Interview : The Thanklist.com
Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Via The Thanklist.com : "Phil Tougas is one of the most prolific and versatile musician in today’s Heavy Metal scene (check out his long list of upcoming projects at the end of this interview! Impressive!). As a songwriter, he is just as adept writing colorful Power Metal and Traditional Heavy Metal as he is writing grim Doom and Death Metal. As a guitarist, he is just as comfortable playing crushing heavy riffs as he is playing beautiful, melodic solos. A true shredder, Phil is also an encyclopedia of heavy metal knowledge with some very strong and thoughtful opinions. You can hear his work in CHTHE’ILIST, FIRST FRAGMENT, ETERNITY’S END, ATRAMENTUS, FUNEBRARUM, SEROCS, ZEALOTRY, EQUIPOISE and COSMIC ATROPHY." -Cédric N.
Name five songs that you consider “perfect songs” and explain why or what they mean to you. MANOWAR – Blood of my Enemies I can’t think of a more perfect album opener. I think this track in particular has one of Eric Adam’s finest vocal performances ever. Such an amazing chorus. TNT – Seven Seas It doesn’t matter if you’re working out, partying, having sex, playing video games or reading, this song fits in every context there is and there is never a bad time to be listening to it. It seems like a typical 80s AOR/Arena Heavy Metal track on first listen, but it’s so much more to me. I just find this track to be very mystical-sounding and empowering. Music like this will cure your depression. EVOKEN – Ascend Into the Maelstrom Miserable. Tortured. Majestic. Beautiful. These are a few words that come to mind when listening to this song. This track in particular features some amazing keyboard work by Dario Derna also. His work on this life-changing album is so underrated. This is the perfect song to listen to while taking a long walk on a late summer night. Did you know that Bumblefoot (Ex Guns and Roses) produced and mixed this album? It is without a doubt the best thing he has ever made in his career whether he agrees or not. CRIMSON GLORY – Lonely Lonely is my favorite power ballad. The ending solo is my favorite part and it alone inspired me for so many things I’ve written in all of my bands. The structure of the song is simple yet incredibly clever and complex. You absolutely do not expect the song to suddenly shift and change key after the 2nd chorus. The solo section that follows the chorus is charged with mysticism and mystery, which is a huge contrast in a melodramatic song like this. The transitional harmonized solo that bridges everything to the final chorus and fade out is also brilliant. Absolutely godlike songwriting and a really emotionally moving song. CREMATORY – Beneath the Crypts Perfect death metal song that has more power than entire discographies put together, more dirt and sliminess than Jean François Harrisson’s search history and more “fat-dick-riffs” than all those lame slam death metal bands put together. True masters of Death.
Which music genres do you listen to the most? List your five favorite albums for each. Heavy metal : Leatherwolf – Street Ready, Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead, Warlord – Deliver Us, M.A.R.S – Project: Driver, Cloven Hoof – Dominator USPM : Oliver Magnum – s/t, Heir Apparent – Graceful Inheritance, Steel Angel – Inquiete, Screamer – Target Earth, Crimson Glory – s/t. Neoclassical metal : Joey Tafolla – Out of the Sun, Tony MacAlpine – Maximum Security, Apocrypha – The Forgotten Scroll, Vinnie Moore – Mind’s Eye, Cacophony – Speed Metal Symphony. Death Metal : Iniquity – Serenadium, Amorphis – Privilege of Evil, Ripping Corpse – Dreaming with The Dead, Brutality – Screams of Anguish, Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes Doom metal : Solitude Aeturnus – Into the Depths of Sorrow, Scald – Will of The Gods is Great Power, Trouble – Run to The Light, Solstice – Lamentations, Doomsword – Sacred Metal demotape. Doom/death and funeral doom : Evoken – Embrace The Emptiness, Ceremonium – Into The Autumn Shade, Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance, Skepticism – Stormcrowfleet, Thergothon – Stream From The Heavens (special mentions to Worship and Morgion). Black Metal : Kataxu – Hunger of Elements, Thunderbolt – Apocalyptic Doom, Necromantia – Scarlet Evil Witching Black, Mortuary Drape – Tolling 13 Knell, Abyssum – Thy Call. Electronic Music (Breakcore, IDM, Glitch, etc) : Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Alatt Született, Squarepusher – Feed me Weird Things, The Flashbulb – Love as a Dark Hallway, Gridlock – Formless, or anything by Autechre… Rap : Big L – Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous, Nas – Illmatic, Double XX Posse – Put Ya Boots On, 2pac – 2Pacalypse Now, Terminator X – SuperBad
Name your top 5 musicians, by type:
Lead guitarists : Joey Tafolla, Paul Gilbert, Tony MacAlpine, Jason Becker, Yngwie Malmsteen Riffers : Nick Orlando, Urban Skytt, Rock’n’ Rolf Kasparek, Shaune Kelley, Chris Logue Composers : William J Tsamis, Dan Corchado, Jeff Hayden, Steve Harris, JS Bach Bassists : Wally Voss, Derek Peace. Michael “Flint” Vujejia, John Onder, Joey Demaio Vocalists : Geoff Tate, John Arch, John “Midnight” McDonald Jr., Russ North, Piet Sielck Drummers : Mark Zonder, Deen Castronovo, Raymond Frigon, Les Binks, Lille Gruber Producers : Mike Varney x 5 What’s the album you’ve listened to the most in your life? Do you still listen to it? JOEY TAFOLLA – Out of the Sun, and yes, I listen to it at least once every week. It’s my bible.
Five hardest riffs of all time? All the riffs in Metal of Honor by TT QUICK The main riff in Death Tone by MANOWAR The main riff in The Shreds of Sanity by BOLT THROWER The riff at 2:49 in Chamber of Reunion by INFESTER The opening riff in Under Jolly Roger by RUNNING WILD Do you have a favorite setting or place to listen to music? How does the setting influence the type of music you’ll listen to? Listening to music while playing video games is the only way I can truly get into a new band. Otherwise, I like to listen to my favorite albums while walking late at night alone at 4 AM. I usually listen to hip-hop and breakcore before going to work. Do you have an absolute all time favorite band or musical artist? What makes them so special to you? JUDAS PRIEST is without a doubt the greatest band on the planet. I’ve been listening to them consistently for the past 14 years. Everything from Rocka Rolla to Painkiller is great and they’ve always re-invented themselves while keeping true to their roots. Hell, their newest album has some of the best tracks the band has made in the past 28 years in my opinion. Defenders of the Faith is my favorite Judas Priest album, closely followed by Screaming for Vengeance, Stained Class and Painkiller. Unleashed in the East is my favorite live album alongside RACER X – Live Extreme and Live Vengeance ‘82 is my favorite DVD ever. That DVD changed my life and represents everything great about heavy metal. Do you remember the first time you really appreciated an album or a song? By the age of 5, I was already an avid video game fan, so video game music was my first obsession. Super Turrican on the SNES has an amazing, metal-sounding soundtrack so that was my first taste of what music was. The Self-titled RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE album was the first actual album I enjoyed at age 5-6 though. Amazing album even by today’s standards. I also remember being beyond impressed by my father’s music a few years later. My father played in Quebec’s first heavy metal DDT (whom I ironically joined on guitar duties a few years ago) and a rock band named ADAM’S APPLE formed after DDT disbanded after 12 years, in 1991. He had those tapes laying around that I listened to using an old shitty walkman. What were you listening to in elementary school? then in high school? (Your favorite bands/records back then?) How much of that music is still a part of your playlists today? How have your musical tastes evolved since? Tons of stuff actually, but mostly it was punk music until the age of 13. I discovered Death Metal when I was 11 but quickly lost interest in metal as I was way too much into Punk. JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN renewed my love for metal two and a half years later and it became the center of my life. Between the ages of 13 and 15, I was listening exclusively to heavy metal bands such as SAXON, JUDAS PRIEST, DIAMOND HEAD, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, IRON MAIDEN, PANTERA (first four albums since their glam/heavy metal sound was more my cup of tea). In my late 15s, I discovered MORBID ANGEL, ANGELCORPSE, POSSESSED, CRYPTOPSY, DEMILICH, PAVOR, NECROPHAGIST & ATHEIST, and then I started delving more into the underground scene as time went on. What beloved music do you share with your parents? Any specifics memories? I will say JUDAS PRIEST again. It seems their riffs bring the family together so it was always common I would go see them with my father. My mother would come along at times too since she’s a huge fan as well. Most memorable show you’ve ever seen? What makes it stand out? HIBRIA. They played in front of 4 people yet gave the most jaw-dropping live performance I’ve ever seen. They didn’t give a shit about the empty room even though they’re used to play in front of thousands of people in South america and Asia. That’s also when I met Iuri Sanson, their vocalist, who would later join my own power metal band, ETERNITY’S END. Defying The Rules is the best power metal album of the 2000s in my opinion.
Do you have any songs that are meaningful to you because you associate them with important events in your life? IRON MAIDEN – Killers and JUDAS PRIEST – Electric Eye are the songs that made me love Heavy Metal and are the reason I decided to play metal. Eternity’s End by JOEY TAFOLLA is obviously an extremely important song to me as well. Tragedy Eternal by EVOKEN made me love Doom Metal and all of its subgenres. Chapel Of Ghouls by MORBID ANGEL single-handedly got me into Death Metal. What music or artist has been the most influential to you as a songwriter? Do you change what you listen to when you write music? Do you have a go-to record that you use for inspiration? How have these influences changed over the course of your songwriting career? I find inspiration in everything I hear, from Metal to Hip-hop and pop music. However, I require musical isolation in order to function properly when writing a song for a specific band I play in. When I write music for FIRST FRAGMENT, I isolate myself in power metal, Baroque-era compositions and concertos and Flamenco music. When I write music for CHTHE’ILIST, I isolate myself in early 90s American, Finnish & Swedish Death Metal, Polish Black Metal and a lot of Epic Doom to channel that epic yet grim and mysterious vibe that’s in the band’s songs. When I write music for ETERNITY’S END, I play video games for a few hours in a row while listening to 90s European and Japanese power metal as well as 80s USPM at the same time, and all the inspiration comes afterwards. When I wrote the ATRAMENTUS album 6 years ago, I listened to a lot of Funeral doom and old death metal bands but slowed the songs down with various softwares to give me inspiration to write slow, crushing riffs. For all the other bands I play in – ZEALOTRY, SEROCS, EQUIPOISE, COSMIC ATROPHY, FUNEBRARUM, I only write song chunks and individual riffs and arrangements. I provide these ideas to the band when I am given a specific direction and examples and I convert my riffing style to fit with the main songwriter’s mentality and riffing style to help craft songs. I’m comfortable in creating riffs in every style I am familiar with. Making full songs however, is a different story and it takes longer. It’s less of a spontaneous thing with bands I am not the main producer and songwriter.
What is the most impressive band you’ve toured with? The one that you just had to watch every night? Did you learn anything from them/by watching them? I have only played two shows with them but ADVERSARIAL absolutely melted my face both times I have played with them. ARCHSPIRE are also incredibly tight live. I’ve toured with them this summer and it was truly inspiring to watch them perform night after night. Makes me want to practice harder. Is there any classic / universally acclaimed artist that you missed out on when they first came out and discovered way later? Any artist that you didn’t like at first and learned to appreciate over time? I regret not getting into SWORD until two years ago. I was always familiar with them as I randomly bought their 2nd LP on cassette when I was younger, but it never made a lasting impression. When I heard Metalized for the first time though, it became an instant favorite. I was offered tickets to see them a few years ago but turned it down. HUGE mistake on my part! They played twice in Montreal this year also but I was either busy recording or on tour right when they were performing. Other than that, I remember disliking the early FATES WARNING albums upon first listen, and then they became favorites. I listen to The Spectre Within regularly now. Didn’t like SAVATAGE at first but Hall of the Mountain King changed that also. Hell, I hated CIRITH UNGOL when I first heard them in 2009. I thought Tim Baker’s voice made the sounds of a dying cat sound like Mozart in comparison. Now, they’re in my top 5 all-time favorite bands and Tim Baker’s legendary vocals are now one of my favorite parts about this band. I also used to think QUEENSRYCHE were boring. The reason: Operation Mindcrime/Empire were their only albums I was familiar with. I still think those albums suck by the way, but back then, I assumed the band had no good material because of these two albums. One day, I randomly bought their self-titled EP on cassette for 5 dollars and I COMPLETELY changed my mind. My first reaction hearing these 4 tracks was utter shock and amazement. Then, I discovered The Warning, which is without a doubt their finest release and one of the greatest heavy metal albums in history to me.
Do you have an artist that you love in a genre that you don’t usually listen to? What makes them stand out? (Eg: I don’t really listen to much country but I love Hank Williams) As a matter of fact, I really love HANK WILLIAMS too, man. I would’ve mentioned him anyway had he not been mentioned in the question. I couldn’t care less about Hank Williams II and III though. I’m a big fan of CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG. Absolutely GODLY vocal harmonies. MICHAEL JACKSON has some of the best choruses ever and I love blues-rock too. I don’t listen to it often, but man FRANK MARINO and ROBIN THROWER are legends. Do you have any controversial/unpopular music related opinions that you would like to defend? The Fourth Judgement by JAG PANZER features the best lead guitar work ever recorded in a metal album and no other guitarist has, or will ever do something as good as what Joey Tafolla did on this album. UNCANNY’s Splenium for Nyktalgia is a thousand times better and more memorable than the overrated Like An Everflowing Stream by DISMEMBER and Left Hand Path by ENTOMBED and deserves the spotlight over them. The true RUNNING WILD is the 87-98 era and the first two albums are highly overrated. SORTILEGE, CLOVEN HOOF and SAVAGE GRACE have one thing in common: their sophomore releases completely overshadow and outclass their first albums and I know people in most heavy/speed/power metal circles would disagree with this. GLACIER’s true masterpiece is their disowned 1988 demo. Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods, Blood On Ice and the Northland albums are the only good BATHORY albums. Ian Hill’s basslines in JUDAS PRIEST are some of the best ever written and 80s Priest is better than 70s Priest. CIRITH UNGOL – King of the Dead has the greatest bass tone in heavy metal history MESHUGGAH, TOOL, GOJIRA and DECAPITATED are some of the most unlistenable bands I’ve ever heard in my life. 80’s Christian heavy/power metal is heavier and better than most satanic extreme metal bands. Privilege of Evil (AMORPHIS)is the pinnacle of death metal What albums have been on heavy rotation lately? PRODIGY (US) – As Darkness Reigns DOOMSWORD – Sacred Metal LORDIAN GUARD – S/T What are some up and coming artists that you would recommend?Weaponlord, Black Viper, Fireline, Manacle, Dark Matter Secret and everything Denis Shvarts plays or has played in, Veiled in Sorrow, Azath, Blazon Stone, Satan’s Hallow, Vargrav, Evil (Japan). What are you listening to right now, while answering these questions?Methods of Madness by OBSESSION just came on. I took a few nights to answer these questions, and I remember listening to In a Mirror Darkly by MEKONG DELTA, DAMIEN STEELE – s/t, Heading Northe by STORMWARRIOR and of course, TERMINATOR X. Final thoughts – Is there anything (new album, tour) you would like to promote? CHTHE’ILIST – Passage Into The Xexanotth 7” EP out now via Profound Lore Records since June 2018. The band will also play live with EVOKEN and MORPHEUS DESCENDS on November 3rd in Montreal. SEROCS – The Phobos/Deimos Suite is coming out via Everlasting Spew on October 26, 2018. COSMIC ATROPHY – The Void Engineers will be released in late 2018. ZEALOTRY – At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds will be released December 7th, 2018 via Unspeakable Axe Records. The first EQUIPOISE LP (title TBA) will be released in winter 2019 via The Artisan Era. ETERNITY’S END – Unyielding will be released in February 2019 (label TBA). FUNEBRARUM will record its upcoming album sometime next year and will play in Mexico in March. I am touring in Europe with FIRST FRAGMENT between February 1st and 23rd alongside OBSCURA, FALLUJAH AND ALLEGEAON : Feb 01 Munchen, DE Backstage Feb 02 Nurnberg, DE Z-Bau Feb 03 Haarlem, NL Patronaat Feb 04 Bristol, UK The Fleece Feb 05 Dublin, IE Voodoo Lounge Feb 06 Glasgow, UK Cathouse Feb 07 Manchester, UK Rebellion Feb 08 London, UK 02 Academy Islington Feb 09 Paris, FR Trabendo Feb 10 Toulouse, FR Metronum Feb 11 Bilbao, ES Santana 27 Feb 12 Porto, PT Hard Club Feb 13 Madrid, ES Caracol Feb 14 Barcelona, ES Boveda Feb 15 Lyon, FR CCO Feb 16 Milan, IT Legend Feb 17 Aarau, CH Kiff Feb 18 Wien, AT Arena Feb 19 Leipzig, DE Conne Island Feb 20 Berlin, DE Lido Feb 21 Hamburg, DE Logo Feb 22 Oberhausen, DE Kulttempel Feb 23 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse
I am also sitting on a funeral doom album written since 2012 and 2013 that I hope to record in 2019 and I am writing my first instrumental OLD SCHOOL 80s shred solo album. Cheers!