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
" 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
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
" 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
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.
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
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?