Interview with Pierre St-Jean of Heaven’s Cry

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What made you guys decide to reform back in 2010 after almost a decade apart? It really seemed to me that you guys were always ahead of your time.

I would say that Heaven’s Cry is about change and moving forward. Looking at the problems ahead to get ready to face the obstacles that is bound to appear in this time of change. Technology and science is bringing new possibilities and we are not always ready to cope with it. Sometimes our leaders and elite are more interested in protecting their assets than to put ahead what makes sense for us collectively. We are trying to express this in our art and through our music and lyrics, which I guess can lead to think that we always been ahead of our time! Thank you !

 

As for the hiatus before we came up with another album, it was definitely needed. We took this time to learn through different projects and get what we needed to go further.

We recorded our second album “Primal Power Addiction” in 2002 with what was available to us at the time, which was not much to be truthful ! Haha! We recorded the drums in a professional studio, the rest was done in my home studio using a PC with a Penthium 3 processor , a cheap soundcard and a pair of decent speakers ! Mixing took forever, we had to bounce tracks all the time etc. Although, I believe we managed to get the best out of it. The most important thing for us was to get the music out there.

We decided to take a break in 2007 until we would get the tools and the experience that a project like Heaven’s Cry needs instead of recording the album right away. Still, it was 5 years after our last release. A lot of people are  seeing this as a lack of interest in our parts, which is definitely not the case. We are not writing Pop music. Content is the most important thing to us. What they don’t realize it that although most of us live out of playing and writing music, a progressive band doesn’t help pay the bills. At least for now ! Haha! We do it to give back, it’s our passion, our pride.

Prosthetic Records helped us get what we needed to get the band back on track, we remixed the 2 albums previously released so we could hear the music clearly and released “Wheels of Impermanence” that came out in 2012.

Was recording “Outcast” easier than “Wheels of Impermanence” since you had been back together for a few years now or maybe harder because it’s so damn EPIC?!

Again, thank you ! Most of the music of “Wheels Of Impermanence” was recorded live in 4 days in a studio. It has been recorded, mixed and mastered in only 3 weeks.

We decided to take a different approach for « Outcast ». When we got to produce the album, we took the time to really work on instrumentation and tried different things. We worked hard so it would sound like what we had in mind when we wrote the music, what we aimed for. We are really proud of this album, hopefully we will reach more people and our fans will love it as much as we do !

You have your longest track in “The Day the System Failed,” was it a conscious effort for this song and even some of the others to be bigger and in this case longer?

I wanted to create a progressive oriented song, it came out by itself quite instinctively, even inspired. Even though it is one of the most intricate song for us to perform, the musical parts came out naturally. The first part, “We are Broken” started the whole concept.

I wish it would’ve been the same with the lyrics. I had the melody right away, but not the lyrics itself. There was something I really wanted to write about, a point I wanted to put across. It’s been quite a challenge for me to really get where I wanted lyrically for this one. I ended up getting there but it has been a bit painful. Haha! I know that not everyone really pay attention to  lyrics, I always do this for myself first. In order to really feel a song when you sing, the lyrics has to connect to your mind and emotions. This song is about what is haunting me these days. I always have been quite sensitive about what is happening in our world, even as a child. This is why most of what I write and sing in Heaven’s Cry is about my reflection on society or human beings as a whole. About our evolution as intelligent beings.

The 4th part, the acoustic song actually came to me while I was half awake. I rushed to my studio and recorded it roughly so I would not loose the feel of it. It is the last song we recorded for the album. We tried to keep it as simple as we could which is not always easy with us ! Haha!

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“Outcast” is a bit of a concept record. Many prog bands claim to be forward thinking but you guys actually are. How did the themes behind the album come about?

I think the concept came out quite naturally because this is about what we pretty much all feel about what is happening in the world right now. This is what fuels our conversations. Not that we are always this serious believe me, we also love to have a few drinks and laugh for hours ! Better to laugh than cry ! Haha!

Sylvain and I wrote lyrics that were pretty much heading in the same direction. We just pursued what we started with the songs that came out later on. It was that easy.

 

What are some of the influences of the band, collectively and individually and how would you say they impact the band’s sound?

We pretty much all are music fans and our taste is very eclectic. We listen to all kinds of stuff from classical music to extreme metal. I think that when we talk about influences, Rush would come to mind. Neil Peart has been like an english teatcher to me when I was younger. Since we also are metal fans, I also have to mention Metallica. Yes, Peter Gabriel and Genesis, Pantera, Queensrÿche, Sting, Leo Brower, Faith No More and a hundred more ! Haha!

 

Most bands are lucky they have ONE lead vocalist and you have essentially TWO. The harmonies are really incredible. Was that part of the plan?

Sylvain and I met when we were teens. One of my first bands was looking for a singer and one of our friends brought Sylvain for an audition. He was 15 years old at the time, I was about 17. I really thought he was talented, but he was too young to play in clubs. We became friends immediately, sharing our mutual love for music, but we found someone older.

I was singing since I was young and even though I love playing guitar, my most important passion since I was a little kid was singing. My mother told me that I sang before I learned to talk! Haha;-) I became a lead singer a few years later. He got older and started to tour with his own band. About 2 years later while we were having a beer, we spoke about how dull it was to never have decent backing vocals in our respective bands. This is when we decided to form a vocal oriented band together.

Sylvain is a bit like my brother, we’ve always kept a close relationship. We might argue like brothers do but never an ego trip would stand between us like it happens in some bands with 2 singers. Heaven’s Cry is a lifetime project that we share. It is not a project that we can quit, it will stay with us for life.

 

How do you decide when to harmonize versus have one of you take a solo vocal spot?

When it comes to songwriting, I write parts for Sylvain and he writes parts for me as well. We’ve been working together for so long, we pretty much know when the other would do a better job for a certain part. Athough, we can pretty much do what the other does. Even our close friends gets mistaken on what sings what. Always funny ! Haha 🙂 It really depends on the range and the agressiveness. I tend to do the agressive stuff and he usualy does the mellow stuff. When our voices blends, it has a certain sound right away, even though I do the harmony or he does. We decide on who’s gonna do the lead part of the song and we go with it.

 

With Sylvain being in Karcius (who are amazing) and Eric being in the reformed Despised Icon, how do you guys have time for Heaven’s Cry? I know you have to have jobs and lives!

Sylvain and I pretty much live out of music. We also are in numerous projects including tribute bands and cover bands that bring food on the table. I also have other original music projects, one of them is NonHuman Era. It’s a progressive metal band that I’ve been working on for a few years now. We’ve put out our first album a couple of months ago.

Eric has a lot of success with Despised Icon. He is a hard worker and he got what he deserves. I could not be happier for him.

We always find time to work on Heaven’s Cry. As I said earlier, it is a lifetime project. We just don’t want to put out albums that are empty for the sake of putting it out. We make sure the content is strong enough, that it represents us  well before we decide to go with it and put it out. We are also trying to make sure it will stand the test of time. That we will still be proud of it years from now.

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What are your touring plans? I really want to see you live as I am sure many fans do.

We did 3 shows in Canada a few weeks ago to celebrate the launch of « Outcast » in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec city. We will announce more dates pretty soon. Hopefully we will get to tour Europe and the states with this one ! That would be awesome.

Congrats on another masterpiece. Heaven’s Cry is a band that should be huge in my opinion and I hope “Outcast” gives you the attention you guys so deserve. Thank you for answering my questions!

Thank you for these kind words, Rob ! Hopefully we’ll meet at a Heaven’s Cry concert soon !

To read my review of “Outcast,” click here.

To purchase “Outcast,” click here.

HC studio

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About progmanrob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music...progressive music!
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