If you are seeking idiosyncratic experimental Metal, Zeal & Ardor is the entity that will kindle your flame. Taking solace in individuality far away from the pits of the mainstream, Zeal & Ardor has produced mind-blowing metal tracks that carry elements of spiritual nourishment that revolutionize your thought-processes and leaves tons of room for experimentation. I caught up with Manuel to discuss what’s in store for Zeal & Ardor in 2017, his perception of the music industry expressing their political thoughts, tattoos, and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Zeal & Ardor?
My name is Manuel Gagneux and I make strange heavy music.
Your latest single, “Don’t You Dare,” fluidly floats through different genres with ease. Tell us about your upbringing as a musician.
Both my parents are musicians, so I was lucky enough to always have a piano standing around and I had the chance to mess around with instruments all my life. I got into metal at an early age and was fascinated by anything sounding odd or unfamiliar. Discovering new music is like opening a birthday present.
Let’s talk tattoos. What is your perception of the artistic value of tattoos within society?
Tattoos nowadays have a special place in society. I think there’s no longer a stigma to having ink and that means the motifs are what’s important now and no longer the medium.
I think that’s pretty neat.
Any upcoming tour or festival appearance plans that you can fill us in about?
Nothing too specific yet. We’re still very much focused on sounding the part before looking it. I did think about doing inverted corpse paint, i.e. black paint with white eye regions. Not settled on anything yet though.
What is your perception of the power behind how the music industry has addressed the political world through lyricism and artistic expression at this time?
I think that’s a touchy subject since in the end music could very much play the role of propaganda. If someone is lost enough to have their worldview changed by a song it could go anywhere. It becomes a matter of who reaches that person first and not of the actual message. At the end of the day, I just make pretty sounds and even that’s debatable. Does it really make sense to listen to my political views just because my music is popular? Art and its creators are two different entities to me. Especially in this context.
In the midst of writing your lyrics, do you keep in mind the level of vulnerability in which you approach the process?
I write the lyrics in a stream of consciousness kind of manner. In order for that to work, I have to allow myself to do stupid stuff. I guess having someone sitting next to me then would be detrimental. That’s just how it is for me, though. I’m pretty sure everyone has a different way of going about these things.
What do fans of Zeal & Ardor have to look forward to in 2017?
Our live set is going to be very fun. I have five great musicians with me on stage and the energy playing with these guys and gals is like nothing I’ve experienced. I can’t wait to share it with people!
If you could sit under the table and listen to any two human beings have a conversation to draw inspiration, who would you choose and why?
I like this question! I think I’d like to be a fly on the wall with Isaac Asimov and Isaac Newton. Not just for the inevitably brilliant ideas they’d come up with, but also for the awkward laugh they’d have from going, “You’re Isaac? I’m Isaac! hehe” and possible sexual tension. Who knows!
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
When making a risotto, it is of immeasurable importance to gently stir the rice to get that smooth silky texture we’re all going for.