IMMORTAL GUARDIAN – “We Wrote A Whole Album During The Pandemic And About The Pandemic”
February 17, 2021, a month ago
As with most rock bands in 2020, prog metallists Immortal Guardian found themselves off the road…and with a lot of unexpected time on their hands. Instead of sitting around on their rears, they put this downtime to good use – composing/recording a new album, Psychosomatic. And lyrically, the album reflects the best forgotten year of 2020 – as evidenced by such tracks as “Lockdown.” Immortal Guardian’s singer, Carlos Zema, spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about the new album, handling the band’s trickiest compositions, and future plans.
BraveWords: What can fans expect from Psychosomatic?
Carlos Zema: “A solid, heavy and innovative album. In my opinion, this is the most expressive album that Immortal Guardian has ever recorded, the heaviest and the most creative. We have written very modern ideas with what we have as influence throughout our careers. We wrote a whole album during the pandemic and about the pandemic, so the theme of this album is completely relevant to what’s going on in the world at the moment, as we decided to write a brand new album in April. With Justin Piedimonte on the drums and Joshua Lopez on bass and doing the production of the album, we were able to accomplish what the band has never accomplished before, in terms of tones, production and songwriting. We have concentrated all of our efforts to the final result of the music in this album, forgetting about any individuality or technicality. I feel like the band has reached a group power that I have never experienced before in my career and this album made me really proud.”
BraveWords: Were the songs created and recorded together or via file sharing/different locations?
Carlos Zema: “We are located at the moment, miles and miles away from each other, and if that wasn’t for the internet and for the exclusive dedication of each member, this would not be possible during these times of quarantine and lockdown. When we started writing the album, I was in Brazil, Gabriel was in Las Vegas, Josh was in South Texas and Justin in Montreal, Canada. Although, we found ways to jam together and compose together, synchronizing our time zones and schedules, in order for us to make the production of this album possible, such as real time high quality streaming, live studio stream and of course, sharing wave files after recording in our different DAWs [digital audio workstations] in each location. I was surprised with how fast we discovered ways to compensate for not being in a studio together and I also was very pleased to find that actually these new ways, turned this process more effective and more productive. The necessity of dedicating time and effort to make it happen, actually made us spend hours and hours with each other, even though, we were far from each other, these tools actually made us take a little time to think about each little part of the album, and dedicate our own time into our space in the composition, therefore it forced us to be more objective and more focused in details, rather than trying stuff out of the blue in a room. Also, with the development of the ability to record ourselves at home, we discovered that we really did not need to be in the same place, in order for us to be able to make things happen. In other words, I believe that this process made the band grow years and years in maturity and in technology.”
BraveWords: What is the story behind the interesting cover image of Psychosomatic?
Carlos Zema: “Basically the whole concept of the Psychosomatic cover, evolves around the main character in the center, which is breaking away from the chains of the psychosomatic effects, caused by the ocean of events that surrounds her. The main character is right in the moment that she decides to take control and break off the chains of the psychosomatic effects.”
BraveWords: Please discuss the tune “Lockdown,” and also its video.
Carlos Zema: “The whole concept of the song ‘Lockdown’ goes around the fact that millions of people for the first time, encountered a mandatory prison, in a state of isolation or restricted access, instituted as a security measure. If you are rich or poor, influential or not, this was the time that everyone, was forced to be locked away. This time we all felt like we were all the same, if you are human, you were a part of it! That was when we asked ourselves if the lockdown was the virus itself. Did isolation really save our lives? Or it just created other issues in which we were not aware? Are we alone until we die? With all those questions in mind, in everyone’s mind around the globe, we decided to utilize the most used tool at the moment in communication, ZOOM. We simulated a Zoom call and made it a little fun and less boring jamming along, instead of being in a regular work conference call. We decided to do what we have been doing for the last few months. Music! That’s what we do and that’s what we decided to talk about in the video.”
BraveWords: What is the most challenging Immortal Guardian tune to pull off successfully?
Carlos Zema: “In my opinion it is ‘State Of Emergency.’ The whole song, instrumentally, and vocally, is insanely hard. The vocals are driven out the whole entire time, the drums are super-fast, as well as the guitar lines and bass lines. Although we recently did an online jam of that tune and I was very surprised to see the boys pulling off! I personally sweat bullets every time I need to sing that one. Though on this last album, Gabriel pushed me into singing the highest note of my career, which was in ‘Lockdown,’ when I sing a B♭6 in the end of the song. These guys are always pushing me to do crazy stuff. But to be honest, nothing is compared to playing keyboard and guitar at the same time in any of the Immortal Guardian songs. Anything else that any of us do in the band, is just a mere normal thing!”
BraveWords: Is the band eager to play live shows again?
Carlos Zema: “We are dying to get out there and jam live again, I really miss the boys. The chemistry we have together is out of this world and in the last tours we did, the response was amazing! We got really close to our fans and made lifetime friends along the road. Music has been the main focus in our lives and our goals have evolved around that, as it is our main form of making a living as well. So we really are ready to be out there, doing what we were born to do, uniting people, and showing people hope, confraternization, freedom and inspiring other musicians to do the same. The music industry has suffered the biggest hit of our history. It’s up to us, to bring it back full force, otherwise, it’s going to die. Have you ever tried to imagine a world without music? I have not. And in this modern age of music, the only way the musicians have to make a living is to play live. And we are ready to bring metal to the masses. Bring it on! I hope everyone is safe right now and that we will find ways to bring a new normal soon, so we can perform and write the next chapter in metal history, together.”
BraveWords: What can fans expect from seeing Immortal Guardian live?
Carlos Zema: “I would say, great time, musicianship, humor, and a good chance to watch four dudes have the best times of their lives up on stage. We are constantly striving to improve on lasers, lights, and the whole visual aspect of the show, because we believe that Immortal Guardian is about the experience, we always try to tighten everything together as a storyline. Our goal is to be remarkable for everyone in the audience, and make sure everyone has a badass experience. And most importantly, we want to make sure everyone has lots of enjoyment and entertainment. We find it very important to get everybody involved as well, so we always like to hang with the fans after the show, and it is very important to us to listen to them and follow their journey, as well. We find it very interesting to see those faces repeating themselves along the road, seeing couples that met at our show and are still together, fans that became close friends of the band, stories about legendary times that our music was a part of. And it all starts with our live show.”
BraveWords: Future plans?
Carlos Zema: “The band intends to play as many shows as we can as soon as it is allowed by all the authorities. We have many songs to release this year as well as a bunch of new material that we are very excited to share with our fans. The band is going full force this year and we cannot wait to experience the best years of Immortal Guardian, starting now. With this time off (quarantine) we had the chance to make a bunch of changes in the structural part of the band, we have evolved years in our production ability, we have become auto-sufficient in terms of video production, video editing, audio production, etc. So that allowed us to be able to produce fast material and be more engaging with our fans. So that in itself was a great evolution in the construction of our future plan. We do expect to play festivals this year still, and we are going to go after the scene that is starving for new music. Seatbelts on! Because this starship is about to go full speed!”
BraveWords: Who are some bands that your feel are “doing metal proud” nowadays?
Carlos Zema: “Man, I’ve been listening to a lot of awesome bands lately. And all of them inspire me very much and make me really proud. Some of them are Exmortus, Paladin, Judicator, Lords of the Tridents, Helion Prime, Hatchet, Hinayana, The Absence, Nova Reign, Scardust, Sicocis, GraveShadow, and many others. We are very privileged to have such great metal here in the USA, Mexico, and Canada at the moment. Not to mention the old schoolers around the globe as well, everyone that has released a new album in these last few years – Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, or even other bands in the scene, such as Beast in Black, Demons & Wizards, and many other national and international bands. I feel like we are in a great age of metal worldwide. Lots of really cool stuff coming out.”