Back In Business
Dutch alternative heavy metal band My Propane made a remarkable return to the metal scene with the recent release of the long-awaited second album `Antidote’. Together with Dutch producer Joost van den Broek [Epica, Ayreon en Navarone a.o.], the four-piece reinvented themselves and took their creative outlet to the next level, which resulted in an exciting and in-your-face album. `Antidote’ sounds heavy, challenging and dynamic, the energetic melodies and harmonies are intense but also `ear peeling’ and the musical adventure and complexity grabs your attention. And let’s not forget one of the most important elements of this album: the impressive harsh and melodic vocals by Valerio Recenti. HeadBangers LifeStyle’s Lilo wanted to find out more about `The Antidote’ and its remarkable artwork, which has the Mad Monk on the front cover, and spoke with singer Valerio Recenti, guitarist Jord Otto and drummer Remon Masseling.
Photo credit My Propane Facebook Page
First of all, can you explain the gap of almost 6 years between the debut album `Modern Violent Gentleman’ and the brand new CD `Antidote’?
Valerio: ,,A combination of things, really. With our debut album we have played quite a bit around for at least 3 years. Then there have been changes in the formation, touring with other bands and finally the feeling that we needed not to rush things and find the right home and right moment for this album. We thought it deserved it.’’
,,We started as an alternative rock band. Nowadays we’re having a much bigger pack to offer’’-Remon Masseling
How would you describe My Propane as a band today comparing to the early days?
Jord: ,,I think this started to shape when we recorded ,,Waves’’. It was our prototype song, so to say. We knew what we wanted to change sonically but it already was pretty much what we wanted song wise. Gnarly riffs, weird and eerie feeling vibes but catchy choruses.’’
Valerio: ,,The music has become more aggressive, more restless and more uncompromising in a way. Not in the sense of wanting to be “hard and pure” but more in the sense of giving absolutely no thought or care about what the audience for this music would be. The cynicism and irony, instead, is exactly the same.’’
Remon: ,,Back in the days, we started as an alternative rock band. Nowadays we’re having a much bigger pack to offer, as we have added way more influences to our sound, like modern metal, djent type of riffs, but still big melodic choruses.’’
What end result did you have in mind when you started working on `Antidote’?
Valerio: ,,No second guessing, no over-thinking, just “go do exactly what you would do” type of approach. A kind of first-instinct music.’’
Remon: ,,To have a “fucking in your face record” to be proud of as a band. I think we succeeded in that part.’’
What do you consider the biggest challenge of the new album for the listener?
Jord: ,,Not to be surprised. Not to get excited. To be able to sit still.’’
Valerio: ,,There’s a lot happening there. Also, it’s difficult to place it in a specific genre, which means that we do not necessarily offer many grips to hold on to while you listen to it.’’
Remon: ,,I would say: Spin it at least a couple times around, then maybe you will find that it is the perfect sing-along record!’’
My Propane with extra live guitarist Frank Schiphorst (second left) / Photo By Bart Borstlap
How did you take My Propane to the next level with `Antidote’ eventually?
Valerio: ,,Something very cool happened along the way. I think we managed to embrace the fact that each of us comes from a different background musically, and we managed to let all the different inspirations have a role in the album, without censoring creativity or getting in weird self-limiting paranoia.’’
Could you have made the album without producer Joost van den Broek?
Jord: ,,We could have, but then we would miss out on the sweet sound Joost created. He made sure we didn’t sound generic in any way and we are so fucking pleased with the end result so…. YES JOOST!’’
Valerio: ,,Joost has a very specific instinct. He clearly starts working already knowing what sound he wants in the mix and the overall feel of the album. It’s great to be able to count of that type of focus and intention. And he’s tremendously generous with his time and with his art.’’
Remon: ,,He just understands what you need, what sound we have in our heads.’’
,,Essentially, Rasputin is the ultimate poster boy for My Propane’’-Valerio Recenti
The front cover of the CD is remarkable, done in a Russian Orthodox icon style, featuring Grigori Rasputin. Why doing so?
Valerio: Thanks! The artwork is created by a great Tunisian artist called Bader Klidi. We wanted Rasputin on the cover and he just came up with this incredible painting. Amazing. The Mad Monk is a fascinating figure, for good or ill. We have created a ‘Saint Rasputin’ not for the fun of blasphemy, but because in this time and age a master manipulator such as history books tell us that he was, deserves his role in today’s iconography. It’s interesting times we live in. He’s blessing and holding what could be a new messiah. And he doesn’t seem too impressed either with what he’s seeing.’’
What makes Grigory Rasputin so interesting and relevant for you as a band, to feature him on the front cover of your album?
Valerio: ,,This would be a veeeery long conversation, but I would invite anybody to read a little about this person. An incredible story, lost in legend. A peasant that became one of the most influential figures in pre-revolution Russia, through mischief, manipulation, calculation and sheer madness. A con-man and an extremely fascinating and threatening figure. But I will say this, on a lighter note: aside from the aura of mystery, violence and threat that well matches the mood of this album, I was always fascinated by the stories surrounding his death: when he finally pissed off too many powerful enemies, they came at him with poison, sticks, bullets and God knows what, and he just wouldn’t die. This is some serious resilience.
Resilience is what I feel you need to survive these days, and resilience is also what made us able to bring this album out.’’
Can you tell us more about the symbolism and vibe in the total artwork? And how does it reflect in [connect with] the lyrics?
Valerio: ,,The Russian iconography is of course a direct consequence of using Rasputin as our cover. The Mad Monk, the Black Monk, the Healer, the Sex Fiend. Essentially, the ultimate poster boy for My Propane [laughing].
There’s a lot of aggression, healthy aggression I would say. It’s all first-instinct lyrics, written on the go, about life and death and what it takes to survive. A lot about how we all, as a society, continuously try to prove we have the best life and the biggest metaphorical dick. I am curious if the listeners will grasp all that I have thrown in there. I would love it. I really hope so.’’
What is the essential link of it with today’s society?
Valerio: ,,We are losing our collective balls. It’s a whine festival out there. I say, “get your knife out more time”. Resilience. Life is good. Smile!’’
Is My Propane a band that wants to give statements and awareness to society? Or is the fun factor of making music and being in a band more important?
Valerio: ,,We make music for people to listen to and because we kind of need to, both for the fun and for the desire of communicating. If they listen well enough I think they will understand exactly what we want to say.’’
Will My Propane go full speed ahead from now on and what are the concrete plans for the rest of the year?
Valerio: ,,We want to PLAY PLAY PLAY, then we want to play some more. So stay tuned and await a few more surprises from our side!’’
HBLS review of `Antidote’ here
Facebook My Propane here
Website My Propane here Header photo by Bob Borstlap