Lying Figures is a melodic death/doom band from France, formed in 2008. After the release of two EPs which made an initial good impression regarding the band’s music, they released in May their debut album ‘The Abstract Escape’ (Rain Without End Records). Last Day Deaf, after reviewing this notable album, found the opportunity to discuss with Lying Figures about inspirations and their current work.
Tell us a few words about the formation of the band. What were your initial vision and goals of creating Lying Figures?
Matt: Nearly ten years ago we just wanted to play together with Mehdi and Charles. We lived in the same neighborhood and we all played the guitar. There was no real goal at that time, just trying to make music between us. See if we could write some music. We created some songs and then we wanted to try it in real conditions. So, as Charles knew to play drums, we started a band with the three of us. The band was called Insanity Prelude.
Mehdi: We started in 2007, and I believe we were trying to create something that was a balance of bands we were listening back then, doom metal, early Katatonia, Saturnus, The Old Dead Tree. We felt there was a blank that needed to be filled. The will to create was a strong motivation for Mathieu and me. We were seeing our future as a rather boring thing. We were using all of our time to search for new bands to listen to, new movies to see…
On May 7th you released your debut album ‘The Abstract Escape’ which has been very well received by the audience and critics. Were there any significant difficulties of making this album and have you yet reached a point where you evaluate it yourselves?
Fred: We had to choose a good track list for ‘The Abstract Escape’, we had written more than 8 tracks but the other songs were not in the same mood. So, we decided to leave them aside for now. We were prepared for the studio; we knew where we would go. Once in the studio, we thought about new possibilities with our producer Pierre Schaffner. It was interesting and rewarding to work with him. The only difficulty was to adapt our schedules. At the end, we are proud & satisfied by the sound. It’s the exact sound we were looking for.
Mehdi: We are really glad and surprised too. It certainly helped us to get the reviews we’ve got, and we had some really good returns from the public. For me, the difficulty is to decide when a song is considered over. I feel there is always room for improvement, for some additional studio arrangements. I do now appreciate the difference between our songs before and after recording. Pierre Schaffner, who recorded us, has made everything sound natural and powerful. I’m looking forward to work with him again and see how we can give birth to a new sound for Lying Figures.
Your influences come from horror and dark literature, cinema and art. The main theme of this album is mental illness. Did your inspiration about this concept derive from a particular story?
Matt: I think we saw so many movies, read so much books and played so many video games with horror/psychological context that the album is a blend of all this. The concept was born from all those influences we have but not a particular story. You can find many references to this culture we love in this album and that’s what I like in the creative process. Thinking about this universe helps me a lot.
Mehdi: I would say nothing specific, though “Jacob’s Ladder” came to my mind in association with the abstract escape. It could be the soundtrack of your interment. The incapacity to pinpoint the root of evil is a classic theme, allowing us to explore the blurred line between mental illness and unnatural.
In extension of the previous question, do you see a similar kind of darkness, as the one you find in literature and other forms of art, also in real life?
Matt: I don’t know if sometimes I think too much (many people tell me that) but yes, you can see darkness in everyday life. Just come where we live and see people go to work in the morning. All you see is sadness. When you talk to people who hate their job and life, take pills to survive it but keep doing the same things everyday just because it’s more “socially accepted” all I can see is a kind of madness. And it’s even worse because this madness is shared and accepted in our society. I know people with tons of talent (music and art in general) who stopped everything for a girl or a job and a few years later became the person they hated before. I don’t know anything sadder than this waste of skills.
Mehdi: Some of us have a history with chronic depression. I feel every year, during the month a June, some kind of depressive mood coming over me: I look at everything I did, seeing and judging everything I did in a negative way. Lying figures is a way for me to try to find a positive outcome to my negativity.
The cover artwork is really beautiful and portrays the album’s atmosphere with success. Who is responsible for it and was it as an idea a collaboration between you and the artist?
Matt: It’s my girlfriend Cindy and I who created the artwork. So thank you for the compliment. She likes drawing things in this kind of universe and shares many references with me. We understood each other easily when it came to create the artwork. We inspired ourselves from the lyrics Thibault wrote and the music. We wanted to match with the atmosphere but we didn’t want to make something too realistic. We like when you can imagine whatever you want when you see an artwork.
Mehdi: They have been in charge of every artwork for LF since the beginning, and I believe it is the finest they’ve produced so far.
Personally I think that ‘The Abstract Escape’ can satisfy fans of various genres – from gothic to doom and from black to death metal. Being a coherent album, it blends various musical influences successfully. Do you believe that musicians like yourselves are free to proceed in this kind of blending or are still eyebrows rising?
Matt: We never asked ourselves this question. We make the music we like. We like to blend things but we also like to make It sound strong and heavy. We have some songs way more atmospheric and progressive that couldn’t match an album like ‘The Abstract Escape’ or our previous demo and EP. So we know we can make songs even more different but we make a real work on the choices of the songs we put in the album.
Mehdi: It is more than allowed, it is necessary for any musical genre to develop. What’s the point in sounding like the 90’s Paradise Lost today? We have to expand our culture and take every kind of idea that feels right. On the other hand, it is a matter of balance. We have to digest our influences and mixed them with our personal vision, otherwise it would be sound forced: ‘‘that’s the Metallica mid-tempo ballad, that’s the post-rock song, this is a Gojira kind of riff”.
Some years ago when the words France and metal came up, black metal crossed my mind immediately. If I am not wrong there has been a significant underground black metal scene there. How have things evolved until now, regarding the musicians and the audience as well?
Fred: Black metal is very present in France, but also death metal, hardcore…doom/death is more “shy” it’s very underground. It’s strange because we know there are many metal heads in France, but not enough venues to play…
Mehdi: It’s not really my predicated genre, but you’d be right from what I heard. You might want to listen to our friends Phazm, I considered them the rightful heirs to the black metal scene. Also, what Wheelfall is doing right now is really interesting. It is happening again.
You have been quite active regarding live shows mainly in France. Are there plans to play also abroad in the near future?
Fred: We don’t play live as often as want but we start to cross the French borders with some gigs in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. We hope to play more inside our own lands and continue to play in Europe…
Mehdi: We have been approached for a Russian tour, but the conditions we not ideals for us. We feel frustrated, but we hope to be able to play there soon. We really appreciate the audience we had in Belgium and the Netherlands…We are working to play in Italy and Germany in 2018.
From some videos of live shows I have watched on your official YouTube channel, your stage performance seems very atmospheric, almost theatrical. Does this come naturally due to your music or do you intend to be more artistic on stage?
Matt: We intend to make something atmospheric in our shows but I think It comes naturally with the music we make. We like to make the shows heavy too! Making heads move but also make people feel something during the shows.
Mehdi: Both, to be true. To play at my best, I need to descend within myself. To do that, it helps to have a real darkness on stage. The lights shows is vital to us, we need to “control” the context that will surround our music.
Let me once again congratulate you on your new album and thank you for this interview! Feel free to add anything to close this interview.
Fred: Thanks for this moment and for your great review! It’s always a pleasure when people understand our world…
Mehdi: Thank you again for your kind review. Hopefully we’ll be playing nearby soon.