Rodrigo Altaf had the chance to interview one of the most iconic woman on the prog scene of our days, the one and only Anneke van Giersbergen. The interview it's been published here and at Whiplash.net (portuguese).
We hope you enjoy this one.
Rodrigo: What can VUUR bring to the current music scene today that is different from your previous efforts with The Gathering, Agua de Annique and The Gentle Storm?
Anneke: VUUR is more heavy I would say. Every album in every era of time has it’s own influences so I would say the latest albums are always the most modern and of the ‘here and now’
Rodrigo: VUUR means “fire” in Dutch. How did you guys pick the name of the band, and was this a democratic decision?
Anneke: No, all the basic ideas and decisions come from me. After Agua de Annique I again wanted a band name with one of the elements, but the word fire in English is already used so many times in band names that I wanted to see if there was another way to use it. To me VUUR had a great twist. In Dutch VUUR also means spirit and drive, and that is exactly the energy I wanted to put in this band.
Rodrigo: Was the album composed in the studio, or did you exchange ideas before recording? And how are the writing duties shared between the band members?
Anneke: We recorded at Sandlane Studio’s in Rijen, Holland. Joost van den Broek and I wrote the songs together, with some amazing co-writes from our guitar players Ferry and Jord, and also from Mark Holcomb - Periphery, Esa Holopainen - Amorphis and Daniel Cardoso - Anathema. Joost produced and mixed the album as well. I wanted a guitar oriented album. No big orchestra’s or anything like that. A pure rock, metal and progressive sound. With all the instruments crystal clear in the mix where the melodies and the energy of it all could take the lead. Joost and I talked a lot about the sound and the direction, and he truly made it happen with his knowledge and creativity. When the band stepped in and learned and recorded the songs, all the songs got an amazing kick in the butt! The guys in the band are such good players and they all have their own character that they put in to the music. I am so happy with these wonderful musicians around me.
Rodrigo: Who created the album cover, and is there a relation between the cover and the lyrics of the album?
Anneke: The artwork is made by the talented people of Black & Finch. They captured the atmosphere and the theme of the album. Reuniting the darkness and the light. I really love the artwork, it fits with this style of music and it is a beautiful image, the man that carries a city. There is a lot of strength in that.
Rodrigo: The album title is quite strong – “In This Moment We Are Free”. It sounds like a reflection of the current state of the band, is that the intention?
Anneke: The title deals with the fact that we live in a dual world, we live with darkness and light. Every day we make choices, big or small, wether to go towards one direction or the other. And it is the one thing in which we need to find a balance. This is the underlying theme of the album.
Rodrigo: The song titles in the album are followed by the name of a city. How were the cities chosen, and is there necessarily a relation between the cities and the lyrics of each song?
Anneke: As you know I travel a lot. We go to so many places every year to tour, and I found that in every town or city there is a different vibe and energy and that these places have a big influence on my state of mind. Which means that in a lot of cases I was inspired to write new music and lyrics. For a long time I wanted to create songs about the actual cities and now, with this heavy band I felt I could actually make this album with this concept.
Rodrigo: Are you planning on playing on all cities mentioned in the song titles?
Anneke: Of course yes, we will tour extensively throughout the rest of the year and all of 2018. I am sure we will hit these cities again.
Rodrigo: What is your favorite track off the first album?
Anneke: That’s a difficult question, all the songs have a different quality and vibe. But I do like songs like Rio. It has a melancholic feel, which I like, and it has a wonderful heavy chorus. It is a positive song.
Rodrigo: How do you plan on juggling your solo career with VUUR?
Anneke: Everything I do wish is heavy oriented I will do with VUUR and everything else, like the acoustic things and some classical stuff among other things, I will keep doing under my own name. The two run parallel to each other and I like that a lot. One inspires the other.
But for the moment I am focussing on VUUR and the new album and tour.
Rodrigo: Is there a question you´re tired of answering in interviews?
Anneke: Not at all :)
Rodrigo: What advice would you give to young bands these days, given the state of the music business?
Anneke: Really, just find your own voice and sound. Be yourself. It’s the only way to stand out. Read your contracts and be smart. Use social media and do not mope or be negative. Even if you are down, find out how you can make things better, don’t complain.
Rodrigo: One final message for the fans out there who have the album fresh in their hands and ears and want to see you live soon?
Anneke: I can’t wait to go on tour with this band and this new album! I hope to see you all on the road!
VUUR - In This Moment We Are Free: CITIES was released on October 20th on www.insideoutmusic.com on different configurations:
Special Edition CD Digipak
atefold black 2LP+CD
Gatefold silver 2LP+CD
Gatefold red 2LP+CD
Get your copies here:
CORONATUS will release their new album "Secrets Of Nature" on December 8, 2017 via Massacre Records!
Coronatus will release their new album "Secrets Of Nature" on December 8, 2017 via Massacre Records!
The album was mixed and mastered by Markus Stock at Klangschmiede Studio E. Jan Yrlund / Darkgrove Design is once again responsible for the cover artwork.
The album has a few novelties in store: CORONATUS present their first ever concept album about nature mysticism! Also, soprano Carmen Lorch is joined by rock voice Mareike Makosch (Illuminate, Sister Zero) and fellow soprano Gaby Koss (ex-Haggard, Cantus Lunaris), while Teddy Möhrke (Tales Of Nebelheim) is responsible for the male vocals!
CORONATUS new album "Secrets Of Nature" will also be available as a limited edition digipak with a bonus CD that features all songs as an instrumental version including the orchestral and choral parts.
1. Howling Wind
2. Mountain Sky
3. The Hunter
4. Sleigh Ride To Asgard
5. Die See
6. The Little People Of Iceland
7. Dance Of The Satyr
8. Tränen Des Himmels
9. Herr Mannelig
Digipak Bonus CD = Orchestral versions of all songs
Arizona's premiere melodic hardcore band, WITHERED BONES, will release their new studio album on December 8 via Blood & Ink Records. The effort, titled In Search Of Self-Evidence, features 12 aggression-filled tracks that tackle unpopular topics such as issues within the church, social discontentment, and self-discovery. It was recorded and mixed by former Defeater guitarist Jay Maas (Vanna, Transit, Expire).
The album's lead single, "Evansville," has been released alongside the announcement. "Touring has a direct affect on people's mental health, no matter what level of touring you're at," comments bassist/vocalist Peter Caswell. "'Evansville' is a song about how a good off-day and some love from strangers can provide a much needed rest from of nonstop activity."
In Search Of Self-Evidence is available for pre-order now through Blood & Ink's online store. WITHERED BONES is currently on tour with CONVEYER (Victory Records). You can find a list of currently remaining dates below.
10/12/17 Toledo, OH Frankie’s
10/13/17 Waterloo, ON House Show
10/14/17 Kingston, ON Bar 53
10/15/17 Ottawa, ON Cafe Dekuf
10/16/17 Montreal, QC Piranha Bar
10/17/17 Manchester, NH Bungalow
10/18/17 Westfield, MA Shenanigans
10/19/17 Long Island, NY Shakers Pub
10/21/17 Millville, NJ Electric Halloween
10/23/17 Greencastle, PA The Breathing Room
10/25/17 Charleston, SC Purple Buffalo
10/26/17 Orlando, FL Uncle Lous
10/28/17 Brandon, FL Noise Box
10/29/17 Columbus, GA The Estate
10/31/17 Macon, GA 5/4 Music Space
11/01/17 Nashville, TN That 70's House
Listen to Withered Bones' "EVANSVILLE" single here:
WITHERED BONES BIO:
WITHERED BONES stepped back and looked within themselves in an attempt to evoke genuine change. They are returning later this year with their new album, In Search Of Self-Evidence. The effort is filled with anxiety and discontentment, but those aggressive emotions aren’t without purpose. Taking notes from 2013’s wave of melodic hardcore, the band addresses a multitude of unpopular topics head-on, including issues within the church, social discontentment, and self-discovery. Set for release on December 8 via Blood & Ink Records, In Search Of Self-Evidence is a journey to find answers for questions many of us don’t want to ask. Will you be listening?
For pre-orders: bldnk.co/withered-bones
NOTE: The interview was conducted by Rodrigo Altaf last October 11th, 2017 and it was originally published at: whiplash.net in brazillian. The LOTSOFMUZIK team worked hand-to-hand with Rodrigo and Sons of Apollo PR to get the interview done and we had the English transcrip to be released here.
Rodrigo: Hi Derek. First of all, congratulations on the Sons of Apollo album. I was sent the material to prepare for the interview, and it´s mind-blowing! I´m quite surprised actually.
Derek: Thank you very much, we appreciate it! We´re very excited about Psychotic Symphony, it´s coming out on October 20th on Inside Out Records/Sony Music and we´re already planning our world tour in 2018. I wanna stress that Sons of Apollo is a full time band, and all of the members have cleared their schedules for 2018 for the Sons of Apollo world tour, and we want to bring music to the people. It´s gonna be a spectacle!
Rodrigo: Awesome. I can´t wait! So when can we start reading about the tour dates?
Derek: Within the next couple of weeks, we´ll start announcing the dates. You can follow our movements at SonsofApollo.com, and also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Rodrigo: You´re obviously no stranger to working with “supergroups”. What is different now from Platypus, Black Country Communion, Planet X, particularly when it comes to band dynamics and relationships?
Derek: Right now Sons of Apollo is exactly what I want to play. It´s the perfect mix of rock and roll, hard rock and progressive chops. Personality wise, Mike and I have a 20-year history, we got back together in 2012 when we did the PSMS with Billy Sheehan and Tony Macalpine. We have a strong personal and musical chemistry, and we just decided that we wanted to do something with a vocalist sometime in the future. So here we are in 2017 with Sons of Apollo, we really wanted to tap Billy Sheehan on bass, and Mike brought in Bumblefoot and Jeff Scott Soto, who I thought were perfect fits for us. And what´s amazing about Sons of Apollo is that we´re like the Marvel Avengers – everyone is a superhero on their instrument, everyone has a very distinct sound and style, and when we get together, it just explodes! And you can hear in on Psychotic Symphony.
Rodrigo: You mentioned the tour that you did under PSMS and how Billy Sheehan was involved. Did you consider Tony Macalpine for this project, or did you go straight with Bumblefoot? And how were the other members chosen?
Derek: We went straight with Bumblefoot, we wanted to make this into something much more rock than PSMS. Tony was perfect for the instrumental fusion thing, Bumblefoot with his rock background is more suited for Sons of Apollo.
Rodrigo: What can the seasoned prog metal fan who is used to Dream Theater, Symphony X and Fates Warning expect of different from Sons of Apollo?
Derek: Here´s the difference between us and the other bands that you mentioned: we have octopuss pedigree. That´s a serious rock pedigree that goes deep into our sound. And that´s something you can´t download an app and get – you either have it or you don´t. And so, that´s the difference. We´re rockers but we have sick ass chops – as sick as any of those bands that you mentioned. We have just mastered the art of strategic wankery, where we don´t ruin the songs – we keep the songs rocking and listenable, but then we interject the virtuosity at the precise moments.
Rodrigo: I agree, and after listening to the album, I have to say that the long songs are long for a particular reason, not just for the sake of being long, and the shorter ones are trimmed properly.
Derek: Well, it isn´t like we try to write a long song or a short song – the song is the song! And when you´re working with four other great musicians, the songs have a tendency to write themselves, when everyone has a common focus.
Rodrigo: Are you surprised with the reaction so far to the first songs that were released - Signs of the Time and Coming Home?
Derek: It´s even beyond – Coming Home has almost half a million views on YouTube since it´s been out, and our record label is very excited, and very excited with all the pre-orders. There are some prog metal fans who are concerned that they´re not hearing any virtuosity or craziness in the songs, but they have to understand that all the progressive songs on this record are so elaborate and so sick! And that´s the thing about Sons of Apollo, there´s something for everyone: for rock fans, for musicians, for prog metal fans…it´s all there! And I think that as producers, Mike and I made the perfect mix, and it really helps when you have players like this, who have the perfect mix of feel and virtuosity.
Rodrigo: A common trend in the music business today is that bands of a similar caliber do joint tours or co-headlining tours, like Scorpions and Megadeth, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper, Anthrax and Accept. Which bands do you think Sons of Apollo could tour with?
Derek: You know what, that´s more of a Mike Portnoy question, because he picks the bands, but I think that Sons of Apollo would be well suited on a package tour like that and also doing our own shows. I think that´s my decision as well – to do a mixture of the two. It would be great to be on a huge tour like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, and also it would be cool to be on a multi-package tour. But we have plans, so stay tuned on SonsofApollo.com, and everything will be answered as far as touring.
Rodrigo: How will you juggle Sons of Apollo with Black Country Communion, which just released BCCIV? Will you tour with both bands?
Derek: There are only three shows scheduled for early 2018 for Black Country Communion and that´s it, so there´s no juggling. Sons of Apollo is all of the members´ first priority.
Rodrigo: The lyric of the two songs already released talk about struggles and fights, but with a bold and positive edge to them. I got an overall positive vibe of the album. Who wrote the lyrics for the debut, and was there any input from you and Mike on the lyrics as well?
Derek: Jeff Scott Soto wrote the majority of the lyrics, and I came up with a couple of the titles of the songs. Jeff did all the heavy lifting of the lyrics. I did a lot of the vocal melodies, and Mike also did both. Between the three of us, we really wanted to make sure that the vocals and the melody lines were as strong as the music tracks that we had recorded earlier. There was a lot o pressure on Jeff, but we got through it and I think he sounds amazing on this record. For the first time we´ll really get to see Jeff Scott Soto shine with a great band behind him.
Rodrigo: One side effect of this band is that it´s going to expose Jeff and Bumblefoot to a bigger audience, which they haven´t experienced so far.
Derek: I think Bumblefoot is gonna be a huge guitar start in 2018. He´s just mind-blowing, and everyone that hears him knows it!
Rodrigo: What are you guys planning to play live, aside from the songs off the debut? Any unusual choices for the setlist that you can share? You played Deep Purple´s “Burn” and Van Halen´s and the Cradle Will Rock” already…can we expect more classic rock songs being played?
Derek: For the live shows, we´ll be definitely playing our record, but we´ll have to complement it with other songs. We´ll figure it out when we get there. Again, that´s another Mike Portnoy department. He´s always done the setlists, sequencing and album art and all that kind of stuff for all his other bands. I´m sure he´ll figure it out and it will be amazing.
Rodrigo: You played with Allan Holdsworth in your solo album Mythology and in Planet X´s Quantum. He passed away last April, sadly. Any fond memories of him that you could share?
Derek: It was very sad indeed. I never played with him, he recorded and sent me his tracks on both records that you mentioned, which I must say was a high point in my recording career, having Allan Holdsworth play on my solo record, especially the song Day of the Dead, which, as a Holdsworth fan, it was a very big deal for me, so I´m thankful for that. I had the chance to hang out with Allan on several occasions, and he was just an awesome human being and an extraordinary talent, on a completely different level of musicianship, so I feel blessed to have been able to work with him.
Rodrigo: You've worked with Allan Holdsworth, Bumblefoot, Al Di Meola, Steven Stevens, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Brett Garsed, Tony MacAlpine, Joe Bonamassa, John Petrucci, Steve Lukather, Nuno Bettencourt, Tosin Abasi, John Sykes, Zakk Wylde, is there any guitarist you'd like to work with that you haven't?
Derek: I´d love to work with Jeff Beck, Brian May, David Gilmour, all those British guys. That would be fantastic!
Rodrigo: This must be a special year for you, with BCCIV and Psychotic Symphony getting many great reviews, and possibly awards for “album of the year”. Do you bother with music reviews and awards at all?
Derek: The reviews come in and I´m curious to see what they say. But for Black Country Communion it´s always the same – every review is almost always the same with slight variations. Every once in a while you get an oddball weird review. But most reviews we got for Psychotic Symphony have been eights and up. We got one seven out of ten, but everything else is 8, 9, 10 out of 10.
Rodrigo: What is the question you´re most tired of being asked in interviews?
Derek: We´re not tired, I´ll take all questions! We´re just very grateful that people are interested in Sons of Apollo, and we don’t take anyone´s time for granted.
Rodrigo: The song Alive has a really catchy chorus with an AOR vibe. Was there an intention to write at least one radio-friendly song for this project?
Derek: It wasn´t intentional, it just worked out that way. Jeff wrote the lyrics and the melody lines all by himself for that song, and I think he just hit it out of the park. When we wrote the music, we knew the music was good, but it all totally changed after Jeff got his teeth into it, so I wanna give him proper credit.
Rodrigo: I can definitely see it played on the radio.
Derek: We all do, and in a perfect world, that song should be a hit!
Rodrigo: I´m talking to you from Toronto, but interviewing you for a Brazilian website called Whiplash. Could we close this interview with a message for the Brazilian fans?
Derek: We look forward to coming back to Brazil. I´ve been playing there for the last 20 years at least, maybe even more, and I always thought that the Brazilian crowds are the most fun to play for – very loud and they know their music. So, it´s in the works: Sons of Apollo´s Psychotic Symphony coming out October 20th on Inside Out/Sony Music. There´s a South American Tour in the works, and I promise you we´ll be there in 2018. Rodrigo, I wanna thank you – “obrigado!”, and we´ll see you soon! Again, Sonsofapollo.com, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
The debut album, PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY, is now available to pre-order on 2CD Mediabook (featuring a second disc of instrumental mixes), Gatefold 2LP vinyl + CD, Standard Jewelcase CD & digital download. Pre-order now here: http://smarturl.it/SonsOfApolloPS.
The full track-listing of PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY is as follows:
1. God of The Sun
2. Coming Home
3. Signs of the Time
6. Lost In Oblivion
7. Figaro’s Whore
8. Divine Addiction
9. Opus Maximus
An album teaser can be seen on InsideOutMusic’s YouTube page here: https://youtu.be/kPN2DttzlZQ
SONS OF APOLLO online:
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