The French metal scene is something which has gained the attention of surrounding countries for a decade. With a wide variety of bands in the extreme metal scene making names for themselves, Dagoba from Marseille are one of those bands on the precipice of breaking through to the market growing a loyal fan base over the past 22 years. With the release of their latest record "Black Nova" things are again looking extremely promising. The natural groove of the industrial elements and the groovy riffs in their music create an overall interesting listening experience. The band also adds some epic symphonic music on some of the songs, which was quite unexpected. Recently we caught up with lead vocalist Shawter and new guitarist Ritch for a look into the world of Dagoba.
OBNUBIL: Hey guys, could you please introduce yourself with a little background and your band to our readers?
SHAWTER: Hi I'm Shawter, I sing in Dagoba for 22 years now. I also play guitar and compose all orchestrations and electro adds for the band. I come from Marseille south of France. Dagoba has released 7 records and a EP, we're producer of our music, our latest record is called "Black Nova" and it's licensed by Sony Music in France, Ward Record in Japan, and Century Media for the rest of this fantastic world.
RITCH: Hey, I’m Ritch, new guitarist of Dagoba since this year.
OBNUBIL: The band was formed back in 1997, from then until now there are many years of experience and styles that have been evolving or changing. What has been the evolution of Dagoba in all these years?
SHAWTER: Evolving is a double process: First of all I think it is simply natural to evolve as a man… with time, experience. And musically I just want our music to evolve, to change, because I would never play the same record twice. I think Metal is extreme enough to let us put whatever we want to hear in it. I always felt free to incorporate sounds and vibes from classical music to industrial electro in our songs. I think the main evolution we had during "Black Nova" composing process, is the will to make the instruments sounds more organic, and the machines way more electro and dark. The contrast is interesting to me.
OBNUBIL: What do you think sets you apart from other bands, back in the 2000s when Nu and Grove metal came popular and after 2010s when there has been a minor revival, what makes you stand out? A special sound or riff maybe? We are not cataloging you under the Nu metal genre, but it is true that it was when most people came to know you, at least it is our case.
SHAWTER: I never know we were playing new metal, but well, why not haha! I don't think we sounds like the greatest nu metal bands (Korn / Limp Bizkit / Disturbed...). We're much more into Pantera / Dimmu Borgir / Metallica. I think our sound is now recognizable. People now know what Dagoba is about. It's martial, dark, with machines and orchestrations around. We always proposed different atmospheres from album to album, but staying sincere in our music. I think staying sincere and original is part of the key to make a band stand.
OBNUBIL: In just one word: Dagoba is…
OBNUBIL: Your newest album "Black Nova" was released in August 2017 through Century Media, two years after "Tales Of The Black Dawn", and only a year after you changed your line-up (both drummer and guitarist left the band in November 2016). Your previous record "Tales Of The Black Dawn" contained 10 tracks like "Black Nova", has Black in its title and has the same kind of artwork. Were these similarities on purpose?
SHAWTER: First of all the guys didn't left the band, we ask them to leave. Then, the word "black" contained in those two title is just a coincidence. We could have talk about a Pink Nova, but it wouldn't have been as cool as the Black one haha! Concerning the 10 tracks, a coincidence too. I don't compose counting the track, but more counting the timing. I don't like to long albums, 10 tracks of 4/5 minutes are enough to my ears. And for the artwork yeah we love the work of Seth Siro Anton, so whenever we can work with him, we're doing it. He designed "Black Nova". And even if the cover of "Tales of the Black Dawn" wasn't made by him, we wanted something looking alike his art. It fit well to our music.
OBNUBIL: Your seventh studio album “Black Nova” sounds massive with rich dynamics, towering riffs, vigorous shouts and infectious melodic choruses all over the place. The equally powerful artwork was created by Seth Siro Anton (Septic Flesh / covers for Moonspell, Paradise Lost, Exodus). Was the creative process something between you and him or was it totally from the hand of Seth? Why have you chosen him?
SHAWTER: We chose him again (he designed "Post Mortem Nihil Est" too, our 5th album) because he's great and we're friends. It makes things easier concerning creation. This cover is 100% from his imagination, we just talked about the track names, the album title, the atmosphere of it, and he propose several artworks. We chose this one cause the figure rejecting this black matter balls fit perfectly with the idea of firing some negative members from the band.
OBNUBIL: Recordings of “Black Nova”, took place at Eagle Black Studio (your home in Marseille), whereas Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Epica, Heaven Shall Burn) took care of mix and mastering. How was the writing, recording, mixing and mastering process?
SHAWTER: Just great, I felt very relax and had plenty of ideas. I always a have good time composing and recording, it's definitely my favorite part of this job. Then I went to Denmark to join Jacob Hansen who did an awesome work on the mix / mastering. The sound is both massive and clear, exactly what Dagoba needs.
OBNUBIL: Dagoba’s lyrical content and soundscape always seems to be of a dark nature. Please tell us what is the ideology and inspiration behind the lyrics and atmosphere?
SHAWTER: For Black Nova's, I compare the human being feeling to the Universe and his greatness. I wanted to transpose our inner thoughts to the infinite.
OBNUBIL: What’s your current gear?
RITCH: Currently, I play on different ESP model (Viper, EII Eclipse). Now we are sponsored by Kemper Amp, this brings a real professionalism to the sounding and the identity of Dagoba.
OBNUBIL: You’ve been touring across the world, according to you what are the differences between different audiences across the world? Where do you prefer to play, in small concerts halls or in a big festivals?
SHAWTER: I just love to travel and doing it thanks to the band. I had intense pleasure rocking tiny clubs and big festivals. Recently we discovered Japan, and I can say I really enjoyed it. But i am also a big fan of the US.
RITCH: For me every shows are important, i don’t have a preference, I just want to play everywhere on this planet.
OBNUBIL: What was your best live experience? Or funny anecdote?
SHAWTER: Playing with Metallica in Bilbao was awesome. Concerning anecdote, what happens on the road stays on the road!!!
RITCH: With my other band, during a festival in France last year, I fell of the stage, it’s was the worst experience of my life.
OBNUBIL: Your band is playing a lot of shows, with tours almost every year, do you have any favorite song to play live?
SHAWTER: “The Sunset Curse”. I love the ending and the scenography we add on it live.
RITCH: I think “The things within” and “Inner sun”.
OBNUBIL: Which bands did you prefer sharing the stage with? And a band with whom you’d like to play?
SHAWTER: We had a very good time playing with Moonspell, Sepultura… but we only got good friends in the business, so it's hard to make a choice. I'd like to play with Deafheaven.
OBNUBIL: You already have dates for a lot of concerts during this year, even one that is already Sold Out (Full Metal Cruise). We also see that most of your concerts will be in different places within France. Will there be more dates to come for Europe? Maybe one in Madrid?
SHAWTER: Yes, the booking is still in progress, but we already booked around 40 gigs all across europe. You can found the dates on our facebook / instagram / twitter. Hopefully we'll play in Madrid this year, I love the city.
OBNUBIL: How do you feel about the French metal scene and how has it grown over the years? Do you have a newcomers band in France that you’d like to introduce to us?
SHAWTER: I think it's cool if it's growing for real. I don't really follow the french metal scene actuality (i am not a networks addict) but if you say so, I am very happy! I like those two bands, Aqme, but they're not newcomers, and Deluge.
RITCH: We have many groups, but a tiny amount compared to other countries in Europe. The extreme music should be put forward.
OBNUBIL: What do you consider the typical mistakes people make when trying to build a serious band? Any professional advice?
SHAWTER: The biggest mistake is trying to get big on Facebook before being good at playing music. My advice: be sincere, trust yourselves, and fuck the naysayers.
RITCH: Don’t speak, do IT.
OBNUBIL: So far, what has been your biggest obstacle? The time, money, contacts… Ever the band was about to separate completely? If yes, why?
SHAWTER: I think money and contacts were an obstacle. When bands had money to pay for being part of a big tour, we didn't always had it, so it took some more time for us to get known outside France, but I won't complain: I live from my passion, Im happy, I travel a lot thanks to my band and I got fun with my bandmates. And contacts too, we come from Marseille and it didn't helped us at the beginning of our career, as most of the media's where in Paris. We don't have any parents on the business neither.
OBNUBIL: We think your band’s name, Dagoba, comes from "Star Wars", as Dagobah was a planet in the Dagobah system, and one of the purest places in the galaxy within the Force. A remote world of swamps and forests, it served as a refuge for Jedi Grand Master Yoda during his exile after the destruction of the Jedi Order. We assume that, like us, you are great fans of "Star Wars", unless the name of the band comes from something else and we are wrong. "Star Wars" is among the most popular franchises in the world and has cultivated a devoted fan base who are not afraid to let their opinions be heard. Mostly all true fans consider the first films as the best, what do you think about it? And, of the newest "Star Wars" films, which do you think was better?
SHAWTER: First films are very good, but I also really enjoyed Rogue One and the Last Jedi. I am pretty sure Disney will take care of the franchise. They never made big mistakes.
OBNUBIL: Thank you so much for taking your time answering our questions and for giving us more information about you! Is there anything that you would like to say to the readers of The Covenant and to your fans?
SHAWTER: Thank you for your support, keep on rockin' amigos!!
RITCH: Thanks a lot! See you soon on stage!
Photo taken by Morgane Khouni