Vocalist Marc Zelli explains how a chance encounter at a Slipknot show and a romantic triangle were among the circumstances that lead to the birth of Paleface Swiss.
Paleface Swiss is set to embark on their highly-anticipated North American headline tour next week, kicking things off with what promises to be an explosive set at Blue Ridge Rock Festival. They will be joined by fellow up and coming heavy hitters Enterprise Earth, VCTMS and Crown Magnetar for a bludgeoning affair that will leave battered and deep fried extra crispy.
Paleface Swiss is brimming with nasty vocals, and savage musicianship. There is nothing polite or pedestrian about this band and their mixture of slamming beatdown, rap, and deathcore. It hits hard, but with enough bounce to be a blast.
Sitting down with vocalist Marc Zelli, we discuss the band’s unique origins, their songwriting process, their headlining position and more!
The band itself got started in a very unexpected and surprising way. “It’s not the typical “we grew up together, we went to school together” story,” Zelli reminisced. “It was just me sitting in my room thinking I wanted to be a vocalist.”
“I once went to a Slipknot concert in Germany, kind of far away from where I lived and I met a dude there who was speaking Swiss German, so I asked where he was from and he lived 20 minutes away from me. Then his best friend later became one of my best friends, and he was our original drummer – who I founded the band with.
So we were looking for a guitar player, and we found Yannick through a girl that he loved, but I ended up in a relationship with. I didn’t know Yannick then, but I found out she was kind of in a relationship with Yannick at the time, so he was really pissed at me, but I didn’t know that.
So I apologized to him and he was like ‘Let’s go have a beer,’ and we’ve become best friends and he’s the guitar player for Paleface Swiss since the beginning.”
“Zelli added, “Our bass player, we actually found him through Facebook back in the day. We posted about our EP and asked who was interested in being our bass player and he was like “Fuck yeah!” and that’s how we become Paleface Swiss.”
But Zelli doesn’t regret any of the drama in their origin story. “Without the drama, we would not be here. It was really necessary that we had the drama.”
The band lives in all different areas, which can make recording difficult, especially if you’re more of an old soul. “The only drama that we have now is that I don’t get along with technology at all,” he shares. “I hate technology, but I am always the one sitting at the computer. I used to write all the drums, I programmed them, and I was the one writing everything, but I hated it because technology has never worked when I wanted to use it. But we somehow still put out a couple records.”
“Most of the time it’s just Yannick and I sitting in a room, having a lot of fun, talking a lot of shit, and we end up with a new song. The only special thing is we never really all get together and just jam. We never sit in the same room and see what we come up with. We have never done that before. It’s usually just us two in one room just trying to do the stuff that we like.”
“The other fun thing is that everything we’ve ever written we’ve released it. You will never find anything on our computer that we’ve written and not released. We think ‘Why not?’ because that’s how we felt at the time, and it deserves to come out.”
As metal continues to grow once again, led in part by the meteoric rise in deathcore, another aspect is the overwhelming acceptance of more emotional openness in the scene. There is a new level of rawness in lyrics as people drift away from straight horror imagery to embrace the mess that is real life.
“Back in the day it was scary to listen to this kind of music, it was like when you watch a horror movie for the first time, when you’re not supposed to watch it but you do it anyway,” Zelli starts. “I think it is still as scary as it was back in the day, but a lot of people realized that it’s really scary and the music is hard but once you’re in, you’re overwhelmed with love and welcomed and everyone is accepted the way they are in this metal community. Everyone is in shock because it seems to be very scary but at the same time, everyone is very lovely.”
“Maybe a lot more people have noticed that the metal community is a lot more open. They care about each other. Yeah, it’s angry and scary stuff, but the community really does care about people. And I think people have realized that the metal community is a good place to talk about feelings because you are accepted the way you are. With me, the music scared me at first, but now I feel so comfortable in this community.”
“The horror aspect used to be the image everyone had, now emotions are more scary.”
“I feel like the people back then were very entertained by the fiction horror stuff. They knew it wasn’t real. But now that everyone has opened their eyes, they can see the real scary stuff that we all deal with, like mental health problems. I think people are opening their eyes and seeing you can’t make this up, it’s real. Which makes it more scary for me, but people are so open to talking, which also makes it less scary.”
For those not familiar with some of Paleface Swiss’ more intimate music, as they embrace the rawness of everyday life, the band incorporated something truly eye-opening from a fan. The opening of the track “Fear & Dagger” focuses on the possible effects of schizophrenia with a recording of a fan with severe schizophrenia during one of his darkest moments. This moment is both deeply personal, but also a relief to those facing similar struggles, creating an entire community out of one song.
“I have to be honest, I do not read too many comments because I take things personally very quickly, so I try to keep myself a little safe,” Zelli opens up. “But I try to read the comments on that song, and I’ve read a lot of people who have schizophrenia too have tried the same method as the one fan that sent us the intro, they tried the same thing he did and it helped them. That made me really happy. And it made me happy that they wrote about it so it continues to help.”
“The whole thing with the intro turned out very beautiful, not just for us, not just for the fan who sent us the recording, but for other Paleface Swiss listeners.”
“At first, we were not sure if we should do it,” Zelli admits. “We thought it wasn’t something we should use for entertainment. But at the same time we were like, ‘It’s real, it’s not fake. We need to open people’s eyes with it.’ It wasn’t for us, we wanted to help and do something with it. And that’s how it turned out.”
“That fan came out to two of our shows. It was such an amazing day, it was so amazing to meet him in person. To this day, he is still thankful that we did that, and we are also really thankful that we were able to do that. We are still friends and talk with each other all the time. It’s such a special thing, a beautiful bond that we created through this.”
For a band under the deathcore umbrella, the influence of hardcore is unmistakable. Zelli was first attracted to hardcore’s confrontational attitude. “The hardcore people will say whatever they want,” he shared. “They won’t keep their mouths shut, if they want to say something, they do it. That’s what the hardcore scene looks like in my eyes.”
As hardcore continues to permeate throughout more genres, Zelli feels it is this very attitude of disregard for the satus quo that is pulling that thread through a myriad of genres. “Nowadays, with a lot more people speaking up about important things, things that never would have been spoken of back in the day, I think people realize that hardcore always did that and that it is good to do it. And now they want to do the same thing. I feel like the music genres are combining together because of this.”
“When we started Paleface Swiss, I always hated when people would call us deathcore,” he admits. “I never wanted that, I never wanted to be called deathcore. I never really listened to deathcore that much. I would always call us beatdown or slamming beatdown. But a lot of people would call us deathcore, or beatdown deathcore. But hey, nowadays, call us whatever you want. When people ask what kind of music we are, it’s like “I have no clue.” It’s hardcore, nu metal, thrash, death metal, beatdown deathcore kind of.”
“But I love that. I love that tour lineups are also more creative. There’s a hardcore band, a death metal band, a deathcore band and a metalcore band on a bill. When I go to a show, I don’t want to see 4 metalcore bands, I want to see different things, so I love that. And I love that people do not give a fuck about genres anymore and that they are more open minded to check out other genres as well.”
Speaking of tour, Paleface Swiss’ upcoming headline run has hit the laudable milestone of being completely sold out, in the face of almost not going on tour at all. “I am so overwhelmed!” he says of the tour selling out. “This tour was originally not supposed to be a headline tour. We were supposed to be direct support for this tour, but the headline band had to cancel because of personal reasons. So we decided, “This is our time to shine.”
“VCTMS and Crown Magnetar were supposed to be on that tour as well, so we are still taking those bands with us. Then we were looking for a great direct support band and came up with Enterprise Earth.”
“I’m still not sure how the Paleface team was able to pull it all together, but we did it! And to see the shows selling out is mind-blowing. I’m extremely excited to make new friends, meet new fans, but the one thing I’m looking forward to the most is how loud Americans sing along to our songs. The first time we went to the US, we released a new song called “Best Before Death” four hours before the first show, and the people sang the lyrics to the song louder than I ever could. And I was like, “How is this even happening?” I can’t wait to feel that feeling again and you can only get it in the US. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Lyrics, musicianship, touring, all of these are important, but we all know the crux of a band’s career and that is: what is their favorite dinosaur. It turns out Zelli and his crew love dinosaurs! “Our sound guy is the biggest dinosaur fan around. Two-minutes from my house is the biggest dinosaur museum in Switzerland, so if you’re ever in Switzerland you have to go. But, whenever I think of dinosaurs, the first one I think of is the Velociraptor. But I’m vegetarian, so I need to go with a vegetarian dinosaur too, so the big one, the Brachiosaurus.”
If you’re lucky enough to have tickets to a Paleface Swiss show, be sure to scream the lyrics extra loud for Zelli while you’re there and have a blast!
Fear & Dagger is out now and can be ordered HERE.
Catch Paleface Swiss live along with Enterprise Earth, VCTMS and Crown Magnetar. Currently, only resale tickets remain, but are available HERE.
9/9 Alton, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Fest (Paleface Swiss only)
9/13 Detroit, MI – Sanctuary
9/14 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck
9/15 Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz PDB (no VCTMS)
9/16 Worcester, MA – New England Metal Fest (no VCTMS)
9/17 Albany, NY – Empire Underground
9/19 Pittsburgh, PA – Preserving Underground
9/20 Horseheads, NY – The Pit at The L
9/21 Brooklyn, NY – Meadows
9/22 Baltimore, MD – Angel’s Rock Bar
9/23 Philadelphia, PA – Warehouse on Watts
9/24 Greensboro, NC – Hangar 1819
9/26 Orlando, FL – Conduit
9/27 West Palm Beach, FL – Respectable Street
9/28 Tampa, FL – Orpheum
9/29 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (Hell)
9/30 Little Rock, AR – Vino’s
10/1 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
10/3 San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box
10/4 Dallas, TX – Gilley’s (Lone Star Room)
10/5 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
10/6 Mesa, AZ – Nile
10/7 Las Vegas, NV – Backstage Bar
10/8 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
10/10 Los Angeles, CA – 1720
10/11 Fresno, CA – Full Circle Brewery
10/12 Santa Cruz, CA – The Vet’s Hall
10/13 Portland, OR – Dante’s
10/14 Seattle, WA – Substation
10/15 Spokane, WA – The Big Dipper
10/17 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
10/18 Denver, CO – Roxy Theatre
10/19 Des Moines, IA – Lefty’s
10/20 Chicago, IL – WC Social Club