Do you like Metalcore? If your answer is yes, you’ll certainly enjoy this exclusive interview with Dimitri, bassist for longstanding French act Primal Age, talking about their brand new EP A Silent Wound, their commitment to nature and animal rights, how much they love the unparalleled riffs by Slayer’s deceased guitar hero Jeff Hanneman, and more.
The Headbanging Moose: Let’s start with an introduction of the band. Although Primal Age have been on the road since 1993, there are many people who still don’t know your music. Who are Primal Age? Can you tell us more about the history of the band and your main goals in music?
Dimitri (Primal Age): We are 5 guys (Didier on vocals, Flo and Ben on guitars, Mehdi on drums, and I, Dimitri on bass). We started as one of the very first European bands mixing hardcore and metal, as Arkangel, Length of Time or Kickback. We’re known for our commitment in favor of nature and animals.
THM: Your brand new EP A Silent Wound might be short in duration, with only around 15 minutes of music, but the amount of energy and violence flowing from each one of its four tracks is simply amazing. Why did you decide to record an EP instead of a full-length album this time, and how did you select the songs that would be included in it?
Dimitri: It was a special period because of a change in our line-up. Flo and Ben have replaced Johann who had to leave the band for familial reasons. So our project with this line up was an EP to give time for the new guys. It is not obvious to be incorporated to an old band.
THM: You’re a band that has always discussed delicate and controversial topics in each one of your lyrics, such as animal rights, vegetarianism and the overconsumption of mass. For instance, my favorite song of the EP, the opening track The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is an acid critic to our decaying health system with a strong focus on the wrongful actions taken by the W.H.O. in the past few decades. What details can you tell us about the process to compose this specific song? What inspires you to write music, and what do your fans and critics say about the themes proposed in your lyrics?
Dimitri: The fans… some are here just for the music, and some others pay a particular attention for the topics. It’s a kind of positive revolt to compose some music with what revolts me, instead of burning my neighbor’s car ))
THM: Another top moment of the EP in my opinion is your humble tribute to the deceased Jeff Hanneman, the iconic and revolutionary guitarist of Thrash Metal titans Slayer, titled To Jeff. How did you come up with the idea of recording this excellent tribute to one of the biggest guitarist in the history of heavy music, and how did you choose which songs from Slayer would be featured in the medley? Also, did you get any feedback from any of the guys from Slayer or anyone connected to Jeff about the song?
Dimitri: As you say, Jeff was a legend who has composed some of the most famous riffs of metal music. We grew up with Slayer and we miss this guy so much, so we decided to refresh people’s minds with some of the most legendary riffs which are here to stay.
THM: You play a solid and entertaining fusion of Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Punk Rock, which some people like to label as Metalcore. Apart from bands like Slayer, Napalm Death and Agnostic Front, what other bands and artists influenced Primal Age to become the band you’re today? And do you listen to anything outside Heavy Metal and Punk Rock? If so, which non-metal artists are part of your playlist?
Dimitri: We grew up with bands like Earth Crisis, Sepultura, Pantera, Minor Threat, Venom, Youth Of Today, Hatebreed… there are so many. Personally I’m a fan of Oi music, Cock Sparer, The Business or Last Resort are some of the bands in my playlist. But it’s only mine, each one is different and we have our own choices.
THM: A Silent Wound features a few guest vocalists that end up adding an extra touch of adrenaline to the overall result of the EP, those being Felipe Chehuan (Confronto), Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave). What’s your relationship with those musicians and their respective bands, and how did the invitations happen for them to be part of your album?
Dimitri: Benighted is a French band. We like these great guys with whom we played some shows. Felipe from Confronto is an old acquaintance we have so much respect for and we were grateful to play with Confronto in Brazil. Loyal to the Grave is a Japanese legendary band, and it was a special moment for us to share the stage with them in Japan. We’re happy to have these guys on our EP to remind us some great moments as musicians.
THM: Primal Age have already played in renowned festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere, but of course as an underground heavy band you’re used to play in much smaller places like local pubs and theaters. Do you prefer playing in big festivals or at small venues? What do you feel when you’re playing in front of thousands of people as compared to a reduced crowd? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each one in your opinion?
Dimitri: We like both of these conditions. The only thing we have in mind is to give our energy to the crowd through our music, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 3,000 people.
THM: How has the reaction of your fans to the new songs from A Silent Wound been in your current concerts? And what are the band’s future plans in regards to touring inside and outside France, and also to releasing new material?
Dimitri: We have had a very good feedback. The new pieces are in accordance with our musical identity. We’re happy to defend this new EP on stage. We have plans in France and far from home, so, we feel lucky ))
THM: I might be wrong, but I think you have never recorded a song in your mother tongue French. Is there a specific reason for that? Are you planning on recording anything in French for your local fans, as for example a French version of one of your existing albums?
Dimitri: You’re right. I very love French lyrics, but not for what we play. English seems to be the best language for that kind of music. The other reason is to speak to everybody and to have the opportunity to play worldwide.
THM: What’s the current state of the metal and punk scene in France? Do you think it’s better than when the band started, or is it getting more and more difficult for new French bands to succeed in music nowadays? Which new French bands do you recommend to our readers?
Dimitri: France has never been the place to be for this music. Most of people are listening to the mainstream music you hear on TV or radio and don’t have a real culture, they just consume it, what is sad. The reputation is rather bad, but you can find some great bands. There are several great bands here in Normandy like Surounded by Sins, Elephants, Explicit Silence… so many.
THM: As you know we have a huge French-speaking community here in Canada, in the province of Quebec, where several amazing metal and punk bands are born every year. Do you know anything about the Canadian and the Quebec heavy music scene, and if so, what are your favorite bands from Canada and/or Quebec?
Dimitri: We really appreciate bands like Comeback Kids, or the first albums of Voivod we listened to when we were young. We saw them in Paris in 87 when they came for their first tour with Kreator. We also love Get the Shot, as well as Obey The Brave (with whom we played at the Bloodaxe Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in 2013).
THM: Merci beaucoup pour votre temps et votre disponibilité. Please feel free to send a final message to your fans and to the readers of The Headbanging Moose here in Canada and all over the world.
Dimitri: Thanks for the interest about the band, we really appreciate it. Maybe one day we’ll see you guys on the road.