Ad Infinitum – The Story Begins…Tuesday, 7th April 2020
Ad Infinitum was first announced by vocalist Melissa Bonny a few years back with a crowdfunding campaign. Since then, Ad Infinitum has signed to Napalm Records and has just released their debut album, Chapter 1: Monarchy (Order HERE). Given our excitement for what Bonny has achieved in the past with other acts (such as Rage of Light), and the symphonic power of Monarchy itself, we were all too happy to sit down and have a chat with her over Skype about her thoughts behind the project. Not to mention discussing her insights from working with other acts, what got her into metal, and much more!
Dead Rhetoric: Where did the idea for Ad Infinitum stem from?
Melissa Bonny: The idea started a while ago – I went through my files recently and saw that I was already working on [Ad Infinitum] back in 2016. But that was an early stage when I just wanted to write my own songs. I was working with bands where I was not the main composer and I was really feeling the need to write something closer to what I like to listen to and sing for myself in practicing. That’s how it started, and it evolved through time.
I didn’t know really what direction it would go in, and then I met Oliver Philipps, who is the producer of the album. Together we found the right direction, and then I started to write the first songs: programming everything, recording the vocals, and sending it to him. He would re-write some parts, such as the drums, which I’m not much of an expert in. Or he would re-do the guitar parts in a way that a real musician would play it. That’s how we created the sound of Ad Infinitum. Later, Nick [Müller], Jonas [Asplind], and Adrian [Theßenvitz] joined the team and we continued the process together.
It was actually funny, because I had known Nick since 2018 because we toured together with Serenity. We got to know each other there and we got along very well. He’s a brilliant musician so I asked him to join the band. Once he joined, he told me knew an amazing guitar player…which was Adrian. So he asked him if he was interested, and he joined. Last year, I was a guest vocalist for WarKings, and we were supporting Amaranthe and Follow the Cipher. That’s how I got to know Jonas, who is now our bass player.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you say about the concept of the album? Does it tie into the band’s image with plague doctor masks?
Bonny: We had a few songs, and we needed to work on the rest of the album. Nick had this idea of gathering for a week in a quiet place, far away from everything with no distractions. We went to an old place in Switzerland to meet up for a week. We figured with that one week we could write a kick ass album, because we are on it 24/7 there. The first day, we had no real inspiration. But we got to know each other and how we worked together. So the second day came and there was no inspiration – no riffs, no ideas, no nothing. But we still had plenty of time. On the third day, there was still nothing and we were starting to get a little bit worried as we were almost halfway through the week. So at the end of the day, we finished everything up and went to bed and start early the next day.
But we had this weird idea, since this house was very old and full of ‘surprises.’ You know those ideas that you have when you are watching a horror movie and you are like “Don’t do this?’ It was that situation where we decided to explore a little bit. So we went to the attic and there was this weird place with no light – only dusty old candles we lit. There was this library with old history books, and we thought it was cool – perhaps we could get some inspiration or stories that we could use. So we started to read them, and look at the pictures. At some point, each of us started to fall asleep. When we woke up, we were not in the house anymore, but in the middle of the Black Death in Europe – spread into 4 different countries. We didn’t know if it was the house, or the book, or some sort of prophecy. More importantly, we didn’t know if we would ever come back.
Since we were apart, we felt we needed to adapt and try to find some sort of new life here, just in case. So the guys got involved in the fight against the plague, which you can see that they kept after this. I, as a woman, was not really welcome in the world of medicine, but I was trying to find a way to fight the disease, and got to know some people who were employed in some less ‘official’ ways, which back then would be called witchcraft…particularly if a woman was doing it. But it turned out pretty ugly, because none of us are real doctors and not registered anywhere since we were not from that time. So at some point, we had to run away.
During this run, there was a point where a second jump through time occurred. This time we all gathered in France during the time of Louis XIV. This time the good thing was that we were all together, but we didn’t know why or when. So once again, we got to know people there and the way they were living. We met both people from low and high society. It was a very strong experience. When we got back into our own time, we decided to write the album about it.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk a little bit about the video and concept for “See You in Hell?”
Bonny: It’s really close to my heart. I think it’s my favorite song on the album, as well as my favorite lyrics. Perhaps you are familiar with poison – there was a lot of poisoning going on in the time of Louis XIV. It was the easiest way to get rid of someone without making too much noise, if you know what I mean. So there were a lot of people dying by poisoning. It was happening in Paris, it was happening in Versailles, and the story of “See You In Hell” is the story of a heartbroken woman who poisoned her lover. She says “see you in Hell” because Heaven is closed for her and for him, because he’s been a bad person. This is a tragic ending. I really like it, because it’s not the traditional love story where everyone is so happy and it’s beautiful. It’s kind of dark – I like it.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you want people to take away from Monarchy, as the band’s first album?
Bonny: I want them to feel it in their stomach. I want them to feel the power of metal, but also be transported by the beautiful orchestrations and travel through time.
Dead Rhetoric: I know initially there was crowdfunding going on for the album. Did it make sense to put the album through Napalm since you are already working with them with Rage of Light?
Bonny: That’s a good question because a lot of people think, that as soon as you have a record label, you have money. That’s not at all what it’s like. Of course, Napalm helped us, but the price of a good album, with a good production and nice videos, it’s so expensive. When you are a newcomer, you can’t ask a record label to take a huge financial risk. You first have to prove yourself. We were lucky enough to get this deal, either during or after the crowdfunding campaign…I can’t remember, and the [label] budget we had at our disposal was not sufficient to cover the cost of the album. We were really lucky to have both a successful crowdfunding campaign and Napalm Records to help us.
Dead Rhetoric: Given that the album is titled, Chapter 1: Monarchy, can we expect more in the future?
Bonny: Of course. The idea behind the chapters is that you would picture the whole story of the band: past, present, and future, as a book. Chapter 1 is the beginning of this book. We have already planned Chapter 2. It’s been a beautiful adventure to create Chapter 1, and we are very excited to release it. There’s already been a lot of great comments about the songs that we have released. Because of this, we are even, already now, impatient to start to work on Chapter 2.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve worked with a number of bands outside of Rage of Light and Evenmore over the years – what have you taken away from your experiences with other musicians?
Bonny: It was really interesting, in the sense that I’ve learned a lot, and now I take all of this experience and I inject it into the band. When it comes to recording or touring, everything that you can learn from the music business – you have to understand how it works and the environment, and the possibilities that you have.
For example, this virus [COVID-19] has compromised a big part of our promotion plan, which was our European tour. We have to react. We can’t just say “Oh well, let’s just wait for the next tour.” We have to do something about it. The fact that I had the chance to work with other bands before gives me the opportunity to react quickly and know what to do in that situation. I have a good idea of how album promotion looks like, and how to keep the attention of the people and spread your music, so I’m very grateful for that I have had that opportunity before.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel it takes to get your name out there within the metal community?
Bonny: You have to have the whole package. You have to have good music, good image, good communication, and good promotion to get your music out there and talk to people. You have to be aware of what your fanbase wants. You have to listen to people and the advice you can get. I think that people also really like to know who you are as a person. We live in the age of social media, where people like to do what you do on stage as well as what your life looks like when you are not a performer. I think it’s nice to have that contact with people. They can then identify with you – you aren’t that unreachable person that’s far away. Especially when you are in a small band. I think it’s important to show that you are humble and grateful. People can feel that as well.
Dead Rhetoric: What drew you in, and kept you interested, in the metal genre?
Bonny: I got into it very late actually. I started to listen to metal and get to know the bands when I was 18. Before then, I was listening to all kinds of music. When I say all kinds, I mean all kinds. When I was much younger I was a big fan of Shakira and Britney Spears. Then I started listening to Evanescence and Basshunter. I still listen to all kinds of music, but when I was 18 I met my boyfriend at the time, who introduced me to Nightwish and Kamelot. I’m grateful that he did, because then I really found a music style that I loved – because of its power and diversity. You can have a day when you want to listen to death metal, and the day after you are in the mood for power metal. I really love that.
Dead Rhetoric: As you were saying some of those older bands, is that where you initially grabbed from with Rage of Light when you did the “Lollipop” cover?
Bonny: [Laughs} That was not my decision, but I really enjoyed it! It was actually Jon [Pellet], the main composer of Rage of Light, was really into trance and electronic music. That’s how he created the sound of the band. At some point, he thought about a cover of Aqua? I think he started to compose it and we got on board with the idea. Then we decided to do a video. I remember the day before we released it, we were like, “Shit, this could go very right or very wrong” [laughs]!
Dead Rhetoric: What would you like to see from the metal world as it progresses forward?
Bonny: I don’t know if it’s a realistic dream or not, but I’d love to see the metal scene have the same exposure as other genres. Perhaps not completely, because you’d start to see metal turning into pop. But last year, there were a few metal bands that went to the Grammy’s. But it feels good to see the work of metal artists also being recognized. There will probably never be as many people listening to metal as much as R&B or pop, but it’s nice to see that it’s not only underground, and some people get some recognition for their work.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you have planned for the rest of the year? I know it’s a bit of a big question right now.
Bonny: Yeah, that’s a big question. We are working with our booker to find some other shows. We were expecting to go on tour in a few weeks, but they were cancelled. We are working on finding new dates for this. We also have a new video coming out, as well as some dates that will hopefully be announced soon. With the summer festivals, it’s a little tricky right now since we don’t know what’s going to happen. But a new video, hopefully new concerts, but it’s all really tough to predict right now.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you think about doing some sort of paid, live-streaming concert?
Bonny: I didn’t think about the paid part, but perhaps if we can’t do a proper release party, we could do a streamed concert. Jonas had brought up that idea, but the problem right now is that the borders are closed, and we don’t know if we would even be able to gather as a band. So there’s still a big question mark on this.
Photo by Natalia Enemede