Maximum Metal Interview with Laurent Gisonna of Deficiency

MM: Laurent, I want to start from the beginning here as newer fans may not be familiar with the band's history. Deficiency originally started out in 2004 under the name Black Age and released one album, "The Point Of No Return", in 2008. Tell me about that version of Deficiency and how did the band sound at that time compared to today?

Laurent Gisonna (Lead Guitar/Vocals): Hi there! And first thank you for your interest for Deficiency. Indeed, Black Age was my former band. We released a single self-produced record and toured around a year with this formation. But in 2009, we decided to make a new start with the band. The line-up turns over, and the musical orientation also. It was the good time to refresh the story and begin something new!

MM: Why the name change in 2008 to Deficiency?

Deficiency was at first the title of one of our songs (the name changed into "Volition", song of our first album with Deficiency "State Of Disillusion"). We found that this word sounds great, so at this time, when we decided to start with a new project, we changed our name!

MM: The band followed up the "The Point Of No Return" with "State Of Illusion" in 2011. What was the concept or theme of that album and what was the response from fans and critics?

"State Of Disillusion" is a kind of concept-album, dealing with schizophrenia. We follow through 11 songs--the interrogation, the different states of mind of a character who doesn't really know what happens to him at first, but understands finally that he turns into a mental deficiency. It was also a self-release, but we had good reviews from both audience and press. That album had put us on a higher status and we played many concerts, sharing the stage with bands like Suicidal Angels, Decapitated or Evile, and we were signed on a label! This album is really the beginning of something for us!

"Thrash Metal is one of the only styles where we still have this old-school tradition of the guitarist-singer"

MM: "The Prodigal Child" is the band's crowning achievement in my opinion. Tell me what was the goals and aspiration before recording this album? What sort of went into planning the record?

Well, thank you! We really wanted to have a professional approach with this album. The songs, the production, the artwork, the cover, the promotion... All these aspects had been entrusted to professionals. We felt that the songs were good, and wanted to give us every opportunity to defend our work and to spread the name of Deficiency everywhere. For that, we had to make a good album at any point of view and of course invest a lot of money! We didn't have much precision while we recorded the album - except the rush to finish at time! - because we believed in these songs. The producer we choose (David Potvin) had also allowed us to surpass ourselves as musicians in studio. He was a great help in letting our music come alive and added the power to our music with a great sound.

MM: This album is conceptual and deals with humanity in all facets from origin to future. What is this story about and what influenced the writing?

I just based this story on my own interrogations. I've always wondered - and still wonder today - where humans come from; what is the origin of this singular race on this earth, what is its aim down there? Science or religion give some answers, but they are not satisfying and too restrictive in my opinion. I just wanted to let people think about this origin, because the most of us live our own life, and don't really care about this question. I give in "The Prodigal Child" some keys, some clues. And what if we are not what we think we are? What if we've been created by something else from outer space? This concept album has a Sci-Fi approach that really matters to me.

MM: When you are writing a song do you try to write the guitar parts and then the lyrics or vice versa?

I always compose the music before the lyrics, except the last track of the album "The Curse of Hu's Hands", which is a specific song which finishes the concept album.

MM: To me, it sounds as though you and second guitarist Jerome have some jazz and classical training in your guitar playing. Did you take lessons in classical style guitar or was that something you taught yourself?

No, neither Jérôme nor I took classical or jazz guitar lessons. We are autodidacts! I have a classic foundation in piano, my first instrument; maybe this background influences indirectly my way to compose. However Jérôme and I really appreciate Symphonic Metal, like Symphony X and stuff like that.

MM: What was the reason you picked up a guitar in the first place?

I discovered Metallica when I was 14, with the "Black Album", and it was a revelation for me! I bought my first electric guitar a few weeks later, and here we are! Jérôme started with the father’s guitar, he "stole" it to play in his room. He also began with Metallica and AC/DC!

MM: Some of the solos on the album have an old school NWOBHM feel to them? What sort of music do you draw your influences from?

Yes that's absolutely right! As I said before, I started to practice guitar with Metallica, Iron Maiden, stuff like that, so of course my playing is directly influenced by Thrash and Heavy Metal, where guitar solos are very present and have some of these specific sonorities.

MM: Who would say is your biggest influence/inspiration as a singer?

Hmm good question.. I appreciate a lot of singers. My first hero was James Hetfield, as a guitarist-singer! I really like Phil Anselmo, Russell Allen, M.Shadows... but my favorite actual singer is Björn "Speed" Strid from Soilwork. I am a huge fan of this band, and Björn is an absolute master both on the melodic and the scream technics. Impressive! If we could sing a song one day together (a featuring on our next album, why not?), it'll be amazing! =)

MM: I've airways thought that singing and handling the guitar duties would be quite challenging. Do you find that is the case?

I think it's just matter of habit! I've always practiced both guitar and vocals, being a fan of Metallica when I started guitar. Hetfield was my hero, so ... Sometimes, I write a cool riff, and try to put vocals on it, but realize that it's not as easy as I thought! Then I have to practice, again and again. Nowadays in Metal Music, Thrash Metal is one of the only styles where we still have this old-school tradition of the guitarist-singer. On many modern styles (Metalcore, Brutal Death, Djent...) the frontman is an independant singer! Deficiency has always been a four piece band, and it goes very well like that.

MM: How important is it to have catchy hooks or chorus parts in your songs. For example the song "Unfinished", that chorus is one that is easily stuck in your head.

Many reviews of our first album "State Of Disillusion" pointed to an absence of hook, of chorus, of melody to guide the listener with our music. We decided to work harder on the chorus on our new songs, to put some landmarks, which is very important to engrave a song on minds! Otherwise, we have many more modern influences on this new album than before. For example, the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene inspired us, I quote Soilwork before, which is a strong influence for us, and this band uses this process. We wanted to improve efficiency and still conserve all the technics, brutal, progressive aspects of our music.

MM: The song "A Way Out Of Nowhere" stands out to me in that it is an almost eight minute instrumental track showcasing the band's abilities. What made you decide to include this track on the record?

There is already an instrumental song on our first album, so we wanted to continue the "story" with "The Prodigal Child"! Of course being fans of Metallica, who are "specialists" of this kind of work on its main albums, it’s no stranger for our choice!

MM: Ludovic Cordelières did a phenomenal job with the cover artwork. Did he come up with the design or was this a band proposal?

Well, I draw the most sketches present on the booklet, including the cover art. Being at the origin of the concept, I had a clear idea of the artistic direction to take. But it was just ideas, drawn in 10 minutes on a table corner. I send these works to Ludovic, and he did a masterpiece with my ugly sheets! He is a phenomenal artist who worked all of our ideas with passion and talent. The results speak for itself. Impressive!

MM: David Potvin recorded, mixed and mastered the release at Dome Studio. Why was he chosen and how different was the end result with his touch? Are you pleased with the production?

David Potvin from the Dome Studio was our first choice. We prospected many studios, but really wanted to work with David, who is today and for us one of the most talented French metal producers. The result is amazing! David is an accomplished professional, who for 20 years in the business, toured all around the world with his bands, recorded many amazing albums. We are of course pleased and proud of the production, which is both modern and authentic/organic.

MM: I am not familiar with Fantai'zic Records. Where are they based and how did they become involved with the release?

This is a small structure based in Nancy, France. There is only 6 bands signed on this label, most of them are bands where the creator of Fantai'Zic Production, Matthieu Morand, plays guitar. This is an opportunity for us to sign with this label and it opens the distribution network doors for Deficiency! This is a good springboard for us!

MM: Being a French band, what sort of marketing ideas do you use to get your band's awareness in places like the US or elsewhere in Europe?

The promotion of "The Prodigal Child" is assured by "Replica", one of the biggest French promotion structures for Metal Music. But the deal only concerns our country. For the rest, the name of Deficiency is spreading mainly on internet and social networks. The video clip we made for the track "Unfinished" has been broadcasted a lot with total of over 60,000 hits on Youtube. We have reviews of the new album in Canadian, Finish, Polish webzines, and sell albums in Germany, USA, Israel, Australia--with no promotion in these countries! This is unbelievable, but very cool!

MM: With their being so many sub-genres of metal these days, do you feel being labeled a certain brand of metal could help/hurt you all?

Labels, etiquettes could be positive to reach a certain kind of audience, but can also close some doors... I think that "Melodic Thrash Metal" is the right appellation for Deficiency, even if other influences, like Death or Heavy Metal are also present on our music. Nowadays, there is a ton of different subgenres in metal music and being labeled seems to be useful to give some clues to the audience. But as metal fan, I don't really care about etiquettes. If the music is good, no matter what kind of metal it is! It is just important for a band to be part of something.

MM: What touring plans do you all have in place to support "The Prodigal Child"?

The album was released on October 19th 2013, and we toured a lot in France and Belgium to promote it at the end of the past year. We continue to play almost every week-end (because of our jobs) everywhere in France, for example we played with Belphegor and No Return 10 days ago. We play in all kind of conditions, from the little "café-concert" show to the bigger stages, for example another gig with No Return in Belgium in June, or the "Lezard'Os Metal Fest Open Air" on May, with Napalm Death, Decapitated, Asphyx, Gorod or Loudblast as headliners! The stage is the place we love to be! You can see all the dates, past and to come on our website www.deficiency.fr or on Facebook!

MM: Where can your fans go to find this album or any if your older albums?

Our discography and merchandising is available on our official store (www.deficiency.fr) and on all the main distribution networks (Amazon, Virgin, Fnac...) on physical digipack, but also everywhere in the world on legal download stuffs (I-Tunes, Deezer, Spotify, MusicMe...)!

Thank you very much for you questions, see you soon I hope!


Laurent GisonnaGreg Watson3/19/2014

The Prodigal Child
Greg Watson3/7/2014

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