Interview: Mnemic’s Guillaume Bideau talks about “Sons of the System”

The members of Denmark’s Mnemic are in the middle of a big year.

In January, the band released “Sons of the System,” a precise, punishing and shockingly melodic piece of staccato, mechanized Orwellian art, which is also the band’s first album in three years.

In addition to a summer of playing festivals in Europe, the band will travel behind the bamboo curtain for three shows in Beijing China in early May. Plans for a U.S. tour are also in the works.

Over the years, the band has garnered accolades from Meshuggah and Metallica’s Rob Trujillo. Vocalist Guillaume Bideau recently answered a few e-mail questions from Noise Pollution about the genesis of “Sons of the System,” the three year hiatus and the band’s dystopian worldview.

There was about a three-year gap between “Passenger” and “Sons of the System.” What was happening with the band in the time between albums? Was there a deliberate decision by the band to step back after “Passenger” and not try to rush a new album?

Guillaume Bideau: We’ve been touring so much for Passenger that we wanted to take a small break to record a new album. Of course 3 years is pretty much a lot but we had to take this time to be ready to give the best out of us once again.. We also had to grab back the musical inspiration because we were really dried out after so much intensive touring.. It took some times but we are today really proud of this new album so we think this break we took was a benefit for the integrity of the band.

This is your second album with the band. How do you and (guitarist and songwriter) Mircea (Eftemie) work together on lyrics and lyrical concepts?

GB: We never write lyrics together but when he submits me some lyrics I decide if I use / sing them or not. Then if I use them I do minor changes and that’s it. I try to fully respect the theme of the thing he tried to express. But it’s about our own vision of the world. The system…

Personally I describe the society as it is today through my eyes and own sensibility. But most of the times in a very subjective way. I like people to be able to suggest different visions of the lyrics I write. Mircea does pretty much the same in a less subjective way but this is more his vision of the future in 50 or 100 years for example. It’s about some revolt against a greater evil in a way.

Your vocal style calls for both harsh roars and soaring melodies. Is it difficult to perform such versatile songs live?

GB: Sometimes it’s not that easy of course, especially when you have more than 10 gigs in a row without a single day off. It happened and it was hard.

The life on the road is special. Both cool and stressful. But I like it this way. It not that easy to alternate clean vocals and screams but it’s my job so I try to do it as good as I can. Some days are better than others but I don’t complain.
You worked again with Tue Madsen. How does Tue influence the band’s sound? What does Tue bring to the process?

GB: Tue is pretty much the 6th member of the band. He’s been more or less with the band on every albums so he’s the one who knows Mnemic the best. Plus we wanted to experiment way more different things for Sons of the system. But he didn’t really influenced our sound. We explained to him what we wanted and then we shared opinions until we found a common sound direction – a sound direction where he and us would be 100% satisfied.

The choruses on “Sons of the System” are very melodic, which is quite a contrast to the brutality of the verses and music. Was that juxtaposition deliberate? What has been the reaction of fans?


GB: We tried to give this album a lot of relief and this contrast between aggressivity and melody was totally deliberate for me. Music is relief and music is all about emotion contrasting. I don’t really know what the fans think about it and personally I don’t really care. As long as I’m proud of our work it’s all that matters.

Is there a “concept” or theme for the album? It’s not a concept album in the traditional sense, but are there themes that tie the songs together?

GB: As you say, this album is not as conceptual as the previous albums could have been. We are different persons today and we write about more personal things. Personally I describe the society as it is today through my eyes and own sensibility. But most of the times in a very subjective way.

I like people to be able to suggest different visions of the lyrics I write. Mircea does pretty much the same in a less subjective way but this is more his vision of the future in 50 or 100 years for example. It’s about some revolt against a greater evil in a way.

What are the band’s touring plans for the coming year? Also, are you planning a U.S. tour?

GB: Yes, the U.S. is in our plans but we wait for a good band to tour with out there. We just came back from Russia and it was great times once again.. Then we’ll go to Spain, China and other cool countries. We really love playing our new songs live on stage so we hope to visit as many countries as possible once again to give the fans as much pleasure as we can!

For songs from Mnemic’s “Sons of the System” and other albums, visit the band’s MySpace page here.

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