ZT INTERROGATION: FRENCH DEATH METAL NEWCOMERS CHABTAN GIVE US THE LOWDOWN ON THEIR DEBUT ALBUM

French death metal crew Chabtan take their inspiration from Mesoamerican mythologies. Paul Castles finds out a liitle more about who and what they are.

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Q Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your debut album, The Kiss Of Coatlicue, How pleased are you with it and did the whole recording process run smoothly or did you have any problems?

A Thank you, we are very happy and proud about the upcoming release of our album and for that we thank our label Mighty Music who believed in us. We did not encounter any particular difficulty in recording and creation of this album. We spent a lot of time on the composition of the songs, almost two years, because we wanted to offer as most successful an album as possible.

Q Can you tell us something about the band and what ‘Chabtan’ means?

A Chabtan are a metal band from Paris created by Jean-Philippe Porteux and Dimitri Merly, in 2011. If we want to play a brutal, violent, modern but melodic music, we also would have a concept around us. This is of Mesoamerican mythologies. It’s a very rich and complex culture with violent and bloody legends which feed our lyrics, grafisms and atmospheres in our music. Therefore, ‘Chabtan’ comes from the name of the Mayan god of sudden death and sacrifice Buluc Chabtan

Q Is the songwriting a collective process with all band members involved?

A No, in fact we composed the album, Jean-Philippe and I (Dimitri), the two guitarists of the band. Then, all members brought their ideas and proposals for the last arrangements.

Q The melodic death metal sound should be appreciated by fans of Swedish acts such as In Flames and Arch Enemy. The album was also mixed and mastered by Swede Fredrik Nordstrom. Is that the music that you grew up listening to?

A Not really, we have a lot of influences in the group, including modern bands like Arch Enemy, In Flames we love the sound. This is also why we wanted the same! But for Jean-Philippe and I, who have composed this album, we grew up listening to mostly 90s metal bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Septultura, Pantera among others…

Q The French metal scene has never been healthier with so many great bands headed by the likes of Gojira. Which French bands in particular do you admire?

A Yes there are some very good metal bands in France, those we love and who inspire us are for example Gojira, Dagoba, Black Bomb A, Arrs, Eths, among others.

Q There is a theme throughout The Kiss Of Coatlicue of Mesoamerican legends. Can you tell us something about this and at what point in your lives you started to read about this?

A We absolutely wanted the project revolves around a concept in order to bring, unpretentious course, an original and cultural side to our music. And it is this cultural aspect that inspires us, mostly in our texts. Specifically for this first album, we enjoyed the story of the Mayan goddess “Coatlicue”: Coatlicue is the goddess and mother of the gods, the sun, the moon and the light in the mesoamerican mythology. She gave birth to many children become monstrous and evil gods. Since the birth of the band, we have learned much about the mesoamerican exciting legends and there are many, more violent and morbid as each other, then we will never be short of inspiration!

Q If you could go back in time and play a gig in front of the Mesoamerican people do you think they would enjoy it?

A Unfortunately we will never know but I imagine that in honoring their culture and their God, they might appreciate our music that is as violent as their legends !!! But I think it would be a big risk for us because they used at that time, sacrificing human, especially when they were parties so …

Q As artists have you been affected by the Charlie Hebdo killings and has it refocused your thoughts on issues such as freedom of expression?

A Like everyone, not just as an artist, but especially as humans we obviously shocked by the Charlie Hebdo killing. The Mayan people sacrificed some humans as an offering to their God, that we can meet! Today people have been sacrificed for expressing a thought, an idea, at a time when freedom of expression is the most basic right. It is sad to see that a part of humanity is ignorant and stupid …

Q Because the political climate in France has been so heavily affected by what happened in Paris do you think this may motivate or inspire future Chabtan work or is modern day politics something you would prefer to avoid?

A We are not a band engaged politically, it’s not our job to talk about it and even as an artist, we must defend freedom of expression, whatever its form, we avoid mixing politics to our music.

Q There’s some great artwork on the sleeve, which I see was done by an Englishman, Colin Marks. How did you meet him and who’s the young lady on the front?

A Yes we are very proud of our artwork created by Colin Marks. We loved its style and including some covers that he had made for bands such as Whitechapel or Psycroptic. We had in mind a specific idea what we wanted for our album and it seemed as obvious to work with him. The model who posed for our album and represents the goddess Coatlicue is Hayley Leggs. You know probably her because she is too from England and is also very active in the middle of the metal music!

Q Finally, what tour plans have you got for 2015 and will we get the chance to see Chabtan play in the UK?

A We have only one goal for 2015, defending our album on stage wherever we can. And there will certainly be a European tour, so we hope to play in the UK!

The Kiss Of Coatlicue will be released via Mighty Music on May 25.

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