Kataklysm's Maurizio Iacono was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed balancing the writing for three new albums from three different groups as well as how Kataklysm's new release was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite finishing the album, Unconquered, in December, the record was nearly pushed until 2021 altogether due to complications from the global pandemic, which not only shut down the touring industry, but disrupted product distribution, among other things. Iacono resisted delaying the record past the fall, however, stressing that fans shouldn't have to wait even longer for new music amid a shutdown.

You've been working on three albums: Kataklysm, Ex Deo, and Invictvs. What's the biggest challenge when ideas for different projects start to overlap?

You have to approach everything you do with a different mindset because it’s a different thing. With Kataklysm, it’s something that we already started working on last year and have been heavily involved in with a different mentality and a different approach because Kataklysm already have a fan base that’s already established and everything. So we have to cater to that and at the same time bring an evolution to the music because you want to keep going forward.

Ex Deo is a very historic type of band — it’s very symphonic, so it’s a different world.

My solo stuff I haven’t really dabbled too much in it because, as you said, I don’t want to get too caught up with the bringing different ideas to different places. You have to separate the time for all the projects or else you’re going to have a problem somewhere in between it all. The Kataklysm record was finished last December and we’re in the middle of working on the Ex Deo record right now, and then I can start working on my solo stuff in the fall. That’s the plan.

The coronavirus locked down society worldwide. When you were feeling particularly constrained? In what ways did creativity give you reassurance and a sense of control?

For us, it all started when we were filming the music video for "The Killshot" in February. We were in Atlanta working with [director] Scott Hansen and we were at the airport, and that’s when we started seeing all the screens everywhere just announcing that this virus is taking over the country and we have to shut it down. We had heard rumors about it, but we didn’t know exactly how bad and serious it is until they tell you, "Hey, you’re going to have to stay home for a couple of weeks," then we knew this was going to be bad.

Kataklysm, "The Killshot" Music Video

That’s when it started and from the beginning phase, when that happened, you kind of go into a panic mode because nobody has dealt with this, nobody knows what this is, and when they say a word like a pandemic, it's scary.

So we didn’t have creativity in the beginning because we were just worried about how we were going to proceed with everything, including releasing this record. This is a very strong album and we and the label especially were worried about releasing it in a time when they were shut down, too.

Nuclear Blast couldn’t even ship product out of California and we thought, "This is not going to be good — no retail or anything." So, we decided to postpone it until the fall and when we did that, they came back again afterward and said, "Hey, why don’t we just push this to 2021? There's insecurities about everything going on and the album is too strong for us to take a chance on." That’s when I stepped in and I said, "You know what? We’re metalheads and we’re not about just selling records. This is a time when you release music to help people."

I felt that it’s more important where Kataklysm comes from and our background and our fan base and everybody to release music in a time where we can be uplifting instead of counting on sales because, in the end, I think that’s what makes the bond between fan and musician strong, especially in our industry.  We decided to take a gamble and release the record in September and singles in the summer, right in the middle of the pandemic.

Overall, you've said that Unconquered is about overcoming setbacks and pain, which is especially poignant right now. What sort of strength or inspiration do you hope someone might get from listening to this album?

You have to look at history, which shows that we are resilient and we always find a way to come back from something, especially in this country. I think we have that instilled in us somehow and we have to keep hope — there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We have to, even in the darkest moments, feel that we have an opportunity that we can help each other and get together and not be divided.

Right now we have a big problem with the [public disagreements regarding public health opinions of] physicians and everything, but if we can find a way to get together with the same mentality of overcoming this together, then there’s a chance.

It is a coincidence this record is titled Unconquered, which was put together last year. That also pushed me to release the record sooner more than later because it’s a message we’re throwing out there to people that we might be down, but we’re not out. We have to gather together some strength and move forward with this and beat it because we will — we have to.

Kataklysm, "Unconquered"

Nuclear Blast
Nuclear Blast

You are from Canada. In what ways does that culture, and even your own personal upbringing, continue to resonate in your music?

I’m originally from Canada, but I’ve been living in the U.S. for 17 years now. I was living in Chicago and I’m in Florida now, I just moved this year, and I found the best time to move down here in the middle of this crazy thing, especially now that it’s hitting so heavily.

Canada has a different approach to everything. It’s a more European-based country, in my opinion, especially where I’m originally from — Montreal. The band is from Montreal, so it has a French underlying and it’s a very European driven country. It’s like an Americanized Europe. You get a different type of education out of there and a different upbringing than you would normally have here. Having lived in both countries, I get to get the best of both and that helps us a lot in making decisions and just overall approaching things.

Jean-François Dagenais has been together with you since the beginning of this band. How is the longevity of your partnership made you grow as musicians and as people?

We go back to the beginning of this band and you grow a bond like brothers. It’s one of those things where we’ve been through the ups and downs and everything in between together. On this record, we took the horns on it and we wrote the record together and we just did it ourselves — all of it.

It was one of those things where it just happened to flow like water and we have the same mindset on things. It’s like a marriage in a way, you have to be able to endure many ups and downs of life and when you’re in a band it’s the same thing. We’ve been surviving everything and we hope to survive this whole thing that’s going on now. In general, I couldn’t see Kataklysm moving forward without him and that’s the way it’s been since the beginning. We’re just that type as the founders of this band.

Thanks to Maurizio Iacono for the interview. Follow Kataklysm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and pre-order your copy of 'Unconquered' here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.

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