January 10, 2014 Interview – Shawter of Dagoba
The French metal scene is something which has gained the attention of surrounding countries for a decade. With a wide variety of bands in the extreme metal scene making names for themselves,Marseille, France band Dagoba are one of those bands on the precipice of breaking through to the North American market. With the release of their new record Post Mortem Nihil Est (2013) and their first North American tour since their formation in 2000, things are looking extremely promising. Recently we caught up with lead vocalist Shawter for a look into the world of Dagoba, coming to the USA, and much more.
Crypticrock.com – Dagoba has been together now for over a decade. With 5 records to your credit, you have gone through some changes in your sound over the years. Tell me what inspires yourself and the band to morph the sound of the band over the years?
Shawter – I think it is life that inspired me most. I think that being an artist is about knowing how to deal with your own emotions. I think that life inspired me to create and to compose songs. Hopefully I will live a long time to continue to be inspired as part of Dagoba.
Crypticrock.com – The French metal scene is rich with unique bands from Gojira to Himminbjorg to Dagoba. How do you feel about the French metal scene and how has it grown over the years?
Shawter – I think it’s cool. Hard rock/metal is not too popular in France, but it has tended to change in the years. I think it’s very cool. I think what is helping a lot in the French scene is French bands, more now than 10 years ago, started to sing in English. Before then most of them were singing in French so it wasn’t cool to metal heads.
Crypticrock.com – Right, when you sing in English it broadens your horizons because English is the universal language of music. Now Dagoba has maintained the same line-up since the beginning until Izakar departed last year. How difficult was it to part ways with him after working all those years together?
Shawter – It was very easy because our new guitarist is my best friend. He was supposed to be the guitarist for Dagoba before Izakar. When Izakar left the band we had a very easy time bringing him into the band.
Crypticrock.com – That is good that it worked out well and the chemistry is working out well. Dagoba’s lyrical content and soundscape always seems to be of a dark nature. Tell me what is the ideology and inspiration behind the lyrics and atmosphere?
Shawter – I think lyrics, just like riffs, are parts of my own life, maybe my darker side. I just try to be sincere and write to be as close as possible to my inner feelings about the way I feel about things around me.
Crypticrock.com – That is the best release of emotions. Back in 2006 you worked with Simen from Dimmu Borgir on a couple of tracks on What Hell Is About. He has a very powerful distinct voice. What was it like working with him?
Shawter – It was very cool. At that time we were on the same label and he had his side project Arcturus, so it was very easy for us to contact him. He wanted to sing for Dagoba several times. We asked him if the timing was good and he just came and joined us in the studio. He is a very powerful and talented singer so it was very easy to work with him, plus he’s a super cool guy. It’s always great to see him again on tour.
Crypticrock.com – That had to be a great collaboration. Now the band’s newest record Post Mortem Nihil Est back in November 2013. It’s a very diverse record with a great mix of heaviness with melody. What was the writing and recording process like for the new record?
Shawter – For this one I recorded all the tracks in 10 days because I wanted to keep a certain atmosphere and feeling I had at that time. I proposed the music to the band when they came to record it. I wrote the lyrics to each song and our drummer, Frank Costanza, recorded his drum parts in his home studio. I recorded the rest of the band in my own studio called Eagle Black Studio in our hometown of Marseille. I then proposed the rough mix to Logan Mader, who really wanted to mix it. We went to Hollywood and mixed the record with Logan Mader. It was very easy and a good time.
Crypticrock.com – Sounds like it was a very quick process for you. The album is a very good cohesive piece. There are some really aggressive tracks that really grab you hard and don’t let go and there are equally aggressive tracks in different aspects with tracks like “The Great Wonder”. The track shows a broad range of your singing ability and emotion. Was this something you intended for?
Shawter – Yes, I wanted the recording to be very contrasted. I am very happy fans can hear that.
Crypticrock.com – Now you recently finished up a tour with Dir En Grey here in North America in 2013. This was your first tour in the USA. How excited was the band to finally play North America after all these years?
Shawter – I am living a dream awake, it’s as simple as that. I was dreaming of this all my life and here I am. I enjoyed each second spent on the tour in the great United States of America.
Crypticrock.com – It was a great tour and it gives Dagoba excellent exposure in North America. I’d like to know what some of your musical influences are.
Shawter –All metal inspires me, but I am a very big fan of Pantera and Metallica. I like to listen to all kind of music such as classical music, deep electro music, and industrial music. I try and find good things in every style of music.
Crypticrock.com – That definitely translates into Dagoba because you have so many different styles mixed in. Since you do all the vocals for Dagoba, including the heavy growls and singing, how difficult is that to do in a live setting?
Shawter – It’s not difficult while you are on stage but you know it’s exhausting (laughs). It’s exhausting after the show, but I am a non-smoker and drink a lot of water, so for the moment it’s ok for my health and vocals so I am fine with it.
Crypticrock.com – It’s good that you take care of yourself. Especially while on tour. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Shawter – I think the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Recently, I like The Human Centipede 2 (2011). I liked The Grudge (2004) and recently I liked Insidious (2010).
Crypticrock.com – Insidious (2010) was an interesting film. Have you seen the 2nd film yet?
Shawter – No I have not seen it yet, but I want to.
Dagoba will be playing live on the following dates:
Jan 24 Les Trinitaires Metz, France
Jan 25 CHAPELLES DES TRINITAIRES Metz, France
Feb 07 USINE Istres, France
Feb 08 EL MEDIATOR Perpignan, France
Feb 12 Le Bataclan Paris, France
Feb 14 Victoire 2 Saint Jean De Vedas, France