Interview : Leo Margarit : Pain of Salvation
Leo Margarit, a young master of the drums, took time after his recent tour with Pain of Salvation to talk with us. Leo speaks about his prodigious drum beginning, helps to dissect French and Swedish fans, and covers his time spent with his plethora of bands (Pain of Salvation, For All We Know, Zubrowska, Wardanz, Epysode).
Why did Drum & Blog choose to interview Leo? To find out what shampoo he uses for all that hair of course. Or maybe it was because we wanted to step into the mind of the man that put forth a gigantic effort for Pain of Salvation and earlier with For All We Know.
D&B: You’ve been trained on many different styles of music: jazz, Afro Cuban, metal etc. Can you share a little about how these different styles strike you (Which one resonates the most with you? Which one is most difficult? Are some surprisingly similar?)
Leo: I started playing the drums at the age of 3 or something, or so I’ve been told as I have no recollection of that at all So I’ve always been passionate about rock and hard rock when I was younger; it was cool to play along with albums and stuff, but I think that what attracted me over all was improvisation and more “open” music where you can have more freedom into what you’re playing. I had this boogie-woogie duo when I was 13 that we transformed into a latin jazz trio later on. At the same time I was studying classical percussion and got a lot of gigs with symphonic orchestras and stuff, plus some cover bands, reggae… I guess I found all I needed musically in the whole thing. I wouldn’t say that any kind is more difficult than an other though… Every style has its difficulties
D&B: Although you’re still relatively young, you have an extensive and long journey in the world of drums /percussion. Indulge us a little with what that journey has been like (from beginning playing, to studying, gigging and becoming parts of many bands).
Leo: Music has always been part of my life, and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of great musicians to play with and forge my drummer’s character! I joined the local music school in France when I was 6, then the conservatory at 14 to study classical percussion, music chambers, ear training, theory, a little harmony too, jazz…. I never stopped gigging at the same time with different projects while listening to a lot of different things as well.
When I got the opportunity to join Pain of Salvation in 2007, I moved to Sweden and left everything behind, so nowadays it’s harder for me to find bands that are not into the general “rock” category because people only know me through the rock scene. It’s hard to make a name for yourself when you’re moving into a new sphere of people and a new country, you have to create a new network. That said, things are going pretty well and I hope to be part of even more projects in the future! Of course being in Pain of Salvation allowed me to meet people from the international scene, which is more than I could have ever imagined when I was a kid!
D&B: You’ve spent considerable time in both Sweden and France as a part of the music industry in both places, can you comment on either places uniqueness as it pertains to the music you’ve produced? (Does either place inspire more creativity, foster a better musical culture, provide a better fan base, etc?)
Leo: The general pop music scene is quite different in both countries. In France, rock and metal are completely left out by the medias for example. Being over 15 and still listening to rock seems to be a great source of shame in the society… “Cut your hair and get a job!”. Sweden is much more open-minded when it comes to that kind of music. On the other hand, despite the general beliefs abroad, Metal isn’t that popular either. People mostly love the 80’s hard rock, and huge bands like Opeth or Meshuggah are hardly as popular as they can be anywhere else in Europe or the rest of the world for that matter.
It’s a shame if you ask me. But maybe that could explain the need for those bands to create something different, as a sort of a “rebellion” to the local music scene. That said, there’s a flourishing scene in France with a lot of great bands that are unfortunately not too big as it’s very hard to get any support from labels these days. It is to be noted as well that a couple of years ago, some politics in France tried to cancel the biggest metal festival in France, on the pretext that this is the devil’s music… That would be totally inconceivable in Sweden for instance…
When it comes to audience though, France is one of the best in Europe, while Swedish folks don’t show much of their emotions even though they are very appreciative. Of course all this is my personal experience…
Pain of Salvation.
D&B: How would you describe the music? I have listened to Road Salt One &Two in their entirety and I am struggling to put my finger on any one, complete or otherwise abstract, description. Maybe I should ask, what sort of mood does the music of Salvation hope to inspire?
Leo: It is hard to describe our music or to put a label on it… The evolution is so vast from the first album to present time… I usually call it “some sort of alternative/progressive rock, tainted by some 70’s influences”. It doesn’t mean much though!
I think everyone can get different emotions from our music. We have a very broad fan base. Some fans love our music, some other our lyrics, some Daniel’s looks… But clearly, especially on stage, I think we manage to touch everyone in the audience, at least I hope!
D&B: You’ve been a part of Pain of Salvation in a great deal with their recent music (2 albums, 1 EP). As a band (musically speaking) what is the band trying to accomplish? That is, who do you want to be known as or thought of as?
Leo: I would say that we’re first trying to play music that touches and inspires us… It’s never been about being hip, or pleasing other people… We play music we believe in and that we can stand for. We’re just happy and grateful to have fans who follow us whatever direction we’re taking!
For All We Know
D&B: This is probably my favorite work that you’ve done, well at least my favorite band’s music you’ve been a part of. From what I’ve read, the album put forth by For All We Know, was really the project of Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation). What was your experience with it (how much input did you have from the creative aspect, what was the band’s dynamic like, will you be making more music with them in the future)?
Leo: Thanks a lot, this is definitely a great album and I’m very happy and proud to be part of it! It’s indeed Ruud’s project. He sent me the demos completely done, and I learnt the songs. I followed pretty much what was on the demo when we entered the studio. Of course I played my own feels and approached the songs with my own touch. I think the song Open Your Eyes is the only one where I created my own drum patter from the scratch.
We’re preparing the second album right now and are planning to enter the studio in the summer. This one should be more a band endeavor. We’ll see how it goes! (Follow along with them on their Facebook page).
D&B: What was it like to work with Zubrowska? I read from their own website a description of the album you contributed to (Zubrowska are Dead) as “the beginning of an epileptic and devastating journey, a rebirth in dreams, blood, booze and cum!” Wow, I’m not sure what to feel from reading that except some sort of strange intensity. Can you share with us your experience?
Leo: I joined Zubrowska in 2005 or 2006 I think. At first I wasn’t too much into this kind of extreme metal but I took it as a challenge! I figured playing blast beats could be something fun to try When I started diving myself into the music I actually felt some emotions that are in my opinion very rare in this kind of bands. I unfortunately never recorded a full LP with the band, I moved to Sweden and then it became hard to make it work, living 2000 miles away…
I think the description they gave on their web site is quite accurate! It’s very intense and has enough dynamics to give you that slap in the face throughout the album!
D&B: I know you’ve also been a part of Wardanz and Epysode. Stepping back and looking at all the groups you’ve recorded with, maybe you could give a one or two sentence description of each band of what it was like from your drumming perspective.
Leo: When it comes to Wardanz, the guys are friends, and they asked me if I would be OK to record their debut album, I said yes of course! The music is rather inspired from the 80’s hard rock/thrash scene.
Epysode is more of power metal project with a lot of different guest singers. Sam contacted me through a common friend and I also accepted the gig! I recorded the second album last December in Belgium, it should be released later this year I believe.