TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with the bass player Agone from the French gothic metal band Penumbra was done through e-mail in August 2002.
Hello, how are you doing?
Well I'm fine, thanks!
Your second album "The Last Bewitchment" has been available in the stores for a while now, what has the response been like?
The echoes we have are really good now, regarding the
reviews in the press, the advice of the fans through
emails or after the gigs, and the sales that are going
It took you almost three years to complete the new album, how come it took so long? Are you happy with the outcome?
There are several reasons for this length between
Emanate and our last album, "The last Bewitchment":
the first reason is the conflict we had with our
former label, Last Episode, that betrayed us, so we
little bit disgusted by the music's business. We
decided to continue anyway but we had to complete our
line-up, as several members left us. Once the line-up
had been completed, we finished the writing of the
album (it took us almost one year), recorded a 3 title
demo for the labels, and found our new label, Season
of Mist, of which we are completly satisfied; then
you add the recording of the album, the
post-production and the planning of the release and
three years are passed...
What are the biggest differences between "The Last Bewitchment" and your debut "Emanate"?
I think that the main difference is a bigger maturity,
which lead us to a wealthier orchestration and
composition; we learnt also new technics for
recording, and have been given better means for doing
what we wanted to big Season of Mist. The Last
Bewitchment is also a concept-album, what gives a
bigger entity to this album.
By using both growling male and clean female vocals you will probably always be compared to the early Norwegian bands of the genre but where do you see yourselves standing musically?
We can't tell we haven't been influenced by some bands
on the metal scene, but we tried to express ourselves
first of all, without limits of style or limits of
instruments. Voices we use are there to endeavour the
different characters and emotions expressed by the
actors of The Last Bewitchment. We also have classical
influences, and each member of Penumbra has his own
preferences and tastes, from Rammstein to Therion,
from Delalande to Vivaldi...
Being seven members in a band must be quite difficult sometimes, are there often seven different opinions when you write new material?
What could be a backdraw became a strenght for us: we
learnt to compose all together, and we complete quite
well each other. Some songs are mainly composed by 2
or three members, some others songs by another "crew"
in the band, etc..., and once the songs are created,
we arrange them in rehersals or in our home studios.
Of course, sometimes we have different opinions but we
always manage to agree on what seems to be the best
You have had a lot of line-up changes during the last year and a half, what does the current line-up look like? Do you think you have found a stable line-up now?
We think we've found the good line-up: Jarlaath (oboe
and main vocals), Dorian (guitars), Neo (guitars) and
Zoltan (keyboards) are the roots of the band. I (Agone
/ Bass guitar and backing vocals) arrived a year and a
half ago and Garlic (drums) and Kyrsten (soprano)
arrived six months ago, completing our full line-up.
Through the gigs we did with Within Temptation in
march, through our empathy and through the enthusiasm
of the public, we are convinced that this line-up is
the most efficient that Penumbra ever had.
What kind of musical background do the current band members have, have you been involved with any other bands or musical projects before Penumbra?
Almost all the members of Penumbra belonged to other
musical formations before Penumbra. Some members of
Penumbra are also currently in other bands, and some
members have common projects. I will quote a few
names: Catharsis, Everest, Lux Incerta, Sky Zoo...
Do you know what the former members David, Scyllia, Medusa, Hekchen and Aldric has been doing since they left the band?
We know that most of them kept playing in other bands,
we kept good relationships with them.
Why don't you use your real names in the band? Are you afraid that people will associate you as persons with Penumbra?
No, the real point is that when we enter in the world
of Penumbra, we become different characters so we
embody the characters of this musical universe through
our names, and also through our clothes, tatoos,
roles... and we are proud to play in Penumbra, we
don't hide it: I think it's a duty for us to be real
musical characters for the public and not just guys
who play music without any implication.
The new album was recorded together with Terje Refsnes, what was it like working with him at Sound Suite?
It was a real pleasure for us : he is a very kind and
very professional person, it was really a great
experience, and he opened our musical possibilities in
a way. We are really happy of the result, he put his
talent at the service of our ideas and we thank him
What do you think of other bands who have recorded there such as Trail Of Tears and Tristania? Was this why you chose this studio for your own recording?
Trail of Tears and Tristania both have, on a technical
point of view, a good sound that fits with their
music; their style is not very far from ours even if
we all have our own personality.
We didn't chose to record with Terje, our label gave
us this possibility and we jumped on it! As I told you
it was really a very good experience for us!
You had some fifteen guest musicians appearing on the album, how did you get in touch with them and who are they?
We have many contacts in the classical music, as
several members come from this universe. That's how we
managed to find all the people we were looking for.
The are all friends of friends so it was a pleasure to
record with them!
Classical influences are apparently very important to you, what do you think of bands like Therion and Haggard who have taken the concept even further? Is this where Penumbra is going in the future?
For now, it is not our goal: we use classical
instruments when we think the song needs it, but we
could very well write a song with just two guitars and
a voice, for us it's just a matter of need. But with
classical instruments, we can give another dimension
to our music so we use them very frequently. We don't
know how far we will go with that, we don't put any
limit in a way or another...
In February and March you did a couple of small tours in Holland and France together with Dying Tears, We The Gods and Within Temptation, what was that like? How do you feel about playing live?
We love to tour with other bands and to play live!
It's a dream for any novice musician and we have the
luck to make it come true: the bands we played with
are all really cool, and all the places where we
played were always great, in France and in
Netherlands: the audiences were great and we shared a
lot of good moments with our friend bands and with the
people who came to our gigs. Penumbra come to life in
live, it's another dimension and all the people who
saw us live would tell you that: it's our universe.
Earlier on you have played festivals like Wave Gotik Treffen and Z7, do you like playing gothic festivals more than metal festivals? If so, then why?
You know, we are between Gothic and Metal world so we
enjoy playing in both festivals. All crowds are
different and it's always a challenge to bewitch them
;-). Our music is made of these influences among all
the others, so we are at ease in both situations!
Do you know where in the world you have most of your fans? Who do you think your music will appeal to?
I think that most of our fans come from Netherlands
(we love Netherlands!) and Germany, where Emanate sold
more than 3000 copies. These countries, like
Scandinavians, have a real metal culture that we don't
really have in France. As I told you, our music
appeals to all people who like gothic, dark, classical
and metal sounds. And over that, we hope that our
melodis may go further than these concepts...
What are your top five albums of all time?
Well I will speak for myself, I would say Type O
Negative "October Rust", Katatonia "Discouraged ones",
My Dying Bride "The Angel...", Iron maiden "Seventh
Son...", Paradise Lost "Draconian Times". But it's so
hard, there are so many excellent albums, it depends
on my mood...
What plans and goals do you have for the nearest future?
First of all, we want to play live the more we can,
all over Europe (and even further) if possible, why
not to Sweden? We like to be on tour, really... Then
we will continue the writing of our third album, and
go on rehearsal as much as possible.
Now to my very own right or wrong section. You are just going to tell us whether you think the following acts would be right or wrong:
a) If someone killed Hitler prior to his mass murder campaigns.
We don't speak about politics, we only care about
music... [Editor's comment: Isn't this a matter of ethics rather than politics...?]
b) To burn down a church because it's "evil".
It's a pity, I like organs and the reverb in the
c) To burn down a church because it represents oppression.
Hey you do what you want with your body...
e) Death penalty.
For the pedophils...
f) To lie if it will be of benefit to yourself.
It's not in my philosophy!
Because people fear death and need to find an
explanation to their presence on earth... I am
We don't care about politics. Facts are blatant
Any final words for your fans?
We hope to see you on tour as soon as possible, and
wish that you will feel the same emotions listening to
The Last Bewitchment than those who felt creating it!
And thanks for your support, we play for you!
Links of interest:
Season Of Mist