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Francis Howard: “One thing that I like to add is that what I love about metal music is the artistic freedom that each band has on what type of topic a band wishes to write about. Metal fans are very cool and if they like a song, they’ll listen to it. Please don’t forget that even though I am in a band I am also a fan of music.”

Het is alweer enige tijd geleden dat we nieuw werk van Opprobrium gehoord hebben. Elf jaar om precies te zijn. De band die uit de broers Howard bestaat, begon in de jaren 80 onder de naam Incubus. Ondanks een carrière met de nodig hobbels zijn ze gewoon weer terug met het prima nieuwe album ’The Fallen Entities’. Dat is een goede reden om wat vragen aan de heren voor te leggen. Gitarist/vocalist Francis Howard geeft antwoord.

Door: Pim Blankenstein – 9 mei 2019

Hi guys, great to see you return with your fifth full-length. Can you tell us a why it has taken such a long time to come with a follow-up to ‘Mandatory Evac’ (2008). I assume this has something to do with the hurricanes? I think you already mentioned in 2016 you were about to release a new album.
We had a lot of setbacks in the past before and during the recording of ‘The Fallen Entities’. And yes, in the beginning of the recording of ‘The Fallen Entities’ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, our area where we used to live, got hit by a major flood in 2016, and that held us back big time concerning the recordings. And we had to move, so we’ve decided to move to Florida. But after all these struggles and sufferings, we did continue the recordings in Lady Lake, Florida. Also I would like the fans to know that before we recorded ‘The Fallen Entities’ I’ve released a solo album called ‘Let Your Light Shine’ in the style of rock instrumentals with no vocals. I recorded a total of 16 songs. The band name of my solo album is And It Echoed In Every Part.  So even in this time lapse I did keep busy writing songs either for Opprobrium or for my solo instrumental band And It Echoed In Every Part.

’The Fallen Entities’ has been released by High Roller Records. I guess you were free agents before signing a deal with them. So, when did you hook up with them? Was this after you recorded your album or in an earlier state? And were there any other interested parties?
As with any band, there are always different offers. But since we went through a lot of hard work with this record and making the songs, we knew we had to choose a label that would understand that. So we feel at home with High Roller Records. They have years of experience and understand the vision that each band has. We are very happy with HRR. With this album we decided to record the material first and then look for a label so we could get the album to the fans as soon as possible since the fans were expecting a new album from Opprobrium for a few years now.

The album turned out really well. The compositions are great with plenty of variety. It also seems you took a look to your past albums as well as moving forwards at the same time. Hence, it is a proper Opprobrium album. How did you approach this album when you started writing?
Thank you for the great compliment. We wanted to capture the same energy we had with ‘Beyond The Unknown’. That was our vision from the beginning when Moyses and I started to write ‘The Fallen Entities’ album. So we had to stick with this course. I strongly feel that ‘The Fallen Entities’ is ‘Beyond The Unknown’ 2.0. An upgrade version that is modernized without losing the perfect energy we had with ‘Beyond The Unknown’ back in the 90s. I think that ‘The Fallen Entities’ picks up where ‘Beyond The Unknown’ left off.

It’s not a secret you follow the Christian faith and I think you take a lot of inspiration from the Bible when it comes to the lyrics and album title. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
Yes, it does influence us in some of our lyrics. I am a non-denominational Christian. The album title was inspired by Genesis 6 and that after that it had a second influx of the Fallen Angels as documented in the Bible. But as many may also notice we do also write about other topics like the economy, climatic catastrophic phenomenon, automation, AI, etc. One thing that I like to add is that what I love about metal music is the artistic freedom that each band has on what type of topic a band wishes to write about. Metal fans are very cool and if they like a song, they’ll listen to it. Please don’t forget that even though I am in a band I am also a fan of music.

The artwork is pretty cool too. So, can you tell a bit more about that as well?
The cover concept was my vision in order to match the album title ‘The Fallen Entities’. So we wanted to look for an artist that would fit my vision on how I wanted the cover to come out. And so we got in contact with Daniel Tyka, and when he answered back we were very happy. His artwork is amazing, check out [url=https://artificialdesign.artstation.com/]his page online[/url]. It’s like his art work comes alive. And he did a great job on our album cover, when I saw the art work I was very, very happy. Daniel Tyka is a great artist from Poland and I wish him much success.

You have been a duo for quite some time now. Have you ever considered getting additional musicians?
When it comes to studio recording I really don’t see it as a possibility as of now, because Moyses and I became accustomed to do it all ourselves. But for live shows yes. I was thinking if we play live again we might add another guitarist, instead of being a  trio. We’ll see, I do not like to make plans.

In addition to the previous question have you performed live in recent years and have you got any plans to do so? Perhaps a return to Europe where you last were seen in 1991?
We’ll see. Let’s see what 2019 has in store for us concerning live shows.

I don’t want to get into the past too much because  a lot about that can be found online. But I was wondering about all the re-issues that surfaced in recent years. We all know you partly re-recorded the debut ‘Serpent Temptation’ in 1996 that came out under your old name Incubus. This was then again re-issued by Metal Mind as an Opprobrium release. Yet in 2016 Relapse re-issued the original 1988 recordings along with 4 demo tracks as Opprobrium too. At the same time Brutal Records did a digipack release under the original name Incubus. Did you approve of that edition? What is the story behind this?
We have no business relation with Brutal Records.

In 2018 Brutal Records also did a release of your ‘Supernatural Death’ demo along with some additional tracks, 14 in total. This one then again was issued under the name Opprobrium, which suggests you approve of this one. So can you clarify where you stand on this one and are you affiliated with Brutal Records?
We are not affiliated with Brutal Records.

Are you still in touch with your original vocalist/bassist Scott Latour by the way? Is he still active musically as far as you know?
Yes, we still keep in contact with Scot. We still wish to do some shows together with him again. If it happens (or when it happens) it will be a lot of fun to see us live again doing what we do best and that is playing music.

All right, that is all from my side. Anything else you might want to share with our readers?
We would like to thank you for the opportunity to be in your great magazine. Very
cool questions. I would like to thank all our fans around the world for their support over the years and
above all for enjoying our songs. For official Opprobrium merchandise please go to our Facebook page for more info. Thank you again Pim and thanks to all our fans for enjoying our music.

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