Progressive death metal band Prophetic Scourge headlined Hellfest 2022 on June 19. almost all of the bands of the first weekend of Hellfest, Prophetic Scourge were to perform in 2020. Themselves actors of culture in an individual capacity in addition to their training, they tell us how they lived these two gray years and how they see the future of culture!
Hello guys! Thank you for granting me this interview with you. Shall we start with the introductions?
We are Prophjetic Scourge, a progressive death band and we come from the south, between the Basque countries, Agen and Toulouse. We’ve been around since 2013, with an EP in 2015 and two albums then on Klonosphere in 2018 and the last, “Gnosis: A Sorrower’s Odyssey”, in 2021. The album was recorded in the summer of 2020 between the first two confinements. We were frustrated with nothing else we could do, but no choice. We still took advantage of the first confinement to finalize certain things.
Has the confinement changed anything in the way you work together?
Not really. We already don’t all live in the same cities, so we are used to working at a distance between us. We drive about three hours to see each other, so we don’t have the opportunity to rehearse together very often either. We were already working virtually before all these upheavals. We send each other our ideas, our leads, etc. But it was difficult not to see each other, even if we couldn’t do it very often either, with all these concert cancellations and the fact that, like everyone else, we didn’t really have any visibility on the time of recovery. This kind of thing remains humanly complicated to live with. And yet we were lucky, our last tour really ended the weekend before the first confinement. Then, only three dates canceled, including Hellfest 2020, finally its ghost. We had targeted the right niche without knowing it.
How did you organize yourselves for the sequel, apart from the release of Gnosis?
Above all, we waited for things to settle down before talking about concerts and tours. We waited for the right moment to release the album and we waited until April 2022 to do a two-week tour in defense of Gnosis. There for the Hellfest, we are on the last date of the tour. So casually, we had a lot of luck, we waited a lot more for good opportunities to arise than suffered cancellations. We also didn’t want to force it and go to concerts in half-yellow or with the public seated and masked. Well, you have to admit that when we were aiming for April 2022, it was a bit random, obviously no one could know what it would be.
Are you a regular audience yourself? Do you often or regularly go to concerts in general?
When you can… We’re not all in a big city. In Agen, the metal scene is not very developed. The concerts in the area are quite anecdotal. We mainly take advantage of the concerts we do to see groups. Me, Josh (singer of the group, editor’s note), I work at Florida in Agen precisely. But it’s obviously not always metal concerts. We work a lot to work in the middle of culture, but in the broad sense.
So you were in the front row on questions of cultural life…
And yes, in the group there are also music teachers. So if for Prophetic Scourge, it wasn’t too badly pinned, pro level, individually speaking, it wasn’t necessarily madness. We ended up on the screen doing video lessons… It wasn’t particularly pleasant. Even if we are lucky enough to be used to quiet places, human contact has been lacking, always at the pro level.
At the time of the recovery, did you notice a change, in the public in particular?
It was a little weird at first yes. Cancellations for lack of pre-sales, we thought it would be a party, this recovery, but that was not the case. The director of Florida told us that even if the pre-sales were going well, a lot of people didn’t come to the concerts in the end. Some of the people may have also found comfort in staying at home, some of the public who may have dropped the case too, by force of circumstance.
An irreversible situation in your opinion?
We hope not! That would be sad, right? It’s very good to have realized that time is precious and that the moments to enjoy your hearth, your house, were perhaps too rare before all this. But we remain social animals, we must not lose sight of the benefits of exchanging with others and culture is the best way to do this. The fact that Hellfest is finally happening should be able to unlock some. In any case, the associations need things to pick up again, to know where they are going and above all to know whether financially speaking, it is possible or not to continue. The independent rooms too. It was horrific for them, many closed. There is a big turnover, between demoralization and a critical financial situation… But we think it will pick up again, but perhaps differently. There may be a breaking point one day, unfortunately. To see in what intensity and the consequences, because people still realize the impact of the absence of an audience, whether it is the organizers or the audience itself. But if nothing happens to restart the machine, there will be a temporary but consequent disappearance. Small groups and emerging artists can no longer be represented, it will be necessary to bet only on the big headliners so that it remains financially viable.
And today how do you live things?
It’s nice to see life again! Maybe yes this cover of Hellfest will revive something. It’s a big dose all at once, it’s a bit of a nag as a cover, but it’s nice. In addition, those in the group who are in education have not been impacted on the number of registrations of new students for the start of the school year. On the contrary, it works very well. Young people aged 15-20 are very interested. Their generation will carry and bring many new things, given the motivation that sees it! They want to have fun, have a good time and vibrate. They also manage to get moving and precisely do concerts, more than before. We have several students who are coming to Hellfest for the first time, for example. It’s a big investment, between the trip, the ticket and life on site and it doesn’t represent anything. We may be in a low point, but demand will show up quite significantly. So it’s also up to us to take things in hand to support them. For example, people organize carpooling to go out, especially in the countryside. What makes festivals work well is in particular the establishment of shuttles or partnerships with public transport.
More generally, we were able to discuss a lot with students, parents of students, etc., people who did not or no longer necessarily had a way of life around concerts and who, when they discover their kids playing, even on a little thing, come and tell us “How good does it feel to go out, to live, to relive and to discover things! as if they had forgotten what it was. The structures have a great mission today: to reintegrate people into culture so that they (re)discover its importance!