A few members of Belle Epoque (Kyle Istook – vocals & Sebastian Kerravcic – bass) were kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for us about their return to the music scene & their new EP, Disillusions Of Man, that releases this Tuesday August 14th.
So, last we knew you guys broke up, started a new band, kind of faded, & then suddenly returned as Belle Epoque once again. Can you fill in the gaps with a short history?
KI: When we made the decision to depart from the name and style of Belle Epoque, we were at a different phase in our musical journey. We had a different vision for the future of our music and felt that it wouldn’t be fair to the integrity of Belle Epoque or its fans to release the new material under the same name. After recording and releasing a record as the new band, we realized that the music wasn’t quite going in the direction we had hoped. So, we went back to square one and started to really focus on the music, making sure that we put our hearts into every chord, drum beat, bass line and lyric that was written. The longer we spent perfecting the songs, the more it began to sound like us again, the more it began to belong to Belle Epoque.
What brought about the decision to get back together after all this time?
KI: It was kind of a no-brainer for us to go back to the name Belle Epoque. We felt that the new music we were writing, and the overall atmosphere of the band, lined up perfectly under the name. We realized that we had finally captured the ‘mature’ sound we had been searching for over the past couple years, and we owed it to all of our supporters to show them what we were capable of.
After being apart for a while was there any struggle writing songs again or did you basically pick up where you left off?
SK: I don’t think there was really any struggle at all. Things just came out naturally. We all had a lot of freedom when it came to writing the new material. Individually, our influences come from all different places, so writing the way we did allowed each of us to play in our own styles but meet in the middle. I think anyone who knows us well can see our personalities stand out in these songs. Picking up where we left off was never an option. We wanted to progress from that, especially after being gone for a while, pretty much reinvent ourselves but still be us.
How does the writing process work for you guys? Are the music & lyrics a group effort or is there a prominent writer?
SK: It’s all a group effort. Usually when we get to practice we start with a freestyle jam and carry on with it as long as we can, depending on what we came up with. Then, we will take bits and pieces from the songs and work them into ideas. Sometimes someone will have a riff they’ve been working on and we will try to build off that. I don’t know, we’re pretty critical when it comes to writing music. At times we’ll just over think a part and try to work on it for so long, where we get to the point that we just get sick of it and throw it into limbo. Every now and then we revisit those ideas, but they usually never see the light of day. Lyrics come separate; Kyle works on the overall melody and rough lyric ideas during the writing process. Then, when we demo the song, he’ll finalize his ideas with input from the rest of the band.
So the new EP, titled Disillusions of Man, releases on August 14th. What led you guys to choose the album title? Is there an overall meaning behind the album that it ties in with?
KI: The title of the album refers to some of the issues we face as people, and we know many of our listeners struggle with. Like our last album, this one tackles tough topics such as; dishonesty, fear of the unknown, the end of world (or ‘life as we know it’), but counters with positive messages of comfort and strength.
SK: Honestly, my mind was blown. I remember getting the phone call on my way to practice and just sitting in my car in disbelief. We all felt that way. He’s worked on some of our favorite records, growing up and we’ve always admired his work. For weeks, before going to Georgia, we wondered and asked ourselves, “Is this really happening?”. It never really sunk in ’til we got a call from Matt about 2 hours into our drive, to reassure what we were going to be recording. We were definitely nervous at first. Our band has an interesting sense of humor and constantly wondered if we might say something that would cross the line or if he thought we sucked at our instruments but that wasn’t the case at all. We all ended up getting along so well with Matt. He was so open to working with us and our ideas. We learned a lot during the recording process. The entire experience was more than we could have asked for. It felt so good to leave home for a bit and just focus on recording and making this record the best it could be.
What can we expect with the new material sound wise?
SK: You can expect a more mature Belle Epoque. We’ve grown a lot as musicians and people since our last release. This record has a more raw feel to it. The songs are more melodic but still have their intense moments. We just experimented a lot more with this record, from trying different guitar/bass tones and pedals, to pianos, organs, and a vibraphone. Although the sound had changed a bit, it’s still us.
Can you share a lyric stands out most to you on the album?
KI: The first line of Not Going Home, “The competent will be the bearers of the future when the storms invade our homes”.
What kind of early feedback have you been getting?
KI: So far, everyone has been extremely supportive. We’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback from old and new fans alike. Even though our new music isn’t as heavy, people are really digging the new sound.
Are you guys planning on touring at all in support of the new release?
KI: Right now we’re just getting back into the swing of playing shows. Definitely lining up some regional/out of town shows soon. We’re trying to get our music to as many people as possible.
What are some goals that you guys have for 2012 and beyond? Are you content to stay independent or would you sign at this point?
SK: As for our goals for 2012 and beyond, we want everyone to know that were back. We reunited about a year ago now and people are still finding out that were back together and about to release new music. We want to get our music out to as many people as we can and get on the road. We want to rebuild our fan base and continue to add to our current group of fans and friends who have stuck with us through the past 6 years. We want to share what we’ve created. Signing has always been a goal for this band. Even though we’ve managed to get this far independently with hard work, dedication, and the help of friends and family, if the right contract was presented to us, we’d have a hard time turning it down.
Is there an overall purpose for the band beyond the music?
KI: Our purpose is, as it’s always been, to write and perform the music we love. Our music comes from the heart, and our goal is to make our listeners feel something.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers before wrapping up?
KI: We just want to thank everyone for sticking with us over the years. Please spread the word so we can keep doing what we love.