In today's era of easy access to music, it's quite difficult to make a name for yourself. There is a huge number of ambitious bands on the scene and one of the ways to stand out is to be different. One of the bands that attached to the word "different" the strongest way is the Italian alt-metal extraterrestrial group SICK'N'BEAUTIFUL, whose face - the lovely Herma - told us about the new album "Horror Vacui" in connection with the ongoing campaign on the Kickstarter platform, online show, which is the essence of the campaign and we have talked a bit about her private life as well. In addition to their online show, the band will perform in Slovakia for the first time at the end of March 2024 as part of a tour with Cradle of Filth and Wednesday 13, so there was definitely no shortage of topics to talk about.
You´ve released your previous album with Frontiers Records and right now, you are going back to how you did it before – releasing it thru Kickstarter campaign. What´s the difference between those two approaches to releasing the album?
Actually – the new album will be released with the same label. It´s not self-produced record. What we are offering is some kind of special show like the one we did during the pandemic. It will be concert streaming with some particular scenes and actors and special effects. Something like our very best show ever, you know. The campaign is to pre-sale the album and to support the making of this show that will be viewable just for the ones who pledged, actually. The album is still with the label.
Seeing the name of the album and the album cover, it´s somehow obvious you are planning to release the heaviest piece so far. What are the changes in terms of music and the genre that we could expect from “Horror Vacui”?
The name says it all because we are getting more into this vibe inspired by Rob Zombie and Wednesday 13 who we are touring with as well. We kind of went into that direction and along with that, we adapted some industrial metal influences and for the first time, you will hear me doing growl and scream. It will be more extreme and definitely more metal oriented.
So as you already mentioned before and as we speak, you´ve been learning growling lately. How much of that should we expect on the album?
It still would be a lot melodic and musical album because our songwriting is oriented that way. We are not going to Arch Enemy style. It´s going to be here and there, you know. We firmly believe that growls and screams should be in the songs mainly to emphasize some of the moments. Even me personally, I am not much into full screaming or full growling songs and I always loved to listen to very dynamic singing. It´s going to be dynamic songs with a lot of variations and you are going to have some moments of the songs which are going to be emphasized with those aspects.
What changes did you have to make in your voice practice routine and in maintaining your voice in correct shape due to involvement of those elements?
Well, actually, you have to practice a little bit more since it´s a different types of singing but once you find your sound it gets very liberating and sometimes I do it just for the fun of it. Mainly while I am driving. (Laugh) To scream in the car on people on the streets, that´s definitely liberating. (Laugh) So sometimes, I do it just for fun and I still don’t have regular routine for it. But - since we are planning to leave on this tour with Cradle of Filth, about a month before we leave, I will be scheduled every day practicing with both normal voice and growling voice exercise so I can get into singing shape.
Since your own music is getting heavier as well, what is currently your heaviest song or band in the playlist you are listening to?
I am really into Behemoth nowadays, their latest singles are just amazing and I am a bit more into black metal and Cradle of Filth, of course. I think their latest record is amazing. I couldn’t really pick any specific song, but I would definitely say Behemoth and Cradle of Filth.
How does creative process for “Horror Vacui” looked like and how does it differ from the previous records?
The previous record was done under the pandemic restrictions so we actually couldn’t meet and we worked on the songs for a very long time and we had time to concentrate on it. This time, the schedule was actually pretty tight and each one of us was doing his preparatory work at home. We were studying songs, we were writing our parts and then we´ve met in the studio to get all our ideas together. We were working much less on pre-production this time. This time it was less pre-production and more time with definitive recording. Sometimes I was doing just the take for the actual album, no pre-production. That´s because we had more time to practice before and we´ve already rehearsed new songs so we already kind of got deeper into material.
We´ve talked about Kickstarter campaign and one of the stages of rewards is your personalized guitar that accompanied you for pretty long time. How hard is it for you as a musician to say goodbye to such a personal item?
It´s actually very very hard. That guitar is also part of my life, it´s not only bounded with the band and music but also with my personal life because my boyfriend – Jano Custom Guitars - is the one who made it. Therefore, it´s also connects with very personal memories of mine. I am doing that just because I think that right now, since I have new guitar, and this one is not used, I feel like our fans should be able to take some important parts of what we do because for this record, there is something that is very clear to me, even if it was also clear before. Right now in 2023, I feel it´s crucial to maintain relationship with our fans and I really feel that fans needs to be more involved – physically – in what we do. That´s because even if you have label, even if you have management, if you are investing a lot of money into promotion, even if you are pushed by the industry, the one thing that really matter are the fans. The people who comes to your show and who are affectionate with what you do. So I feel like we need to give more of our private stuff to the people.
You are finally doing full European tour supporting Cradle of Filth and Wednesday 13, as we already mentioned. What should we expect from your shows? How much would it be reduced in terms of stage performance and special effects?
I can say that we are working on brand new setlist where we are going to play some of the new material even if the album would not be released yet. It´s going to be totally new, even for us. We really felt we needed to create new setlist that would be in the vibe of the tour. I mean, we are playing in front of the Cradle of Filth and Wednesday 13 who have pretty heavy fanbase and we want to show people what are we doing right now. It´s going to be way darker and heavier and about effects – we are still trying to figure out what could we bring on tour as every country have it´s own regulations on safety and we still need to understand what we can do. But - this huge show we are working on, this Hardblast Experience that we are promoting with the Kickstarter campaign, some effects, stage designs and miscellaneous we are doing for that show – we are trying to bring at least some of that on tour.
You already toured with Wednesday 13 earlier this year. What is your strongest memory associated with the tour or Wednesday himself?
We really liked their crew. They were very kind to us and they helped us a lot. That was our first tour with band as big as they are and we had no crew at the time. And we actually don´t even know if we have crew for this tour as well. (Laugh) We had no crew at that tour and we´ve been pretty much everyday sick, with injuries and it was tough to make it all with the timing because we had pretty tight schedule but their crew was very amazing and kind to us and each one of them helped us a lot. I have to say that every band involved was very nice and there was amazing atmosphere among the musicians so I really loved that tour and the whole experience.
You are promoting online show on Kickstarter along with the new album, can you tell us some more details about this show? What should we expect from it?
This time, we will be able to bring some performers with us on stage. Our idea is to have some characters that comes from the lore of the band. We will have actors playing choreography with me and full new set of costumes and of course a lot of fire, because … well, we all are pyromaniacs. (Laugh)
Do you think that online shows still have their place in music industry? They were big during the COVID times, but right now, people are thirsty for live performance…
I get that they are not as popular as they were during the COVID but you know, we are still a small band and we can´t travel the world, there are still a lot of countries we´ve never been to so that is our only way to reach most of our fans. There are fans in US and South America and many other regions and we cannot go there physically, at least not yet. And we feel that we need to keep them close so that is why we are doing that.
There was many of those shows during the pandemic – have you seen any of those and what was your highlight of the online shows?
Actually, I need to mention two of them – I very digged the Infected Rain show. They did it just for the fans, I think, we watched it and it was just amazing. Also the Lacuna Coil´s one was incredible. We bought the tickets for that one. They did the show in Italy, of course we couldn´t be there but we saw them many times and they are always mind blowing. Even online.
Let´s be honest, you are a little bit of a nerd …
On the other hand, when you get on stage, you are that whole alien beauty & beast all in one persona. How do you maintain the balance in this whole schizophrenic “Jekyll & Hyde” personality?
Well, to me …. I kind of feel like I have to protect my nerd part. I am kind of shy person and when I am on stage I release all my energy compressed in me on my daily life. Actually, in my normal day life, I am complete opposite of what I am on stage. I am still normal hard working person but I don´t really like to hang out, I am really shy and mild person and I think that this balance, that black & white, that extreme differences are what makes it really work. Everyone has his highs and lows and very controversial part of their character. I really separate my character sides, my energy and passion on stage and I try to be very calm and reflective person in my day life. That works for me.
This was the last one … if you want to add anything to what was said, this is your time to shine.
We are very happy that this time with this tour, we are going to meet a lot of new people because we never been in many of countries we would play now and I am really excited to meet new people, to hang out on the venue, so don´t be shy, come and say hi and we will be happy to make pictures together. This time it will be amazing tour with amazing bands and we need to make the greatest memories possible and have fun together with all of you!