If you are a fan of death metal, you would have heard the name Kataklysm at some point. For the last twenty five years they have been true road warriors, constantly touring the world and writing killer albums. Before the band’s energetic set at a sold out The Underworld in Camden, I had the pleasure of speaking to the band’s drummer Oli Beaudoin in the band’s swanky tour bus. During our short-but insightful chat we spoke about their mammoth 44 date tour, the support bands, their latest album Of Ghosts and Gods, Ex-Deo and more. Enjoy the insightful interview with one of death metal’s hardest working bands.
Jack: How is the tour going?
Oli Beaudoin (Drums): It’s been amazing, we’ve had many sold out shows, I think about in one out of four shows have been sold out. We’ve covered many countries that we haven’t been to before, like in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. So yeah it’s been pretty crazy.
Jack: Have any shows stood out so far?
Oli: Yeah definitely, some in France and Belgium. There was insane stage diving and moshing, it was even hard to play it got so crazy. I’d say in the UK as well, in Glasgow it was pretty crazy so when you have this energy from the fans you give them anything you got.
Jack: You’ve toured the UK a lot over the years, what do you like about the UK?
Oli: It’s a little bit different for sure from the mainland. UK is quite cool man, the venues are okay and the fans are especially crazy. It doesn’t matter what day of the week, they show up and more and more people show up every time we come. Manchester was amazing and today a sold out show in London, here in the Underworld which is always crazy. I’m really looking forward to it.
Jack: On this tour you’re being supported by SepticFlesh and Aborted, two bands which I’m a fan of as well, what do you like about these bands?
Oli: Well, first, they’re good friends of ours. Aborted is more of this crazy new breed of death metal and Sceptic Flesh are more instrumental from Greece. It’s a different spectrum, I would say different styles in the whole spectrum. It’s a cool package for fans as when they see Kataklysm they can see different stuff as well.
Jack: In July you released your 12th album Of Ghosts and Gods last year. Are you happy with the response?
Oli: Yeah man definitely, it’s been crazy. When we play the songs, the fans just sing along to the lyrics, you can tell they really dig the records. In the magazines too it’s been well-received and well-rated. In Metal Hammer in Germany we had album of the month. We’ve been nominated in Canada for a Juno Award which is the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys in the US. All the hard work has been paying off.
Jack: This was your second album with Kataklysm, how did the recording process differ from the last time?
Oli: It was different definitely. I got a little bit more involved in the arrangements. I think everyone threw what they had on that one and you can tell. On the spectrum we go from groovy, to melodic and really crazy fast on tracks like ‘Vendication’. We’re exploring different styles and dimensions, ‘The World is a Dying Insect’ is more new school I’d say. We’re heading towards this stuff to keep the spectrum wide so you don’t get bored after two songs.
Jack: I noticed the album was not necessarily calmer but a lot more melodic as it wasn’t all blastbeats, was this an intentional decision?
Oli: Yeah definitely. On Waiting For The End To Come which was my first record with the guys, it feels like it was more technical, that was what we heard from fans and the high speed tracks were more right in your face. Of Ghosts and Gods was more heartfelt with a focus on making songs you could really remember and connect too. That’s what our goal was.
Jack: What stood out for me from the album was that you decided to release a music video to every song on the album, something that a lot of bands would not have done due to being too costly or a waste of time. What was behind this decision?
Oli: Well we always try to come up with new and fresh ideas. We have a friend of ours called Tommy Jones who did the Iron Will DVD. We threw the idea out there and he was up for it, maybe he regretted it afterwards as it was heavy work and we had to shoot in lots of different locations, it was a lot of work. But we liked the idea and we’re probably never going to do it again as it was so crazy. It was nice to have visuals for every song on the record as you normally have to choose one or two or that’s it. We have performance videos, lyric videos and visual videos and so we’re happy.
Jack: Is any video your favourite?
Oli: I think it’s ‘The World Is A Dying Insect’ and well as the track for myself. It’s not always about speed, lots of bands out there nowadays are just crazy and technical. We’re trying more to work on the stuff you can connect to and remember. That’s why in years you’ll be listening to one record in years, those elements.
Jack: The album has been launched on Nuclear Blast, what is like working with them?
Oli: The band has been with Nuclear Blast since forever and the label has been really good for us. So yeah we’re just happy with the result, they helped out on promotion and support and everything. It’s been a good ride with the guys.
Jack: Kataklysm has been a band for 25 years even though you’ve only been with the band for two years, were you a fan of that band before joining them?
Oli: Definitely man. I remember when I was a bit younger, I’m 10 years younger than the other guys, I was listening to Serenity in Fire and I listened to ‘Blood on the Swans’ and I was like “what the hell is this, it sounds like a machine gun!” (Laughs) and then I got into this kind of stuff. I really like the groovy aspect of the band and the heavy, you know, it’s not about the speed most of the time. You drop the speed and the groove goes higher. Now I’m just happy to be a part of it and part of the writing as well so we can work. It’s cool that the guys appreciate having a fresh, younger guy on the band who can bring ideas from a new side of music.
Jack: Kataklysm are a band that are known for their active touring, what is your favourite bit of touring?
Oli: Touring is really, really cool. The first thing is that the actual work is only one hour per day so it’s much better than any type of job you can get. You get to see a lot of stuff, sometimes you’re too tired or there is just no time to visit. But a lot of times we could do crazy stuff like in South Africa we went to Safari we went to stuff like this. You need to save a lot of money to do stuff like this, such as flying there. We got to see places too like Japan and Costa Rica.
Jack: What’s been your fondest memory from Kataklysm?
Oli: Ah man. There’s different stuff, on this tour the energy is getting better and better. As far as memories of with the band the safari in South Africa was hard to believe. Seeing elephants, lions and shit like this. Playing in a death metal band and seeing this stuff is just nuts.
Jack: What’s the most challenging thing about touring?
Oli: I would say it’s the fatigue, both for the mind and the body. As a drummer when I play it’s always 100%, tired or not you need to give everything you have especially as you only have an hour of work per day. Trying to rest properly and stay healthy as the food is not always good food so you have to eat what’s around you.
Jack: Is it true that you have a Master’s degree in Sociology?
Oli: Yeah, it’s true.
Jack: Do you have any work outside of the band?
Oli: Well, before the band I used to do different things. I used to tour with other bands and I was a teacher in college in sociology. It’s always a back up, like I said to many people I never really fit in any boxes. When I was in college they were checking out my Facebook of crazy photos from shows; and when you’re touring you look like a nerd as you’ve been in college as a teacher. It’s cool though as it gives you a different perspectives on stuff as the songs we write, we talk about social and political stuff and I wouldn’t trade any of it. It makes someone more complete when you can dig in different fields.
Jack: Kataklysm have their own brand of hot sauce, what was behind this decision?
Oli: We really dig this stuff. Myself, I have a Mexican wife and my guitar player lives in Texas so you know we dig this stuff big time. We got the hook up with the peppers and this company in the U.S and then we had to actually customise the recipe as we wanted it. You know it’s not about getting products out there to sell to people we try to get good stuff as well. So the hot sauce, there’s different bands with hot sauce, but when you try this one there is a high demand for it as it’s good stuff. There’s the God’s Fury which is mild and the Ghost Fire which is my favourite, it’s smoky. It’s for experienced users. Same with our beer the St Tabarnak we came up with. We were approached by this Belgium brewery called Eutropius which was really killer. We had to customise the recipe too, the sparkling, the bitterness, we were really happy about it.
Jack: What are your plans for Kataklysm for the rest of the year?
Oli: After this tour we’re starting to write the next Ex-Deo album. It’s actually on-going already but we’re jumping on that. One week to recover from tour and then going on that.
Jack: Are you drumming on the next Ex-Deo album?
Oli: Yes, I’m helping the guys write the album as well. It’s going to be pretty crazy, we have Clemens “Ardek” Wijers from Carach Angran doing the orchestrations. We already have a teaser which is completely nuts, it sounds like Roman killer music and the orchestrastion you’d hear in Lord of the Rings. The guy is up there definitely.
Jack: I really like Ex-Deo and when I saw Ex-Deo at Bloodstock 2013, were you drumming for them then?
Oli: Yes, that was actually one of my first gigs with the guys.
Jack: Me and some of my friends were dressed as Romans for the gig.
Oli: Yeah we saw that it was pretty bad-ass.
Jack: Do you find it weird that people are dressing up for the gigs and making the effort wearing armour and bringing swords to the show.
Oli: Yeah, it’s cool man. It’s because they dig it, it’s a more dramatic band and not as straight forward as Kataklysm but we dig it man.
Jack: It must be nice to have a balance as Ex-Deo is a lot calmer so to speak than Kataklysm.
Oli: Definitely man. As far as drumming goes it’s much more relaxed in Ex-Deo so it’s like holidays for me. (Laughter). I really dig it as we can channel different types of ideas in both bands; so with Ex-Deo it’s more about the whole arrangement, the epicness and Kataklysm is right in your face, heavy, groovy and more modern.
Jack: Finally, because the new Ex-Deo album is out in 2017, when can we see a new Kataklysm album or is it too early to think about that?
Oli: I think you can expect it in 2018. We need to focus on the writing and recording, all this stuff. The new Ex-Deo album is out in February 2017 and it’s called The Immortal Wars, for the new Kataklysm we’ll have news in the upcoming months.
Jack: Thank you very much for your time and I’ll see you on stage.
Oli: You’re welcome, thanks for having me.