Interview with Switzerland’s Xaon – Portland, Oregon – 2018

By |2018-07-17T01:28:03+00:00May 30th, 2018|Written Interviews|0 Comments

My name is Susan and I saw your Portland, Oregon show.   I’m so sorry we didn’t get to do this in person. The show was awesome, thank you.   Thank you so much for the music you make.

Rob: Hi Susan my name is Rob and I’m the one with the white shirt, thanks for having me, I’m really glad you enjoyed our performance, we had a lot of fun at this show!

In this day and age, there are very few bands that come out as unique.   What do you think it is about you guys that makes Xaon so unique?

Rob: Tough to say.. Musically, it all comes down to the small details, blending our brand of metal with a large symphonic background isn’t anything particularly new but maybe our approach of doing it and fiddling around with a multitude of different vocal approaches might be what separates us. It’s really hard to take an outside perspective on songs that we’re so close to on a regular basis. Live we do have a fairly energetic approach and like to hit it hard, and the white shirt really stands out, it’s all about that white shirt..

You put out an EP in 2016 and a full-length album in 2017.   You are very ambitious.   Do you see a release in 2018?

Rob: We were sitting on that EP for a little while but had to wait until our first major european run before releasing it, by the time it was released we already had pretty much all the album written down and entered the studio directly after the tour. We’ve got a lot of markets to hit with this album before getting the next one out so that’s gonna be our main focus for 2018. However we’ve already started working on some new songs and we’re aiming towards a 2019 release. These songs take a lot of time to write as there is an enormous amount of work on the arrangements, every note and beat and lyric is here for a reason and we want to make sure everything is perfectly the way we want it before getting it out. And yes, we are very ambitious!

The core of Xaon is Vincent, Rob and Flo.   The rest of the band are touring musicians.   Is it intentional not to have full time positions, or have you just not found them yet?

Rob: Flo is no longer part of the band and hasn’t been since last summer. For now we’ve kept it only Vinc and I to be able to make quick decisions and not having to wait around for everyone to make up their minds, it’s been working well like that but things aren’t set in stone and maybe it’ll change in the futur.

How do you go about finding musicians to translate Xaon’s music?   Is there a pool of musicians to choose from in Switzerland?   Do you choose friends?

Rob: The first one to join in was our drummer Jordan Kiefer, he was recommended to him by the very respectable french drummer Franky Costanza (ex Dagoba) as he is one of the drummers endorsed by his clothing line. It’s kinda weird because Jordan comes from a different musical background than us, he plays in a fusion metal hip-hop band called First Rage and has this incredible groovy approach that really shaped the sound of the drums in a very grounding way, we love his way of drumming and it fits extremely well with what we’re trying to do. G our rhythm guitarist was a friend of Flo and started playing with us on our last european tour, he plays with a ton of other bands in Switzerland and John, our bass master, is an old friend of mine with whom I’ve been playing with in our other band Bloodstorm for almost 10 years. So some of these guys were friends and others were found through recommendations, but all of them are friends and we have nothing but a ton of love and respect towards them and the incredible work they’ve put into the band.

Your philosophy in life is very positive.   I read that you try to have successes every day, that life is too rich weird, and vast to shoot for one single goal.   That is uncommon for most.   What do you attribute that attitude to?

Rob: Hahahahaha oh I don’t know about that… I’m can’t speak for the rest of my guys but here’s my approach on this. It’s not about being positive and loving life, it’s about not having an alternative to moving forward everyday. We all deal with setbacks on a regular basis and they’re intensified when you’re living a very fast paced life, it’s about focusing on the solution rather than the problem, identify and correct your course. Shit happens? Too fucking bad, deal with and move on. Feel depressed because everything feels like it’s falling apart or things aren’t moving the way you like them to? Well what else are you gonna do?
I’m not a very positive guy per say, I’m a realist with a dream (which doesn’t make a lot of sense..) and I’ve gone too far, dealt with too much shit to let anything get to me and tear me to the ground and I’ve barely gone anywhere near where I want to be yet. What would you call that, sadism? It’s all about finding solace in oblivion, it’s absurd and beautiful at the same time and this is where I thrive.

Playing with Gojira was a huge milestone I’ll bet.   Tell me about that experience.

Rob: It was something… Gojira are one of my favourites and I’d already seen them a bunch of times but that one was special. We played in some sort of old Roman Colosseum  in Bucharest Romania in front of the biggest crowd we’d ever had. We’d already played that venue the year before at a very late hour and in front of very few people, so coming back with this big crowd was like a personal vengeance for us. We even shot a live music video for our song “Khadath Al Khold” (Youtube it). I even got the chance this time to go and party in the city afterwards (never found a bar that was open on a tuesday night..) and ended up getting lost in Bucharest and couldn’t find our hostel until very early in the morning, but that’s a whole other story…

What band would top that experience to tour with?

Rob: Well Gojira was just one show, so we’d probably have to go on a full tour with them now! Hell if I could play these crowds every day I might actually turn into a positive man…
In all seriousness, there are many bands I’d love to tour with, guys like Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Ne Obliviscaris, Avatar, anything that we can sort of trace back to our genre would be amazing.

What do you consider to be the most important platform in today’s time?
·             Sirius Radio
·             I Tunes
·             Spotify
·             Youtube
·             Social Media
·             Amazon

Rob: They’re all important, you gotta be everywhere because everybody has their own platform of choice. You’re missing one very important platform though, the stage, the best platform of all. But then again if you aren’t active on other platforms who’s gonna go to your shows?

The tour with The Veer Union…Why was this tour right for you?

Rob: To be honest, we’re a bit mitigated on the matter. That tour wasn’t really right for us because musically we’re pretty far from the guys from Veer and we kinda jumped on the tour without taking enough time to really think it through. However, either that contrast really played in our favour or because the US has been craving for our style of music looking at the overwhelmingly fantastic response we’ve had from the audiences we played for. We needed a first step into the US market and maybe that was the best way for us to really stick out.

Was this your first USA tour?

Rob: Yep first time and definitely not the last!

If yes, were there any surprises?

Rob: Oh yes… Biggest one and most annoying one, catering… Feed your fucking artists regardless of if they’re an opening band, main support of main act! It’s not that complicated and doesn’t have to be that costly. In Europe, everybody gets fed in most situations, at least in France and Switzerland.
A better surprise was the openness of the american audience towards different styles of music, we saw clubbing girls at the Viper Room in Hollywood headbanging to our songs, that was a very amusing sight!
One last thing, never really imagined that this whole “safe space” and “I’m offended” bullshit was that real, it has to stop, it’s ok to be offended, stop whining, toughen up and deal with it.. I’m looking at you blonde bimbos from Hollywood!!
Oh yeah and stop drenching your salads with ounces of sauce..

Were there any American stereotypes that were dispelled?

Rob: Well I’m partly american so I don’t really buy into stereotypes anyway.

If yes what?

Which part of the business do you enjoy the most?
·             Writing
·             Recording
·             Touring

Rob: Touring, hands down. Just being on stage in general is always an incredible experience.

You had some chart success, how closely do you watch charts, social media likes, views, etc.?

Rob: We did get some decent Itunes charting happening when the album was released but I don’t have access to these metrics, our label handles that. However I do handle our social media pages and monitor them very regularly.

What do you do if they decrease?   Increase?

Rob: Cry? Rejoice? Figure out somehow how to counteract things going wrong, still learning every day…

If you had the power to change one thing in this world, what would it be?

Rob: I’d grow a thicker beard. Oh and prevent hair loss!

Are you still a fan of music or are you so surrounded by it you don’t enjoy it as much for pleasure?

Rob: Well I’m in a very peculiar position, I run a recording studio and therefore I’m always listening to music from the projects I work on. The downside to that is that when you spend 12 to 15 hours a day already listening to music, the last thing you want to do is listen to more music with what little spare time you have,which sucks because I know I’m missing out on a ton of great artists. But I’m still of course a great fan of music otherwise I wouldn’t be doing what I do, I just have a more analytic perspective on it.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

Rob: Probably would’ve tried acting, not sure I would’ve been that good at it though..

How would you describe your live show to someone who hasn’t heard you before?

Rob: Ever seen a viking looking dude scream at you with a smile on his face and stomping the ground like a frantic maniac? Well now imagine him with a white shirt.

Your live performances are intense.   What do you do to prepare for and to recuperate after?

Rob: Before the show I’ll stretch and warm up my voice for about 20 to 30 minutes, I’ve got a whole routine that’s been doing me great for the last few years and that I’m really trying to stick too, otherwise my whole body’ll hurt the next day.. When you’re on tour it’s extremely important to do so and as the days pass I find that I don’t need as much stretching. Drink plenty of water and top it up with beer. I try not to drink too much during show days otherwise I’ll chain smoke and fuck up my voice for the next day, gotta find balance and balance comes with experience.

What question do you wish someone would ask you?

Rob: Probably more like what questions I wish people would stop asking me.. Like “Do you dye your beard?”, “so you’re from Sweden right?”, “Who are you and what are you doing in my room??”. I mean, it just gets annoying after a while..

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

Rob: Yes, I just wanted to take a moment a thank everybody we met on this tour, the staff, the bands and first and foremost, the new fans we made in every city we hit and that took a moment to come and talk to us at our merch stand, we never expected to make such a big impact with the people on our first run and we’re gonna put everything we have in motion to come back with a bigger live experience that everyone will remember!

It has been such a pleasure.   We look forward to your return.

Rob: Thank you for having me, it was an honour and a privilege, I bow to you my dear Susan and hope we can all grab a beer together next time we’re here!

About the Author:

Lover of music. Lover of writing. Music is the audible form of emotion, and I have a deep need to find out what it takes to make a song, an album...a band. When a musician says, "No one has ever asked me that before," or "That was the best interview I've ever done," I know I've done my job right.