Interview with Ozymandis (Alpha Bootis)
Hello Ozymandis, thank you for joining us today. How are you?
Thank you for inviting me! I am well, thanks for asking. I’ve been keeping very busy amidst lockdown, and living with 4 roommates and my girlfriend means I have a decent social life nonetheless!
Tell us a bit about your new album, what was writing and recording for this album like?
This upcoming album had a very different writing process than our usual. Our sound evolved so much since our humble beginnings as an instrumental synthwave duo that we felt we needed to do an update on our first EP. We still play these songs live and they work very well with our new metal band+saxophone+synths lineup, but they sound almost nothing like the recordings! Revisiting and re-arranging older material is always a fun game of personal archeology. I had a very different workflow in my early days, and it was a bit of a mess! I had very little idea of what I was doing, so the songs had a lot of untapped potential that we unearthed for this new release.
Although, the most fun I’ve had was turning the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s opening theme, “Science Fiction Double Feature” into a synthwave/power metal anthem. It’s rare that a cover inspires me so much.
This is also a peculiar album, since it also will include our latest EP Stowaway Ants on the physical release, thus creating a Science Fiction Double Feature (see what we did there?). Some of our fans wanted Stowaway Ants on a physical format, but we didn’t feel like 3 songs was enough to print CDs. Now, this double EP of sorts will have 10 tracks in total, which is enough bang for your buck in my opinion.
Given the current state of the world, did it poise any issues towards the completion of the album?
It’s a peculiar thing to produce and record an album while never being in the same room as a band. Most of the band recorded or programmed their parts from home, but we managed to get in some studio time for drums, and I found a way to record our singer safely from his house, while following public health protocols. It definitely was a logistical challenge, but I feel that this process taught us a lot, and that we will be better as a band moving forward.
Of course the current state of things isn't ideal, have you started to plan for what comes next once the world starts opening up again?
I spent all of last summer learning about marketing and promotion, since I was feeling restless from all the canceled shows and events. I then made a plan for the band as if shows were not going to happen anytime soon. I figured that I’d be better off planning for things I had control on, like recording, producing and releasing new music and stories as much as we could.
We plan on releasing approximately one song a month for the next 12 to 18 months, banking on the backlog of compositions we built up during lockdown. When shows are a possibility, I’ll work them in our current plan, but judging by the amount of people waiting for them to happen, I think it’ll be a momentous cacophony of tours and shows when the venues open back up, and small fish like us won’t be able to cut through that noise.
Tell us a bit about yourself as a musician, who influences you?
I consider myself a songwriter and producer first and a guitarist second. I started producing electronic music 7 years ago when I discovered synthwave. It became my lifesaver when I had to stop playing guitar for a whole year, to recover from chronic tendinitis. Years of gaming, schoolwork and playing without warming up properly wrecked my arms. Thankfully, I was able to recover, but my passion for electronic music still stands, and having to put down guitar made me realize it was only a tool, not my passion. My true passion is writing songs and bringing them to life. As such, my main influences are artists who write and produce, such as Devin Townsend, Mikael Akerfelt, Steven Wilson, Daft Punk, Claudio Sanchez (Coheed & Cambria) or Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon).
Who is your biggest bucket list band you've shared the stage with? Who would you love to share the stage with next?
We only really played with local bands and small touring acts, but growing up in the Montreal scene, I saw Bird Problems play half a dozen times, and to be able to share the stage with them felt a bit like a consecration, like we finally made it to a decent level. As for who we’d like to share the stage with next, I’m hoping we can play a show with Unleash The Archers or Gloryhammer when they come to Montreal. Those bands have that same epicness we seek to inbue in our music, and they are killer live!
What are some of the main themes behind the new album? What story are you trying to convey?
Each one of our songs is a small episode in a science-fiction saga we are collectively writing. It is set in the future of our universe, in a time after Earth became unfit to support most life. Humanity survives as a vast diaspora of colony ships, space stations and terraformed planets around the nearby stars. Through these stories, we tackle themes like ecology, social dynamics, politics, love, hate, transhumanism and ethics.
Frak, Harakoa and I, the main songwriters in the band, are all avid readers and RPG players, and we turn to science-fiction as a way to discuss our world, and our place in it, without having to engage in the often fraught melee of real-world politics. I find it easier to engage with these heavy subjects through the mirror of fiction, and science-fiction is a perfect medium to look back on our world.
The actual story of Science Fiction Double Feature is a simple one: a crew of daring explorers leave the dying Earth in search of a new planet. It is presented as a movie that would be released in our fictional universe, while the rest of our discography depicts the actual events. As such, it is a story within a story. Explaining this is making me look like the Pepe Silvia guy isn’t it…
Don’t worry, we make sure the music stands on its own as well.
Last but not least, is there any message you would like to share with your fans?
We’ve been blown away by the response to our Stowaway Ants EP and, at the risk of sounding cliché, we really are inspired to keep going by the response of our fans! We’re really eager to share with you our new and re-imagined music, and hopefully to see you at live shows sooner rather than later!
Thank you so much for your time! The latest Alpha Bootis EP Stowaway Ants EP can be found on their Bandcamp, and keep an eye out for any news about their upcoming release! Cheers again, Ozymandis!
Thank you very much for having us! Stay Synth!