Metal-Roos: Thank you for talking to me. Within Temptation are a dominant force in the world of metal. Their effortless blending of traditional heavy metal and super catchy ‘pop’ hooks with dark symphonic overtones create their own brand and sound of music. Their latest release Resist has already seen massive success with The Reckoning gaining millions of streams on YouTube and latest offering Raise Your Banner making waves with fans worldwide. With the Resist tour also seeing massive success, it seems Within Temptation are unstoppable… and the message they are spreading being more vital day by day. There are some very strong themes in Resist, what has been the inspiration for the album?
Several things, actually. For Resist the album title is the theme for the album. It’s not like one big story, it’s really more like a theme, an inspiration. Some of the songs are connected, but many of them aren’t. This can be interpreted in different ways. There’s more personal ones like Holy Ground, while the ones we have already released are more a way to look at the world at the moment. Raise Your Banner is about being aware of what’s happening and giving your opinion on it, just trying to make people more aware of things. Still, it’s music that’s the first thing you want, to make beautiful music. The second thing is that you want to write something that intrigues you, and, what intrigues us is. In the time that we were rowing up we had Commodore 64s at the time and just being a kid, and now the Internet and Social Media have become a really big thing, that controls our lives way more than we thought and we wonder if its for the good. There are a lot of good things you can say about it developing, but also, there is always a negative side, and nowadays with the algorithms that rule our world… everyday you are trackable on Facebook. So, those things are inspiration for us to write, like, shouldn’t we have laws about anonymity and privacy, that was the direct inspiration for Raise Your Banner and The Reckoning.
M-R: There are lots of interesting musical moods used in the album – it seems you have incorporated more electronic elements and sounds. Was this to give the music a more, for lack of a better word, ‘modern’ edge to it? What was the inspiration behind the electronic elements?
It’s being used more and more nowadays. It’s like an organic kind of evolution, this change in the music scene, I think, not necessarily the metal scene, but the way we’ve used it combining guitars with the electronic elements. Sometimes you hear them, it sounds deeper and lower than you think. Rhythm wise it’s a necessity, it gives more groove and rhythm to the music and because the subject of what we’re talking about has more of a futuristic feel to it, and you get that with the songs.
M-R: How has the song-writing process evolved for the band over the years?
Actually, it hasn’t really that change that much I must say. We write all write all the songs on guitar and piano. That’s how we always start, we’ve always been a song driven band. So, if we can play on guitar and piano that’s how we start every song. Then we layer it with a lot of other stuff that we think is cool at the time. It sounds up to date for this kind of music. If you would go back to what we’ve done before, in say 2004, we have a lot of loops and things that we don’t use anymore. At that time it was really cool to do, but music changes throughout the years, and so do we. Thus, we don’t use those loops anymore, we find other sounds that are intriguing and cool to use.
M-R: Out of curiosity how many songs did Within Temptation write before hitting the studio? Since most bands write a massive amount of songs then whittle them down, is this the case for Within Temptation?
We had more songs than we eventually used on the album. But honestly if we don’t use them, they’re really not good. We still record them though, and afterwards we’ll see what we do with it. Some ideas might be used for the next album or something in the future, but the best songs that we recorded are on the album and they really crystallised. In the beginning we make demos, so if we do write like fifty songs – they’re not actually songs, they’re just demos, just ideas, the ten that we did record were ideas that we just dove into and made a song out of it. The others we just put aside and maybe we’ll look at it in the future again, but most of the time we don’t…hahaha.
M-R: Within Temptation are not strangers to featured artists, The Reckoning from Resist features Jacoby Shaddix on vocals. How was it working with him?
I met him at Grass-Pop Festival which is a very big Belgian metal festival. We were both on the main stage located next to each other and we grow up more or less with each other. We started around the same time, so we hung with the same bands over the years. But we never really met, always playing the same festivals, but on different days. So, finally we did meet, it was side-stage and I was like, ‘Hey, you’re Jacoby” and he’s like ‘Yeah, that’s me’…. he knew who we were as well, which was cool. Then we started talking about art because he does a lot of street art, a lot of drawings and designs for the band. I didn’t know that so he showed me a few things, when I left that day to go home I thought, ‘if we ever have a song that fits his voice I’m gonna ask him’ because I really like the band, I’ve always really liked their music, but especially the last album they made, it just made me fall in love with the band all over again. We asked whether he would like to sing on the track and sent it through. He really liked it and was in the studio making his own album anyway, so, he just recorded his parts and sent it back, the magic of the internet…
M-R: You have said that you had a list for Hydra, was it the same for Resist? Is there anyone left that you would love to work with?
It’s always tough for us. If the song needs a different kind of voice, a certain type of voice, then we’ll go looking for someone. It’s not like I have a list of people and I’m going to write a song and ask them afterwards. Of course there are people that you always want to work with, it’s just, the idea needs to exist at the start, from the moment a certain song needs something, that’s how it went with all the people that we’ve worked with so far, and I think that’s the best way, when you judge from the music, search for the people that you like, approach them and hope they like the song as well of course!
M-R: The Spotify single Firelight is a fantastic song and features Jasper Steverlinck, really quite a different track for Within Temptation. Is there a story behind this track?
This song was not originally written for Within Temptation. Initially I wrote it for My Indigo, my solo album, but it was too heavy. So, I decided to keep it for something in the future, maybe my second album, potentially Within Temptation. The sound of Within Temptation with this album was much different from My Indigo, but it somehow fit on there. Everybody said to me when I wrote it it’s too much like Within Temptation so it shouldn’t be on My Indigo. It does have these urban kind of sounds on it. My Indigo was very important in writing Resist, so I import elements from the scene where I was with My Indigo, add heavy guitars and heavy sounds you get Within Temptation in the end, you still use the same certain ingredients.
M-R: Both video releases look amazing, who came up with the ideas for them? Did you have a part to play in their design?
Well, of course, I like to work on some visual aspects. For example, in Raise Your Banner, I worked on the band clothes with a designer, I borrowed some clothes from him because he’s a good friend of mine and I wanted a certain dress for the video. For the other people that weren’t part of the band were done by stylists, but it all match together. I sent them what I had for the band and they worked on what they had for the other people with that in mind. With the first video we had a designer, he took some of my stuff to be sure, but they hired a designer for The Reckoning.
Video ideas are something we do together, most of the time we write our own script. These two were actually combined and made together with the video company that we work with. We brainstormed ideas about what the video should be about.
M-R: Can you explain how they tie in with Resist’s themes?
Especially with Raise Your Banner – it’s about how human are you as a human. You could make a computer program like yourself, but where’s the line? Where’s the line of what is human? That’s the basic idea behind the video, how human are we as humans. It’s kind of an experimental mindset.
M-R: You have tied in extensive film and visual aids with your music before, with, The Unforgiving having short films and comic books attached to its storyline. How important are visuals to Within Temptation?
I think music is the most important thing, but of course visuals are vital. You can make the music much stronger, you can give it certain emotions, certain stronger emotions. It also helps to give a perspective of how you can interpret the music. Music is always interpreted in many different ways, but this is a way of expressing the storyline. It’s not always what we have in mind at first when you write the song, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. It’s very difficult to make a video that says exactly what you wanted to say in the song and sometimes it’s just another way of expressing yourself and making something that fits.
M-R: Would you ever consider doing a Metallica and release a feature length?
That would be lovely! It takes a lot of time though and it depends where you are as a band at the time and how much time you have. It takes so much more time to make than anything else because it’s so difficult, but, it would be such an interesting experience.
M-R: You guys are currently touring Resist to fantastic reception. How have the shows been so far? Any highlights that stand out?
I must say, people have been reacting really well to the new songs! It does depend on what country we’re in, and it depends on how much time they spend on the internet. The album hasn’t been released yet, not until the 1st February, but all the new songs that are in the setlist they are singing along to, which is crazy! Although, one country that wasn’t singing along as much was the Netherlands! So I thought ok, maybe they haven’t been on the internet that much, they knew that there was a new album coming out and that we would be playing new songs. They did react to the singles, but oh well, other countries like Russia and England were just singing along from back to front and front to back, it was really special. It’s different with every country of course, but all the shows have been amazing.
M-R: When performing live I saw that you incorporate many of the visual motifs into your live show. If budget and stage space weren’t an issue, what would be your dream stage production?
In the past we did a show called The Black Symphony, which we released on DVD. On stage we had a full orchestra, there were live performers on stilts on stage, using big gowns that were 2 or 3 m tall. Playing an arena, you can use this type of stuff, sometimes it’s really nice to have that crazy atmosphere in a venue when you’re playing your own songs. With the extra theatrics around the place it’s really beautiful, it makes it all almost surreal to watch. Those things are only for the big shows though like anniversaries, so we did it when we were like 10 years together and now it was 20 years and then the near future. We might do something for the 25th we always like to make something special out of it. We also have the Black Christmas which is a thing that we always like doing at the end of the year. We have done three years in a row now, but this year we can’t because we have an album coming out and we don’t have enough time to develop the covers. We play a few covers from other bands like Black Sabbath, Type O Negative and change it to a more Within Temptation kind of sound, then combine it the set with our original music. Everybody dresses up and we got the Black Christmas Booth where people can go and get a picture taken, there’s street theatre again, people dressed up all over the place, a huge gothic horse and carriage going around with all kinds of people on it, so when people come inside the grounds they’re already seeing the show before they come into the venue… it’s an amazing environment, it’s so very fun and I love it!
Interview Date: 2018-12-04
Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley