Editor’s Note: There are many subgenres of metal, but France/United Kingdom’s own Betraying The Martyrs falls into just being straight up pure metal. The band has released arguably their darkest release to date entitled “Rapture”, which takes on apocalyptic themes and just sounds absolutely brooding to the Nth degree. Aaron Matts of Betraying The Martyrs sat down with Madness To Creation to discuss mental health awareness, their near-tragedy that caused them to cancel their North American tour, and their latest album entitled “Rapture”. Fans can find Betraying The Martyrs at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Thank you Aaron for sitting down with me and rescheduling the interview. You have released the music video for “Parasite”. Take us into that song and the album.
Aaron: Yeah, we are really excited, it got completed sometime early on in the year, we’re always excited to see what people think.
Madness To Creation: If people haven’t listened to “Rapture” yet, what can fans expect from the album?
Aaron: It is a lot darker than anything we have ever done before based upon the atmosphere of the songs, not just in the lyrics or the breakdowns or the heavy parts, but I really wanted to really work on how dark the atmosphere can make the listener feel when they listen to the record.
Madness To Creation: Based on the press release I read, “Parasite” talks about the heavy topics of coping with anxiety and depression, we cover mental health awareness as well, do you have anything to say about that topic that might be an encouragement to the listener?
Aaron: That’s great news. The song basically talks about having a side of your mind wrapped up in problems that have happened in the past that kind of stops the real you from getting to where you want to be in life, it talks about the battle of leaving your past behind in order to become stronger than that. Basically, it’s about trying to kill the negative side of you off and I really hope that people can relate because after going through quite a difficult time a couple of years ago, and now coming out of the other side, I’m trying to really talk about it, and hopefully others will feel the same way.
Madness To Creation: What do you do to help with any mental health challenges that you may be facing?
Aaron: Exercising is what I do and basically just keeping myself busy because people that have been in a state of depression before know that you just kind of want to just stay in bed, and don’t really want to talk about it, I think the best thing is to keep busy. I know that depression is a real disease, it’s a real mental illness, it’s not as easy as it looks, I just encourage people to stay busy, or find a hobby and get to work, if you keep yourself busy, you’ll see your life build up around you, and there’s less things to feel anxious about, that’s what worked for me.
Madness To Creation: Take us into a day in the life of Betraying The Martyrs in the studio, do you write the lyrics first or do you write the lyrics around the arrangements in the music?
Aaron: I have a book of lyrics of stuff that I have written down based on experiences that I want to talk about, but this album is completely different, we went to a barn in the middle of nowhere in France, and we had this barn situation over there, there was beds upstairs, so we basically just load the equipment over and build our own studio in there and we just kind of secluded ourselves away from the world for two weeks at a time. We did a few sessions over there, it was just me and the guys. I’m just in one room where I write lyrics, and have the guitar setup. I sat in a room where I could record vocals, and had an electric drumset, and we had to just write everything all at once, and come together at the end of the day and see which riffs would build up and see where the songs would go. We definitely write the album that way instead of writing another way, it was about immersing ourselves within the album.
Madness To Creation: When you immersed yourself that way, was it something that you have done before or a completely different approach?
Aaron: It was a completely different approach, there’s nothing around you, there’s no distractions, no one’s gotta work, no one’s gotta do any of that stuff, it’s just 100% music, and you go to sleep on a half-finished idea, and you wake up the next day, and you’re all excited, and everyone eats breakfast, and boom, everyone is right back into it. The amount of progress that we’ve made when we put ourselves in that situation was just crazy. We managed to write a whole record in about six weeks altogether in these two week periods. I can’t see us writing an album in any different way now that we have done it like that.
Madness To Creation: Is that part of the reason why this album is darker than your other albums in the past or is this just a concept that you wanted to go for?
Aaron: I think we just wrote a couple of songs that were really dark, and we were like, “you know what, this is what we’re feeling right now, so keep the atmosphere going”, we were just kind of in this dark atmosphere, so the rest of the songs just kind of roll off of that, therefore the atmosphere just kind of stays the same because we are all in the same room, if something comes out through a dark riff, we can just write some dark synth and dark piano parts to it, when I hear it, I’m just thinking, “it kind of makes me feel this kind of way” when I’m writing lyrics to kind of fit with that. All the instruments and all of the vocals just kind of work together to make this one atmospheric song, it just came together really well.
Madness to Creation: What are some plans in the fall to promote “Rapture”?
Aaron: We’re on a full European tour through October, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we kind of killed off the States this year, it was just time for us to get back into Europe, and we got a full-fledged tour coming up at the end of the year too, we’re just kind of leaving France alone fore a little bit, and we wanted to get back to where we are from, and then we’ll be up and at ’em with a new album.
Madness To Creation: What happened in the States, I must have not gotten the memo? *laughs* If you can’t talk about it, I understand.
Aaron: *laughs* We had a huge fire that burned all of our equipment, not sure if you were aware of that, we just got done playing in Los Angeles, and the next show was in Orangevale, California and we had been driving for about two and a half hours, and there was a fire that came from a gas-powered generator that was in the trailer, I’m not quite sure what happened, but I think it overheated, and we had the whole trailer that caught fire while we were driving down the road at about 4 AM, and we lost pretty much everything that we had, we just couldn’t continue to tour, we tried to get it together, but unfortunately the damage was already too hard, and unfortunately we had to cancel the tour and fly home.
Madness To Creation: Is everyone okay and in good spirits though?
Aaron: Everyone’s okay, yeah, luckily no one got hurt, everyone is fine, but it was a big blow to us, we just have to kind of measure things up, we just had to fly home a couple of days later, but yeah all of the fans and so many people donated to the GoFundMe, and we got back on our feet in time for the European tour that we are on, thank you to the fans.
Madness To Creation: With all the donations that your band received through the GoFundMe page, how did that make you feel with all of your fans helping you out?
Aaron: It feels crazy, I mean when something like that happens, you feel super alone, we were feeling like crap when that happened, and we couldn’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel, I mean there were so many things that we had accumulated over our career, and it just kind of goes up in our flames with our own personal belongings, we weren’t feeling great and it just felt like we were hitting rock bottom, people just came through and reached in their pockets and helped out, it was great. It makes you realize that what we are doing has affected at least some people and it will give us the motivation to continue.
Madness To Creation: Is there any plans to come back to the States?
Aaron: We do have early plans, I can’t talk about it right now because it’s in the early stages, we are hoping to be in the United States at the end of next spring, so we can make up for all of those dates that we’ve missed.
Madness To Creation: Craziest live moment that you’ve had?
Aaron: There’s been a bunch, we’ve played in front of 50,000 people, that’s crazy in its own right at these huge European festivals, we toured with Slipknot in 2012, that was crazy, but there’s also the little crazy moments, one time we played in Germany and our keyboard player jumped into the crowd, and he was crowdsurfing and someone got roundhouse kicked in the head and he got knocked out, he had to go to the hospital and we went to go visit him, and we got him a bunch of merch and we made sure that he was okay, we donated some cash to help him out and stuff, when you’re touring on the road, you never know when there’s going to be these crazy moments.
Madness To Creation: Most embarassing moment on stage?
Aaron: It was at the So What? Festival in Dallas, Texas, it was back in 2013 or 2014, we had no idea where we were supposed to go, we got directed to the stage where we were supposed to play, and the stage was set up where one band would play on one half of the stage and one band would play on the other half of the stage, the stage was kind of split, we got there and no one was playing, and we started setting up, and just as set time was happening, we were told that we were setting up on the wrong side of the stage, so we had to gather all of our stuff up and move it to the other side of the stage, and our set time ended up getting cut, we only ended up playing two songs, we had no samples, no keyboards, no nothing, and the guys from Architects were behind the stage just watching, it was super embarrassing. I still have nightmares about that show.
Madness To Creation: What did the guys in Architects say?
Aaron: They left and we didn’t get the time to speak to them about it. They weren’t too impressed, they were probably pretty embarrassed, I mean it’s Architects, they’re a band that we really love.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add in regards to “Rapture” or the band?
Aaron: We put out two singles, the first one was “Eternal Machine” and the second one is called “Parasite”, we felt that those two tracks were great tracks that really represent the album, we have also released “Down” that song is more of an upbeat song, it’s not as dark as the rest of the album. We want to thank all of the fans that have given their time to help us out of the hard time that we are going through right now, and the music is just basically going to have to speak for itself and I’m really excited about the response that people have in the new record. If people don’t like it, I don’t know what I’m going to do. *laughs*
And there you have it! Check out Betraying The Martyrs at the following European tour dates the rest of the year with a date in 2020:
Sat. 10/5- Jack The Rooster in Tampere, Finland
Sun. 10/6- On The Rocks in Helsinki, Finland
Sat. 11/9- le Fil in Saint-etienne, France
Fri. 11/22- Le Bikini in Ramonville St. Agne, France
Sat. 11/23- Rock School Barbey in Bordeaux, France
Fri. 11/29- MJC O TOTEM in Rillieux-la-pape, France
Sat. 11/30- Le Moloco in Audincourt, France
Thu. 12/5 through Sun. 12-7- Le Ferrailleur in Nantes, France
Thu. 12/12- Laiterie in Strasbourg, France
Fri. 12/13- Les Trinitaries in Metz, France
Sat. 12/14- Le Metaphone in Oignies, France
Sat. 12/21- Centre Culturel John Lennon in Limoges, France
Sat. 1/25- Le Reacteur in Issy Les Moulineaux, France
For tickets and further information, click here.