The Distrolution / Distrolution Merch team had the chance to go to the Hellfest festival from June 19th to 26th 2022. On the program, concerts, meetings… and several interviews, which you can find every week in FR version on Distrolution Merch and in EN version on Distrolution! Discover without further delay our interview with Chris ICARD and Chris CESARI from Heart Attack!
Hi Heart Attack. First of all, would it be possible to introduce yourselves?
Chris Icard: I’m Chris Icard on drums.
Chris Cesari: I’m Chris Cesari and I’m the guitarist. A lot of Chris!
How was Heart Attack formed?
Chris Icard: So Heart Attack is basically a band that was formed around 2007/2008 by Kevin, who’s the singer and guitarist. And now, he’s the only one left in the band. He fired everybody… or nobody can stand him, I don’t know, it’s obscure. So, it became a little more serious in 2011, because we both arrived at that time. In terms of optics, we were more into a composition optics to tour more, to do more important dates. So we recorded the first album which is called “Stop Pretending” in 2013, the second album “The Resilience” which came out in 2017 and now the latest, which came out on June 10th, “Negative Sun”, on Atomic Fire Records.
You played on Friday, June 17th, on the mainstage of the Hellfest Festival. How was your feeling on stage?
Chris Cesari: The feeling was… it was gigantic! Just to be on this stage which is almost 30m long. Even if we had done some nice stages before with Megadeth, at the Motocultor, on the mainstage too. But here, everything is multiplied, even the number of people working on it, it was pretty awesome. And when the concert started, we saw that there were many, many, many people.We were pretty surprised about that, because at 10:30, you don’t know what to expect! But we had many, many people. The public reacted very, very well, it was perfect. Even if we had some little technical problems… But hey. We kept going and frankly, it was perfect. It was an amazing moment!
Photo : Christo Malum
And in terms of heat, wasn’t it too complicated for you?
Chris Icard: We were lucky, because we played at 10:30 am.
Chris Cesari: For the older ones, it’s hard!
Chris Icard: Yeah… well you know something about it! (laughs) And then, no, I think we avoided the worst! We avoided the worst, so it was fine. We felt sorry for the bands playing at 3-4pm.
Even in the morning, for the crowd. I was surprised myself to see so many people, especially with the heat.
Chris Icard: Yeah! We didn’t expect it! People, in the morning, they arrive, they set up, all that. We didn’t expect to see so many people arrive. We had a set of half an hour, so it goes very, very fast. But to see all that, all the people, from the second song making a circle pit, it went straight away! There was a guy from the technical department who told us “It’s the first time I’ve seen a wall of death working on a mainstage in the morning”.
Chris Cesari: At 10:30.
Chris Icard: The guys was hallucinating!
Chris Cesari: He said “This is the first time we’ve seen this”, and it’s true that people were hungry, they were overexcited. Almost 3 years without Hellfest… And it’s true that for us, it worked well!
Chris Icard: Yeah, yeah. We did it mechanically and as we saw that it followed… it’s great.
Chris Cesari: Very, very good set. We are very happy!
Chris Icard: Only positive feedbacks… Mission accomplished, let’s say!
Chris Cesari: It’s good for us to see that we manage to hold a mainstage on a festival like that. We are also happy with our evolution! It’s perfect!
Since we’re talking about Hellfest, is there a band you absolutely want to see?
Chris Cesari: Ghost!
Chris Icard: I was going to say… Yeah! Ghost tonight! I won’t be here the second weekend, but then again, I would have gone to see Metallica or Scorpions. Let’s say Ghost !
You are unanimous, it’s Ghost!
Chris Cesari : Oh yeah! We are fans! But you can feel it in our music, despite the extreme side, there is always this melodic, epic side…
Have you never seen them before?
Chris Cesari: Yes! I’ve seen them 3 times, I think. But there is always this side that influences us, with the synths, the choirs…
Maybe we’ll meet there!
Chris Cesari: Yeah, maybe! Considering the crowd! (laughs). You’ll recognize me easily, I’m dressed in black! (laughs)
You mentioned it earlier, you just released your new album “Negative Sun”. How long did you work on it?
Chris Icard: Well, oddly enough, it was pretty quick. Well… Pretty quick. It’s an album that we mainly composed during the first confinement. So it’s true that we had a little more time to create, to do all that, with the “handicaps” of not being able to see each other. Everything was done a bit remotely and it’s true that when I arrived, we recorded in June 2020, it was just the end of the first confinement. I recorded, I laid down my drum tracks, we had never played the songs together. We never rehearsed them together! Everyone worked on their own! Chris (Cesari) has his home studio. He composed with Kevin remotely and he sent me the tracks. That’s how we did it. Oh, we spent what? Maybe 5-6 months or so on the composition?
Chris Cesari: Less, even!
Chris Icard: A little less?
Chris Cesari: Yeah, because we really, really started writing in early March. So March, April, May and in June, we went into the studio, and in 3 months, it was done! And it’s true that yes, as he (Chris Icard) was saying, it was not quite remotely, because Kevin came a lot to my place during the confinement. So we were often at my place, the two of us and our guitars, recording, putting ideas down, that’s it… recording, throwing away, modifying, re-recording and so on. And so that’s how it was done. Then, we sent them, they gave us their feeling “Maybe we should change that, maybe we should add that”, and we corrected almost in real time!
So, this album was released on Atomic Fire Records. How did this collaboration happen? Was it you who approached the label, or the opposite?
Chris Icard: Well, what happened was… We have our old label, Apathia Records, which we salute by the way, because we remained on very good terms that have… that could not continue. So from there, we said to ourselves… We continued a little bit by ourselves, we started to recompose and all that, then we said to ourselves “We will try to find a structure to help us”. So it’s Kévin who mainly managed that, who had to send to all the labels in the world, everywhere… With answers either negative, or answers considering the current context… Even big labels who were interested but told us “Well, right now… There is the confinement, it’s the end of the world, we’re all going to die, it’s complicated”.
Afterwards, it was a friend we met on a tour who put us in touch with Markus Staiger, who created Atomic Fire and who comes from Nuclear Blast. And one day, naturally, Markus Staiger contacted us and said “So, I love the album”. He’s a guy who only works with bands he has a crush on, actually. It exists. It’s rare, but it still exists! And apparently, he really, really loved the album. He was listening to it all the time and he said “I want to sign something with you and collaborate with you”. That’s how it happened! After, it was very fast, we received the contract, we studied it and then we were ready! Let’s go !
What does this new label bring you ?
Chris Cesari : Well, it brings us… First of all, it’s a big, big label. So even if it’s a recent label, it’s all ex-Nuclear Blast guys, including Markus Staiger who created Nuclear Blast. So they bring us their experience, their network and their passion too, because they are very passionate about music, about metal and they just want to… In fact, they believe in us. They want to make the band grow and make it work for us and for them, because they are totally involved and they are almost part of the band. So it’s a total experience and really new for us!
Chris Icard: It’s true that we can see the difference, if only there. We are at the beginning, but on the promotion of the album which has just been released, we never had so much visibility and that inevitably… there is no secret! Even if the label we worked with before did a very, very good job, it worked very well, there is no problem, but now, the network is not the same! For us, it’s all good! It’s true that for us, it’s all positive!
Speaking of collaboration, you did a featuring with Decapitated on the album. How did it happen? How did you conceive the track?
Chris Icard: Actually, basically the idea of the featuring… We had done a tour with Decapitated in 2018. We did about ten dates with them in France and we had stayed in touch, on good terms with them. Kevin naturally asked the singer, Rasta, if he wanted to do a featuring with us. At the beginning, we thought… We didn’t think he would be OK, we thought he would say “Yeah I’m busy, I don’t have time”, but no, no. He said yes directly! He said yes straight away! So we focused on the track that I think is the most aggressive of the album. And it fits well, yeah! It works very well! We are happy.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In the worst case, you would have received a negative answer…
Chris Icard: Exactly! Exactly.
Chris Cesari: We had a good relationship during the tour, we were always more or less in contact. The trick was to know if he had the time and he did, so he did it very nicely and that’s it!
Let’s talk about everything visual. As a music fan, I attach a particular importance to album covers. Which artist is behind the artwork of “Negative Sun”?
Chris Icard : The artwork was done by Flow from Chromatorium. We come in, we share ideas… Afterwards, he spent a lot of time, it was modified a lot, because well, it’s complicated to all agree, and he did a great job, incredible, in a record time! And as soon as small changes had to be made, it went very fast. And here, the result is magic, we are really happy!
Who had the idea of the character on the cover? We can also find him in your music videos!
Chris Cesari: It’s an idea that came gradually. Because we wanted to… Actually, we always have a character on our covers and this is an idea that came gradually. Because at the beginning, the character was not like that. But as the lyrics progressed and the theme of the album started to emerge, we came to this character that represents the dark part that everyone has inside. And that’s it, it was done a little bit naturally, as we went along, talking, trying things…
Thank you. That was my last question. I’ll leave you the final word for our readers!
Chris Icard: We salute everyone, all the people following us, that we see at the shows. And here, to have done this opening of Hellfest, to have had all these people in front of us, all smiling, having fun, spinning, getting on each other’s faces… But really, everything in an atmosphere like that, well… That’s why we are here and we hope it will continue! So thank you all!