Imagine, if you will, the chiaroscuro of a dimly lit concert hall, the oscillation of deep, resonant sound waves capturing an emotion that can’t quite be pinned down. It’s neither exuberance nor sadness; it’s an enigmatic blend of longing and hope, desolation and fortitude. This is where we find Spire Shards, the Lille-based band whose auditory alchemy thrives on emotional chiaroscuro. Assembled in 2019 with a quest for sincere musical expression, they’ve sharpened their artistic weapons in the trenches of post-metal and modern black metal. But Spire Shards does not just dwell in a genre; they dwell in the minds and hearts of those willing to journey with them.
And journey you shall. In an exclusive feature, we’re premiering their latest EP, “…Only Ashes Remain,” accompanied by an interview and a track-by-track commentary that serves as a roadmap to the band’s intricate soundscapes. After earning their DIY stripes and setting an audacious thematic stage with their 2021 EP, “From the Fire in Me…”, the band has returned, burning brighter, yet subtler, than ever.
In a revealing interview, the members of Spire Shards offered candid insights into their evolving approach to songwriting, production, and the themes that anchor their music. A DIY ethic governs their creative process, honed not just out of necessity but also out of a desire for complete artistic sovereignty.
The thread connecting their entire oeuvre is the emotive exploration of loneliness—captured with an intensity that transcends the limitations of studio technology, the constraints of genre, or even the pandemic that has kept us all a little more isolated than we’d like.
“We do everything with passion for the music and the expression of every art form,” the band notes, emphasizing their devotion to art as both a personal and collective endeavor.
When discussing their latest release, Spire Shards emphasizes its thematic affiliation with their previous EP, “From the Fire in Me…”, describing them as two sides of the same thematic coin: loneliness. It’s a compelling choice, expanding the narrative scope to encompass the complexity of human solitude—a topic magnified manifold in the isolated climate of a pandemic-tinged world.
“When you do everything yourself, it takes a lot of time. We felt we couldn’t convey everything about what we feel in just 5 songs.”
Spire Shards’ DIY approach isn’t merely a budget-friendly alternative; it’s a fundamental ethos. The intrinsic rewards and inevitable hurdles of this route manifest most keenly in the creative process. For band members Laurent and Aurélien, who also manage much of the production and artwork, the DIY path translates to a laborious yet fulfilling journey, where the primary challenge often lies in knowing when to cease the endless tinkering and refining.
“You can make mistakes and keep improving,” the band remarks, acknowledging the imperfections and learnings intrinsic to their DIY path.
While their material is premiering on a platform traditionally highlighting hardcore punk, Spire Shards comfortably situates itself within a broader post-hardcore landscape, emphasizing shared intentions over stylistic trappings. It’s a musical milieu where rawness coexists with emotional sincerity, attributes that resonate strongly with fans of acts like Converge, Loma Prieta, and various dark post hardcore bands, drawing from many corners and niches, including d-beat, crust, screamo, and noise rock.
Lille’s vibrant underground scene, with its cornucopia of intimate venues, seems to be a silent partner in shaping Spire Shards’ musical demeanor. This closeness to grassroots movements and cross-border influences (thanks to its proximity to Belgium and Germany) allows the band a unique vantage point to observe how smaller acts harness limited resources to produce compelling shows.
The Spire Shards Interview
“…Only Ashes Remain” follows your previous release “From the Fire in Me…” in what you’ve described as a diptych. Can you speak to the thematic arc between these two works, and why you chose this unique storytelling format?
The main theme is loneliness and how you live with it, with the help of your loved ones.
When you do everything yourself it takes a lot of time, also we don’t have a specific studio time so we can continue to try new things for our songs. When we recorded the first part, we had the main parts for most of our new songs and we felt like we couldn’t tell everything about what we feel in just 5 songs.
Given the background of your band members in post-metal and modern black metal, how does Spire Shards achieve the “intense and sincere” musical expression you initially aimed for?
Post-metal helped us on how to to share emotions through music. We created long songs that you want to keep interesting and outside of common songs structures like “verse chorus verse”. You only rely on what you feel while playing or listening to these songs. That’s a first way to be sincere about your music, the second is through our lyrics. We are writing things that are way more personal now compared to what we used to do in post-metal. It was mostly trying to give images, create a story, now we want to share our feelings.
You’ve mentioned your strong affinity for the DIY movement. Can you share some challenges and triumphs you’ve encountered taking the DIY route, especially with Laurent and Aurélien handling much of the production and artwork?
We like to do things ourselves because we’re sure that will be the way that we see it. The hard part is that it takes a lot of time and you have to always keep learning while you’re doing it. You can make mistake and keep improving!
Also about recording yourself you don’t have the same gear as a professional studio so you try to get the best from what you have.
Your EP is being premiered on IDIOTEQ.com, a platform that highlights hardcore and punk music. How do you feel your new material fits into the broader post-hardcore landscape, especially for fans of bands like Converge and Loma Prieta?
Hard to compare ourselves to such great bands but we think that have the same intention to always keep kind of a raw shape for our music and ally emotial and really personal song with rough and “pissed off” parts. Maybe it’s a little bit cliché answer but it still true!
Your song ‘Mist’ is described as evoking both fierce and desperate feelings. Can you delve deeper into the creative and emotional process behind this song?
We think that Mist is the song that talks the most about loneliness and a desperate search for warmth from other people that seems unreachable while keeping hope to find it. With covid and the lockdowns I think it’s a feeling that we’ve all experienced and it came out as a song that was great to make a link with the first one. The feeling that you’re consuming yourself makes it a good opener for “only ashes remain”.
Your song ‘Chest’ tackles feminist issues directly. How important aboutis social activism in your music, and can you discuss the decision-making process behind tackling such a fraught topic?
We are sensitive about the bad things that happen in our society and also empathic about people problems. We have friends and sisters and when you know and see how woman are mainly treated in our society you just want to stand with them and tell people that it’s not okay. But it can be tricky, because you don’t want to be this “white man without any problem” speaking instead of the directly concerned people. So for us it’s more like make a list of all this shitty behaviors and tell “how can the society be ok with that ?”. So it’s our way to say “com’on guys we can be better people” and in our daily life we keep saying to this colleague that makes dirty jokes about woman to shut up ! It’s more like make baby steps in the education of men’s that you know or meet that will have an impact in time on that issue.
Being from Lille, France, do you think your geographical location has influenced your sound or your approach to music in any particular way?
We like to see a lot of small shows in bars, Lille has a lot of places to discover small bands. It gives a lot of proximity and it’s easier to discuss with people than in larger venues. It helps you to be open to the different ways smaller bands like us can put out a good show with limited resources. And we are also really close to Belgium and Germany so even more chances to see great bands from different countries.
You wrote songs for your new EP during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Can you elaborate on how the pandemic affected your songwriting and the themes you chose to explore?
Covid changed a lot of things. We were used to seeing each other to work on our songs, even for the lyrics. With the different lockdown each one worked more on his side and we pushed the work beforehand further. Where we mostly came with a theme or an idea, we now came with a complete song that we try to improve together.
For the themes, the different lockdowns have been hard. We like to see people a lot and the feeling of loneliness hit strong. Even after lockdown it could become hard to go outside again like if you missed something in you that was there before. It took some time to go back to normal.
‘Time Fades the Colors’ seems to delve into identity through the lens of memory. Could you elaborate on how this track reflects your personal philosophies or experiences?
Time fades the colors is very personal to me (Antoine). I don’t have a good memory. Sometimes that’s weird when friends talk about things we did years ago and I can only keep a vague feeling about it. I wish I could remember and “see things” that happened. Also, your experiences defines who you are and help you grow so there are a lot of questions around your memories.
You’ve mentioned that your last song on the EP serves as a counterpoint to the prevalent ‘too good to be true’ culture on social media. Can you speak more to how the song came about and why you chose to close the EP on this note?
The EP expresses a lot of thoughts that are sometimes dark. We like the idea that at the end of the EP we also give some hope and a reminder that you have reasons to love yourself.
You worked with Dotfog again for this EP’s artwork. Can you talk about how the artwork complements or enhances the music?
The artwork is the first thing you see before hitting the play button. A great artwork will tell you a lot about what you’re going to listen to or can make you want to discover more about the band. We’re glad to have a friend as Dotfog so we can have long talks about what we’re trying to convey and detail every song. After that and a first listening, he puts a his own emotions and deliver his vision of our work.
You’ve noted that some songs were continually modified even during recording. How did you know when a track was finally ‘complete’?
We try a lot of things but sometimes when you find something you have this “flash” and you know it’s great. In that case you feel that you don’t have to come back to it. Also sometimes you need time, you should not get bored of something you tried in the long run.
Now that you’re focusing on performing live, how do you plan on translating the emotional intensity of your EP to the stage?
We’ve been working on our setlist lately. We try to make something coherent with harder and softer parts to convey different emotions. Also we added some transitions between songs to keep a good flow and a feeling that you don’t have time to catch your breathe on certains parts. We also would like to get some lights and try things to set a mood that fits our music.
What are your aspirations for the band after the release of “…Only Ashes Remain”? Any plans for a full-length album or international tours?
We always have a few songs ahead. We would like to release a full-length album but it’s important for us to only give songs that we consider great and can also fit together, so it will take some time. Our main goal right now is to be back on stage and probably do a small tour in France, if we have an opportunity to play it in other countries it would be amazing too.
Track by track commentary:
Mist was the first song ready for the second part of our EP, it fits well the opening of the second part with both fierce and desperate feeling. The lyrics express a desperate need to find warmth and to not see the light at the end of the tunnel
Time fades the colors
Time fades the colors is a reflection about memories and what defines us. If I have no memory of my past or childhood, what makes me what I am?
It speaks about how desperately you want to reach something but how it can be hard and scary to reach it. Like your goal itself seems to taunt you. But once you reach it you want to embrace it, be proud and kind of radiate !
To cut long story shorts it’s kind of a feminist song. Like a list of some shitty behavior of men and how society always puts a burden on the shoulders of women just for no reason. I mean how you can not be ashamed of men when you just observe even only one day of a woman. This is ridiculous and we need to evolve on that topic without hiding behind a “not all”
We all know that social media can be a bummer. Most of the time there is this “too good to be true” feeling. We’re not much involved in this game and we wanted to close this ep with a more positive note. You don’t have to show to the world and need approbation to be a great person and do good around you.
Want to keep the beat going?
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