Swiss band Djizoes (pronounced Jesus…go figure) will be playing at Underground Heavy#3. With their mix of melody and metal, they create a dredging, intense sound that don’t pull no punches when it comes to colliding with your eardrums. Soon to be in Hong Kong the second time around, the band’s vocalist-bassist Ales Campanelli talks to us about the band, gigging, and music today.
Q. I understand that you guys have just recorded a new album; what’s the lowdown on that?
A. We built a recording studio in our rehearsal place for the occasion. The new album “Ichi Ten Dai” will be released shortly on Outbreak Records.
Q. What was the recording process like this time around?
A. Since we were recording at home, everything was very comfortable. We took the time to do things right, without having too much pressure. It really was a fantastic experience. We had close to 100 bottles of wine during the process, so the general atmosphere was generally relaxed.
Q. The one year anniversary of the band turning from a quartet to a three-man outfit, a very significant event in any band’s existence, is coming up. What’s that been like, and what effect has it had on the band’s dynamic, and the music (if any)?
A. It was all very natural. Actually, the whole split was. Djizoes has been based on compromise for a long time and no one was too happy with that. With the new line up, everything was more spontaneous. Songs were written faster, and in my opinion, those are the best tracks we ever recorded.
The real worry for me was whether I would be able to get the singing right; So far so good. Djizoes has always been through rough patches. It’s part of our story. But there’s no way to harm the band in a significant way.
Q. You’ll eventually be on your way to the historic Whisky A Go Go (L.A.), a true haven of rock music; how excited is the band to join the illustrious list of people who’ve played there?
A. It’s a lifelong dream. Playing the Whisky is one of the shows I look forward to the most. But it’s always possible to have a great show in small bar, and a shitty atmosphere in a famous place. I have a very fond memory of a show we played at the Wanch here in Hong Kong.
Q. One of the names that constantly crop up in relation to your sound is Alice in Chains – any thoughts / opinions on that?
A. I don’t know them that well, but we’ve been compared to so many different names in almost every area of the rock music… But we’re a Metal band. Heh. People talk. That’s what they do best.
Q. Who would you say are your influences as a band?
A. I personally listen to a lot of 70s music: Uriah Heep and such… Fred (guitarist) is more into 90s stuff. Vinch (drummer) has like 10’000 records. He knows it all, but I think Strapping Young Lad and Dead Can Dance are amongst his favourites I think.
Q. Some bands find their sound through regimented planning, while others seem to just hit it organically. How did you guys happen upon your sound?
A. We do rehearse a lot. I believe in hard work, but you don’t go into Rock N Roll with just planning. If you play with great musicians, they will always bring their personality to the sound, and that is a great thing.
A. Like I said, the band has been based on compromise for a long time. We were trying to find a way to make everyone happy. It’s close to impossible to work that in music for too long. So yeah, a lot has changed. Everything is more direct and aggressive, and I lost a lot of my patience in the process. This is why our album is called that way. Eat shit and die has been a catch phrase for the past year.
Q. Popular rock music today is so saturated with nu-metal, and the ever-growing Noughties’ alt. rock sound, that the classic, more melodic metal sound seems to be becoming a dying art? What are your feelings about this as musicians, and as music-lovers?
A. Rock N Roll is alive and well. It will always be carried on by devoted people. Kill one, two are born. People don’t play this classic because they want to or think it might be profitable, but because if they don’t, they die. Take this away from us and we got nothing.
Bad music is also part of our culture; we don’t have to feel threatened by it.
Q. You’ve been to and played in Hong Kong before; how had it treated you the last time
A. That may sound like a very generic answer, but we loved it. Talking about devoted people, HK has one of the most impressive independent Rock N Roll organisations I had the opportunity to work with.
Q. Any thoughts on the bands you’d heard then?
A. We played in Club Cixi with a band called Cock Fight. I’ve been looking around, but finding a better band name is a challenge I still have to beat. We will share the stage with Gong Wu for the second time also. Good bands.
Q. Finally, any expectations from Hong Kong this time?
A. I’m pretty confident we’ll have a great time. Looking forward to the Underground Festival!
Djizoes’ new album Ichi Ten Dai will be out this May on Outbreak Records (will also be available on iTunes)
They will be playing 2 nights in Hong Kong in 2010: May 7th at the Wanch, and May 8th at Rockschool for Underground Heavy#3
Interview by Shashwati Kala