressed, because to me it means a lot, so I wanna make sure that everything falls into place correctly. An extra dose of stress in my daily life.

Tobbe: Are all the guys on the record coming along for the tour? Or are there other obligations during that stretch for some of you?

Frédéric: Well, Attila [Csihar, vocals] is not there, because he didn't do the album because he was too busy with Mayhem, Tormentor and Sunn O))) and all his other bands. That's something we made clear, because we could have photoshopped him in, you know. But that wouldn't have been honest, because when we started recording Ashes [EP, 2017] we knew that he wouldn't be available.

So we were like "Okay. So what are we gonna say?", because people are very attached to a lineup, you know. So "Are we gonna try to find an excuse or shall we just say how it is?" and we were like "Maybe that's what we need to do. Just be honest.". So that's the reality. He's too busy, the band carries on, he's still in the band, he just couldn't be there for this one. Actually he had more time than we thought he would have, so he contributed with some lyrics and did some backing vocals as well. But he was not there when we had to take the pictures. So he's not gonna be on the tour, but the other guys will be, yeah.

Tobbe: Is Sinsaenum still a project for you or could it develop into a real band some day, that actually goes out and tour more than you do this fall?

Frédéric: To me it's a real band. It's never been a question of this being a… It depends on what people call a project. It depends on what you define as a project. If a project is something of less importance than your main band. I never really saw it that way. I don't know about the other guys; that's a question you should ask individually.

But as far as I'm concerned, and because I put all my time and energy into it and I've been writing most of it, this is not a side project or a project. To me it's another band. I give as much love and dedication to Sinsaenum as I give to DragonForce. Probably even a bit more, because, you know, I'm very attached to it. Yeah, to me this is a band and I wanna go on tour. There's a lot of things to do and we start from scratch, compared to DragonForce which is like a very well-oiled machine, where people know our name and we have, like, nice spots on festivals and whatnot.

With Sinsaenum we're gonna have to start from scratch, even though we have, like, famous people in the band, which helps to develop faster, but it's still, you know, start from scratch again. Like I said, an extra dose of work and extra stress, but to me this is my second band or my first band. I have two bands, DragonForce and Sinsaenum.

Tobbe: Is a new record always the best record an artist has ever done? So don't chicken out now. Is Repulsion For Humanity better than DragonForce's last record Reaching Into Infinity [2017]?

Frédéric: It's like two different genres. I mean, DragonForce - Reaching Into Infinity, I wrote most of it. I wrote 8 songs out of 11 or so. So I'm very happy with what I've done and it definitely has a different vibe and a different atmosphere than Repulsion For Humanity. So I can't really compare them in that sense. I'm very happy with Reaching Into Infinity and I'm very happy with Repulsion For Humanity, even though happy is not the right word.

Now if you'd ask me if I think Repulsion For Humanity is better than Echoes Of The Tortured, I think so. Well, I mean: Fuck, I'm doing promo for Sinsaenum right now; Yes, it's better! But it's different and it's like "Do I prefer the latest Iron Maiden or Judas Priest compared to the last Morbid Angel?". You know, it's like apples and fries. So these two bands are different and I'm very happy with the way I've been working on them and writing them and how they sound, you know. But yeah, I think Repulsion For Humanity is better than Echoes Of The Torture; that I can say.

Tobbe: As you mentioned, your role in DragonForce, songwriting-wise, is now more important than it ever was and tell me how you see yourself as a driving force in the band today.

Frédéric: I don't have a driver's license; I just wanted to point that out. - I guess it just feels nice. It took a little while to find my spot. I don't know if they were not letting me in and I don't know if I was not interested in going there as well. So there was a bit of both, I suppose. I joined right after Inhuman Rampage [2006] was recorded. So right before it came out. Heroes Of Our Time [It's actually called Ultra Beatdown [2008]]: I was definitely not very interested in… you know, I recorded guitars for the album, but not in the writing process. I didn't really care much. I was there, you know, for the fun, for the free booze and touring, but I was not involved, you know.

And then something changed when we did The Power Within [2012]. I became more involved and it was like "You know what? I think you guys probably would need me for this and that. I could help and I feel like I should.". So I took more room, because I took over the production. You know, like arrangement of things and started to write songs like Seasons and I guess because it had, like, a nice reaction, that was sort of a pass, you know, to show "Hey! Look! You know, guys, now you can trust me, 'cause I can write songs and people like those songs.".

Yeah, it was sort of like a natural evolution. Then with Maximum Overload [2014] it was, like, 50/50 with Sam [Totman, guitar] and then on the last one I took over because he was stuck on two songs. I mean, because he's done so much in the past. He was stuck in these 2-3 songs, while I was just, like, piling up ideas and, you know, that's how we ended up. But for the next one, next year, we're trying to balance it out a bit more, which is good as well, because we started writing songs right about when I was leaving the studio with Sinsaenum.

So I was sort of like "Oh, fuck. Okay, now we need to do DragonForce.". I was a bit empty as well. In a way that's good. So everything falls into place nicely. But yeah, it's great to have more of that, because, you know, I love writing music, so I'm very happy that I have that role in the band now; that they trust me.

Tobbe: You know, you have a lot of different outlets. You have Sinsaenum now, you have DragonForce, you were in Heavenly a long time ago and you have other projects as well. So in what way do you search for growth in your music?

Frédéric: I don't know, but I think being stuck just in one genre is comfortable and easy. But I like music and I like to experiment. When I go home I listen to, you know, French music, that has nothing to do with metal, or jazz fusion. Now that I have the chance to be surrounded by a lot of musicians, like on festivals or when we go on tour and whatnot, and to meet a lot of people, then I think I need to make the most out of it.

It's not necessarily that I want people to know that I can do this and that and that. It's for my own entertainment and my own sanity, 'cause I don't wanna be bored and stuck. I mean, honestly I could just do DragonForce and that would be, like, easy, you know, but I feel the urge. But now that I'm thinking of it, maybe… Yeah, I don't wanna be remembered as just a bass player in a power metal band.

Tobbe: What other types of music could you explore in the future? Could you even go lighter, instead of heavier as you kind of do now?

Frédéric: I'm working on a project. I'm doing something in Japan, and this is still top secret, but it will be announced at some point.

Tobbe: Next week probably, because I will publish this interview then.

Frédéric: Yeah, probably then. Then I'm thinking about doing something in Japan, but we'll see. [Laughs] I'm in touch with a good friend about doing some jazz fusion and we always said like "No metal.". So we wanna do that, but we've been talking about it for a long time. And this friend is Sean Reinert from Cynic and if he's reading this "We need to fucking get on with it.". [Laughs] I mean, we get super excited and say like "Fuck yeah!" and then we go back to whatever we do. I got all these ideas, but I need people to push me as well.

But that's something we've been talking about for a long time, so we'll do that possibly. So yeah, jazz fusion. And the other day I was at the gym; It doesn't look like it, but I go to the gym sometimes; and there was, like, some easy listening and I was like "I need to figure out what this is.", because that's something I want to explore as well. I mean, it might never come out publicly exposed, but I'm definitely, like, trying different things. If I have the chance and the opportunity, then why not?

Tobbe: If someone was asking you for your favors, could you write music for other people as well?

Frédéric: Yeah. I mean, I'd like to. That's something I've been considering. Like I said, someone would need to kick me in the butt. I had a meeting with a publishing company: I went to London [England] and I was asking, you know "How does it work? How do you place your music?" and whatnot, because all I've been doing since I've been doing metal is just: you write music yourself and you write your lyrics yourself and then you go and record yourself and blah, blah, blah.

And I do write songs that don't fit, you know, necessarily for DragonForce or Sinsaenum, so I have, like, you know, various piles of songs. I asked them "What do I need to do?" and they were like "Well, you need to give them to us and then we can place them so we can publish them later on.". So that's something that I have to do, but I just haven't got around it yet, so my wife is asking me sometimes; she's like "So what's going on with those songs?". I don't feel ready yet to do this, but if someone gives me a kick in the butt and goes like "Now you need to fucking get on with it! Go write some cheesy music.", I think I'd be interesting and funny to infiltrate the cheese system and take a bite of it.

You know, when you listen to all those famous, dead or alive, you know, DJs and whatnot, who write fucking 5 or 6 notes, you go like "All right. Fuck!". But I don't know if I'm ready to bring myself down to it, but at the same time, you know, metal is not on a fucking pedestal, like "It's great and the rest is shit.". So what I'm trying to say is: if someone is asking me to write music, I could give it a try, and that could be fun.

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