Before their last gig of the Iberian leg of their European tour, RockUnited.com had the chance to talk to WITHIN TEMPTATION's guitarrist Robert Vesterholt and later to singer Sharon den Adel anbout the band past, present and future. Here's what they told us:
Jorge: You are right now on tour throughout Europe with Paradise Lost. This is the first time you play outside the Benelux countries, right?
Robert: Well, we did a small tour last year in France.
Jorge: But you were focused before, or better said, your label was, on that territories, so, as the first time you tour Europe extensively, how has been the response of the fans so far?
Robert: Yeah, it's been surprisingly well, because of course we know we have fans in other countries. In every country there are some who know us, but most of the people who comes to the shows didn't know us before. So it's like the first songs people are waiting, checking you out and towards the end of the show they get more enthusiastic... Except for the show in Madrid, where we got amazed by the great reaction of the fans they went crazy from the beginning. So, that was the big exception.
Jorge: Let me tell you something about the gig in Madrid. There were clearly two groups of people, the ones who went to see Paradise Lost and the ones who went to see Within Temptation. As it was your first time in Spain (alongside previous Murcia gig), did you expect such a positive reaction?
Robert: Oh, no. That's been a pleasant surprise for us.
Jorge: How comes that you speak some basic Spanish? Because I already saw on your DVD some footage from your trip to Mexico and you spoke some Spanish then...
Robert: Oh yeah, trying to speak some... I lived from my third year till my eighth year in Madrid, so I used to speak perfect Spanish, but after that I came back to Holland and never had the chance to practise it so I forgot most of it.
Jorge: You've just re-released Mother Earth, which was out of print in many places, and also this is the first time it's available in other places as well. This tour was supposed to promote that album. From what I've seen on your website, after tonite in Vitoria you've got 3 more dates to go in France and that's it? Is it because you don't have anythin worked out yet for further on? Or do you plan to work on your new album on the summer?
Robert: Yeah, that's the most important thing for us to do once the tour is over. Writting songs and then get into the studio in the summer, but we will do some festivals too this summer.
Jorge: How many songs have you written so far for the new album?
Robert: Untill now we've got some, you know, but also we've got some ideas that are not ready yet.
Jorge: Will it be Running up that hill, the Kate Bush cover you're playing live on this tour, on the new album or is it something you just did for fun?
Robert: Yeah. It was a nice experiment that we did, we like it and it'll be there!
Jorge: Who is the main songwriter for the band?
Robert: Untill now it's been me and Sharon. I wrote the basis, harmonies, etc and Sharon came up with the vocal lines, melodies, lyrics, etc. But for the next record you never know, we've got a new keyboard player who's been writing songs, a new guitar player, so maybe for the next album we'll be mixing some elements.
Jorge: That leads me to another question, Within Temptation had quite a few changes on the line up in the past, do you feel you've achieved a, so to say, stable line up?
Robert: I don't know. It's like, you know, like a live thing, that is developing, and changing. I can tell you the band right now are really close and stable, but of course in a few years that can change.
Jorge: From what I've seen, you've got right now the same line up as when you recorded your DVD live in the Lowlands, so it's been more than a year...
Robert: Oh yeah. Let's say it's a stable line up for now. But you never know as people are changing, their lives change... It's something organic, you know. But all the changes so far were very smooth and friendly.
Jorge: You said you plan to record your new album somewhen in the summer. Your new label, Gun Records, don't allow you to sell your re released Mother Earth album on the merchandise stand. Why?
Robert: It's a label's policy. They want you to buy the record in the shops, you know. Paradise Lost are in the same label and you can't buy their CDs on the stand either. It's a label policy.
Jorge: I'm aware you're not to tour the UK with Paradise Lost, because you'd have to pay for the whole cost of the tour there.
Robert: Yeah of course we've got some costs, we've got the bus, the technicians, etc...
Jorge: Somewhere in your website I read you wouldn't tour the UK because of the high costs of it.
Robert: Yeah, like I said, the bus, the technicians... It's too expensive, plus we don't have a release in the UK right now so it's not worth.
Jorge: So, as I said before, you were mainly focused on the Benelux. Now you've played in other places like France, Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, Portugal, now Spain... What feelings did you get from that?
Robert: It was very exciting, because in the Benelux everybody knows us, so people never come to you and say: "oh that was nice, I never heard you but I like your music". And now of course on this tour you get a lot of rections from people who don't know us and they like it and they're gonna buy the CD. And that's something very nice for us, refreshing again after so many years.
Jorge: Alongside the re-release of Mother Earth, do you plan to re-release your previous album, Enter?
Robert: Hmmm no, I don't think they'll eventually release it now, maybe it will come also I don't know. But for us it was more like this album [Mother Earth] is the most representative for us right now. Enter, you know, we're still satisfied with the album but it was so many years ago, it sounds so different than we sound today...
Jorge: I noticed in Madrid, that the new song you played, btw, is still untitled?
Jorge: You should think of something! Well, I was expecting something like, you know, from Enter to Mother Earth it was something more like, different, there were a lot more of keyboards, in a way it was more relaxed, laid back and such. So, I was expecting some kind of evolution in the music like, not to compare you to them but to put it as an example, like The Gathering, who went from more metal sounds to more enviromental sounding music. But that wasn't the case with you, at least in that new song, it turned out to be a really wild one, and at the same time it was like the fans already knew it. The rest of the songs you've already written for the next album are in the same vein?
Robert: Well, I'd say the stuff we did on Mother Earth, that's gonna be the base, but it's going to be more extreme, so they're gonna be more heavier songs but also they're gonna be more dramatic, romantic songs you know. We're gonna try to work with orchestra and such..
Jorge: We could say you're expanding the dynamics of the sound of the band?
Robert: Yeah, exactly, that's right!
Jorge: After your let's say succesful European tour, would you positively come back to do a tour on your own? Maybe with the new album?
Robert: Absolutely, we're very much looking forward to it! Like I said once the new album is out we're gonna plan a new European tour. Then we've got the advantage we can do more with our show because normally we have a lot more show but because of the space we couldn't bring it with us this time. We're not headlining, we can't do anything you know.
Jorge: Just seven songs it's too short!
Robert: Yeah, then we can play longer and we can also have you know our fire, and decoration and you know.
Jorge: Yeah I miss your inflatable trees!
Robert: Yeah, ha ha like that! And that's also developing so we have new stuff which we want to use, so on the next tour we'll do that. We've got a lot of positive reactions that encourages us to go on with the show.
Jorge: Could we say that in the Netherlands you're a mainstream rock band? Meaning you've been acknowledged and given many awards by the media.
Robert: Well, we're not a mainstream band, we're Within Temptation, but the majority of people know us and the mainstream media also know us.
Jorge: You're not a typical Gothic Metal band, not nowadays, but there are a lot of bands who play that style in the Netherlands. Do you think there's a specific reason for that?
Robert: A reason? I don't really know. It's very strange to... I mean in Scandinavia, there also comes a lot of great metal from Scandinavia, you know. It's like why is that? I don't know. It's very hard to explain. Maybe it's because there's a scene, people like the music and go to concerts. Young people also see the bands and are influenced by everything they see around them, of course. That's a natural thing and maybe because of that new bands have the chance. Holland is a healthy country for bands to play, you know? There're a lot of clubs, so there are a lot of posibilities. We also have a lot of different bands, so it's not only Gothic.
Jorge: Now we talk about influences, which are your main influences as a band?
Robert: Influences are always very difficult because everyday you've got influenced by everything around you, subconsciously, but we like a lot of music you know...
Jorge: When you started to play as a band.
Robert: Yeah, but it's not... we never had anything like "I like that group and I want to play that kind of music". It's always very personal you know, you write and it's just what comes out it's like a mixture of everything and it's subconscious, but what really inspires us it's movies music like the soundtracks from Gladiator, or from Braveheart which was for Mother Earth a very big inspiration source, and now of course The Lord Of The Rings, you know. It's like images and the music always that I watch a movie like that I want to write music.
Jorge: This is both a question and a complain as a fan at the same time. From the little I understood from the DVD (and this is the complain) since all the interviews were in Dutch, no subtitles, but from what I got I saw an interview with you and you mentioned both Joe Satriani and Paradise Lost as personal influences for you, is that right?
Robert: Er... Paradise Lost, I like them a lot, but like an influence... maybe it is because I like it, but our music is so different than Paradise Lost, we don't try to imitate them or do anything like that. I like their songs but music is a very personal thing, it's like what you feel, so it's like inspiration, I don't know. I like the band a lot but I also like Tori Amos, and I like Madonna, you know, you wouldn't find very quick those inspiration sources in our music.
Jorge: Would you place yourself as a more 80's music fan or 90's music fan?
Robert: I like both but I grew up in the 90's so I think the 90's are more... I mean at the same time I discovered Paradise Lost I also listened to Garbage a lot, and you don't find any Garbage in our music. But I also listen a lot to Marillion or...
Jorge: [Who happens to be a huge Marillion fan] Really? Are you a Marillion fan??? Me too!!!
Robert: Yeah! A big one yeah! So you know, I like a lot of music.
Jorge: Well, thank you very much for your time.
Robert: Thank you.
Jorge: Whenever you've got the time, I'm looking forward to read on the tour diary on your website your comments on the Spanish tour.
Robert: Oh yeah we'll write it, absolutely! It's been great!
Jorge: And I hope to see you live again soon with your whole set.
Robert: We hope so.
Jorge: That's been a pleasure. Muchas gracias Robert.
Robert: Muchas gracias. [That was the formal interview we had with Robert, but later on we had the chance to talk to Sharon, WT's vocalist who told us this, in brief as I run out of batteries on my hand tape recorder :-(]
Jorge: Sharon, just a few questions, first of all, how is your throat, since you had some problems some days ago which led the band to cancel some shows in Scandinavia, are you feeling good now?
Sharon: Oh yeah, I'm ok now. Problems are gone, luckily, in fact, Madrid show was the first one I had no problems at all with my throat.
Jorge: Good! So Robert told me you plan to concentrate on the songwriting and recording of your new album once the tour is over.
Sharon: Oh, yeah. But we've got a lot of work to do ahead once we get back to Holland. We've got the release of Running Up That Hill, the Kate Bush cover which is gonna be our new single on April 17th, and we're also gonna shoot a new video clip for Ice Queen. Our label wants to do it to promote the re-release of Mother Earth but they don't want the old video, they want a new one, and then after that some more shows in Holland and then the recording of the new album in the summer along with some festivals, so it's gonna be a pretty busy summer.
Jorge: Ok, thanks very much for your time. Bedankt!
Sharon: Oh, bedankt! Ha ha ha.
by Jorge Antonaya,