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Without Face    
Without Face
Earache has branched out in recent years with subsidiaries Wicked World and Elitist Records. Elitist was formed around Lee Barrett of Candlelight Records fame in the hopes that he will continue his streak of uncovering incredible new talent. One of the first and most notable acts signed to the upstart label is Hungary's Without Face. The band's invigorating brand of progressive metal combined with simultaneously sung male and female vocals caught Barrett's attention. In the wake of the release of 'Astronomicon', the Metal Update had a chat with vocalist Julie about her unique lyrical approach and their new found home at Elitist Records.

METAL UPDATE: Seeing that Without Face is relatively unknown, could you give me a little background?

JULIE: Without Face was formed in 1997. It was really different because it was something like melodic thrash metal with the dual male and female vocals. One year after the foundation, a demo was released by the band and was followed by lot of gigs in Hungary. And then in 2000, a Hungarian label released the first album 'Deep Inside' which was re-released a year later by the American Dark Symphonies who signed the band in 2001. Between this we've had a lot of gigs. For example we have played with the Gathering, Kovenant, Zeromancer and Anathema. In 2002 we got an offer from Lee Barrett, the founder of Elitist Records, which is a new division of Earache. And now we are signed to them.

MU: Now how did the band name come about?

J: The truth is that we have always wanted to make our own music, which can't be put into one concrete style which would be "without face". We don't really have limits in music. We are mixing a lot of strange styles and strange songs because we are not afraid of unusual and new things and ideas. So I'm not saying that we don't have noticeable influences, but we are listening to many kinds of music and I think all of them have an effect on our playing. So the difference is that we make an original mixture.

Without Face

MU: You are currently being labeled as a progressive metal band. Would you pretty much agree with this?

J: Yes I agree with that because I think being a progressive band means that we managed to do something new. I think it doesn't mean that we are a progressive band like Dream Theater. We just also manage to do something new. I think that the music, which is really technical and complex, fits together with an unusual vocal style with male and female vocals. We usually sing together which makes it sound original, I think.

MU: Now have any or all of you undergone music schooling?

J: Yes, but only our keyboard player.

MU: The rest of you just picked up music on your own for the most part?

J: Yes.

MU: Who are some of your personal influences vocally?

J: My favorite vocalists are for example Lisa Gerrard or Loreena McKennitt and the vocalist of the Gathering, Anneke. They listen to a lot of bands and a lot of different styles and all of them have an influence on me.

MU: Do you listen to a lot of metal?

J: Yes. Bands like Amorphis or Dream Theater or Symphony X.

MU: Do you sing in any non-metal projects or have you in the past?

J: No. Without Face is my first band. Although I had been singing in a band for two months but it was not serious so I consider Without Face the first.

MU: So I guess you just had a natural vocal talent then, right?

J: Yeah, although I went to a singing master one and a half years ago.

MU: Since you and Andras are solely the vocalists in the band, how closely do you work together lyrically and vocally?

Without Face

J: I write all of the lyrics and we compose the vocals together. We are able to work together really well, but we don't really plan vocals. It just all comes naturally and we compose it in a very natural way. So we start to sing and then we try and make them fit together well.

MU: Do you basically get the lyrics down at practice or do you write them on your own time?

J: I usually write them on my own. It usually comes after the music is ready.

MU: What aspect do you enjoy more: writing the lyrics or composing the vocal melodies and harmonies?

J: I enjoy both of them. I enjoy everything in the music. This is my life and I like to do everything which is in connection with the music.

MU: You mainly write the lyrics. What are the lyrics about?

J: The lyrics are all about very strange and supernatural things. They are stories mainly inspired by Lovecraft, Poe and Anne Rice. The lyrics don't go by the story itself, but moreso the atmosphere of the songs. So if you read them, you will see what I meant. When I wrote the lyrics, they are only the outlines of the stories with the atmosphere of the feelings.

MU: What other poets and writers are you into?

J: I like to read novels. For example, I like Alexander Dumas. I don't know. There are so many. I don't really know the English titles to be honest. All of them are different in Hungarian.

MU: Oh I see. So you landed a deal with Dark Symphonies in the past. Did you just have a one album deal with them?

J: No. And it was planned that we were going to have two albums there and the release of 'Deep Inside' came later. But we got the offer from Earache and it was a worthy possibility for the band and we just couldn't refuse it because we are able to go on tour and we have much bigger possibilities than at Dark Symphonies. But it was not easy thing to leave them because we had a really good relationship with them and we liked to be at Dark Symphonies very much.

MU: So that all worked out well. Now how is Elitist and how did they discover you?

J: It happened that Lee Barrett heard a song on the internet and he wrote an email to us saying that he heard "Into the Night", a song from the first album and he just offered a worldwide deal to us.

MU: Do you think it will be a major turning point for the band?

J: I hope so. We think that things are going really well.

MU: Do you have any favorite songs off of the new album? Do you think that any one song is stronger than the rest? Something that you'd want fans to hear first?

Without Face

J: I think all of them are individual in their own way. I think all the songs are equal. I think that we managed to write six very good songs and we are very satisfied with all of them so I don't have any favorites.

MU: I agree that they are all good, but if I had to pick a favorite I would pick "The Violin of Erich Zann". Now what is this song about?

J: It was inspired by a Lovecraft story, 'The Music of Erich Zann'. It's about a violent man who is fighting against another dimension of demons with the power of the voice of the violin. At the end he loses the fight and let the demons into our world.

MU: One of the others I liked was "Daimonion". What is that one about? It is pretty short lyrically.

J: It was inspired by Socrates the philosopher. He said that Daimonion is when you do something, then after there is the voice in your head saying if it was good or not. I imagined that when you die, you have to judge yourself. In this lyric, this man dies and he has to judge himself, but the story is not finished so he cannot decide if his life was good or not.

MU: How does the album 'Astronomicon' differ from 'Deep Inside'?

J: The biggest difference was that 'Deep Inside' was made by half the other band. So after the recording of 'Deep Inside' there were some changes in the lineup. There's a new keyboard player, bass guitarist and female vocalist, me, in the band. I think the new members led the band in a more progressive way. The new album is much more complex, sounds more like a unit and is much more intense.

MU: So you weren't in the band to begin with?

J: No. I have only been in the band since 2000.

MU: You played the Sziget Fest. A fest in Hungary?

J: Yes. We are playing a lot of fests this summer, but next year we would like to play other European fests everywhere. I also hope that we can play in the US.

MU: I'm sure it may become possible through Earache. Is this Hungarian festival a large festival?

J: It is the biggest Eastern European fest.

MU: How many people usually attend that?

J: A lot. Many thousands. 350,000 people were there last year.

MU: Oh wow. That's crazy.

J: It's a one week fest.

MU: Oh really? All week long?

J: Yes.

MU: Who are some of the headliners?

J: For example Nightwish and the Gathering.

MU: So that is in your home country?

J: Yes. Budapest. On an island on the river Danube.

MU: Where is your biggest fanbase so far?

J: I don't know. We get a lot of letters from many countries, but I don't know.

MU: Do you have any tours lined up as of yet?

J: No. Nothing to speak of yet, but we are working on it. We are also trying to arrange some gigs in Europe everywhere for a tour this Autumn.

MU: That should be pretty easy to work out. What are some future plans for the band?

J: In September we are going to shoot a video for "In the Garden". For October we are going to pack our things and go away from Hungary. We want to do a lot of gigs everywhere and we also will try to write new songs.








Interview: Scott McCooe [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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