» Alissa White-Gluz - The Agonist
« back

Interview conducted June 04 2012
Interview published June 28 2012

Canadian The Agonist are back with Prisoners, an album showcasing the much honed musical capabilities of the band - Metal Covenant got a hold on singer Alissa White-Gluz and talked about themes, writing anxiety and new guitarist Pascal among other things. Enjoy!

Martin: First of all - listening to "Prisoners" is such a treat. I am very much enjoying the record. Considering how great reviews "Lullabies…" got, how did you feel going into writing for "Prisoners"? Nervous, exited, panicked?

  • Alissa: Definitely nervous and panicked. I'm glad that people are digging the album and that it's getting good reviews. For me, it's really hard to look at something that I've done and objectively listen to it. So, it's really up to everyone else, whether the album is good or bad. So, I'm glad that you are liking it.

Martin: Why did you choose "Prisoners" to be the title for the album?

  • Alissa: Well we were basically brainstorming a bunch of ideas, and the theme of imprisonment is something that was very apparent in "Lullabies", but also in different ways in this album "Prisoners", not only just physical, but mental, emotional, or spiritual imprisonment. We had a lot of different album titles that we were set on for a while, and then we ended up always changing them, and finally, "Prisoners" is the one that stuck.

Martin: If you compare the songwriting-process from "Lullabies…" to this record: was there a big difference in the process?

  • Alissa: We used the same technique, as in, I get the instrumentals, pretty much almost complete, and then I just tweak them and add my vocals. It was different in the sense that it was a lot more difficult. It wasn't as much of a fun ride trying to write the songs, but I think that might make the album have some staying power because I think you can kind of hear the struggle in the songs. I think it's an album that you wouldn't really listen to for the same reason that you listen to lullabies, but if people get it, then I think they're gonna really like it.

Martin: You have brought in a second guitarist in Pascal. How did this come about? And perhaps more importantly - what were the reasons for bringing him in musically? And, of course, who is this guy?

  • Alissa: We've had our second guitarist since "once only imagined" actually, but they were always sort of touring musicians. They didn't actually record the studio albums or write any songs. So, finally we brought in Paco as a touring musician, but he worked out so well that we decided to keep him on board for writing the songs and writing the albums. He's more of a lead guitarist than anything else, and he has a very different lead style than Danny. Kind of the same way that I would be presented songs and just have to put my vocals over the top, he would be presented songs and put his leads over the top wherever he found it to be appropriate. He's the newest member of the band. Like I said, that second guitarist spot has always been rotating, but so far so good with him.

Martin: I have read in numerous places that you've felt that being female in the industry is a hard thing. What is your take on this now, and do you feel that this has changed during the bands career?

  • Alissa: I think it was a lot more difficult for me at the beginning, because I had a lot less confidence and less of a loyal fanbase to back me up, but now that I've sort of established myself a little bit more, I don't think I get objectified as much, or at least just not in my face as much. It's still difficult for other reasons, but in terms of just being perceived as a female-fronted band, I think we don't get that as badly as some other bands do.

Martin: Lyrically The Agonist has always been a band that promotes strong messages. Can you please describe/discuss the lyrical themes on "Prisoners"?

  • Alissa: I think one of the reasons it's hard for me to identify what the theme is on this album is because I didn't plan a theme. I just kind of went ahead writing the songs as I felt. So, some of it is automatic writing, some of it is a lot more introverted than usual. I didn't actually research news reports and peer-reviewed articles and stuff to come up with song topics. It's a lot more philosophy-based and just emotion-based. And of course there are still social issues involved, but that's just because that's something that's always on my mind. But it's definitely a lot deeper and a lot more obscure.

Martin: You hail from a musically very interesting region in Canada - what bands should we pay some extra attention to in your opinion?

  • Alissa: Obey the Brave, Mitosis, Unexpect… those would be my top.

Martin: You toured quite heavily on "Lullabies…". What were the highpoints and lowpoints on the various tours? Also, when are you coming over to Europe (specifically Sweden) next?

  • Alissa: All the tours we did with "Lullabies" were really amazing. It was really good to reach all the territories we hadn't reached before. And we're definitely trying to get over to Europe as soon as possible. We just have to wait for the right tour. We don't want to go over on a tour that's not totally right for us. And if that happens, we'll definitely get to Sweden.

Martin: Well, that's it. I very much hope to have a chance to catch you on tour in the future. Any closing words?

  • Alissa: Definitely pick up the album!

Related links: