Kataklysm2013aCanadian masters of chronic, extreme death metal Kataklysm will be unleashing their brutality across Australia this month. Guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais talks to JESSICA WILLOUGHBY ahead of their show at the Rosemount Hotel this Sunday, December 8, supported by Japan’s Gotsu Totsu Kotsu.

Veteran Canadian death metallers Kataklysm celebrated their 20th anniversary last year. Now, as they enter their third decade, the band has barely skipped a beat.

2012 was a huge year for this veteran outfit. Their last album, Heaven’s Venom managed to crack the Billboard 200 for the first time – with Kataklysm marking the big 20-years with the aptly titled documentary, Iron Will: 20 Years Determined.

“Let’s say that if my career would end tomorrow, I would be super happy because I did everything that I wanted,” guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais says. “I played music, I had an amazing career and I’ve seen the world and met so many cool people. For me, playing music in a band means freedom. I don’t have a nine-to-five job. I’m happy to wake up every day and work on some music at home or on tour. I’m very proud of what we’ve done over the last 20 years and, as long as we can keep doing it, I’ll be happy.

“So yeah, the only thing right now is to see how long we can keep doing it and be happy about it. So far so good and we still got a more years left.”

Despite a recent hiccup, with longstanding drummer Max Duhamel taking leave to battle alcoholism, Kataklysm kept the ball moving by welcoming Oli Beaudoin to their ranks. Beaudoin, who had performed a few shows in Duhamel’s stead in the past, was behind the kit for their latest opus, Waiting For The End To Come. Released earlier this year, Dagenais points to their new drummer being a valuable addition.

“Oli’s definitely fitting in just right,” he tells X-Press. “He feels with Kataklysm that he’s really pushing himself to the edge drumming-wise, as far as his capabilities. He’s done session drumming for many bands, like Belphegor and Keep of Kalessin – so he’s used to jumping from one band to another and learning a bunch of songs and playing them live.

“He was telling me because we are all originally French Canadian, he’s bonded better with us because of our culture and we speak the same dirty slang French between us. He feels part of the family and we like him very much as a person.”

But is the plan to get Max back with the band at some point? “We hope he does come back,” Dagenais says. “To be honest, I was expecting to hear from him and he doesn’t call anyone. He had started some of the recovery process for his problem and we all encouraged him. We were hoping he would be back for these upcoming tours, but we haven’t heard from him. So, hopefully, we’ll hear from him and see what happens, but for now, no news.

“Part of his recovery may be to avoid temptation. It’s got to be hard for him because he likes to do this very much and he sees us coming out with a new record and tours. So out of sight, out of mind, maybe. It is a lot of temptation. We get so much free alcohol every night and we are a party band. We don’t drink it all ourselves, we have it for our friends and the guests we have every night. But there’s always some backstage party, so it would be really hard for him to be in that setting. If we kept him on the road for as many shows as we have coming up, that would not be good for him.”

So while Australian audiences won’t be seeing Duhamel behind the skins on their upcoming tour, Dagenais says Beaudoin will keep the live shows as authentic as possible. “He really tries to keep it Kataklysm style because he’s a fan of the band and he’s played with us before,” he says. “So he will keep it as authentic as he can, but bring some of his side as well.”

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