I recently discovered the female fronted dark rock band Unveil from Sherbrooke, Quebec, who blend classic metal riffs with haunting melodies. They have been favourably compared to sounding like Evanscence and Halestorm, but what I like best about Unveil – Jow on lead vocals, Alain on Guitar, Mr. Lee on Bass and Pom on drums – is their ferocious energy and mutual trust and friendship they seem to genuinely share as a band. It’s hard not to give in to this four piece band and their sound. Their first full length album entitled The Deep Sleep is an unflinching example of what they are capable of. Interestingly, The Deep Sleep was recorded in a live session in the studio with an amplitude of rock riffs and lead singer Jow’s amazing vocals to keep rock and metal fans alike content.
On the eve of the release of Unveil’s final web series video clip of their Oblik sessions this month, I had the pleasure to chat with Alain and Jow from Unveil. Here is some of what we talked about.
I don’t know what it is about Canadian bands that I seem to be obsessed with. I found myself drawn to this part of the world. It’s probably because you guys have a rich history of producing great bands. Tell me a little bit about the larger music scene of Quebec that you are part of?
Alain: Québec actually has many scenes. In our hometown of Sherbrooke, there are hundreds of bands from just about any music style you can think of. Rock, metal, neo-trad, pop, folk, rap and so much more. We had the chance to share the stage with many incredible musicians over the years. Most of them, unknown to the greater public.
Jow: I can tell you that our city, Sherbrooke, is the mother of underground music and arts. I’m proud of the large spectra of music you can find here. A lot of known bands come from Sherby: Vincent Vallières, Mister Vallaire, Orange O’Clock, Pete Moss, Liva, Frank Custeau (Les Conards à l’Orange), Gorguts, Too Many Cooks, Jim Corcoran…
What are some of the earliest and/or most influential bands you have seen in concert?
Alain: One of the first rock show I saw, was a French Canadian band called Offenbach. Since then I have seen many unbelievable live shows: Pink Floyd, Opeth, Alice Cooper, Moonspell… But one band stands above all the rest: Rammstein. I have never experienced anything like that.
Jow: I didn’t see a lot of big concerts but the bands that influence my style and that I’ve seen in concert are: Moist, I Mother Earth, The Killjoys, Weeping Tile, The Toadies, Offspring, Green Day, Orgy, Korn, NOFX, Finger Eleven, Billy Talent, Die Mannequin, Doomriders…
I’ve always thought that a good gauge of a wonderful band is how well they play live. What are the most important factors that help Unveil on stage?
Alain: Unveil is first and foremost a live band. We have played many odd gigs in the past 15 years. Radio shows, record stores and even a Zombie Walk. I believe what sets us apart is our experience. Most of us have been active musicians for more than 30 years.
Jow: The crowd!!!!! It’s what nourishes me! The soundman!!! Very important….feedback is NOT my friend! Haha!
Who plays what role in Unveil? What I mean by that is, as a team do you have a preferred way of writing a song?
Alain: Most song start with acoustic guitar and vocals and nothing else. This gets the harmonic content in place before the band steps in to do rhythms and arrangements.
Jow: Alain and I each write on our side and after that we show each other our texts. The melody and the main music is created by the two of us. After that, we play it to the guys and they add their touch to it.
I understand all nine tracks from The Deep Sleep were recorded live. Can you tell me something surprising about the process you went through to achieve it?
Jow: I found my voice lifeless and boring when we recorded the traditional way. I noticed that our scratch tracks were more interesting than the final tracks. The energy I wanted to recreate was only there when we play together. So I asked to record live and we are very happy of the result! Since then, we decided to always record live.
Alain: When we play together we bounce off each other’s groove. This creates an energy that you cannot get when playing to pre-recorded tracks. So from now on, everything we record will be live. When came the time to make videos, we said: Let’s do live videos. We went to a small recording studio in Sherbrooke to record four “live in studio” videoclips. The result is entitled “The Oblik session” and is a good representation of the band’s live sound.
There are some amazing sounding riffs from The Deep Sleep. What riff in particular are you most proud of? And why?
Alain: Leaving. This song is inspired by early Black Sabbath. It is based around three main riffs. One slow and blusy, one energetic and head boppin’ and finally one that is aerial. They all blends together to help drive the lyrics.
Jow: I really like Burn’s riff…it’s deep and heavy. It reminds me of my glory days in Blame Adrianne. And I really like post rock and Stoner rock…so. I also love Listen to yourself because it’s a song I wrote and Alain found a riff who fits perfectly with the feeling I wanted to create. Every song I write is about a feeling.
What metal riff are you enjoying playing at the moment?
Alain: I find myself playing a lot of 80 rock and metal music right now. It’s a period in music that gave us many memorable albums. Operation mindcrime by Queensryche, Them by King Diamond, Diary of a madman by Ozzy and so many more.
Sorry Alain, but the thing that blew me away first and foremost about Unveil was Jow unique vocals. That said, Jow I’m hoping you might be able to shed some light how you achieve such poise and strength as a vocalist?
Jow: Haha Wow! Thanks for the compliment! I’m touched. But it’s a good question though.
I remember always singing over the radio in the car when I was very young. Everybody told me that I will surely be a singer someday…but I never thought that it would come true. In high school, I was in a choir, started to play guitar, had an all-girls band, The Censured Ladies, we played Nirvana and I was a DJ at the student radio. The music I played was only underground music.
I founded Innervoice, my folk solo project in 1994 but started to play outside my room in 2008. In 2006, when I was looking for musicians for Innervoice, I was approached to sing in a band that soon became Blame Adrianne, a Stoner-Rock band. In 2009, I started to sing in a choir again because I missed my high school choir and had a hunger to sing more. I was featured in several projects as a background singer live or in studio (Hardluck Battleground, Speakeasy, Psychic Octopus, Unveil, etc). In 2011, I became officially part of Unveil as the lead singer and I started the band Les Gilles Thunder, a Country-Humorous-Trash band. I did a few music chronicles on the net and for campus radio station CFAK. I’ve been judge in a music contest for 7 years and I’m a booker for a little festival in Sherbrooke called Familifête.
So, I think, as you can read, the secret of my voice is that I always sang, in different styles and whatever I do I’m always in relation with music or arts.
Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee are two amazing frontwomen who have kicked ass for so long. Jow, what is it about carving out your own space in a metal/hard rock band that you love the most? Are there any frontwomen out there that inspired you in doing so?
Jow: I made my space naturally. I want to play music and that’s it. Nobody told me not to or try to discourage me. And if that was so, I would not listen to those haters. I don’t feel that being a woman in music puts as much pressure as other male dominated jobs. It’s less difficult because music has no gender.
For your second question; A lot of music that I listen to is sang by women. Those who inspired me the most…another good question because there so many! But I can say Courtney Love (Hole), Jorane, Chantal Kreviazuk, Patti Rothberg, Tori Amos, Maria Brink (In This Moment), Veruca Salt, Chibi (Birthday Massacre), Florence and the Machine, etc
Finally, what’s on the horizon for the band in the coming months?
Alain: The final videoclip in the Oblik session web series is scheduled for release in October. This will conclude that chapter of our story. Work has started on new songs but we have no idea where this will take us. A new album, a video series or a live concert experience? At this point, anything goes. I invite everyone to follow us on social medias to see the evolution of our new projects.
Unveil’s The Deep Sleep is available via iTunes and their music store. You can also listen to Unveil via Spotify. You can connect with Unveil via their Facebook page and Twitter feed. You can also visit or contact Unveil via their website. Follow them on Instagram. Watch them on You Tube.
Photo credit: The header image is courtesy of Unveil. I am not the uploader of You Tube clips embedded here.