Heaven’s Cry – Duality with Symmetry Part IIMonday, 20th June 2016
Read Part I HERE.
Dead Rhetoric: What does the term progressive mean to you today? Has the definition changed as newer bands and newer technological advancements have taken shape?
Auclair: I think progressive for me just means you are able to do whatever you want with the song structure. It’s like freestyle, a synonym for freedom of creativity. Do you use progressive metal, progressive rock – it’s a way of classifying a style of music, but when you are in a band it gives you a free pass to let your creativity take flight, and there are no limits. That’s what progressive music means for me, I don’t know if that’s the right definition of the word. When you listen to bands from the 70’s, they had no predetermined formula or song structures. They were free to do whatever they wanted- and some of those songs actually got played on the radio, Kansas for instance with “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind”, if you listen to the albums, besides those songs you have a lot of six to eight minute songs. They are very progressive, it’s a rock band playing classical music, permission to elaborate musically and orchestrally take flight, propose a different perspective. Pop music was always going to have that limit of three to four-minute time frame song, it’s very focused to a certain type of listener. Progressive music, the listeners are more open-minded and crave that freedom in the first place.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it safe to say that overseas audiences gravitate more to Heaven’s Cry songs and live performances than North America? What have been some of your favorite show memories, and how would you describe the differences in the band live versus in the studio?
Auclair: We have more attention overseas, in Germany, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium. We played the ProgPower Europe festival in 2002, but we recently got some attention in the US by signing to Prosthetic and we also played the USA ProgPower festival in 2013. The studio situation is one of you know the songs, you know the parts, you know how you are going to play them as best and as tight as you can. When you are live, I don’t think that it’s just a question of how good you will be playing the parts, it’s also about the interaction with the audience. It’s a give and take, it’s a crowd, it’s an energy transfer. You are not just centered on yourself, there’s some energy being transferred and a crowd that’s into it- it’s a different aspect totally. When you are in the studio Heaven’s Cry is very focused, it’s like a surgeon you want to be as precise as possible and capture that moment. Live you want to have fun and appreciate the fact that there’s a community out there that wants to have a good time, that enjoys good music. You meet people after, you have a drink with them, it’s great to do records but when you go out and you play, you meet people that definitely is a payoff for me.
There was a show back in 2002 with a tour we did in Europe, we did a couple of shows opening up for Threshold. And we played a show in Germany in Essen, I don’t remember the name of the venue but it was in an old train station that they transformed into a venue. It was the first time I played in Germany, it was a weird feeling. We had been told before we went on stage that this was an old train station during the second World War, they used to deport some people off in those wagons, the prisoners. In the back stage there were these old electrical panels. It was very unsettling and intimidating. I had a ritual before I went on stage where I would go into the crowd and get a sense of the vibe of the people that night. I’ll always remember walking up to this guy and giving him a smile, and the guy looked at me with a cold stare, non-receptive with cold eyes. So I went back on stage, played and looked at him throughout the concert straight in the eye, he never looked at me. It was a weird vibe, but for some reason that’s the memory that comes to mind.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the changing consumption model of music these days – where many aren’t necessarily listening to full albums at one sitting and often cherry picking selections digitally or through social media means at such a fast pace?
Auclair: Yeah. I’m the same- I like to be entertained but there’s so much material to look at, the pace of things is accelerating, so how do you slow down and how do you pick a thing, it depends on a personal situation. I wouldn’t be able to generalize what’s happening and why it’s happening. Everyone picks out stuff in a different way. I sort of slow down when I go into a record shop and the format I buy now is vinyl. I had a vinyl collection for a while, then I switched to CD’s, and now with the digital format what I do is go online and listen to excerpts of songs and if something keeps my attention I’ll listen to the entire thing, and if I like it I’ll go buy the vinyl. Listening to vinyl is a whole different experience, it’s a ritual onto itself, drop the needle on the vinyl and just listen to it. You don’t have access to a mouse where you can just go click and skip songs, you have to get off your butt and drop the needle somewhere else if you want to change things.
I think instinctively when I play vinyl from beginning to end, a totally different perspective. When you are bombarded by so many things online you are so easily distracted, you can easily switch from one thing to another. We each have our own moments where we can lay down and relax, I don’t know if people have a country house or something. It depends on your surroundings, in the city we are like chickens without heads, there are so many things to look at. You hope you catch people’s attention with a little riff here and there and hope they keep listening. Sometimes I intentionally slow myself down to appreciate music the old school way, listening to vinyl.
Dead Rhetoric: How have you evolved as a person and a player within Heaven’s Cry? Do you think it’s important to have a strong personal connection to your band mates outside of your musical ties?
Auclair: Totally. I see the guys in Heaven’s Cry as my brothers. I met Pierre when I was 15 years old in 1987, we started playing together in 1991. He is my brother, I think it’s like in any relationship or in any person’s life, your circle of trust and family, friends, people you can count on, your community, your neighbors- nobody makes it alone. You need people to support you and people to love. Being in a band has definitely been a strong, supportive medium as far as my life. I wouldn’t see myself not in a band, that’s what I’ve always been doing. It’s like any good family, there are some ups and downs, confrontations- but in the end it’s a solid friendship, this is indispensable.
I started playing bass because of Heaven’s Cry. How it’s evolved is the level of intricacy in the band has always kept me on my toes. Without sounding too arrogant, there is a lot of complexity. It’s pushing me and giving me the opportunity to do it, I always try to keep things melodic. It’s given me that opportunity to still be able to record music in 2016 and push myself as a bass player and vocalist. To do both on stage at the same time is a challenge, but I’ve grown addicted to it. If Heaven’s Cry wouldn’t be here, I probably would not be playing bass today.
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