Quickies : Zach Dean from Messora

Montreal’s Messora released their debut album, The Door, last October, right before the entire planet fell into a state of disaster. Coincidence or part of the plot, there’s something to ponder. Quite what it is about the Canadian city of Montreal that makes it such a mecca for extreme music remains unknown. Although my sources tell me it has a lot to do with the water, the beers and the secret ingredients that formulate poutine sauce. Don’t quote me though, I’ll deny every word of it.

Anyway, music aficionados of the more bleak persuasion may want to listen up here. Especially if the works of Opeth and Lamb Of God tickle your fancy – and because we are such solid humans here at the Modern Free Press offices, we’ve gone and added a music video at the end of this read. So see for yourself. And if you like what you find, somehow, copies of the album are still available (at time of print, anyway). Take it away Zach Dean!

What does it take to be a vocalist? What strain does it put on the human body?

I think it’s important to be in good shape to be a good vocalist, or at least to have some longevity as a vocalist. It isn’t as strenuous as a heavy workout or anything like that, but you are using your body as an instrument, sometimes a loud and chaotic instrument, so it’s best for your body to be able to take it. I think that this applies the most to live performance, where you want to display as much energy as possible for the entire duration of the show.

How important are lyrics to a song and, in your opinion, who is the greatest lyricist of all time?

I think that lyrics are more important than people might think. Even if you can’t understand all the words, especially with harsh metal vocals, certain key words placed at the perfect moment of a song can add a lot to the emotion and mood that the vocalist is trying to portray. Taking the time to read lyrics is also great when you want to know more about an album that you love, and when the lyrics are meaningful, well written and match the tone of the song it makes for an even more profound experience.

See also : Quickies : Big James Arsenian from Endast
If you were to dig through your personal music collection, what albums would you pick out as having the greatest vocal performances?

I think that Mikael Akerfeldt, past and present, has one of the best voices ever so any Opeth or Bloodbath is a no brainer if you’re looking for a great vocal performance. Crimson by Edge of Sanity too. I’d also go with The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails because of how well Trent Reznor communicates emotion through his vocal performance on the record. As a sort of companion album to The Downward Spiral, I’d also say Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson. Neither Trent Reznor or Marilyn Manson are proficient vocalists technique wise, but everything on those albums is so mean, dark and hellish. I’d also like to mention Led Zeppelin II because Robert Plant is out of this world. Any Led Zeppelin album would do really, but I particularly like this one. His vocals were so wild for the time and his vocal lines are always perfect for the song.

Has there ever been a concert you were at where the singer blew you away? Who made you want to pick up a microphone in the first place?

Seeing Cattle Decapitation live was definitely mind blowing for me. Travis Ryan does such a good job at being an entertaining and energetic frontman while also totally killing it vocally. He actually spat all over my girlfriend’s arm when we were right at the front of the stage, she definitely got a kick out of it. Another amazing show where my girlfriend got covered in spit was Daughters in Montréal last spring. The singer Lex is also an unbelievable frontman and he works the crowd like no one I’ve ever seen. My girlfriend was holding her arms up near him, so he went and deep-throated her hand. Good stuff. What got me into doing vocals is just that I liked lot of bands where the main songwriter was also the vocalist, like Metallica, Children of Bodom, Opeth, etc. Since I was already writing songs, I wanted to learn to do vocals and be like (James) Hetfield, Alexi (Laiho) and Mikael (Akerfeldt).

Where do you pull inspiration from? What is your writing process like and how often do you write down potential lyrics?

My lyrics are often introspective and cryptic. I’m often communicating some sort of emotion or wish that I have deep down, but I don’t intend to be literal when writing about it. I try to evoke that feeling subconsciously in the listener, without them necessarily immediately understanding what the lyrics are about. I often have ideas of what I might want to write about, but I only write actual lyrics when I have a song that is more or less complete instrumentally. Sometimes it can take months for me to finish writing the lyrics to a song, sometimes it takes a few days. I’m not very efficient or fast, but I make sure that I’m happy with what I’ve written before I consider it done instead of just rushing it.

Check out this video clip for the Messora track, The Door.