Meet The Band: Messora

The Montreal group Messora are in the Meet The Band spotlight this week. Their debut album The Door encompasses numerous genres and styles. There’s a live lineup, but vocalist/guitarist Zach Dean handles most of the creative process in the studio. He introduces us to Messora.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Messora.
Zach Dean: I’ve always written music on my own in the same way that I do for Messora, but Messora only really came around after having recorded the song “The Door” with a “bedroom producer” that I knew. I asked Ben (who would end up becoming our bass player) to record bass parts for the song, and when we heard how well it all came together we decided to form this new project. From then on I got to designing the aesthetic, the live show, putting together a live band and have been keeping the ball rolling ever since.

Describe the songwriting process for The Door.
All music and lyrics on this record were written by myself. The songwriting process is always organic. I try to just let the songs flow into whatever part they want to. After a lot of that kind of writing, I try to cut parts that are unnecessary and tighten gaps between parts, bring back parts that should be repeated, and iron over the song so that it’s concise and tight while maintaining that “flow” feeling. Every song was also conceived to flow well from the previous one and into the next one. As for the lyrics, I always had the bad trip/escape concept that I wanted to work with, and I always stuck to and developed that theme/loose story throughout the lyrics for the entire record.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I think that that would have to be the day that I recorded the clean vocals on “The Veil” and “Untethered.” I had been practicing like crazy but I really wasn’t feeling confident going into it. I brought my girlfriend to the studio to do backing vocals and voice coach me a little bit. After I had done my first take, she and the engineer seemed awestruck and said that this was going to be a great session. That was a nice moment and it made me a lot more confident for the rest of the vocal tracking.

How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Well I tend to characterize Messora as being progressive death metal, but really I don’t know any label that can correctly identify and describe what we’ve done on this record. Not to say that we’ve invented a new genre, there’s just so many shifting styles and influences all the time that you can never say “This is a death metal song” or “this is a prog song.” I’m not concerned with sounding proggy or being complicated just for the sake of it, but I still think that due to the diverse and eclectic nature of the music, plus the real death metal style vocals that occupy most of the record, I think that progressive death metal is the most suitable term. I’ve always kind of seen it as Lamb of God riffs filtered through an Opeth kind of mindset.

What’s the lyrical concept?
The lyrics are based on the idea of being dissatisfied with the world in which you live and wanting to escape from it. You’re enticed by a voice telling you to meet it on the other side of “The Door.” The Door seems enticing, but is meant to represent self-destructive behaviors that people engage in to escape the fact that the problems they face and not the fault of “the world,” but themselves. That’s the gist of the thing.

What led you to go the independent route for its release?
This may sound a bit lazy but we just weren’t offered a record deal and we weren’t interested in seeking one either. It’d be nice to see what a label could potentially offer us in the future, but we’re very happy with how things are going at the moment.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We wanted to make a killer concept album that people can really get into and be immersed in the whole way through. I wanted to give people the feeling that I get from listening to albums like The Downward Spiral, Animals, Jane Doe, etc. We’re already getting lots of praise for the album, I’m expecting it to do well and to make Messora a recognized name within metal in the coming years. It’s just the debut, there’s plenty more to come, but I think that we created a great foundation on which to build our name.

What has been your most memorable Messora live show?
I think that that would have to be the first show we played in Montréal, at Piranha Bar. We didn’t really have our own crowd coming to see us yet, but by the time we played the place was packed and everyone seemed to love us. The whole place was on fire, and afterward the sound guy came to shake my hands to tell me that he’d never seen anything like that at that venue. Rob the Witch from Necronomicon was there, he liked us and bought one of our shirts. It was a nice feeling, and I still usually weigh shows against that one to see if they measure up.

What are your upcoming show plans?
The record took a lot out of us and we just played our release show, so we’re looking to take it easy for a little while, but as it stands we’ll be playing in Pembroke on October 26th and Ottawa on November 9th. There might be something happening in late November in North Bay as well.

How did you get started in music?
I was actually the last one of my group of friends to pick up an instrument. I had a friend who played guitar, once playing bass and once playing drums. We were all pretty into ’70s bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and I was starting to get into Metallica and Black Sabbath and whatnot. I was playing a bit of guitar at school but all they had were nylon string classical guitars. My guitarist friend lent me one of his for a while, and on that, we all decided to start a band. He left pretty much after the inception, but the bass player and the drummer stuck around and we were called Mercury. It functioned pretty much the same way Messora does now, with me doing guitar and vocals and writing everything.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
As I said before, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were and remain to this day two of my favorite bands. When I started getting really into writing music I was almost exclusively into Metallica and the reason I grew my hair out was to be like James Hetfield. If we’re talking early influences, it was pretty much all Hetfield and Jimmy Page.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think that the first metal show I ever saw was The Aphelion, Ringwraith, and some other local bands that I don’t remember. It was at Café Dekcuf in Ottawa. The main reason that I remember those two bands is that Ringwraith’s vocalist is absolutely insane, and The Aphelion are good friends of ours, their guitarist James has done lots of shows as our guitarist. I think that the first “big” show that saw was Opeth in Montréal.

What’s the last thing you binge watched?
I haven’t really binge-watched something in years. The last series that I watched was Dark season 2, a German Netflix produced time travel show. Super interesting and I highly recommend it, but I watched the 8 episodes over 3 months or so.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I think that the last heavy band that I’ve really gotten into is Converge. I’ve always steered far away from anything labeled metalcore but they’re absolutely stunning, so I’ve been listening to their album Jane Doe a lot lately. The new King Gizzard album, Infest the Rat’s Nest as well. Super interesting band in general, and they just come out of nowhere with this thrash album (their usually a psych/prog-rock band) and it’s super fun and awesome. I’m usually always listening to Filth by Swans and You Won’t Get What You Want by Daughters as well.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Go listen to our album The Door! We worked super hard on it and we’re extremely pleased with how it turned out. Read the lyrics too while you’re at it.

(interview published October 12, 2019)

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