Interview by Mohsen Fayyazi
CARTHAGODS was one of the first metal bands to emerge from Tunisia in the 1990’s. But it is not as easy as it is in Finland or other European countries to work and release metal albums in Tunisia. After about two decades, finally these guys are preparing to see and celebrate the release of their first studio album.
To discover how they are feeling and what the current situation is for them, we contacted them and our Chief Editor conducted an interview with the band’s guitarist, Tarak Ben Sassi, also known as Artak.
Hello Tarak, welcome to Metal Shock Finland. How are you doing?
Hi, yeah it’s all good now and will be much better on June 19th when the album CARTHAGODS will be out for the heavy metal fans in all over the world.
I know the situation is not as bad as other countries in the Middle East for Metalheads in Tunis, but still there are some difficulties. Would you like to talk about the situation there?
I suppose that, as in many other countries, heavy metal remains a marginalized music, so there’s only independent initiatives in Tunisia. Maybe that’s why the situation is better here, we know how to deal with the situation and try to do things in the best way since we started building the local metal scene with some other bands/friends who, unfortunately some of them had left the road a bit early…and we didn’t.
Can you also tell me about the metal scene in Tunisia in the days when you formed CARTHAGODS?
When CARTHAGODS was formed, There was no internet and no music stores, and shops used to sell mainly instruments dedicated to oriental music…and of course places for rehearsals were very hard to found. We had the privilege at that time to rent our own place, it was a kind of garage on the beach (really cool and tiny place), and for that, we had to be many because we were all students (2 bands) and we had to wait till the end of the year to promote some little shows in colleges or universities.
Alright, what do you feel has changed for metal music after the revolution in Tunisia and how do you see the future there, especially regarding art and metal music.
Actually a lot of kinds of arts and music made a big step forward, especially those in Tunisian dialect. So we focused our work on the community and had the chance to meet Khaled TRABELSI our friend and manager, who didn’t hesitate to help the the band and the local scene and decided to give birth to the first metal/rock bar in Tunisia “Le PLUG” and created a new concept “Unplug The Plug” of inviting monthly world-renowned metal artists and several editions were with CARTHAGODS and guests. I quote: MAX CAVALERA, Paul Di ANNO…so I think that things will be necessarily better because today there is a general consciousness to fight against censorship, which was probably one of the biggest constraint to the evolution of arts here in general.
OK, let’s talk about “Carthagods” album, how would you describe this album to our readers? Would you like to talk about the writing and recording process too?
Well, for this first album we decided to put the best music we have written all along the last years.
Our fans favorite songs, such as « memories of never ending pains» which had a big success especially on Facebook and recently on youtube (was censored before the revolution) we also put songs of our old demos as « Shadows » and «Eater of Sin» on which Marcel COENEN was invited on 2007 as a solo guest and since that time we became friends … and you know, the songs were written with several influences as they were written on a long timeline with different lineups so people will discover different faces of the band in one album.
After the selection was made, we proposed to Marcel to be a performer and a producer, since he knows all the songs, so things could be easier for everybody.
So he came to Tunis to assist the drums and vocals recording sessions and then he had to finish all the rest of the work in his own studio in holland.
A few metal stars have participated in your newest album, would you like to mention their names here and tell us how it was working with them?
We are very honored by the contribution of all these talented and huge icons in the metal scene and friends.
All of them have shared great moments with CARTHAGODS during the last years.
It all began in 2006, when we supported EPICA at the first international metal show in Tunisia, so having Mark JANSEN in the album was not only about musical contribution but it’s also symbolic for us. Then we got in touch with Marcel COENEN inviting him in 2007 for one solo, but he did 2 ;) cause he liked the sound i guess.
Regarding Tim RIPPER Owens , Ron ‘BumbleFoot’ Thal and Hans In T’Zandt , they were all invited to Tunisia as guest stars in the « Unplug the Plug » shows, featuring CARTHAGODS and we had a lot of fun on stage. So they didn’t hesitate a second to help us.
Except for Zuberoa Aznarez, we didn’t meet her in real life yet but we loved her voice so we got in contact on internet and sent her « Memories of never ending pains » (acoustic version) and she responded in a blink of an eye ;).
We also note that the cover artwork was done by our friend Niklas SUNDIN from Dark Tranquillity, since he was invited with DT twice to Tunisia (2009 and 2013).
Do you have a tour planned to support promoting this album?
Actually we will make a special pre-sale on May 14th in Istanbul supporting the giant BLIND GUARDIAN. Beside that, we’re planning a release party in the next August here in Tunisia (in Le PLUG Hammemet) and We will try to invite the maximum of our stars/friends on the show…In the same time we’re working on a tour plan for 2016.
How do you see CARTHGODS in the future, for example in the next 10 years?
I think that this album took a long time to get out, so we already started writing a second album. Now that we’re stable enough to release it in better conditions. So we will try to participate in as many festivals and show as we can to spread our sound to the world and catch up with our fans and the fans of the future :).
Thanks for accepting to have an interview with me, feel free to leave a message here for your fans and our readers.
we want to thank you and all the « Metal shock Finland » team and readers for having us and thanks for all those who believed and believe in Carthagods…and also !! I hope we come to Finland and play our music to a such experimented audience as the Finnish.
Cheers From CARTHAGODS!