Alcoholator from Montreal, Canada, play thrash metal, their lyrics are mainly about “alcohol, violence and moshing” and they are – no, they are not just the Canadian answer to Tankard! Guitarist Matt Butcher is of course familiar with that comparison, but he can easily explain why things are not as simple as that: “Well, of course people will automatically associate us with Tankard since we play thrash metal and we like to talk about beer, we like to party, and we like our shows to turn into parties; so when we first started, we figured we'd write some drinking songs that people at the shows could sing along to, but musically, I think most of our songs are much more inclined towards fast and aggressive pissed-off thrash metal than happy party thrash metal! Not to take anything away from Tankard, I love them, I just think we are a distinct band on a different pole of the thrash metal universe.” That's already a very good description, but to get an even better taste of how Alcoholator sound, add some Razor, Exodus, S.O.D., Kreator, Anthrax and Destruction and spice it with some Megadeth, Sacrifice and Voivod – those are the flavours of Alcoholator's second full length album “Escape from Reality”.
Alcoholator's debut “Coma” got a bunch of great reviews, and now “Escape from Reality” is the much-feared second full album – is that a reason for Alcoholator to wet their pants? Matt doesn't really think so, even though he's aware of the expectations people mgiht have: “Hahaha! Well, I'm not losing any sleep over it, but it's always a very stressful thing to release a new record, you never know if the world will think it's as good as you think it is, you know, every one has different tastes in music, and we as songwriting musicians will write songs that we feel are what we would like to hear on an album you buy from a record store. But we are very proud of what we have accomplished with this new one. I think it has what it takes to be a good follow-up to our first one, and hopefully people will be as excited as we are when they hear it!”
A lot has changed for Alcoholator since the release of the first album. The band have become much more experienced, having played many shows around Canada, they found their own inner chemistry as a band and are tighter than ever. They also had their fair share of Spinal Tap moments, as Matt reveals: “Hahaha, yeah, we went through about 6 or 7 bass players!” For “Escape from Reality”, Fred Bizier replaced Jesse Mamano on bass – a pretty tough change for both Alcoholator as a band and for the new album: “Mamano was a very good bass player and an integral part of our sound, but due to some unfortunate circumstances we had to part ways with him. We were never lucky with bass players. Even before he was in the band, I think we had 2 other bass players that didn't fit in. When he left the band, we got Marc who toured with us for all of 2012, then when that didn't work out for us, either, we went through some auditions but didn't find a permanent replacement. Then we wanted to start recording the new album. So the original plan was that I should play the bass, but when we asked our friend Fred Bizier from Reanimator if we could borrow his bass, he offered to record the album for us instead as a session player in exchange for a 24. Sounded like a pretty fucking fair deal!! And he's a great bass-player! Then after completing the album, we did more shows with another new bass player named Gord from the band Warcall. He decided to stick around for the following year until recently. Now our new official bass player is Francis Louis-Seize, an old school Montreal thrasher from back in the days! It's hard to keep track of all those fucking bass players! I think it's a curse or something, it's really starting to remind me of Spinal Tap with their drummers, hahaha.”
Now that it’ll see the light of day: What’s new about “Escape from Reality”? On facebook Alcoholator showed the world that there are both fast parts and heavy parts (mandatory), but apart from that, what else can we expect to hear on the new release? “Well there are some more complex song structures, more riffs, the songs are generally a little more thought out! We also integrated some 12-string guitars and a fretless bass in one of the songs, and that one also includes a guest solo from one of the best bass players in metal, Dominic "Forest" Lapointe, who has played with the likes of Atheretic, Augury, Beyond Creation and Quo Vadis. We also tried to be more diverse with the tempos, less unidirectional, so there are some tempo and time signature changes within the songs, which help to keep the album interesting throughout.”
While alcohol, antisocial behaviour and violence in general have been the main lyrical topics on the first album, Alcoholator have now matured. Well. Not really, or just a bit: “Yeah, I tried to be a little more diversified in my lyrical subjects. There are still some good old drinking songs, but there are also more serious subject matters. Some of the songs deal with the struggles a lot of people have with the "party lifestyle", some are addressing global issues as well as the current social and political climate we witness these days, and some are just wordplays that I find humorous.”
Writing and recording “Escape from Reality” worked out quite smoothly, and the band also proved the 6Ps-rule to be true: “We started writing the album right after we had finished recording “Coma”. For the songwriting, what usually works best for me is to fuck around on the guitar for a while and try some random riffs. Once I have a good idea, it just naturally evolves from a riff into an almost complete song very quickly. Then I try it out with the drums and from there everything falls into place, structure, bridges, everything, and then at the very end I write lyrics. That's the toughest part for me, being french already adds a challenge as the words don't come that naturally.
As for the recording process, well, we came in well rehearsed, recorded some very tight rhythm tracks to create a nice big wall of guitars and then put all the rest in between that! Phil did an amazing job with recording all the drum tracks in only 2 days, and I'd say the whole tracking process took around 2 or 3 weeks.” So you see, there's some truth in saying that proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance. But still, “Escape from Reality” almost turned into Alcoholator's very own “Chinese Democracy” as they put it – rumour had it that some of their recording equipment had been stolen, while the album was still being recorded...? “Oh man, so many things went wrong... but the biggest blow was definitely when the studio got robbed. We were going there to listen to our final mix, and when we got there, there were cop cars and we heared something about a robbery. Instantly, we knew that with our luck that meant bad news. So yeah, studio equipment and computers had been stolen, but thankfully, our engineer still had a hard drive with an older version of the mix, so we only lost a couple of weeks worth of work. Imagine having to go back into the studio and recording everything again?! That would have been a bad blow. But all is well that ends well.”
That's right, isn't it? “Escape from Realiy” was recorded in two different studios in Montréal:
guitars, bass and vocals were recorded at Humanoise Studio in Montreal, the drums at Studio CME. Mathieu Marcotte (Humanoise Studio again) did the recording as well as the mixing, while the mastering was done by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony. The artwork was done by Andrei Bouzikov. The vinyl version of “Escape from Reality will also come with a very special treat for those who really are into Canadian thrash: Alcoholator covered a song by “the most important Canadian metal band”, as Matt called them: Razor! “Oh yes!!! On the last one we covered Exciter, and this time round we decided to do one that we'd been playing live for the last 2 years: “Cross Me Fool” from the album “Evil Invaders”. It's just such a crushing, energetic song, it gives me goosebumps whenever I listen to it. So yeah, this is another one of our tributes to the fathers of Canadian metal!! Who knows, maybe we'll cover another Canadian metal band on the next album! ;-)”
Being from Montreal, Alcoholator surely must know Annick Giroux, the “Morbid Chef”, Cauchemar vocalist, editor of Morbid Tales and so on... with co-inhabitants like her Montreal must be a really good place for metal? “Of course! Annick has been a friend of mine for many years, even before I moved to Montreal! She was the metal DJ (and still is from time to time) at a club here called Katacombes, where I played my first show in Montreal with my old band Abusor. I even tasted one of the meals she cooked for the book, because she didn't like seafood, so she invited me over to judge it! Hahaha. Montreal is a great metal city, we have a lot of legendary bands as well as a very thriving local scene. All the big shows come through here, and we have some amazing underground festivals such as “Wings Of Metal” (created in part by Annick) and RRROOOAAARRR fest! Right now I wouldn't wanna live anywhere else.”
Sounds as if Montreal definitely is a good place for all things metal. Still, Alcoholator are more than keen on doing some transatlantic traveling to come over here and tour the land of beer and glory: “Oh fuck yes! As soon as we can!! Hopefully we will not drink ourselves to death, haha! We've heard amazing things about Germany, and it's one of our top destinations!! Onwards to beer and glory!”
Now even if Alcoholator do not ONLY think about booze and hootch, one thing remains to be asked: What's Alcoholator's favourite drink? Beer or Jägermeister and Bacon (as seen on the internet...)? “BEER! BEER! BEER! I must admit Jagermeister and Bacon was quite a brilliant idea tho! Try it!”