THE GATHERING STRIKE BACK WITH A SPECTACULAR NEW ALBUM
Finally after two years of silence there is a new album called Souvenirs from the Dutch triprockers The Gathering. I had a talk with singer Anneke van Giersbergen and Hans Rutten, the drummer of the band. For those readers who are not familiar with this band I will give you a short walk down memory lane…
The Gathering has existed since 1989 and in the beginning of their musical career they mainly played metal-orientated music. On their first album called Always(1992)they combined the female vocals of Marike Groot with the grunts of Bart Smits and this gothic/doom style of music was very much appreciated. In 1994 Anneke joins the band and her beautiful voice changes the music of the band and the first cd with Anneke Mandylion(1995)is a big success; the single Strange Machines is still their most well-known song. How To Measure A Planet(1998)is a very experimental album and the next album If-Then-Else(2000)is also an excellent piece of melodic and experimental rock. Now The Gathering start a new chapter in their very successful career…
What are musically seen the striking differences between the new album and If-Then-Else ?
Anneke: I think that on the previous album there are a lot of different sort of songs and on Souvenirs all the tracks come together as a whole. We did not have much time to record If-Then-Else and therefore it is not as good as it could and perhaps should have been. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that it is a great album but with the new record we took our time to develop ourselves and to let the songs ripen. We worked on Souvenirs for almost 2,5 years and we still could have changed this or that and re-record a song, but it has to end at a certain point.
Hans : Ofcourse we are quite satisfied with the result. We wanted to make a gloomy, dark record and that is what we achieved. We had lost of time, we had enough money and we had plenty of ideas and inspiration, so…. Yes, we are proud on the final mix of the album, it really turned out great!
Were the fans not impatient or even angry that you took so much time to bring out a new album ? Anneke:No, they knew that we were working very hard to make a new smashing album. Ofcourse people were very curious about what exactly we were doing and now they can enjoy the new record.
Hans : We were never afraid that the fans would leave us. It does not work that way, there are a lot of bands that you do not hear from for a long while, but they are still alive and they will never lose their fans, because then you make trendy music, then you are popular for a very short time. And The Gathering are here to stay for a long time, I can tell you.
Anneke: I think that if Britney Spears would wait for five years to bring out a new album, she would have a serious problem. [ Martien: I could not care less if she never made an album anymore. ]
Hans : We have got very faithful fans, so I am not worried.
Anneke: As long as the music is good then everything will be fine.
Hans : Music has to be timeless, not trendy, that is very important if you want to be successful for many years.
On albums like Mandylion and Nighttime Birds you used a lot of heavy guitarriffs, they are almost gone on the new album, why?
Anneke: Well, we were 18 then, young, restless and wild and as you grow older you listen to more different sorts of music and you use other styles in your own music. In the past it was very simple, you used a bass guitar, drums and heavy guitar riffs, and that was it.
Hans : Nowadays Rene, the guitarplayer, does much more with his guitar. He creates moods ,atmosphere and he is constantly searching for other ways of playing the guitar. This is of course much more interesting than that same metal wall over and over again.
Anneke: That is something that you have done already, it is something from the past. You have to move on as a band and as a musician.
The lyrics are very personal and emotional this time?
Anneke: Yes, definitely. Our lyrics on the other albums were also very personal but recently we had a lot of personal experiences that we had to use in the lyrics. Memories, things from the past which you learn from for the future and that sort of thing, you know……It was very important for us to make a change, to make a fresh start, to leave the old recordcompany behind and to go on with our music. That feels great, a lot of shit has happened and you have to deal with that; one way or another……
Did you write all the lyrics..
Anneke:Most of it,yes. But naturally the guys in the band helped as well and the producer wrote the lyrics for two of the songs.
How did you come into contact with producer Zlaya Hadzich?
Anneke:He worked in a small studio in Purmerend and he really had the perfect attitude. He worked very hard, he was not the regular 9 to 5 guy and he gave us a real kick in the ass!!
Hans: I think we really needed that and we constantly argued with Zlaya about the approach. In the end you can say it cost us a lot blood, sweat and tears.
A Life Of Mine, the duet with Trickster G. is not on the promo, what sort of song is it?
Anneke:It is a sort of soundscape, mechanical, electronic, atmospheric song with lots of beautiful melodies. Trickster has a dark, low voice and his vocals add something special to this song. It actually is a little journey. As you probably know Trickster originally comes from the blackmetal- scene; unfortunately he was not able to come to The Netherlands so we had to everything via e-mail. But it worked out fine in the end.
Finally you have got your own record label, how does that feel?
Anneke:Great, actually, it gives us a lot of freedom.
Hans: In the future we try to give new bands a contract with Psychonaut Records, so really fair, clean contracts. Not the one we had to deal with, but that has all been covered enough in the press, so…
What’s that with your DVD-release then?
Hans: It is not our business, in fact it is just a bootleg, it is a very bad dvd of which I am very much ashamed.
Anneke:Yes, I agree, it is badly recorded, it has a very poor sound and the lay-out is a complete disaster.
Hans: It stinks, man. The biography on the inside of the cd-leaflet is completely wrong, no lyrics, no nothing, they did a terrible job.
Anneke:The only problem is that our name is on the cover, so fans ask us what is wrong with that dvd? Why did you bring it out as an album, and we did not. But I think that the fans already know from the information on our website that we had nothing to do with terrible product. But the record- company still owns the rights so they can do with our old stuff whatever they like….So, they can ask Britney Spears to sing our old songs and there is nothing we can do to stop that.
Hans: I think that would be great for us, Britney singing The Gathering songs!!! [Ed: seems that Britney is a re-occuring theme in this interview...]
With the release of How To Measure A Planet you invented the name triprock; what is it actually?
Hans: Well, there was hiphop and that became triphop, which means normal vocals with hiphopbeats. We were influenced by that sort of music and as we started as a rockband I came up with the name triprock. Maybe in the near future there will be tripmetal, I do not know. It is just a game with words; in the end it is just music.
In the Netherlands you are often compared with bands like Within Temptation and After Forever; do you see these bands as competitors?
Anneke:I think that the comparison is not so far fetched, because we also started as a rockband, but we have moved on since then, we tried other styles of music and our music nowadays is completely different from what we did 12 years ago.
Hans: We have never been a metalband and After Forever is a metalband, I think, so that comparison is not correct, but Within Temptation has definitely used ideas from our Nighttime Birds-album They will also play other music in ten years time just as we do and that is ok. If you talk about rivalry I can tell you there is none, we are not playing the World Championships in musicbusiness.
What is your favourite album so far?
Hans: And that is not just a cheap salestrick. No I think that Souvenirs is a timeless record, it will survive for many years to come.
Will you also put the more relaxed songs on the liveset?
Anneke: That may become difficult, I think that for great outdoorshows/festivals we will play more rocky songs; old tracks and of course the heavier songs of the new album like Even The Spirits Are Afraid. Inside we will go for a more intimate show, so be surprised.
Is it not time for you to play on Pinkpop (the greatest outdoorfestival in The Netherlands) again?
Hans: You have to call Jan Smeets, but, yes ofcourse it would be great for us to play there.
Anneke: But this time we would like to play in the tent, we have a beautiful show, with lights and stuff, so.
How are the reviews of the new album so far?
Hans: So far, so good. But real metalmagazines do not really know how to deal with this album.
Do you still feel angry if you get a bad review?
Anneke: Of course. If you have a child and somebody comes up to you and says: My God, that’s an ungly baby. How would you react?
Hans: Dutchmen always are the first to tell you that something is not good and I hate that.
Anneke: Abroad we have done interviews with all sorts of magazines and even if they do not really like the album, they always tell you that they respect the effort and the work that has been put into the cd. At least they show some respect, I can live with that, but in Holland some reporters do not com- prehend at all what this album is about, but they still want an interview and that is bullshit. A lot of musicjournalists do not want to make a real stand, they want to be neutral. That, however,is impossible, music is not neutral, you feel something for it or you don’t.
Hans: I rather say you hate the record then that you give a mediocre rating, let’s say a six. People are not interested in a six. Besides this album needs time, you have to listen to it a lot of times to really appreciate it.
Last question, when will you start touring and where?
Anneke: We will start in Barcelona in March and we will play in other places in Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia , Germany, Austria and The Netherlands of course.
Hans: And do not forget that the record will be published in 30 countries.