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Wormfood - Interview

Interview with: Emmanuel "El Worm" Lévy
Conducted by: T.V.

This year is fifteen years since Emmanuel "El Worm" Lévy formed the band Wormfood, one of the most notable French dark metal bands. Since the formation of the band Wormfood went through many line-up changes and so far they released five studio albums, the last one, a proper masterpiece, L'Envers, came out recently through French label Apathia Records (you can read my review over HERE). Todays line-up of Wormfood is comprised, beside Emmanuel of course, who's a member also in Erdh, The Lovotics and was a part of mighty Carnival In Coal, of experienced musicians who are known from bands like are Melted Space, Öxxö Xööx, Régiment and Abstrusa Unde to name a few. Wormfood released their eponymous debut album back in 2003, it was followed by Jeux d’Enfants in 2004 and soon by theatrical France in 2005. Then years passed and in 2011 the avantgardish Posthume saw the light of the day. After that the band went through some difficult times, being also in some kind of a hiatus. Now, the band presents L'Envers, their absolutely best work to date, a flamboyant, decadent and theatrical gothic metal work of fine art. Albums like it's L'Envers don't come out so often and even though 2016 is only at its half, I think that this album is a strong contender to be album of the year on many lists. It seems that for Wormfood the future is bright, now more than ever, and that they will continue with their unique form of avantgardish theatrical gothic doom metal to impress us even more frequently in the coming years. I had a talk with the bands mastermind Emmanuel about many things, especially about their new album, about turbulent times in the past, future plans and yet much more interesting stuff.

T.V.: Hi Emmanuel! Must tell you that I'm so very impressed by the new album of yours that I'm almost speechless. I want to hear it from you how are you satisfied with it?
: Greetings, and thank you for your feedback! It's difficult to feel "satisfied" by any creation - because creativity finds its roots into frustration, I think. But I'm proud of this album, as it's the first effort of the brand new line-up, and we spent the maximum time working on it, without limitation. We tried to do our best at this time of our evolution. So, I'm relieved and can't wait to hear the next one!
T.V.: There are many differences if compared to your previous albums, there's more goth and less avantgarde. What's the main reason for those changes in the sound and compositions?
Emmanuel: Our first commercial release, France (2005, Code666) was very experimental and theatrical - sometimes it was close to dark humor (and even bad taste!). Then, Posthume (2011, MalaFortuna) developped a very depressive, dark and crude tone. These songs dealt with suicide, self-destruction and drugs. Creating a 100% french-speaking was also quite a radical move for us, at the time. So, under our new line-up, we felt that L'Envers had to be a synthesis of Wormfood's identity over the last 15 years. We've been constantly in search for a well-balanced formula. So, we did not change, we evolved naturally. Or, we "mutated", if you prefer toxic metaphors!
T.V.: With one song apart, the album is completely written with French lyrics. Because I don't speak your language, can you explain me what are the lyrical matters dealing about?
Emmanuel: It's a collection of baroque and grim stories, filled with grotesque characters - some of them appeared on previous records like France (the incestuous father of "Vieux Pedophile", the freak from "Miroir de Chair", etc.) and some are totally newcomers. The narrator's voice is the guideline through this palace of nightmares depicted in the first song "Serviteur du Roi". Beyond the nightmarish or extravagant tone, each song is deeply inspired by my experiences, my phobias, my own failures, addictions or obsessions. "Ordre de Mobilisation Générale" is a song about the horrors of war, from the perspective of a young disfigured veteran. "Mangevers" (litterally "eat worms") can be interpreted as a retrospective of Wormfood's carreer, "Gone On The Hoist“ is a tribute to my friend Paul Bento and our 90s Brooklyn musical roots, "Collectionneur de Poupées" narrates the infamous (true) story of a man who exhumes children corpses on Christmas night, "Géhenne" is the story of a young actress directed by the Devil himself in a gloomy parisian theater, and "Poisonne" reminds Posthume's tonality, as it deals with love, desire, self-destruction... and toxic relationships with women! To summarize, L'Envers is a genuine concentrate of Wormfood. A black hole.
T.V.: Everything is pretty artistical and theatrical even lyrical wise. And why have you decided to use French language almost on every song? Weren't you afraid that in this way the album wouldn't be accepted well in the international market?
Emmanuel: It's a natural choice. Why would I chose a foreign language to fill French soundscapes and tales? The romantic, aristocratic (sexy!), tone is definitely part of the sound experience. And I'm sure that foreign listeners can feel the emotions of these songs without a total understanding of the words. And if they want to go further and 'google trad' the lyrics, that's even greater!
T.V.: You are right on that. I didn't expect that lyrics in French will have such an impact. The front cover artwork is also pretty impressive. Can you explain me the meaning and connection with the songs on the album?
Emmanuel: The whole artwork can be interpreted as the background of the songs: the booklet is also a visual companion for the listeners. The goal was also to enhance the lyrics, to provide a real "extra bonus" to the people buying the physical version. The unusual digipak A5 format also recalls a movie, because it's more than a CD; it's a sonic show you're about to discover! So, we developped the idea of a haunted, disaffected "Palace of Versailles", a baroque and oniric place that never really existed historically. Maybe it's a metaphor of what's happening in my head when I dream these songs... It results from a collaboration between Strychneen Studio (SepticFlesh, Dagoba,...) and the photographer Andy Julia (Soror Dolorosa).
T.V.: Your previous album, Posthume, was released in 2011 and since then many things were going on inside the band. Can you explain to our readers what was going on with the line-up and such things?
Emmanuel: Posthume is a sincere album: the naked truth about what was happening in my personal life at this time. It deals with suicide, depression, self-hatred, ruptures, failures,... Eveything was "fucked up". Including the band. We went through various disappointments, trust issues, arguments. As the captain, it was time to "sink the ship". You know, a lot of musicians joined or left the band in those 15 years, almost 12 people I'd say. Wormfood's carreer is chaotic by nature.

T.V.: I hope that this bad perion of your life is over. Can you be just a bit more specific what everything was going on if it's not too personal?
Emmanuel: I'm fine, thanks. Back in 2007, I was dealing with toxic relationships, depression, addictions, self-destruction, plus the band's implosion; the "goth singer" deluxe package. Very personal stuff, indeed; eveything I have to say about this time is engraved in Posthume's songs. And believe me, they're explicit. The naked truth.
T.V.: Thank you for being so open about this things. Is the new line-up a stable one? And how are you satisfied with other guys, I know that they are coming from some very notable bands....
Emmanuel: Sure! Wormfood is almost stable. My band mates are great musicians and true professionals, deeply dedicated to the project. I had the chance to cast the "perfect team". They're related with Borgia, Abstrusa Unde, Öxxö Xööx, Melted Space, Regiment, Lugnasad, Embryonic Cells, Anus Mundi, Carnival In Coal,...
T.V.: Paul Bento (ex-Type O Negative) was a guest already for the second time in Wormfood. How did you get in contact with him on the first place and how are you satisfied with his addition?
Emmanuel: Paul Bento did an incredible musical work, as always! He's a virtuose guitar and sitar player and you could spend hours listening to his incredible stories and memories. He's really the Brooklyn's metal guru! We met through Myspace, around 2006, I believe... Then, we began to exchange by e-mail and naturally became friends. We meet later in Brooklyn and had a great time. I'm sure we'll collaborate on many new projects in a near future.
T.V.: You remain loyal to the label Apathia Records and I believe that you must be satisfied with their work...
Emmanuel: Definitely. Let's face the truth, Apathia Records is currently one of the few labels who dares to release our records. We're thankful for their help and wish them the best for the development of the label.
T.V.: Are you saying that a band like Wormfood didn't get any record offer from other labels?
Emmanuel: Yes, I'm saying it. No one wanted to sign and release Posthume album. Our former label wasn't interested anymore, and the others were like: "Hey, your music is really cool, such a strong identity, why don't you self-produce it, and we're ok to distribute." So I chose the less worst option for Posthume. Then Apathia Records appeared few years later, they looked really fans of the band and trustworthy, so we began to work together. And we don't regret it.
T.V.: I'm glad that you are satisfied with their work! Wormfood are often associated with Type O Negative at some point, and if I'm to be truthfull I don't think that is very fair, but still, the song "Gone On The Hoist (G.O.T.H.)" does sound like a hidden Type O Negative song. What's your opinion about this?
Emmanuel: Type O Negative is one of our influences, but we don't try to copy their style or sound. We share the sense of self-depreciation, black humour, heaviness and don't give a fuck about what people think! That's part of our identity, among other bands we were listening when we were teenagers. Maybe this particular track is a hidden Type O Negative song, in a way. I like to please myself with a little Brooklyn "shot" from time to time.
T.V.: And beside Type O Negative, which bands and artists can be also counted as your main influences?
Emmanuel: Notre-Dame, Carnival In Coal, The Damned, The Mission, Christian Death, Laibach, The Doors, Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, Alain Bashung,...
T.V.: Will Wormfood perform live at some point? Can we expect a tour or some festival appearances in the near future?
Emmanuel: We have performed on the 26th of June in Paris, with a special release party concert, and we hope it's the first gig of a long serie. We also have tour plans in development. Anyway, the release party concert was a success! We can't wait to play more venues now. Let's wait and see what happens next!
T.V.: And is there to be expected some kind of a special, more theatrical show? What can the audience expect from your live set?
Emmanuel: Definitely... Check the pictures of the recent release party on our Facebook page, it will give you an idea of the atmosphere. Dusk, smoke, snow, candles and grotesque grim acting.
T.V.: I don't know how many people out there know that you are also one half of Erdh, together with Nicolas Pingnelain. You two released last year a fantastic EP Sideremesis. Is there any new music in the making from this address?
Emmanuel: The new Erdh album is in progress. Actually, Nicolas almost finished the composition and demos. I must now find the time to write lyrics and record the vocals.
T.V.: And what about Carnival In Coal and The Lovotics?
Emmanuel: Carnival In Coal is dead. And The Lovotics... ah, The Lovotics, we have a lot of material recorded, Axel and I love this project so much! We'll do our best to finish the first album before 2017. I must call him this afternoon to discuss this. The Lovotics is an optimistic, joyful pop project, where I use to sing in a medium-high vocal range. Such a healthy breath of fresh air between two Wormfood albums.
T.V.: And beside being a musician, what else do you do in life?
Emmanuel: Acting, voice-over, writing for live shows. I worked in the "haunt" industry, for the Opera de Paris, was a literature teacher in college too... Does it surprise you? Wormfood is an extreme concentrate of all these activities.
T.V.: Actually it does surprise a bit to hear for what everything you have a gift! I know that the album is fresh, just released, but still, what can we expect in the future from Wormfood? I hope that there will not be a gap of 5 or more years again?
Emmanuel: It really feels like something positive is happening with Wormfood's carreer. At last! We gonna try to perform live as much as we can, improving our shows, always finding new ideas, gaining new listeners and fans. We'll shoot our first videoclip in ten days, and I'm sure it will help reach more people. I sincerely hope that we'll release a new album in a not-too-far future. Recently, I began to write new songs, you know that?
T.V.: That's great! When I first heard the name Wormfood I was pretty impressed by it and still am. Can you tell me how did you came up with this name for the band and is there some kind of a special meaning behind it?
Emmanuel: It's a cruel metaphor of the human condition. When you think about it, it sounds more like a brutal death metal band's name, sometimes. Personaly I find there's a gap between it's "gorish" tone and our baroque fantasies, but nevermind, we'll keep the name, it's too late to change it now.
T.V.: Thank you Emmanuel for taking the time with this interview. The last words are all yours...
Emmanuel: Thanks for your patience, Tomaz, and all my apologies, because it took a long time to answer this interview. I sincerely hope that you and your readers will enjoy our ghost train journey through the depths of L'Envers. Join us on social networks, interact with the band, buy (or download) our music; we can't wait to meet you all on the road! Au revoir.

Wormfood links: Official website, Facebook

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