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Despised Icon Interview

A Conversation With Vocalist Alex Erian


Despised Icon
Century Media Records
The Montreal, Canada based death metal/grindcore band returns with a new album, The Ills Of Modern Man, and a new guitarist, Al Glassman. Despised Icon was formed back in 2002 and released their debut album Consumed By Your Poison shortly after. In 2004, drummer Alex Erian stepped out from behind the kit and became a vocalist along with Steve Marois. After an EP and split CD, the bands’s sophomore album The Healing Process was released in 2005. Despised Icon has been touring with some of the biggest names in extreme metal like Deicide, Cryptopsy, Vader, Hatebreed, Napalm Death and Exodus, gathering more and more fans along the way.

At this year’s New England Metal and Hardcore Festival I had the opportunity to interview vocalist Alex Erian. Despite the band’s increasing popularity he remains humble and down to earth and a real fan of death metal. We talked about the new album, some of his biggest tour horror stories, his all time favorite metal albums and much more.

Chad Bowar: How did you find new guitarist Al Glassman?
Alex Erian: We’re all French Canadians, so that’s what we were aiming for at first. We always talk French with each other. We only speak English on tour. In the end we checked out all the audition videos we had, and Al’s was among the best ones. He lives in Massachusetts. He came to Montreal and auditioned. He’s the perfect guy for us, a great guitarist and most of all a great guy. He’s showing us that he’s determined. He was a perfect fit. He’s learning French, too, which is good.

You recently got back from your first overseas tour. How was it?
We took four months off to finish writing and recording the CD. Right after that we found Al, had about two weeks to jam, and then we had our first Canadian headlining tour. Right after that we went on our first European tour with Unearth and Job For A Cowboy. It was our first time overseas, our first time with a tour bus. It was great. It was different from over here. We’re not as known, because we’ve never toured there and we tour here constantly. But a lot of people seemed to dig it. We did well and are going to go back there before the end of the year.

Give us a preview of your new album The Ills Of Modern Man.
The typical answer would be that it’s faster and harder, but dude, it’s true! We’re a band that mixes death metal with metalcore and some grindcore, so we’ve kept the same sound, but our death metal parts are faster, more technical and more focused. The songs themselves are a bit more structured. Overall it’s more mature, sounds better and is a bit heavier. There’s still a metalcore influence as well and more growls. Anybody that likes our band will probably like the album.

Who produced the album?
Our old guitarist, Yannick (St. Amand), who just left the band. He produced it. He worked with Beneath The Massacre and Neuraxis. He did all our previous albums as well. We got Andy Sneap to mix it. It was kind of hectic because he was doing Megadeth at the same time. He ended up doing a great job and we’re really stoked about it.

How involved are you in the mixing process?
Two of us flew over to the UK to supervise. He ended up not being ready and was doing Megadeth, so we saw him work on that.

Since you had a front row seat, how is the new Megadeth?
It’s better than a lot of the stuff they’ve put out the past ten years.

How did you decide on the title The Ills Of Modern Man for your latest CD?
It was a last minute decision. We had a song named that, and didn’t know what to call the album. The lyrics mostly deal with fears, inhibitions and regrets. That song talks about whatever problems we may have, the ills of modern man are bigger than our own problems.

What are your expectations for the album?
We try not to have any. We started out with no expectations whatsoever and just did our own thing. We went to shows in borrowed cars and actually borrowed other people’s equipment to play, and here we are now. It’s kind of unreal. We’re just enjoying it while it lasts. We try not to be too hard on ourselves. We want to stay focused and just enjoy it. We’re not going to be disappointed if we don’t sell x number of records, because that’s not what it’s about for us. It is important, because in the end we do need to pay for all these bills, but we want to keep doing what we love, which is playing in this band and still being able to live. Obviously we hope it does well, but that’s not all there is to it.

What was the first concert you attended?
It was the Rolling Stones with my parents when I was about 13. After that I went to several local shows. The first hardcore show I saw was Integrity in the late ‘90s. The first death metal band I saw saw probably Deeds Of Flesh and Dying Fetus in the late ‘90s. which really influenced us. One of the first shows I was really pumped to see was Suffocation, but they broke up a week before and didn’t show up. I was really bummed out because they were one of my favorite death metal bands. Since then we played their reunion show in Montreal with Dying Fetus and we toured with them for a month and a half with Cryptopsy and Aborted, so I have no regrets now. I got to see Suffocation about 45 times.

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