Zeal & Ardor’s Manuel Gagneux Loves To See What Styles He Can ‘Get Away With’ Melding Together
The record is a further expansion of the wide range of dynamics in play thanks to the bold and fearless creativity of Gagneux. As seamless as the music sounds, it's not something that appears to come easily to him, as he expressed that he doesn't think highly of most of the material he comes up with during the writing process. Obviously, those pieces never make it to the album and it's clear that Zeal & Ardor is a labor of love for the leader.
Ultimately, he remains humbled by the metal community's welcoming response to his ambitious and groundbreaking music.
Read the full interview below.
Zeal & Ardor is an alchemy that converts contrasting musical styles into something different. What do you enjoy most about melding together things that shouldn't fit?
I think it's just figuring out what you can get away with. I will openly admit that 90 percent of the stuff that I write is terrible, but when it just does work, it's so satisfying.
There's a theatricality to Zeal & Ardor. While you were making it, in what ways were you envisioning the album at as an eventual live performance piece?
Actually, I avoid doing that. I just want to make the best record that I can. Then, half a year later, I regret doing that and then we have to figure out how it works onstage [laughs].
Zeal & Ardor, "Death to the Holy"
The beauty of art, including music, is that it doesn't always directly reflect its influences. Making Zeal & Ardor, what affected your creative voice that maybe isn't obvious when listening to the album?
I was reading a lot of grim science fiction stuff that was really weighing heavy on my soul at the time. I guess that's not a go-to thing if you listen to our music, but it's definitely in there.
You're a multi-national mixed race musician whose parents exposed you to opposing cultures of science and art. What's the creative benefit, particularly on this new album, of having that multifaceted world view?
There's a certain kind of blindness where I basically can do whatever music I want to. Nowadays, I see a lot of people who are hesitant to incorporate different kinds of ethnic styles and I'm glad that I don't really pay that too much mind.
Metal is traditionally a haven for people who otherwise feel like outcasts and outsiders. Why and how is Zeal & Ardor a refuge for not only listeners, but also yourself?
Whatever is on my mind and weighs me down, I can get rid of it. If others feel the same way and have the same emotions about it, that's the benefit of it. We don't know who will listen to it, we're just stoked that people do.
What has it been like for you when touring has been a possibility, to bring your music out to the masses?
It's been incredible. You never know who will show up and we're just constantly delighted that any number of people show up. We don't care who it is, but there's this sense of community that I've never experienced before and that is a boon.
Thanks to Manuel Gagneux for the interview. Follow Zeal & Ardor on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify and get your copy of the band's new self-titled album here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.