Intronaut | Interview with Sacha Dunable


Los Angeles, California four-piece Intronaut are fast becoming one of the most vital and interesting bands in modern metal music. Two years on from their excellent and critically acclaimed “Prehistoricisms” album, the band returned last year with an incredible new record that tops everything they’ve done in the past and boasts an unlimited progression. With an increased amount of melody present in the song-writing and a wider exploration of new sounds and nuances, “Valley of Smoke” was unanimously elected as one of the greatest albums of 2010 for various musical publications. Scratch the Surface traded e-mails with vocalist and guitarist Sacha Dunable to find out more about their third full-length record.


“Valley of Smoke” marks a new direction for Intronaut and the first thing that’s audibly different is your vocals. There are a lot more vocal harmonies on the record in detriment of the usual growls and screams. Did anything in particular motivated that decision or it was just a desire to try out something new?

“Yeah basically it was about doing something new. The thing is, we're not really as young and "angsty" as we were 5-10 years ago, so it was starting to feel a little forced, getting up in front of people and just growling at them. Plus, when the music is so intricate and melodic, it’s almost a disservice to just barf your lungs out all over it, rather than using voice as a couple extra musical instruments to have at your disposal.”
Musically, the new album also steered towards a more-melodic tilt. There’re some new elements in the arrangements that unavoidably sets a considerable distance to “Prehistoricisms” and previous works.
Do you view “Valley of Smoke” as the most adventurous and different Intronaut work to date?

“I guess so. Adventurous in a different way I suppose. We're always trying to morph into something different, yet keep the same musical ideals in place, so naturally it’s a progression. I wouldn't say it's any better than our previous records though. I'm still proud of what we did on them and to me they're still relevant.”

Were you ever worried with the fact that “Valley of Smoke” could alienate some of your oldest listeners?

“We were conscious of it, but not worried about it. I think that anyone who really likes this band for what we are and understands what we're trying to do won't have any problem with this record.”

So how important is it for you guys to try out new things and not to repeat yourselves? Is that some sort of guiding principle for the band whenever you start working on new songs?

“Yeah it's very important. Like I said, we try to keep the same sort of perspective on what we're trying to accomplish, and with that in mind you can really do anything. Once you've set some kind of rules for yourself, it's amazing how many opportunities you'll find to create something original.”

I’ve read somewhere that you’ve tried to write songs in a more traditional way, i.e. shorter and more linear, but failed somehow in that sense. Is that right?

“That is true! That was my personal goal at least, but then once we started piecing things together it just didn't come across quite the way I thought. I do think the songs are still a bit more concise in general.”

Are you the type of band that has a trove of unreleased songs and unfinished ideas in a secured hard-disk somewhere or you’re the type of band that starts from scratch?

“We do have a vault of rehearsal and demo ideas, but we usually like to start from scratch on a new record. Sometimes we'll pull out an old idea or two, but it’s generally all fresh.”

The album title comes from the name that a Native American tribe baptized the region that is now known as the city of Los Angeles, due to the smoke of campfires that got caught between the mountains. You’ve mentioned before in interviews that “Valley of Smoke” is about Los Angeles and certain episodes that occurred within the city’s borders.
How important is living in Los Angeles to your creative process?

“Yeah, if you want to read up on the stories behind each song, check out
I don't know if it actually plays a role in our creative process, but it is where we're all from originally, and I think being from here has an impact on who we are, for better or worse. Having travelled this whole country, and the whole world really, I can say that each region breeds a different kind of people. But that's not really what the record is about. It's not really a matter of pride as much as it was just a fun project to look back at our region's history.”

I've never actually been to Los Angeles and the outside impression that I get is that it is an eccentric city with a unique energy and vibe. What’s like living in Los Angeles?

“It's definitely one of the most diverse places on earth, up there with New York or London. Unlike those places though, it's completely spread out over a couple hundred square miles. I won't say it's the best place to live on earth, but I honestly wouldn't pick anywhere else, and I've been to a lot of cities.”

Do you guys earn a living from the band or you’ve find some part-time jobs when you are not on tour?

“We don't earn a living by playing this music. We all work jobs at home. All the other guys work in restaurants or bars. I work doing guitar repairs. It would be nice to make a living off of Intronaut, but I'm fine with it the way it is. I suppose that if we were selling enough records and making a bunch of money, we'd probably be making different music.”

David Alexandre

Photos by Travis Shinn

More info at:

Intronaut - Sunderance