Sydney Taieb – Atlantis Chronicles - TPA interview

Sydney Taieb – Atlantis Chronicles

The Parisian aquatically-themed prog metal group Atlantis Chronicles was formed in 2010 and released their third album Nera in 2022. The group’s impressive musicianship stayed with reviewer Basil Francis who decided to seek out drummer Sydney Taieb for some more details about the group’s disciplined approach to making music.

Could you give some background history for readers who aren’t familiar with your work? I just read that the band was called Abyss before 2010.

I play drums in the French band Atlantis Chronicles. We used to play a kind of modern technical death metal, but it slowly (but surely!) evolved into a progressive metal band, dropping all kinds of violence and high-speed tempos. Yes, the band was called Abyss before 2010 because the music was different, more thrashy, and Alex (the current guitarist and backing vocals) was the lead singer. There were only four band members at that time.

The lyrics of Atlantis Chronicles have always had a nautical theme, and I believe the band’s catalogue follows one overarching story. When did you decide that was going to be the band’s raison d’être and do you feel that the Atlantis concept ever boxes you in or prevents you from writing about other things?

Alex and I have always had a fascination with the ocean. So it was obvious to us that we would write about myths, legends, and deep-sea wildlife. It never put us in a box because there’s so much to tell! And most of the time, it’s a metaphorical way to express what we want.

I’ve seen your music labelled as ‘technical melodic death metal’ on Metal Archives, and you currently don’t have a ProgArchives page. How do you feel about the term “progressive” and do you think it applies to Atlantis Chronicles?

Yeah, like I said, the band is evolving and we don’t want to play technical death metal anymore. So “progressive” would be the best adjective right now.

What artists and drummers were most influential to you?

We were influenced a lot by The Human Abstract, Gojira, The Faceless, Veil Of Maya, and Mastodon. Now we’re more into Leprous, Plini, and Architects, somewhere in the middle of these influences. My personal drumming influences at the moment are Aaron Spears (RIP), Larnell Lewis, and Youssef Dayes. It changes depending on what I want to work on with my drums!

What struck me immediately from my very first listen to Nera, and what’s stayed with me is just how ludicrously fast you play your instruments. In my review, I said it was “almost a comedic level of complexity and speed”. Does playing so fast come naturally to you, or do you have to challenge yourself to push the envelope?

Well, Nera is less fast-paced than the previous album Barton’s Odyssey. And, of course, we have to challenge ourselves to play the complex parts as well as possible. And sometimes, we struggle a lot before being able to play it!

Your live performances are just as dazzling as your studio work, and I’m impressed with your ability to compose and memorise such complex parts, and then play them with seemingly no mistakes. How do you do it?

Thanks a lot for those kind words! I think the only important thing is to work as often as possible. Spoiler alert: we do make some mistakes, haha. But the more you work on your instrument, the less anybody can hear it.

Most bands will normally put out their albums and some basic merch, but you’ve taken it a step further, producing songbooks and professional drum videos for many of your songs. That must take a lot of organisation and discipline. How do you do it all?

Thanks for noticing it! We never had the chance to be an internationally huge band. So we always thought that we must do our best possible in every aspect of the project. Having well-designed and printed merch is very important to us. It’s so difficult to stand out in the great ocean of bands… Concerning the drum videos, I have friends who lend me good cameras and a place where to record and shoot the videos that are sometimes available. I do the rest myself (video editing and mixing). A band can’t just make music to survive. As a musician, you also have to develop other skills to take care of promotion, booking, finances… It’s a very small society and you have to take care of everything yourself. Indeed, it’s a lot of organization and discipline.

What are your favourite songs that you’ve written, either to play or listen to?

I think we all prefer Full Fathom Five. This is our best song so far, a good balance between musicality and technicality, both complex and catchy.

Hey, that’s my favourite song too! I noticed there was a six-year gap between your second and third albums. What caused the delay?

We struggled a lot to decide which path to follow on our next album. We were fed up with extreme music, but we could not change everything from one day to another. We had to make a sweet and soft turn in our composition to do what we liked, not losing the fans and bringing some new ones. And then there was the Covid crisis, which made us lose 2 more years.

Are you hoping to record your fourth album soon? Are there any band updates you can share?

We’re in the middle of writing the fourth album! Simon, our bassist, just left the band to focus on his personal life. We’re auditioning a bassist next week, and if he is the right fit for the band, we’ll announce that in April.

Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. I look forward to hearing more Atlantis Chronicles soon!

Thanks to you for this interview, thanks to all our fans around the world, and to you who are reading this!

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Atlantis Chronicles – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | X | Instagram