Hailing from the arctic nation of the north, Finland, Amberian Dawn have been wandering the icy landscape for the past decade and despite having parted ways with numerous musicians along the way including vocalist Heidi Parviainen (who now fronts Dark Sarah), guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen and sadly the late Tommi Kuri, Amberian Dawn are leading the Finnish Metal front-line with newfound renaissance and oomph in their stride.
Celebrating their landmark achievement, the Neo-Classical Power Metal outfit fronted by Capri (Päivi Virkkunen) since 2012 have shown no signs of stopping and as they have recently completed their first ever headline tour, it was only right for them to be grilled by means of our interview interrogation. Tuomas Seppälä stood up to the task of giving the accounts of Amberian Dawn's past, present and future....
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"The tour was amazing. It was our first European tour as headliners and there was a lot of new things for all of us. It’s different to arrange your own headliner tour, than take part in some other tour as a supporting band. We all had a great time. There was a lot of highlights, the London show was one of those I think. We had a nice amount of gig-goers everywhere and that encourages us to continue touring."
You've released 7 albums in 11 years, which is your favourite out of the lot? Do you keep in touch with Heidi? Are you aware of her new band Dark Sarah?
"My favourite ones are probably all the latest albums on which Capri is on vocals. That’s because at the moment I feel that I’ve found my true way of composing music with her as vocalist. About Heidi, I haven’t really been in contact with her and I haven’t checked out her musical projects. It’s nothing personal, I’m just not interested in that kind of music."
Would you say your sound has changed a lot over the last decade? Or would you say it's still considered 'Neo-Classical / Power Metal'? What is Neo-Classical?
"The sound & feel has changed a lot over the years. My way of composing music varies a lot in time and I’m always trying to find some new angle with each and every new studio album. I don’t want to do the same kind of music over and over again. It’s obvious that Neo-Classical & Power Metal elements haven’t been in front lately, but I think that some of those elements are coming back on our next studio album. Neo-Classical as a term (as far as I know) means having elements of classical music mixed in your own music. "
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Finland?
"I would do it if the circumstances would be just right. It’s also about timing, about my other projects, schedules etc. Someday I just might go and apply for that contest but I still don’t know if that is what I would like to do it with Amberian Dawn, or by myself as solo artist. Let’s see what’s going to happen in the future. I’m always open for different and new things (new things for me at least)."
What in your opinion makes metal music popular in Finland? Is it still as popular as say a decade ago?
"Rock & metal music in general has always been popular here in Finland but it’s starting to change here. Finland is following the trends set by the rest of the world so metal music is losing it’s fan base (not so popular among younger generations) here and many heavy metal enthusiasts are really worried about that.
What does Amberian Dawn mean?
"The name of the band is just something we came up whilst doing a lot of brainstorming and discussing. It’s always hard to come up with a new band name. So many good names are already taken. Gee, I would love to have “Rammstein” for example as a band name, if it would be unused as a band name. It would be awesome to have a cool name like that for our own band"
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"Yes I’m worried about it a little bit but I don’t really know that I should be worried about it or not… but it’s going to be a real shame if we’re not able to do shows in the UK any more due to some political things."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Well, right now we’ve just started recording a new studio album and that’s how the next few months are going to be spent. The album is coming out later via Napalm Records, the exact release date isn’t decided yet though. After the release there’s probably going to be some touring in Europe at least. I wish that all of our UK fans would have a chance to see us live. With our previous tour we were only able to do just one show in the UK (in London). I hope that with our next tour we’re able to do more shows in UK."
As the Metal 2 The Masses (M2TM) kicks into full swing with heats across the breadth of the UK and abroad taking place, bands progressing whilst some fall by the wayside, it's once again time for GMA to probe the bands who have entered this prestigious competition that allows the eventual region winners to earn a slot at playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival near Burton-Upon-Trent.
First up is Kill For Company from London; questions answered by guitarist Quinton Lucion
How did Kill For Company form and what is the meaning behind the band name?
"We formed in 2014 as our singer Tom got in contact with me (Quinton) to finish off a set of tracks we wrote in 2012. My only stipulation was that I wanted to write with a live drummer and so we found Dan. We solidified the line up in mid 2015 and have been playing live since. We just thought the name sounded cool to be honest."
What range of influences do you take? Band-wise and sound-wise?
"In terms of image we don't model ourselves on anything in particular. Sound wise we take influence from bands like Pantera, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, Gojira, Vader, Decapitated to name a few."
Is this your first time participating in M2TM? (If yes are you / were you nervous? If no what emotions were / are you feeling?)
"This is our first time round [playing] the M2TM cycle and are delighted that we are in the quarter finals. We weren't sure what to expect in our heat but it was well organised and we just felt happy to be a part of it."
What is the London Metal scene like right now?
"It's pretty good at the moment. Lots of good bands supporting each other."
What hobbies does the band have outside of music?
"Practising on our instruments if I was to pick between Dan and I. I know that's not outside of music but that is what we do. Tom's hobbies are probably to do with watching films and having an interest in history."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"To finally release our debut e.p and get back to playing shows. We endured a personal setback this year but are intending to come back with full force."
They've been making a name for themselves since their inception a decade ago, not just because of their age at the beginning but also due to their bold move at performing live in Times Square which took the social media world by storm. Having racked up the press attention, fan numbers and even striking a monumental deal with Sony Music, it was about time that GMA gave the trio Unlocking The Truth an interrogation to find out what ticks these three lads from Brooklyn and what it means to 'unlock the truth'... all three lads - Malcolm Brickhouse (MB), Jarad Dawkins (JD) and Alec Atkins (AA) - gave their answers.
Hi guys, so firstly how did you get into metal music? Are you surprised by it's global spread?
MB: "We got into metal music by hearing the genre through the intro music to WWE and the background music of anime. No, I'm not surprised by metal's global spread. There's a crowd for every kind of music and I know from experience that people can really connect to this music."
AA: "I got into metal music through Ana, me, Jared and Malcolm ."
JD: "I got into Metal music, by an entertainment network known as the WWE. In addition, AMV also known as, Anime music videos, were a source of entertainment that introduced me to metal music. Bands such as, Disturbed, Linkin Park, Three Days Grace and more."
What did your high school friends and your family think of your choice of music? What do you aim to achieve?
MB: "My high school friends support me. They may not listen to metal, but they think it's cool that I am doing something unique and making something out of it. I aim to carve our own path in metal. Making it okay for people who are scared to stand out and be themselves, feel like they can show the world how unique they are. I also want our music to touch people's souls."
AA: "My high school friends think highly of my music and most of my high school friends like my music because in order for you to be considered my friend you have to like what I do"
JD: "They believe my choice of music is unique. I aim to achieve a platinum album, and a few Grammys"
You performed in Times Square, that surely must be a highlight of your career? Would you do it again? Perhaps organize a festival?
MB: "Performing in Time Square was a highlight of my career. It pushed us into the mainstream and got us used to performing in front of a large crowd, but I would not do it again. That was only chapter 1 of our journey. We have to keep improving and moving forward."
AA: "Yeah it would be cool to organize a festival but I don't see us going out to Times Square playing for four hours with a bucket."
Since NYC is steeped in music history e.g. hip-hop being a popular choice of music, was it hard to break out of that social convention and do something different? Do you / have you ever been subject to racial discrimination for playing what some still call a 'white man's music'?
MB: "I think the fact that hip-hop is so steeped in New York City, it was good for us because it helped us stand out from a lot of other artists. Also being black helped us stand out, so I can't complain. We did not necessarily face racial discrimination. We would show up at venues and people would automatically assume we were rappers or called us the Jackson 5. But they were surprised when we started playing metal."
AA: "Yeah it was kinda hard to break out and do something different, but the real thing is people want different so it was easy for us to get our name out there and for people to get in on unlocking the truth. Some people think we play white people's music but that's not true because we know that the origin of the Heavy Metal table comes form rock 'n' roll, rock 'n' roll key from the blues and soul and that's black peoples music so we didn't care about what people said as far as race."
JD: It wasn't hard to break out and, do something different because in NY, people don't really care on what you do until they see it, and the improvements you make for yourself. I've also been subjected to racial discrimination, and it wasn't just for music."
How do you feel signing to Sony Music? Surely this blew you back at the time, signing to one of the world's largest labels?
MB: "Signing to Sony was a huge part of why we are where we are today. It was a great opportunity and even though everything didn't workout, I am still grateful for everything that came along with signing the deal."
AA: "Signing to Sony music was a blessing, even to have the opportunity despite the fact we are no longer with them."
JD: "Signing to Sony gave the band a fresh start to the music industry. Also it gave the band, a new start to the music industry and the people to help you succeed. Furthermore, being independent is better."
Do you have any plans in touring Europe? Where have you played so far?
MB: "We have not played in Europe yet but we are finalizing the deal for two shows in Warsaw, Poland this coming May."
AA: "We do not have any touring plans for Europe as of yet. But we have played at Coachella Bonnaroo warped tour etc."
JD: "Yes we do have plans of touring in Europe. Furthermore we have toured the states and parts of Canada."
You've just released your debut album last year, what was the reaction like?
MB: "The reaction to our debut album was great. We received tons of great feedback too. Now for our next album, we'll just have to capitalize on what we did so far."
AA: "People reacted nicely to the album, gave us good feedback and we gained a good fan base from it."
JD: "The reaction was okay, its our first album and, we have much more improving to do."
What advice could you share with aspiring metal bands or indeed the youth in the metal music community?
MB: "I think that aspiring metal bands and the youth should try to find ways to be different. People want new, not recycled artist. When times are the hardest (and they can get hard), just keep pushing through it and never give up. Thank you for this interview."
AA: "My advice stay true to yourself and do what you want to do and don't do what others want you to do."
JD: "Be the best you can be, don't let nobody stop you from what your trying to achieve. Always do better, exceed the average, never want to be the average. Furthermore, surround yourself with people that want to win and, you'll win."
Spain has a very vibrant metal scene that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to what bands emerge from the sun-soaked nation, so when the Symphonic Metal 'forajido' group Diabulus In Musica joined up with Finnish Neo-Classical Metal exports Amberian Dawn, it was only right for GMA to grill this five-piece ensemble and interrogate them as if they were our amigos (of course they are!).
Having been around for a decade and only two founding members remaining in keyboardist / growler Gorka Elso and vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez, it was the latter who stepped up to the plate to share their thoughts on their tour, the critique of their latest album "Dirge For The Archons", music, politics and the much 'beloved' Eurovision...
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"We had a blast! We really enjoyed every show, but we keep special memories of London, Pratteln and Haarlem. In general they were very enthusiastic about us playing there. We had lots of fun with our label mates Amberian Dawn and our great crew."
You released your latest album 'Dirge for the Archons' last year, what was the reaction like?
"The reviews were really great! And the fans wrote us several messages telling us 'DFTA' is their favourite album so far. We are also very happy with it. We also have had the chance to play some of the new songs live and the reactions of the audience have also been great."
How did you gain inspiration for your band name Diabulus In Musica? Who came up with it?
"I founded the band and chose the name. “Diabulus (or Diabolus) In Musica” is a Latin medieval word which means ‘The Devil In Music’. It was like that as they called the triton or the interval of the augmented fourth. The medieval ear was used to hearing perfect fourths and perfect fifths, (early music instruments are tuned different, in mean-tone tuning). The augmented fourth, being half-way between these two most common intervals, was about the worst discord imaginable. That’s why they thought that the devil was inside the triton.
The reason I chose this name was because of my music studies and my passion for early music. I studied classical singing but I’ve been above all focused in historical singing. The name was perfect for us not only because of the meaning it has to me, but also because it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this ‘dark romantic aesthetic’ as well as early music (actually we have included these elements in our music more than once), so we thought Diabulus In Musica was the name that fit us the best."
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Spain?
"I don’t think any of us would dream about going to Eurovision, but if we were proposed to go we would probably accept because it is a good way of promoting ourselves. However we all know Spain always ends up in the low-scoring positions hahah so it probably would not be a good idea. We all know all the results are manipulated, so it’s not a very “fair” contest. Anyway, I admit I usually see it, it’s a good moment to gather for a dinner with friends and have a good time and some laughs."
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"For the moment we are calm and we hope it will not be a problem in the future because the UK is one of our favourite places to tour. We have only played twice, but the reactions have always been so great. The best part of our European tour last year was the one in the UK. It was a pity that last year our guitar player couldn’t come because he is from Russia and he couldn’t get his visa to enter UK.
This year he finally got a visa and could come with us. It’s weird and a backwardness that nowadays it is still so important to get papers and papers, bureaucracy is really annoying, above all when you go just to play a couple of shows. I’m not going to give any opinions about politics, but I only hope things are easier and faster in the future."
What is the Spanish Metal scene like right now? Any bands you would suggest to your fans to check out?
"Well, I honestly don’t follow the Spanish scene, so I don’t really know very much about it. What I can say is that the metal scene like in every country is a small one and here, people prefers to listen to the typical “Spanish Metal”, which is generally heavy music from the 80’s sung in Spanish. That’s what you get in every metal festival in Spain. There is also a new scene, but it is not supported enough to grow, at least for the moment."
You hail from Pamplona, home of the famous 'running of the bulls', what are your thoughts on the tradition? Have you ever participated?
"No and I will never do so. I’m personally totally against the bullfights and I hope they are forbidden one day. I simply cannot understand that any human being can call that tremendous brutality “culture”. Regarding the running of the bulls, well, that’s different because bulls and people are on the same conditions and bulls don’t get harmed. It’s a very settled tradition in our city and in that case the bull doesn’t suffer, so I don’t have problems with that, but of course I have strong feelings against bullfights."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We are headlining three festivals here in Spain in spring and we hope to play more until the end of the year. We will also start writing new material. Thanks a lot for the interest and your questions and thanks to the readers also for taking the time to read. We hope to meet you all on the road!"
It's a definite fact that Birmingham, or indeed the West Midlands have become a hotbed for emerging metal bands over the decades with of course Black Sabbath setting the trend and metal music scene(s) in motion. Forwarding on to 2013 and a new eight-legged outfit has emerged with sincere intent, the intent to crush sexist and racial discrimination in metal music, but also naturally to pummel out some fine songs that'll give them the platform to slay the masses with... that band is Aramantus.
Aramantus might have got their name from the 'Aramanth' plant... but we won't indulge in that, instead we let the quartet do the unveiling of the facts surrounding them...
How did you guys form, was there any challenges in the beginning?
"Over the years, Aramantus have seen a few member changes, however this current line up was formed in late 2015. With Elijah (Guitar), Cici (Bass) and Alice (Drums) already in the band, a need for a new vocalist arose; a role which Nyah filled in perfectly. In mid 2016 we decided to continue as a four piece after losing a guitarist. At first, we were worried our sound would be affected too much to continue without a second guitarist, however after adapting our originals to fit our new live sound, we found that we work much better as a four piece!"
Do you feel that females still receive stigma for playing metal music? What advice could you give aspiring female musicians?
"This is such a controversial subject still to this day. Of course, we ourselves have had occasions where we have been judged or not taken seriously due to, not only our age, but the fact that three out of the four of us are female. Quite possibly, there are still some people not keen on the idea of women having part in the 'man's world' of metal, however we have found that most people are now very welcoming of female musicians.
With female-fronted / female musician nights being held regurlarly around the UK, it's not hard to find places where you'll be welcomed and not judged. It's only more regurlarly we have found that people are beginning to make less comments on the fact we're "Good for a girl" and more comments based on our playing ability instead. If you are an aspiring female musician, then our advice is just to go out there and do your thing! Play well, rock hard and not care if one person in about a hundred doesn't like you for being female. At the end of the day, you're a musician just like any man, gender shouldn't matter!"
Do you feel that the UK metal scene isn't as strong as once was? Or do you feel it comes in leaps and bounds?
"The metal scene in Birmingham at least, certainly is still going strong. There isn't one weekend where there will be no gigs to go to. With amazing rock bars and music venues, there are always gigs and events happening throughout the UK. The only problem with this, is that with so much going on at one time, gigs can feel emptier with a smaller crowd. But most of the time this isn't because the scene is 'dying' it's simply because people have so much choice that it's sometimes hard to pull an audience. We know for a fact that some of our closest friends and fans, will travel the UK to see unsigned bands through a pure love of music. If the scene wasn't as strong, people wouldn't still be so committed to travelling to see their favourite bands."
Have you had any fans emerge from unsuspecting places? For 2017 are you looking for shows abroad as well as the UK?
"We have met most of our fans at our gigs really. We have had people from other countries contact us online and we always find that really cool! It's crazy to think that people overseas are beginning to hear about us. We are definitely interested in going abroad for some gigs next year, as we feel it would be such an amazing experience to explore the metal community across the world. Possibly Europe for 2017? We'll have to see what comes our way..."
People say local scenes are 'dying', what are your thoughts on this? Who are to blame for the supposed decline?
"We already have touched on this sort of thing, as it's very similar to question three. However, if you were to ask who is to blame for this decline then it is extremely hard to say really. If a gig is empty, then supposedly it could be due to the scene dying. More often than not though, it's due to bands not promoting a gig enough (Admittedly there are times when you can promote and promote and still no one turns up). Sometimes there are just too many gigs happening on one night, and that will have an effect on each gig and the amount of people there. It really is hard to pinpoint the blame of the scene dying on anyone really!"
With Brexit on the cards, are you worried that this will dent UK band's chances of touring abroad? Or are you not phased by it?
"Without looking too deeply into the situation with Brexit at the moment, it could possibly become at least a little more tricky to get abroad. Especially to Europe, for example. If bands all need individual Visa's to travel to Germany, Holland, Finland etc, then it is certainly going to be more of a pain to arrange a tour over there. As we haven't actively sought to book a gig abroad yet, we haven't researched the situation too much yet. However, it definitely would be something to look into for bands and artists wishing to go abroad in the future."
What can we expect from Aramantus in the next few months? Will you consider entering Metal 2 The Masses?
"It's a surprise! We can't reveal too much yet but we can promise a new release of some form in the very near future! It's going to be a taste of our new sound as a four piece, and the start of our journey to our first album, after having released our debut EP in May 2015 with our old line up, we feel it's the right time to show off the new us. We are going to focus on writing and venturing out further in the UK in 2017 and so, unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to compete in Metal to The Masses this year. However we do wish all the bands the best of luck! We thoroughly enjoyed last years competition, and playing the final was incredible."
Finally have you got any hello's, thank yous you wish to send out?
"We would just like to thank everyone that has helped, supported and been with us throughout our journey so far. Everyone that's came to our gigs, helped us with recording, videos, promotion and so much more; well we can't thank them enough. We'd be no where without them! We also would like to thank the people that have been with us from the start, our biggest help over the years, and that's our parents. They've been our guides, and helped us with getting to and from gigs. We feel very privileged to have them put up with our rubbish!"
There are very few Dutch 'Symphonic' Metal bands that have made a name for themselves or indeed established themselves as truly unique in various ways. Delain is one of them, well, one of the big four Dutch Symphonic Metal bands of whom stand alongside Within Temptation, Streams of Passion and Epica in this almost-exclusive group. Having released their latest music video 'Suckerpunch' back in February this year, their new EP 'Lunar Prelude' and album 'Moonbathers' in February and August respectively, the sextet from Zwolle are poised to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album release 'Lucidity', which dropped 10 years ago.
Martijn Westerholt, Delain co-founder (along with Charlotte Wessels) and subsequent keyboardist / lyricist, was more than happy to spend time with GMA and to talk about the current state of the Dutch Metal scene, Brexit, their forthcoming anniversary show, tours and much, MUCH more.
What is the current status of the Dutch Metal scene, is it still as strong as years past?
"Well, there is always a good basis for metal.. a scene for it, but I think that support from radio stations is really, really poor and that they totally forgot about what kind of events they have. For the scene itself it's really good and also the venues, there are a lot of really good venues - that regarded it's really, really good".
Regarding the whole Symphonic Metal movement in The Netherlands, aside from Delain, WT and Epica, is there a bright future for it?
"Well there's also a new band, End Of The Dream (www.facebook.com/endofthedreammusic/) which is upcoming and there will always be some bands, but in general it's those three bands indeed. Of course there's also Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering, The Gentle Storm) who is doing a lot and is also involved with Ayreon; I'd call them progressive 'sci-fi' metal, but those I think are the main active bands in the genre and certainly regarding the future because the musicians in those bands are not very old, so I would say yes (laughs)".
Regarding Delain, upon releasing the 'Suckerpunch' single (Lunar Prelude EP) and 'Moonbathers' album, what has the reception been like? Was the production plain-sailing?
"Fantastic, absolutely fantastic, firstly with 'Suckerpunch' which we released in February just before we went on tour in the USA with Nightwish, that was really good as people asked for new material and this is why we released this prior to the record... and then of course the record itself in August which I think has been received well too; accompanied with really good ticket sales for our European tour (a good sign of favourable response).
Every album recording I love album productions because you learn every single time that there's new stuff. This time we really learned that to not record everything in one big chunk and not mix everything in one big chunk, but split it up into pieces because it makes you far more flexible, you have tours in between it doesn't matter you can go on tour and on top of that, which is more important you are flexible because if you write a song, record it and then immediately mix it, then you can take a step back and later on look at it again and say 'oh I love this, this is a really good thing' which we should do more.
Or I don't like what came out, you have to go back to the drawing board and so it makes you very flexible and there's not a lot of pressure like we have to record now because THIS IS IT and there's no second chance, so it will also reduce a lot of pressure and it's also a more modern way of writing intense music. People write a song, they immediately record it and master it themselves even and put it out. I wouldn't go that far to master it myself, but I would like to do it song by song and that's a very new thing I discovered which works really, really well for us.
We also had Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz guest on 'Hands Of Gold', she was really easy to work with and was so wonderful. We of course meet each other when on the road now and then, when we're touring, she is also present when we played with Nightwish and Sonata Arctica in Montreal (Canada) where she's from.
In this song we really wanted a really heavy growl, a really heavy grunt in there and so it was very easy for us to ask Alissa for that because we know her and she was very open to do that, we sent her stuff and she recorded and sent it back and I tweaked around with it, and it worked fantastic - it's very nice that she will be at our Amsterdam show in December as a guest for our 10th anniversary, and so she can do the song live; concert is sold out and will also feature Liv Kristine, Burton C. Bell, George Oosthoek (Delain session member) as guests, as well as 'potentially' more guests, however Marco Hietala (Nightwish) and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) won't be present.
Marco has shows already confirmed in Finland, a Christmas tour with another artist and Sharon has privately a lot of stuff on her plate, so she's not available either otherwise I'm sure she would be very open to guesting".
Over the years many people have labelled you as a Symphonic Gothic Metal band, would you agree with that genre-tagging?
"Well this is where you will get the cliche type of answer for this kind of question, I don't really care that much about the genre-labels, I never understood the term 'Gothic' and I also don't like the term 'female-fronted' because what does it actually apply? That there is a female fronting a band? Well there are a lot of females fronting a band and there are a lot of males fronting a band, why don't you say 'male-fronted band'?
So I never understood this terminology in general anyway, I do understand the 'Symphonic' part because this is really applying to the music itself, there are a lot of 'Symphonic' elements and melodies in the music and of course also 'metal'; although some people would not agree to that because they are into 'true metal' - they would say "this is not really metal, this is just pop", but if you look at the kind of guitars used and that we make riffs based on rhythm, that's definitely metal.
So I think Symphonic Metal is a very accurate term, the only thing with Symphonic Metal is that it doesn't cover other sounds in the music, for example there are a lot of electronic elements in the music and this doesn't cover that. We also have got a lot of pop influences in the music, in the themes, in the structures of the songs; how they are built, so I do think 'Symphonic Metal' is a better term to use but it doesn't cover everything".
Do you agree the term 'female-fronted' could be considered sexist?
"I think Charlotte would say yes. I don't really care about that, I'm so feminist that I would say that for me it's given that both sexes are equal, I just don't understand the whole terminology of 'female-fronted' because why say 'female-fronted'? It doesn't even say what kind of music it is, you can even say that Janis Joplin was an artist of a 'female-fronted' band, it doesn't say anything and I do have some people who want to say "we mean a metal band with a female singer", but still that doesn't mean anything... I think it's a stupid term and on top it's not all about the singer, it's about the music and personally I don't really care if a male or female does it, just as long as it is done well and I like the voice, that's of course that's a matter of taste.
Take Nightwish for example, what makes Nightwish 'Nightwish' for me is the guy writing the music, of course you need a good singer and I think Floor [Jansen] is a really good singer, I think Tarja (Turunen) was a really good singer, but to me that doesn't make the charm for it, to me the music makes the charm".
With that crossover of electronic and pop elements with metal, do you feel metal needs to tap into other music genres in order to constantly evolve?
"Well it needs to do nothing, I think people should make what they want to make and if they like to make music that has been there a long time, then that's fine, there will always be people liking that. If you want to have something brand new then yeah you have to think of crossover combinations and this is still done today with really modern approaches, you see bands tapping into that and with that way it does evolve. I don't have a judgement about either way, but if you want it to develop into new things you have not heard before, then of course it's really good to use new elements."
On the new album 'Moonbathers', Delain did a cover of Queen's song 'Scandal', are you personally a Queen fan? How did this come about?
"Absolutely yeah I love Queen, Queen has been a childhood thing of mine; discovering Queen end of the 80's when I was like 8-9 years old, the song 'Scandal' I noted that in the early 90's so far after the release of 'The Miracle' and that song really appealed to me. It wasn't a well-known song - not a lot of people know this song from Queen and then I lost track of it, but then later on I rediscovered it again and I thought it has a really good Delain vibe, but I actually don't like touching Queen songs because I think it's musical suicide by doing that, and if you take Freddie Mercury's voice it's one-of-a-kind. Don't try to get to that level, his voice is not of this world (and he is not any more of this world either man, of course).
The only thing I wanted to do was to take this song; I actually asked Brian May for permission and we got it, that was fantastic and was such an honour and we just tried to give it the Delain 'sauce' without trying to 'cover' a Queen song by respecting all the elements in there, that's what we did.
The contact was from the manager and he didn't know the band (Delain), he checked us out and said it's really good, I'll give you permission up-front. Normally a label or publisher will say 'well let us first listen to the song', because if they don't like it then you've spent all that time, money and energy in doing a cover for nothing and Brian May said he liked the band (Delain) so much that he you already get permission up-front and the only thing the publisher can do is follow. I recently sent the result to him, but I don't have a response yet so I'm very curious... but he will get it still (laughs)".
As 'Brexit' is such a hot topic at present, as a band are you worried about possible issues arising when coming to the UK to tour?
"Nah not at all, I'm very interested in politics and look for example Norway, Norway is not in the European Union but there a lot of treaties that we don't even notice when crossing the border and I think it will go the same way with the UK.
I do wonder if there is going to be a separation between Scotland and the UK, if that's that the case then of course Scotland would enter the European Union again I think, but I do think that this is not a very likely scenario and that it will stay more or less the same in terms of immigration, visas and stuff, i don't see that happening because of treaties that I think will be the same or similar to those in Norway".
Surely with that in mind, countries would keep borders open for musicians because of the revenue that they generate?
"Yeah that too, although I wonder if this is even on the agenda of politics, probably not I don't think so... this is peanuts in comparison to other industries but ah it will be OK, we even toured the US and the US has a very elaborate Visa application system and with the UK I don't see that sort of thing happening anytime soon".
With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 beckoning, what plans does Delain have for the rest of the year and beyond?
"Well this year was the most crazy hectic year ever for Delain, we did so much - toured the US, Europe, released an EP and album, a headline tour across October and November. What we have left is an anniversary show in December at the Paradiso (The Police and Nirvana played here) in Amsterdam. This show is going to be recorded both in audio and video formats and is going to be released on DVD next year so we will be preparing for that, it's kind of a birthday party as it's the 10-year anniversary since our first release, so I'm really looking forward to that.
We deliberately haven't booked any support because we need all the day, the time to prepare for the show as we have a lot of guests and effects in the show, so we didn't want any distractions with support bands.
2017 will be festivals and tours, we will be doing a couple of Dutch shows in the Spring I think six. We are going to tour Russia, Greece and Italy will follow and then indeed it's the Summer season and so we are going to do festivals, so we're busy with that right now. The past festival season was fantastic, best festival season we've ever had with Download, Hellfest, Graspop, a couple of big ones in Germany, we went to Finland, Spain, so yeah next year I expect a festival season with big festivals, really looking forward to that".
Obviously touring is strenuous and a tiring lifestyle, so how does Delain chill out and keep calm when on the road? Any advice for smaller bands?
"That's a very good question, last tour for example I think was the most heaviest one I ever did and I've done a lot of tours; think about over 20 tours in my career. It was really heavy because it was long, it was a headline tour, it was a very successful one but often was very demanding, a lot of production things had to happen that had to be decided every day and so the 'off-days' were really needed, and on those days for example I take a hotel room and be asleep in the room all-day, watching a film or playing a game and for the rest absolutely nothing (laughs) and that really works, but sometimes an off-day we use as a travel day in the tour bus so it's sleeping time.
Very boring actually but it's nice, sometimes when you're in a nice city for example I can remember being in Madrid and we went to a restaurant, eating tapas in these classical Spanish dishes which was really nice. However, whilst touring you don't really get to see much because what you see is another venue every single day, when you wake up you're at a new venue and you don't have time to see the city, you only have time for that on off-days. To give you an idea on this tour we had 9 off-days, of which at least half were travel days and so that means in 5 weeks you have about 5 days to see cities and that's not that much, also most of the time those are cities you've already been to on previous tours.
For example, Budapest I've already been there about four or five times, so if you really want to see something for example we did Dublin for the first time, so I saw Dublin for the first time it was really, really nice and so next time I will have to hire a rent car and drive through the countryside and there you really see something, but the thing is you need those days to rest so much for the time you take in the hotel and do absolutely nothing, and again you don't see much then (laughs)....".
I love my job, I think it's the best job in the world for me at least, it's fantastic I really really enjoy it very much, I appreciate it very much and feel spoiled and privileged. But it's very, very hard work and people only see the glamour part of it, they don't see the problems they don't see the building up part and so if you have ambition to tour, yes go for it it's fantastic it enhances your experience in life, meeting people from different cultures, etc, but you have to really work hard for it and it's not a given that you can earn money from it, it's a very crazy job and so don't expect to drive a Porsche with it, anyway expect to have a huge debt and if you're lucky your band will do well and then you can earn a little bit of money with it.
But that's the thing, you're not a musician for the money (at least some aren't), you're a musician for the kind of job you want to do and if you achieve that then really appreciate it, because you're there because of the fans, they pay your sandwich, your meal let's say, treasure them because without them you can't do what you do".
Regarding culture, Delain's fanbase in particular, are there any countries you were surprised at for having a huge support for Delain?
"Well the UK for a start, I remember when we were at Roadrunner they didn't want to release our first or second album and they said 'you're also not playing here', but when I said I wanted to play there, they said 'but you don't have a release, it doesn't make any sense' so it was kind of the chicken and the egg story and at a certain point we thought 'you know what, screw it, we're going to play there (UK) and I don't care if we have a release or not' and so we played there and were received so warmly... leading onto Roadrunner releasing our debut album. So in the UK it really took off really fast and I love to tour the UK, so that's an example of a country where we're special and has a huge support... I also experienced this in the US; they're very enthusiastic there as well...
Most of the the time the venues are of poor quality and there is not a money supporting system like there is in The Netherlands for example where the venues are really new and really luxurious, so that's another cultural aspect difference, but it doesn't really matter in the end because it's about the fans and if they support you then you can come there and play there.
We did a support tour for Nightwish last year in South America and we were received really warmly there as well which was fantastic, so you are surprised that how truly widespread the support is and how far people travel to see you. It's absolutely astonishing, we had people from Korea coming over to Europe to see us, and Japan, Chile etc., so yeah it's fantastic.
It shows that metal music has a very loyal fan-base too, there are not a lot of other styles of music that you can say something like that to so we should really cherish that".
What hobbies do you and the other members of Delain have outside of the music world?
"I love to watch documentaries about history, I'm a big history addict. I love to play games, especially strategy games like Total War which is a big favourite of mine. I also love to ski, I'm into winter sports - I remember last year we toured the USA and I managed to ski in the Rockies which was fantastic and near Calgary in Canada. Oh by the the way I'm also a Trekkie, I love Star Trek and Star Wars as well, so I'm a sci-fi geek.
I know that Timo & Ruben (respective guitarist and drummer) are very much into gaming, Ruben is also a big food fan, he loves to eat and Charlotte loves to read... that's it really.
Speaking of Star Wars actually I thought that 'Star Wars - The Force Awakens' was fantastic, it has a little bit of the vibe of the first three films (Ep 4-6), I personally don't despise the films that came out in the last decade (Ep. 1-3) I like them too, but I do understand why some fans really like this one (Force Awakens), it has captured part of the vibe which was missing in the first three of the trilogy (Ep.4-6)... which is of course the last three actually (laughs).
Moreover Kylo Ren struck a chord in my heart because I'm curious to see how the character will develop. Maybe you could write a song about him on the next Delain album? (laughs) well yeah of course because what inspires you, you start making music about so perhaps I should!"
Martijn wishes to express his gratitude to thank readers and fans for taking the time in following and giving support and interest to Delain. Without them Delain cannot do what they do so you might actually call our fans our 'boss' when it comes to our job so they are very important to us.
Halloween is once a year, or is it? Not according to American quintet Eternal Halloween whose demonic stature is sure to garner attention from overseas as arguably the States answer to the UK's Evil Scarecrow. Moreover this Los Angeles (or as they might call Los Hellos), California-based horde have only been around a year and are already causing a buzz across the American Metal underground, let's just hope their name is not a reference to the Aiden song otherwise things could get quite confusing. Eternal Halloween were happy to spare some time to answer some questions GMA had in store for them...