1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?
Vincent: Well for the moment we are really busy promoting the release of the album. We recorded a video clip and some other stuff that will be published soon. We're planning a release party on the 15th of February, and we also designed our brand new 'The Hysterical Hunt' merchandise; at least our very talented guitar player Jeroen did, based on the artwork of Kris Verwimp! So pretty hectic times for us.
But a few months ago, we started working with the management & promotion company SHDW Collective, which is really a big help and support for us. With their experience and their connections, they are a real boost for the band.
2.In 2019 you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Vincent: I think what can musically describe 'The Hysterical Hunt' the most, is that it is a group effort. 'Chanson de La Croisade' was mainly written on keyboard and the guitars were added later. With our new record we really wanted to write it together, we even locked ourselves up for a couple of days in a small cabin in the woods. We ended up with a lot of ideas and some blueprints of songs.
In general, I think The Hysterical Hunt has more black metal influences in it and also the underlying tone is a lot darker, a lot spookier to fit the story.
Gaël: Overall, I think the new album has a more mature sound than the previous ones. It is complex but also accessible. The intricacies of the songs and melodies don’t stand in the way of the listening experience, and that is an achievement in my opinion.
3.The lyrics on the new recording are a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the subject you have covered with the newer material?
Vincent: The story is that of "the Beast of Gévaudan", which took place in that southern region of France in the summer of 1764. In a span of only two or three years, more than one hundred children and women were viciously attacked and killed by an unknown animal. The people there were accustomed to the harsh and wild environments and also knew the local wildlife very well. So the fact that witnesses told the officials that they saw an animal or beast they had never seen before, spread a nation-wide terror. People blamed various culprits, from savage mutated dogs or escaped African predators to a werewolf, witchcraft or the devil himself.
The story that we tell is entirely based on historical facts, but of course we added some fiction and drama. We follow a private investigator who looks into the mysterious disappearance of six persons, using newspaper articles, letters and diary excerpts; with a dark and heart-breaking outcome.
4.Previous albums lyrically covered the viking invasion of Flanders and the persecution of the Cathars by Catholics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in historical topics?
Vincent: Regarding the lyrical material for the band, I just like the fact that we can use stories that are epic, heroic, tragic and horrific but also historic; the fact that it actually took place sometime long ago. When I read about the war on the Cathars for instance, it was really confronting for me. We learn everything about the crusades in high school, but few people know that the horrors of these times actually struck the center of Europe itself. So combining an interesting story with a forgotten part of Europe's history makes it all a little more worthwhile. And the same goes for The Hysterical Hunt of course.
5.The band was split up for a few years, what was the decision behind reforming?
Vincent: Lemuria split up in 2006 if I'm not mistaken. There were some musical differences regarding the future of the band so we decided to call it (a) quits. But I and our keyboard player Siegfried kept on writing new material that was so much in the style of Lemuria that we and some other members decided to restart the band.
Gaël: This was before my time in the band. Lemuria had already quite a reputation in the Belgian underground, and when they decided to reform people were very curious about the music and the new line-up and such. A few years later, they approached me with the question if I wanted to record a ‘guest’ solo on the new album. I was very much impressed by the raw edits of ‘Chanson’, so they didn’t need to ask twice!
6.I know that the band was named after a lost continent that sink into the Pacific Ocean, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in lost continents?
Vincent: Well, there isn't really an interest in lost continents. I mean, I for myself am intrigued by the tale of the old island of Atlantis as told by Plato. The fact that there could have been an antediluvian civilization that was far more advanced than we would expect for that time period, is of course something that triggers the mind. But we chose the band name Lemuria not for its mythic or esoteric meaning, but rather for the mysterious sound to it. You can't define or specify the genre by that name, and that is just the same for our music. To describe Lemuria's style, symphonic black metal is only the common demeanor, but there are so much more influences to be found.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Jeroen: The artwork was painted by the well-known artist Kris Verwimp, who did album covers for numerous metal bands. He did an absolutely awesome job. The cover artwork perfectly captures the mysterious atmosphere of the concept story of the album. It shows hunters wandering in the dark woods, searching for the legendary beast of Gévaudan. We provided Kris with some rough artwork mock-ups and drawings to explain him what we wanted it to look like, and he far exceeded our expectations. I love all the little details in it like tree branches, leaves, mist, the skull, etc. Also, the level of depth and perspective is astonishing.
Vincent: We've been working with Kris since ‘Tales, Ale & Fire’ and his paintings always captured the mood of our music so well. But what I remember the most is that he described our music in the time of 'Tales, Ale & Fire' as Thyrfing with a melancholic touch to it. And that was so spot on! He was the first to acknowledge the amount of melancholy in our music, and that is indeed a recurring theme in our music and lyrics: death, loss, war, intolerance, but also friendship, love and heroism.
8.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Vincent: For me the most memorable was our performance at the Graspop Metal Meeting in 2012. We played for a couple of thousand enthusiastic people so that's not something you easily forget.
Jeroen: The most awesome shows I remember were on our mini-tour in the Czech Republic, together with Welicoruss, Valkenrag and Daedric Tales. Czech metalfans are really enthusiastic. If you get such an energetic response from the audience, you can really give it all.
Gaël: I have to concur with Vincent on this one, the GMM show was awesome.
9.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
Jeroen: We’ll present the new album live on the album release show on the 15th of February, in JH Vizit (Wilrijk). We invited Furia, Vanaheim and Innervate to join us on stage. We are really looking forward to finally play the new songs live. For the rest of 2019, naturally, we hope to crush many more stages. We are available for gigs worldwide, just contact our booker at Pieter@shdwcollective.be
10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of symphonic black metal?
Jeroen: Really good! That is, judging from the reviews appearing in many different languages. We also received cd and t-shirt orders from all over the world: Japan, Canada, USA, Italy, Cyprus, Ukraine, Slovenia, France, … We are pleased to see that Lemuria is not limited to Belgium alone.
Vincent: Of course, we hope that our signing with Massacre Records and working with our management bureau SHDW Collective will make our band more prolific globally. Before this album we did everything by ourselves, so the promotion took a lot of effort. Now, with so much professional people backing us up, we have more time to concentrate on the music, which is a very good thing, I think.
11.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Jeroen: I have a raw black metal side project called Calmetholt. The recordings of the next album are nearly finished. Since Lemuria took most of our time and energy this year, Calmetholt had to wait. But rest assured, the new material will be released for sure. Aside from Calmetholt, I’m also doing vocals for the black metal band Catharsis Fatalis, which released its self-titled debut EP last year. I’ll be recording vocals for the next album soon, so there’s more than enough to keep busy. There can never be enough music!
Vincent: Next to Lemuria, I keep myself busy with writing some instrumental and orchestral stuff. Mostly just for fun and study, but there are some vague plans of performing some of my music with a symphonic orchestra.
12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Vincent: That's a bit of a difficult question. We'll always keep on developing musically because with each new concept story our music has to adapt. With ‘The Hysterical Hunt’ we wrote a lot more dark and horror influenced melodies. But I think in the near future you don't have to expect major changes. We are very aware of the music we like and we will keep on writing the music we like. But of course, you never know...
Gaël: The band is in a good spot, creatively, and the different influences of the musicians synergize quite well. I can’t say how the music will sound, but I know in the future I want to use the same way of writing music as we did for The Hysterical Hunt.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and what are you listening to nowadays?
Vincent: I learned to appreciate metal with bands varying from Iron Maiden, Metallica and Sepultura to Cradle Of Filth, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Death, Immortal and so on and so on. I can't give you a list of my influences because it would be too long; for I also like other genres like prog-rock, AOR, New Wave etc. If it's good music that touches a part of my soul, no matter the genre, I will like it. But on the other hand, one genre that has had a major influence on myself and on my part in Lemuria's history is film music. 25 years ago I fell in love with John Williams and the magic he did with Jurassic Park, and from then on I discovered a world of extremely talented musicians as Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman.
Jeroen: Personally, I’m mainly into raw and fast black metal. Bands I enjoyed a lot recently are Uada, Forteresse and Macabre Omen. I’m also a huge fan of underground Belgian black metal such as Aguynguerran, Gotmoor and Huldrefolk. Make sure to check them out! In Lemuria, the musical preferences differ quite a bit between the musicians, which is also reflected in our songwriting. You may think this would lead to conflicts, but it is quite the contrary. Our different styles blend beautifully, which is one of the strengths of our new album I believe. On ‘The Hysterical Hunt’, the atmosphere continuously varies from dark and evil to heroic, melancholic and back. This results in a very dynamic and diverse album.
14.What are some of your non musical interests?
Jeroen: As most metal fans, I have a higher than average interest in horror movies. Aside from that, I enjoy creating artwork and video editing, which comes in really handy if you’re in a band.
Vincent: One of my other interests is reading, both fiction and non-fiction, including authors as Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Preston & Child, Richard Dawkings, Graham Hancock, Friedrich Nietzsche, etc.
Gaël: I’m into gaming, both table top games and video games.
15.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Vincent: No matter the band, if you like the music, then buy the music and visit the gigs. Not only the big ones but the smaller too. It is the only way we can survive and raise the money to write and record more music!