Features

From Mike Patton to Iron Maiden: The icons who inspired Zeal & Ardor

Zeal & Ardor’s take on black metal is an eclectic melting pot. But what inspires the broad church of noise? Mainman Manuel Gagneux reveals the musical heroes that guide him…

From Mike Patton to Iron Maiden: The icons who inspired Zeal & Ardor
Words:
Angela Davey
Photo:
Nat Wood

From avant-garde to black metal, Manuel Gagneux has channeled all sorts of influences and sounds into the always-brilliant, always-compelling Zeal & Ardor. But there’s even more that lies behind the surface…

1Mike Patton

“He is an extremely brilliant vocalist. He tends to do exactly what he wants to do, even if it’s weird, and I just adore that. At times he has a fantastic moustache as well, which helps a lot. I think my favourite project of his is either Mr. Bungle or Tomahawk.”

2Portishead

“They just do exactly what they want. There’s this really thick and rich atmosphere around everything they do that is immediately recognisable. And it’s so, so sad – I like that.”

3Tom Waits

“He puts you into this weird rickety 1950s, early 1960s world, with tin cans and alleyways and stuff like that. There’s remarkably odd instrumentation in his songs, and it just kind of works because it’s him.”

4Naglfar

“They make black metal-adjacent stuff, but it’s also kind of melodic-tech stuff. It’s all the angry stuff, the angry boy stuff, with the double-bass drums and the tremolo picking and extremely aggressive vocals, which is really good.”

5Erik Satie

“He’s a pianist who was really instrumental to me. He started in cabarets, and he did honky-tonkish music. He wasn’t classically trained, he was basically self-taught, and he did weird stuff, like compose music for specific rooms. It was like, ‘This is the lunch music area, and then there’s the children’s room suite.’ He tried to compose for orchestras, and he got help from [Claude] Debussy, but he didn’t really do it himself. But what he did do was utterly gorgeous. He was a weirdo, too. He only ate white stuff, and he had an umbrella collection in his apartment that he elected to keep open at all times. He was an odd fellow.”

6The Bird And The Bee

“They kind of started the big-beats-with-really-tender-melodies thing that is dominating the pop scene. I love how they sound.”

7Brian Eno

“Hell yeah! I would have kicked myself if I’d missed him off the list. Do I really need to explain this one? He’s a legend. A pioneer of ambient music. So good.”

8Black Sabbath

“This is a huge one for me. There’s so much soul in everything they do. I know everyone lists them as an influence, but I can’t not give them their flowers for the inspiration I took. It might not be immediately obvious, but it’s there.”

9Iron Maiden

“Every album they’ve released has been perfection. I don’t think there will ever be another band that achieves greatness like Iron Maiden. They absolutely nailed it, and they’re such a gateway band to heavy music.”

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