It’s 16 degrees Celsius in Dallas, Texas and steaks are sizzling on a grill in a shaded backyard patio. They’re being cooked medium rare with precision to perfection, by Jean-François Dagenais, guitarist of Kataklysm. It’s below zero in Toronto, the first day of spring, and many metalheads are cooking beef, too – the kind you use with red beans and tomato sauce in a big, hearty, warm pot of chili.
It’s no surprise one king of Northern Hyperblast has chosen a more comfortable climate to write songs and produce albums in his own home production studio. Dagenais’s laboratory is situated in a nice place, and although he is missing a few comforts from his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, he’s settled in just fine.
“For me, as a Canadian, living down here is really nice,” he says. “The weather for one, but also the people are very friendly. The cost of living is also quite cheap. I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
Dagenais is reveling in home cooked meals before Kataklysm hit the road for a North American tour with Belgium’s Aborted to promote their latest Nuclear Blast release, Waiting For The End To Come. They start in heavy MTL, closing in Chicago, Illinois, where frontman Maurizio Iacono currently lives.
It seems that travel and exploration are not only two major criteria of a successful metal band, but also this one in particular. Dagenais took some time to chat about why it’s in his nature to roam, transitioning into new band dynamics and how he stays inspired on the road.
The great southern trendkill
With a recent stop in Chile, and summer gigs scheduled in Brazil and South Africa, Kataklysm is anticipating new experiences abroad. “I feel very privileged that I have these opportunities,” Dagenais says of his role as a touring musician. “Our promoter in South Africa was telling us over the phone about bringing us to experience a safari. That’s something I’ve never done before in my life. That’s the kind of stuff I look forward to the most.”
New night, new crowd, new set
The guitarist regards setlists a pressing endeavour, due to time constraints and album promotion, yet plans to accommodate Kataklysm’s vast audience. “We’re going to do a mix of new stuff and of course, all of the classics.” Dagenais loves to play “Kill The Elite” from their latest record, for its “challenge.” While “Elevate” and “Fire” remain set staples, he has a strong connection to the latter. “It’s very atmospheric and has translated really well live, especially with the ambience of the crowd chanting. It’s the whole experience. You have to be there to see it. I can’t quite describe it.”
Last year, longtime drummer Max Duhamel announced his departure from Kataklysm to begin his recovery from various personal issues. He did not record on Waiting For The End To Come and ended his live contract in May 2013. Dagenais says this absence has been heavy. The guitarist and former drummer share a love for ACDC, often playing classic albums late at night in the back of the tour bus. “On the last day of the European tour, we played an ACDC cover live with the guys from Krisiun and Fleshgod [Apocalypse]. That’s something Max loved to do.” Quebecer Oli Beaudoin has stepped to the drum throne for the upcoming tour. The new member has a technicality-strong live resume, boasting beats with Keep of Kalessin, Belphegor and Neuraxis. “On a musical level, it’s working really nicely and on a personal level, we’re getting to know each other,” Dagenais says of Beaudoin’s transition. “We’ll see what the future holds, but we definitely miss Max as a friend.”
Dagenais is a true foodie who values “a good beer or bottle of wine” with a pre-show meal. In addition to visiting landmarks and hanging with the locals, Dagenais finds solace in his new surroundings with craft brews. “I look forward to little hole-in-the-walls that have different selections you can’t get anywhere else,” he says. Currently, he’s a big fan of Shiner, a signature Texan beer that is not exported from the state. He endorses their red ale and stout varieties. But if there is one thing Dagenais misses about Canada the most, it’s the first that comes to mind, and something that Texas lacks amidst all of the barbecue and fajitas: “Poutine!” he laughs. “I miss it right now.” Don’t worry, Mr. Dagenais, you’ll have your fair share after the show at Club Soda on April 4.
Push the venom with Kataklysm and Aborted during the Kill The Elite Tour in the following cities:
04/04 Montreal, QC – Club Soda
04/05 Toronto, ON – El Mocambo
04/06 Lakewood, OH – The Foundry
04/07 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
04/08 Winnipeg, MB – Zoo Cabaret
04/09 Regina, SK – The Exchange
04/10 Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop
04/11 Calgary, AB – Republik
04/12 Kamloops, BC – Columbo Lodge
04/13 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
04/14 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
04/15 Reno, NV – Jub Jubs
04/16 San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
04/17 Ramona, CA – Ramona Mainstage
04/18 Anaheim, CA – Mirror Image
04/19 Phoenix, AZ – Joe’s Grotto
04/20 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
04/21 Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
04/22 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
04/23 Chicago, IL – Reggie’s