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As 2018 is their ten-year anniversary, and Belgian Death/Doom band Marche Funèbre are celebrating it with a number of different events, we thought it'd be nice to make a proper interview of it rather than just publish a list of news...

Interview with Marche Funèbre.
"Marche Funèbre are a band we love as much for their endlessly hard-working attitude and live contribution to the Doom scene as for their interesting and ever-improving back catalogue of album releases. Well, it's not actually that long since we last spoke to them (with a 2017 interview about their last full-length, 'Into The Arms Of Darkness'), but this is a special year for the band as they celebrate their tenth birthday. So, rather than just publish a list of planned events it seemed like a much better idea to have a chat about them - thanks, as always, go to Dennis and Arne for giving us a detailed and entertaining picture of what's been going on with the March of Doom."

Marche Funèbre's line-up since 2013: Peter Egberghs (Lead guitar, vocals), Arne Vandenhoeck (Vocals), Dennis Lefebvre (Drums), Boris Iolis (Bass, vocals), Kurt Blommé (Rhythm guitar).

Hello guys, and let me welcome you back to Doom-metal.com - always a pleasure! It's not that long since we did an interview on 'Into The Arms Of Darkness', but this year's a special one for you - maybe you'd like to explain why that is, in your own words?

Dennis: Hi there, thanx for taking interest in our doomed journey again, always happy to talk to you!! "Into the arms" is already a long time ago in our minds, since a lot happened since then, and because we recorded it early 2016. Which means it was fully written and pre-production took place in 2015. Still very proud of this album of course. This year marks our 10 years' existence and we wanted to celebrate this special milestone in style. A decade of Doom.

Did you see yourselves making it to a tenth birthday back when you started? And now that you've got this far, do you see another ten, twenty, thirty years in your future...?

Dennis: When we started we didn't really think about that, or at least I wasn't. I was playing in another band and when Arne asked me, he presented it as a small side project that could easily be combined with the stuff I was doing back then (that turned out a bit different). I think that is how we all started, just a fun project honoring and playing the ' 90's style Death Doom we all like so much. So we knew what we wanted to do and play, but no one was thinking: "would we ever make 10 years?"…

For me it is still a bit of the same now. I am in for the ride, and what a ride it already turned out to be. And as long as we enjoy doing this, there is no reason to stop, be it in 10 or 20 years from now. But that in itself is not really a goal.

How different is it, comparing then with now? You all came from different band backgrounds, stretching back to the 1990s, so you obviously had experience when Marche Funèbre began. But how has that developed and changed, from being a basically unknown Belgian Death/Doom band just starting out, to where you are today?

Dennis: Yes, Arne and I are actively playing in different bands since the 90's. Peter was playing in bands for quite some years before forming M.F. as well. The difference couldn't be bigger with how it was back then, but it is hard to put a finger on it since everything changes gradually… I remember my first studio experience was in an analogue studio where we recorded on these really big tapes, you cannot even imagine working like that now…

But also the level of professionalism is incomparable to what we were doing back then. The international thing was new for me as well, before M.F. I never played outside of Belgium and now we have more gigs abroad than in Belgium itself. I can only say this band made a lot of my childhood dreams come true… We did so many things I would have never believed if you told me when I started drumming.

2018 US tour with Eye Of Solitude.

So, you started the year's events with an American tour in March. How different an experience was that to touring in Europe?

Dennis: It depends on how you look at it. In the purest way it is the same: Sit in a van, drive to a venue, wait in the venue, try playing the best show you ever played every night, have some beers and talk to some people after the show, go to the hotel to get some sleep. Next day, same story and when the drive is not too long or you have a day off you can enjoy some sights, hahaha… But that, of course, is not what you wanted to hear ; )

First of all getting into the US as a band is not an easy thing, we had been working on this tour for a year before it happened. It involved Lawyer agencies, interviews at the embassy, making files for the government and Homeland Security and so on, not really Rock 'n Roll but it has to be done. We had some wonderful people guiding us through this world of bureaucracy that we were not really familiar with, people from the US and Belgium (Nanotear Bookings and The big F, we can't thank you enough!!!). So I guess for us that was the biggest difference, since here in Europe you just book flights, hop on the plane and go. This you can't do when you go to the US, we needed passports as an international recognized artist, and those are not easy to come by (hence a lot of European bands having to cancel their US tours due to this shit). It takes a lot of effort, time and money.

What were the high and the low points of it? You must have got some good 'life on the road' stories to tell, surely?

Dennis: First of all being able to do this tour as M.F. is probably the highest point of it all. We had an amazing time there and the EOS guys are always great to hang out with, we've known them for years now and know they are great touring buddies.

My personal high was our first gig of the tour in Seattle, we played with Bell Witch in a really packed venue and the atmosphere was amazing. One of my top 10 gigs ever for sure!!

I am not really someone that focusses on low points so... none!

We have a lot of the 'life on the road stories', but by telling them all, this interview would become too long and no one would have the motivation to start reading it. But one I will not hold back from you since it could have ended the tour before it even started ; )

Day 1 of the tour we loaded all the gear in the van and headed off to the Seattle show, we were all very excited to finally start the tour so the atmosphere in the van was really good. All of a sudden when we were driving on the highway in the middle lane the gear started shifting and one of the amps broke the window and would have went through it if I didn't have the reflex of stretching my arm and reaching for it from the back seat of the van. Next to us was another car and if the amp would have actually went out of the van, it would have gone into the front windshield of this car. I can only imagine what it would have caused but we would all probably still be in jail in the US right now, hahaha…

Marche Funèbre - 'Darkness' (Live in Seattle, 2018):

And how did you find the Stateside audiences? Were they receptive to European-style Death/Doom?

Dennis: Yes they actually were really receptive to us, even the shows where not that many people showed up the audience was really enthusiastic and made us forget the fact not that much people were there. They also really appreciated the fact that we came to the US and played for them. Surprisingly to me in every crowd there where people actually knowing our music and lyrics...

You put out a split release with touring mates Eye Of Solitude to mark the occasion - how was that received, generally? Did you manage to sell a fistful of copies while you were out there?

Dennis: The reviews we got mostly were really positive. And sales on the tour were better than expected. I am really happy we did the split with the EOS boys since it is something physical to honor the special connection we have.

I very much liked 'Darkness', your half of the split. It's not the first time you've used a classic poem as the basis of a song - how different is it working from a source like that compared to something that's completely your own composition?

Arne: Well, we've used this way of writing for 10 years already, so we are quite used to it. The real challenge lies in capturing the atmosphere of the lyric while writing the song, but that's something that goes for most of our songs since lyrics tend to exist first in a way. The big difference with own lyrics is that you can't just fool around with the 100+ years old lyrics as they are already published for decades. But in a way it's a blessing too as the lyric can decide what direction to go when at some point in the composing process we ask ourselves what direction to go.

'Collapse/Darkness' split (2018, Hypnotic Dirge/Cimmerian Shade).

You're also planning to release an anniversary EP in October - is there anything you can tell us about it at the moment? Any clues as to what the content will be?

Dennis: Well what I can tell is that like some EP's we did before ("Lost" f.i.) we experimented a bit with different influences (Black, Death and even some Thrash) and incorporated them into our M.F. music. Of course we still give it the M.F. Doom label we stand for, we are not changing direction. It will have 2 more up-tempo songs, 1 more traditional Doom/Death song and as a celebration and closure to the first 10 years we decided to put a cover song on there as well. It will be released through Grimm Distribution (Russia) and Cimmerian Shade (US) on CD and Cassette on October 14th.

Like our previous full album we worked together with Markus Stock again at his studio in Germany. We really feel comfortable working with him and he knows exactly what we are looking for, there is always a good chemistry working between us so we hope to work together some more in the future.

Are you working on any other studio pieces as well: is there any progress towards a new full-length album?

Dennis: In fact we are indeed in the writing process of our next full album atm. We took no gigs between May and September to focus on writing new songs. It is going great and we have lots of ideas and 3 songs are already finished but on the other hand we are not in a hurry to release the full album soon, we want to take the time to write and let the new songs sink in before we go to the studio again. (We have been in the recording studio in September 2017 recording "Darkness" and in January 2018 recording the upcoming split so let's not be too hasty).

EP Launch party flyer (click for more info).

You've got a launch party planned for the EP - is that a general admission event, or just by invitation? Would you like to post any information about it here?

Dennis: No, anyone can come, no invitation needed. We wanted to celebrate our 10 years' existence on stage (since that is what we like doing most) and invited some befriended bands to join us. 14th of October is the date and we'll be celebrating this in our hometown of Mechelen (venue: de club).

The other bands are "Loose License" (Belgian Doom), FAAL ( blackened doom/death from The Netherlands) and Psychonaut (psychedelic post-metal from our home town). Both FAAL and Psychonaut have released new albums to promote, and we'll be releasing our 10th anniversary EP that very day.

Aside from the Darken The Moon festival, you're lining up some other anniversary gigs for later in the year. Has any schedule been announced yet, and what can people look forward to in the way of material and celebration at the shows?

Dennis: Yes we have some nice shows lined up indeed but we don't see them all as special celebration shows really, the one special celebration show will be the one in Mechelen on 14 October. On the other ones we will be celebrating our 10 years as well of course but with a more regular set, focusing on newer material.

Booked gigs so far for this year are:
22 September in Ghent (B): Lowlands Doom Pack (with Treurwilg, Beyond Our Ruins and Façade)
14 October in Mechelen (B): The 10 years celebration show mentioned above 21 October in Genk (B): with Mourning Beloveth
03 November in Athens (Gr): Room Of Doom fest (with Ocean of Grief, Decemberance and On Thorns I Lay)
11 November in Berchem (B): Armistice Doom Fest (with Pantheist, Rome in Monochrome, River of Souls, Svarthart + more TBC)
25 November in Rotterdam (NL): Dutch Doom Days (with While Heaven Wept and many, many, many,... more)
02 December in Sint-Niklaas (B): Darken The Moon X

Darken The Moon X advance flyer (click for more info).

Darken The Moon, obviously, is something you've run throughout the band's career. What's in the pipeline for this tenth edition?

Dennis: Well we have:
Vin de Mia Trix (UKR) who released a really great double album and are on the same label that did the US split for us (Hypnotic Dirge)
Ophis (Ger) who we played and toured with quite some times and grew to be good friends of us
Marche Funèbre (B) who... yes...
Mournful Congregation Official (AU)
Green Carnation (NO)
+ maybe an extra surprise but we are still working on that.

So, I think that's all the announcements so far about your plans - is there anything I've missed out?

Dennis: We will make special shirts to celebrate our 10 year existence...

Ten years is a pretty good landmark: looking back, what would you say has been the best thing about Marche Funèbre over that period?

Dennis: The path we took as a band, not always the most easy or logical path. We try to do everything in consensus which isn't the most easy way to handle things but at least everyone can always speak out his mind and that is really important in this band. This is probably why we have a really steady line-up. That doesn't mean we are always on the same line, but it means we try to listen to each other's arguments. This is the way we (try to) run the band, we have no management or anything like that, this means we need to put a hell of a lot of time in this band apart from the musical side of things, but it also means we are in control of everything... If the right management comes to us I am not saying we would immediately say no, but we learned a thing or two doing these things ourselves so we will also not just go for everyone that approaches us.

Stateside with EOS.

And do you have any individual personal highlights from across the band's career? What achievements are you most proud of?

Dennis: I am most proud that we really achieved some stuff that for a lot of people will always stay childhood dreams.

Recording albums, playing foreign countries and seeing people actually know your music in countries you have never been to, ... I can go on for hours... (so I am really proud yes, no need in denying that).

There are so many moments I could name as personal highlights: our first UK tour, the US Tour, the way our latest album was received, some really cool festivals we played...

Arne: Let's not forget all the super cool people we met thanks to the band! That includes you too, Mike ; )

Is there anything you would have differently, with hindsight?

Dennis: No, a friend of mine has this line he picked up in the army which I really like, saying: "you train as you fight".

For me this means all things that didn't turn out like we expected, told us how to handle these things next time so in a way they were good .... I am not saying "everything happens for a reason" because I don't really believe in that, I'm just saying that bad things and mistakes should teach you stuff... So don't look back regretting things but use your past to shape your future.

Marche Funèbre - 'The Garden Of All Things Wild' (Official):

And is there anything you plan to do especially differently in the future? Or do you feel you've established yourselves in the right sort of place - with releases, videos, shows and the like - for the band to continue evolving along broadly the same lines?

Dennis: There is still a lot of ambition in this band so we'll always try to do new/bigger things. Only the future can tell if we will succeed.

On the other hand the way we are working now feels very comfortable so we will not be going for big changes I think. We just keep working hard and by doing so, we try to get as many opportunities as possible.

That's it for my questions, for the moment. Any last words you'd like to add to close this off?

Dennis: Thanx again for this interview and the interest in our band.


Then I wish you all the best of luck with the remainder of your anniversary year, and hope all the planned events go well!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Marche Funèbre bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-07-15 by Mike Liassides.
Aesthetic Death
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