MEB staff writer Johnny Frazier recently had the chance to pose some questions to the French metal group Checkmate. They discuss touring across Europe and the United States, the creation of their latest album Immanence, the importance of a good live show, and more.
Okay, so first thing’s first. Before listening to your debut album, I was largely unfamiliar with you fellas. How’d you guys get Checkmate started?
Checkmate was born as a serious project in 2007, but some guys from the band have played together for ten years now. It’s a story of five kids who wanted to be Metallica but didn’t know how to play music. Fortunately, we learned.
Now, you guys had been making the rounds in Europe before finally putting this album together. What changes have you made in terms of your sound since the inception of Immanence?
Honestly, touring as much as we did has not influenced the creation of Immanence. We’ve been touring Europe and the USA in 2012 but the album was already recorded in 2011. Being on tour changed especially the way we play shows and gave us a strong live experience (we could use for the next album).
One thing I love about your album is that you guys know exactly when to let up to let a touch of atmospheric sounds carry the song. What went into the structure of your music?
We usually say that we play metal with all our influences that we mix in our way. If we had to be more precise, we could say that our music switches between extreme power and aerial atmospheres. Since the beginning of the band, it has been impossible for us to play a very particular kind of metal like thrash, or hardcore or nu-metal, etc. All our influences go from Opeth, Gojira or Lamb of God to Machine Head, Deftones and more, and we really wish to mix all this stuff in Checkmate.
Speaking of structure, the middle of Immanence lets up during “Moving Backwards” and then kicks in at full force all the way through a hell of a finish for the album. Really, it only gets better as it goes along. What went into the ordering of this album?
The tracklist choice is as important as [it is] difficult to define. We made the choice to have a “classic” tracklist with a very strong beginning, some rest in the middle and finishing the album in an apocalyptic way.
One thing I noticed with this album is that you have the kind of sound that needs to be heard live. What goes into your live shows that are different from the studio recordings?
Live shows are about sharing. Studio albums are just a way to leave your music in this world, but the real life is on the road. We give all our energy to all the people in front of us, even if they didn’t come for us. We are definitely a live band and we work hard to give people a good light-sound show.