You might remember the name BLACKGUARD. Not so long ago they were the greatest thing that had happened to the Canadian metal scene. But then it all went quiet. Until now. Answers by vocalist Paul Ablaze. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
A band name sets the tone for the band. With the right name, you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-We’ve had two names for this band. We started as Profugus Mortis, which translates to “fugitives of death”, and then Blackguard which I suppose is defined as an unsavory character of sorts. Not that I think we’re unsavory characters will mal-intent, but when you’re making aggressive music and that music being a possible outlet of aggression having a name that represents that helps to frame things. Although I don’t necessarily think it’s a requisite, but it does help tie things together.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Humm. From the very beginning, I would say Children Of Bodom, Unexpect, maybe old Dimmu. It’s been a while since I’ve had to think about this and I’m sure everyone in the band will say something different.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Each song is its own beast, but whether slow or fast the goal of the song in terms of what needs to be communicated needs to be maintained. And by communicating I don’t strictly mean verbally in regards to the lyrics but rather the structure, textures of the song like a tapestry should be clearly understood.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-Our songs have always be written with the intention of being played live, and although we will challenge ourselves in the writing process to better our skills in the studio, that must at all times be translatable in the live setting or it serves no purpose.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-I don’t feel labels are as important as they once were but that’s not to say they don’t still serve a purpose, because good labels still do offer something that isn’t readily available, which should be certain expertise in releasing and promoting music. However, in the information age, everyone has the ability to master these skills and provided you have a good product you can always build a proper team of publicists and managers to accomplish anything a label could do for you if you are willing to risk your own finances in the endeavor.
The only consequence of having so much music readily available is perhaps the abundance of mediocre music one needs to sift through in order to find what pleases you. But I hope this, in turn, will put pressure on the artist not to settle for releasing sub-par recordings and material. In the end, the consumer will decide what they want to hear and ultimately “good” or “bad” is largely subjective.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-That’s an interesting observation and something that has crossed my mind more than once. It’s emblematic of our disposable/ADHD society that has a harder time staying focused on one thing at a time. But to echo my previous sentiments in regards to the abundance of music available, this will impact the producers of music to go above and beyond the status quo to maintain relevancy.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?>
-I’m really not much of a visual artist so it’s hard for me to say. Simplicity can be just as beautiful as something extravagant and it either speaks to you or doesn’t.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-I don’t know what we are anymore. Maybe we’re just making a guest appearance on a stage we were once a fixture of. I will say that the Canadian/Quebec/Montreal scene might be as strong or even stronger than it’s ever been and I’m proud of the small role we played in it.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as a compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-If by music you mean physical products to sell, then yes that is a possibility to a certain degree. I do believe that people will inherently want something tangible that they can hold in their hands and maybe it will come back “in style” to buy CD’s again, or maybe not. For all we know in a few months there could be an outcry to end CD production on the basis of environmental waste, why even produce CDs and cases that will inevitably go in the garbage when digital is a more environmentally friendly option. That’s a possibility too.
What lies in the future?
-We don’t know, all things will happen as they are meant to.