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Sometime Gothic-tinged French Death/Doom band Lying Figures recently released their debut full-length album - we thought we'd follow up our review of it with more of a look at the band's history and development.

Interview with Lying Figures.
"I've chatted online with Frédéric (Fred) Simon - previously with Marthyr, Drowning and Inborn Suffering, and for the last few years, bassist with Lying Figures - since we covered the EP 'A World Of Our Own', back in 2014. He's been good enough to keep us informed and answer my questions about the progress towards this year's full-length 'The Abstract Escape', so now that that's out, it seemed a good idea to capture some of that in a more formal and full-length interview, with some assistance from band founders, guitarists Matt and Mehdi."

Lying Figures: Fred(Bass), Mehdi (Guitar), Matt (Guitar), Thibault (Vocals), Charles (Drums).

(1) Hey guys, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. Could we start with a formal introduction to our readers: who are you and where are you from?

Fred: Hi Mike! We are Lying Figures, 5 guys from the east of France. The band was created in 2008 by Matt and Mehdi. Then we realised a first demo in 2013, an EP in 2014 and our 1st album in May. We try to be an active live band, we have already played in Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland...and France of course, hehehe.

(2) First off, then, are you really called after the creature from Silent Hill 2? I'd have thought that game was a bit before your time - what's the story behind the choice of name?

Matt: Both Mehdi and I are big fans of the Silent Hill video games, especially the 2nd episode on Playstation2. Yes it’s a bit old but everything in this game is perfect. It is a very inspirational universe which perfectly fits with our lyrics and themes we try to develop in our music. So when we had to find a name for the band, we wanted to make the reference to what inspires us the most.

Fred: We all have very different personalities, so the "Lying Figures", those monsters with this strange form is perfect to define us...

Mehdi: It's also a series of painting by Francis Bacon. It expresses a deep anxiety and a solitude in which we recognize our music.

(3) From your 2014 introductory interview with us, it's not just classic old-school games which inspire you - you also mainly quote vintage literary and extreme Doom musical influences. Is that still primarily the case, or do you draw from anything more modern these days?

Matt: Yes we like to take influences from many places. It’s more or less still the case. I’d say that our influences from music evolve with time. When we created the band nearly 10 years ago we listened to a lot of doom metal and such but now things have changed a little bit. I still listen to the classics but I like to explore new styles all the time. It’s the case for everyone in the band I guess. This goes with video games or books and movies which still inspire us when we write a new song.

Fred: Doom-death music is probably my favorite one, I listen to many bands from My Dying Bride to Mourning Beloveth, or Rapture, early Katatonia or Paradise Lost, and many more.. This kind of metal is so rich and various, it's always a great inspiration for me, especially early '90s, but good to discover more new bands. I don't read books, my only inspiration is what I listen, what's happening around me and what I feel...

(4) How do you go about turning those influences, or other ideas, into songs? Do you have a particular method or process for compositions, or is more of an informal thing where everybody chips in?

Fred: Depends on the mood. Matt composes some riffs alone, if the idea sounds good to us, he goes further. Then we work to create a complete song, and Thibault writes lyrics and sends us a first try with vocals. We work together in rehearsals... But sometimes, it's another member who composes the music, or writes lyrics, as with 'Monologue of a sick brain' composed by Thibault or 'Tormented Souls' by Mehdi... there are no rules, if it sounds good for us, we do it.

Matt: Yes we don’t like to get stuck in a particular style. We try to combine everyone’s ideas and if the result is coherent then let’s go!

(5) One question I always ask: what do you consider to be the essential qualities of Doom, and how do you go about realising them in your music?

Fred: For us, 'doom' is not about the down tempo, it's more a question of mood, about melancholia, sadness, about a feeling. We don't play funeral doom or traditional doom metal, nor pure death metal either...so I think the label “melodic death/doom” or “melodic doom/death” can define our sound.

Matt: I’m not a real fan of pure doom metal. When I write a riff it’s more like Fred says, it’s a mood I want to explore. So as I never wrote something very positive I guess I’m always sad or angry haha.

(6) You've experimented a bit so far: the first 2013 EP was quite early-Peaceville, the 2014 EP moved towards a more atypical Gothic/Doom, and the latest 2017 full-length comes some way back towards more traditionally melodic Death/Doom. Was that a deliberate choice to explore different sounds, or just the way each release turned out?

Fred: It's not our choice, it comes naturally. You can hear our Katatonia influences on "From nowhere to nothing" for example, it's undenied. "A world of my own" sounds very different indeed, we have many influences, probably more mature, more personal ... And "The abstract escape" sounds different once again, maybe due to the new line-up, we worked all five on this record. Only the feelings guide us today...

(7) How successful was the 'From Nowhere To Nothing' EP? Was it intended as a demo or a proper debut release, and did it get you much notice or attention?

Fred: "From nowhere to nothing" was a real demo, just a record to present the band, but we were surprised by the good feedbacks, especially with the cover of 'Promise'.

(8) You followed that up quite quickly with the second EP, 'A World Of My Own'. What prompted the decision to self-publish it in CD format, and how was that different for you from organising a download-only release? Do you prefer physical formats, in general?

Fred: The big difference with "A world of my own" and "From nowhere to nothing" is the recording. There's real drums played by Charles, the guitars were taken with real amps... So this EP is more organic, that's why we wanted to present this record in CD format with a nice package. Matt, with the help from his girlfriend Cindy created the artwork and every design of Lying Figures, it's complementary with our music. It's important for us to be in osmosis between visuals and sound...

Lying Figures - 'Until It Ends' (Official):

(9) It's been almost exactly three years between that and the full-length 'The Abstract Escape'. How did you spend that time: how long did each phase of the album take?

Fred: Just after the EP, Ludo left the band and I replaced him. So we needed to work together on the old songs and learn to work in different manners than with Ludo. We wanted to focus on promoting "A world of my own", book some gigs and take our time to compose our first album. We entered the studio in May 2016, we found a deal in December with Rain Without End Records and finally fixed a release date in May 2017. Some songs like 'The mirror' or 'Tormented souls' are as old as the EP!

(10) Does it feel any different to come up with a full album rather than an EP? Do you feel more excited and proud to have the finished item in your hands?

Fred: It's always exciting to present a new record or video. But yes, this album is special. It's the first time in a real studio (the EP was recorded in home-studio) with the talented producer, Pierre Schaffner. We have given much energy on this record, we are proud of the result and the various feedbacks from fans and other musicians.

(11) RWE have given it a nicely-finished package: how did you get the deal with them? And was it OK working with them - did you have to make any changes to how you do things?

Fred: We tried with many labels and Robert from RWE was really interested by our sound, he's a real passionate guy. It's not just for business, we talk often about various things, it's important to stay human in the relationship between band/label. About the deal, he respects the band, we can keep our creativity, and for the package too, digipack format is good for Matt and Cindy about his ideas in artwork, we stay free with our universe.

Visuals: 'From Nowhere To Nothing' (Demo, 2013), 'A World Of My Own' (EP, 2014), 'The Abstract Escape' (2017), and band logo.

(12) I do like the way Matthieu and Cindy have once again presented the artwork and layout. How important is that visual element to the Lying Figures concept of "a universe in which madness and melancholy are dancing together"?

Fred: Indeed! As I say, visual is also as important as the music for us. For "The abstract escape", you can find some elements already present in our previews realisation, like the birds, or the strange shadow figure.. like an 'Eddy' for Iron Maiden haha! We did not want to make a 'concept album' in spite of the lyrics. Madness and melancholy are great parts of us, but there are many ways to talk about it. In "The abstract escape", we talk about mental illness, maybe the next album talk about other kind of madness …

(13) We reviewed 'The Abstract Escape': I always like to give people the chance to respond to what we've written about them. Is there anything in that, good or bad, you'd like to comment on?

Fred: Your review was really cool, thank you so much for that! I can't say if review is “good or bad”. Everybody has their own vision about a record, but of course we prefer when people like and understand our universe. When we read some reviews with 2 or 3 lines... it's not interesting, but when they describe every title and tell the feeling when they listen to it, that's good !

Lying Figures - 'The Mirror' (Official):

(14) What other feedback have you been getting on it? Has it been well-received, generally?

Fred: Ho yes! "The abstract escape" received very good feedback. All over the world, by friends, fans, webzines, other musicians from 'doom' scene, etc. it's really pleasant and motivating.

(15) It's probably a bit soon to be asking, but do you have any ideas for what might come next, release-wise?

Fred: For now, we continue to stay focused on promoting and try to play more often live. We have some projects in mind but it's too early to talk about...

Live in St Die, December 2015. Picture: Dolguldur Photography.

(16) Back in 2014, you told us you were playing live everywhere you could. Is that still true now? How important is getting on stage to you?

Fred: We like to be on stage, on the road. We can't see it often, due to our private life or works so to be on tour is really good for us! It's good to play outside of France, with international bands that we respect and enjoy. We always try to play gigs in new places.

(17) Have you done an actual tour, or just individual shows and festivals? Would you like to - and is it a possibility for the future?

Fred: With our respective jobs, it's not easy to plan a long tour, but we try to do some “week-end tours” and that's worked pretty well for now. With this kind of tour, we can play for 2 or 3 days in Belgium or the Netherlands, like the last tour 'The escape tour' with Svarthart. We hope to do a full tour for a week or more... Who knows?

(18) What would you consider the high point of your live appearances up until now? And have you experienced any real low points?

Fred: The most high gig, I think, is the “Little Devil Doom Days II” in Tilburg during our last tour. The headline was awesome with Funeralium, Doomed, Black Capricorn, Officium Triste and Svarthart. First time for us in The Netherlands, very good memories, with great people. And of course, we've had some bad experience gigs too, played in empty venues with only musicians from the other bands of the show as audience...that's the game...

Live at the Little Devil, Tilburg, May 2017. Photo by Vitus Frank.

(19) So, what else occupies your time outside of music? Is there anything you'd particularly like to be doing, given a free hand to indulge?

Fred: Lying Figures takes up a great part of my life today, but I've my job, and in my free time, I like to walk or run in forest, be in quiet places and listen the wind in the trees, far from civilisation, hehehe.
Then Thibault, Charles and Mehdi have another bands too (Octavion for Thibault, Ataraxis for Charles and Tolstoï for Mehdi). Matt: Travelling is what I like to do most, seeing different things and people, other ways of thinking and living. You learn from others and from you when you travel, things look different. It helps creativity a lot.

(20) To close, I hope we've covered the story of Lying Figures quite thoroughly, but if there is anything you'd like to add, the last words are yours.

Fred: Thanks for your support and this interview! Hope our world can touch more people and open minds to French doom metal music. Matt: Fred said It all, we hope to see more of you in future shows. We’re going to keep up the good work and write some new songs as soon as possible.

(-) Then it only remains for me to thank you again for your time and participation, and hope that we'll be hearing a lot more from you for years to come.

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Visit the Lying Figures bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-08-01 by Mike Liassides.
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