Visions of Atlantis – Wanderers in the USAMonday, 16th March 2020
No doubt, there were many Visions of Atlantis fans who were quite excited to see that the band was going to make their way to the United States – opening up for Dragonforce and labelmates Unleash the Archers. Last summer the band released their seventh album Wanderers, the first to showcase new vocalist Michele Guaitoli alongside the returning Clémentine Delauney, and it saw the band continuing to capture that spirit of adventure and glory in the way that they’ve been striving for in more recent years. We talked with vocalist Delauney a few days into the band’s trip across the US, to see how things had been going and their impressions of the US, a look back at Wanderers, and some of the challenges they’ve faced.
Since the interview, the band has had to cancel the remaining dates of their US tour due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 virus, and have set up a GoFundMe to offset some of their devastating losses. The link is HERE if you would like to contribute.
Dead Rhetoric: You are a few dates in, how is the US tour going so far?
Clémentine Delauney: It has been an amazing experience for us. Visions of Atlantis hasn’t toured the United States in like 15 years, so I wasn’t even in the band – so I can’t really say how different the tour is in comparison. But for me, personally, it’s been an amazing experience! The audience is so different; they are so reactive and so playful. It’s a real pleasure to play in front of such packed venues each night. The conditions are a little bit tougher than in Europe. We don’t get any food, we don’t get showers – we have to be very independent in many aspects, but we get used to it [laughs]. Otherwise, it’s been great!
Dead Rhetoric: Is this your first time in the US?
Delauney: I’ve been to the US before on different occasions, but this is the first time on tour.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you had any time to check out some sights or is it more just driving and looking out the window?
Delauney: [Laughs] It’s mostly that. We had a little time to send in San Francisco and that was nice. Every day we try to have a little look around where we are playing, but some venues are more in the suburbs so it’s not the most tourist-y area. We have been able to check out a little bit of Studio City when we were in LA – but yeah, as you said, it’s more being a tourist from a car and watching the road out the window.
Dead Rhetoric: As you were saying, it’s been a while since Visions of Atlantis has been over here. What does the band bring to the live setting?
Delauney: Our show has sort of a theatrical touch, something that we have been developing more since Michele [Guaitoli] joined the band. Even though we don’t have any props with us, since we are the opening act and it’s our first time here – we still try to push that aspect. This is how we love to perform our songs. The audience gets to attend a rock show, and it also gets us out into our own universe – it’s something that we love to have. We like people to be a part of the journey. We hope that in the future we will get more and more opportunities to play on a larger stage with more time to really develop that kind of show.
Dead Rhetoric: Looking back at Wanderers, what do you like about it – what stands out to you this far away from the release?
Delauney: For us, when the album was released, it was already more than 3 months that we were finished with it as musicians. We’ve had quite a bit of time to digest what we have released. I think this album is very diverse, but still very consistent and coherent in itself. With the lyrics, each song kind of connects to the others. It’s hard to have something that would really stand out to me – I personally wrote the title track, and it’s a very personal song for me with a very personal message. I would say I have a deeper connection to that song, but that’s because it’s entirely personal.
When it comes to the rest, I’m very happy with the album that we released, and there’s nothing that I would like to change or do differently. Sometimes when time passes and you look back, you see all the things that you wished were different, but with this record, it doesn’t strike me in that way. It’s a good sign that we did something that was good, at least in our opinion.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you determine who will sing in what parts?
Delauney: Sometimes it’s clear, and sometimes we have to try to see who sounds best in each part. In the end, what matters is that it all has to sound good. It doesn’t matter who sings what – there were some parts that I thought would be for me or for Michele, but they were switched, because in the end when we tried them in pre-production we would find melodies that didn’t sound right with the vocal register and had to change it.
It’s actually the same work that I do when I get a new song and am trying to get the vocal part. I can change my voice – whether it’s more rock, operatic, or a mixed poppy voice, depending on the part itself I have to change my vocal placement. I look at it and I judge it the same way that I judge the results of determining whether Michele or I should sing a certain part. It has to sound good in the end, and we made it so that it turns out that way – we transpose songs, we change parts, and if it’s good then everyone is happy!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel are the strengths of the vocals between you and Michele?
Delauney: I think our vocals complete each other pretty well. We have more of a rock and raspy vocal with Michele and I do more of the softer vocals – we have a nice color palette using both vocals. I think this is pushed a bit more upfront than our time with Seigfried [Samer] as he had a softer voice as well. I think Michele and my collaboration is working really well to deliver a contrast and emotion with our different vocal preferences.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been in the band for a little while at this point. How do you view the way that Visions of Atlantis has changed over time?
Delauney: For sure, we did suffer several line-up changes while I have been in the band. There’s always changes to the band itself, in how it sounds – the mood, the connection between the people, which is one of the most important things in a band. We’ve changed due to line-up changes, but also because people grow and evolve individually – their way of approaching things changes too. It’s a human project after all. The more people evolve, the more the band evolves. I know that for my part, I wouldn’t write the same type of lyrics that I did for Wanderers because I won’t be in the same place or mindset. A musical project that is connected to people in the creative process will always evolve with the people themselves I suppose.
Dead Rhetoric: What makes symphonic metal work in your opinion?
Delauney: I don’t think it’s very successful to be honest [laughs], when you look the crowds and attendance of shows in comparison to other types of metal. This genre is a niche now in the metal scene. I don’t think this genre has been able to renovate itself, or propose something different. No one is really creative, but I also think that people are not ready to accept more creative bands in the genre. Every time you step out of the pure, symphonic recipe, you would be accused of being commercial, prog, technical, or shit [laughs].
But that’s the fact – people love to put music into boxes and label things. I don’t think this helps creation. It only helps in creating more labels and more product. The market isn’t about art or creativity anymore. I think that to me, symphonic metal can still grow and be a quality style, if the songwriting is good and on top of that, if there’s a nice universe and a nice message in the songs – something that will bring people into another world and make them step out of the everyday world that they are living in. I think that’s the key aspect of symphonic metal. And of course, good voices. In the melodic genres, you have to have good/nice voices you want to listen to.
Dead Rhetoric: What challenges has the band had to overcome in the last few years?
Delauney: We have had to change our male singer, which we didn’t see coming. That was a big one. We didn’t know if we would find someone who would fit all of the criteria – when the line-up was fixed with Seigfried, we thought we had the team to go on, but every time someone leaves the ship, it’s like, “Dammit” – the vision of the band has to evolve and change, which demands a lot of energy from us.
It was a shame, when we tried a new album with the former members, whom Thomas [Caser] had brought back in 2013 when we wanted to make a new record. He really wanted to write a record with the guys who had done the first two albums. When we realized that it was never going to happen, because they had not been in a band in 10 years and didn’t have any time to write music – it took us some time to realize that. Even once we realized it, it took us a couple more months to accept the situation and move on and make a decision – to keep the guys who were playing live with us instead, because those former songwriters couldn’t play most of the shows were were playing, even though there weren’t that many. We already had like two line-ups – one official and one live. When those guys decided to leave, then we took the live guys in, because they were already attached to the project. But yeah, it’s always energy and adaption to a new version of the band. It’s asking a lot on the faith that we have that this can go somewhere.
Dead Rhetoric: To circle around to the start of our conversation, are you looking at this tour as testing the waters for potentially coming back [to the US] in the future?
Delauney: Yeah, for sure. This is the start – it’s easier to get more American tours once you have played one and you can tell the people about the attendance and that there is an interest in the band. This first chance is to lead to others. Now that we have made it, I hope we can come over more often.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next once you have finished up over here?
Delauney: We have a European tour in two weeks after we come back from the US. It’s a very short, headlining tour in some of the most important cities in Europe so we are really looking forward to that,…if it’s not canceled due to Coronavirus. Then we have to work on our performances coming up this summer, because we have very nice festivals coming. Then we will definitely start working on a new album for sure!