I had a chance on Saturday night to talk with Charlotte Wessels and Martijn Westerholt from Delain before their sold-out show with Kamelot Saturday night in Minneapolis. As always, there were very friendly and easy to talk with. Delain is simply one of the nicest bands I have met over the years and I always look forward to talking with any member of the band.
Delain is coming to the end of their Moonbathers tour and we talked about that a bit along with what the future may hold. In the interview they talked about some announcements that were coming on Monday. Those announcements were a new EP release this fall and a couple of shows in October to support the release in Germany and the Netherlands. These are intimate club shows that will be quite special to attend. Now let’s move on to the interview itself.
I started by bringing up the Moonbathers tour, which has been quite extensive. I estimated it around two and half years plus. I asked if this had been their most extensive tour ever? Martijn stated, “That is a good one. I am not sure if it is the most extensive, but it has been very long at least.” Wessels then added, “I think it mainly had to do with we have been doing a new album every two years. This will be the first album that there is more than two years in between. We had the live DVD come out last year. There is something else coming out pretty soon. In theory this is still the Moonbathers tour. We need to work on some new material, so the hardcore fans get to hear some new songs.”
I then asked if they worried about having three years between new albums and if that was too long. Westerholt had an interesting response to this, “No, it’s the other way around. We don’t want to do it too fast. Album cycles get shorter and shorter now but look at the big bands that take four to six years between albums. It is good to take the time to make a good album.” Wessels added, “We haven’t had more then a year between releases since 2012.”
I asked if they work on new material on the road. Westerholt had this to say, “No, I never do, but Charlotte does some. On the road I am totally focused on the live shows which is a completely different animal and deserves a lot of attention. Personally, I can’t do it.” Wessels added, “I used to. I always have a notebook with me, but it is for penning down spontaneous ideas. I only really work on them back home. I must admit my focus during tours has become very different over the years. I put much more effort into staying healthy and that keeps me calm in my head as well, so I don’t worry about my voice so much, but it takes time on the road just to find sleep. Most of our real song writing is done off the road for both of us.”
It was time to ask about the new album and if it would be out next year? Westerholt said, “That depends on what the creative Gods have allow us to do. Creative processes can’t be forced, they can be influenced and stimulated, but never forced. If it goes to plan, then yes it will be next year.” Wessels added, “We try to plan some larger time blocks like a week. We have done that two times now together with Guus Eikens who joins in the early part of the writing process and later as well. There is also still a lot of individual work for us to do.” Westerholt then added, “Last year I went to my girlfriend’s in America in Arizona, just to write and be with her and write music. I do some sketches I could share with Charlotte and Guus. We do stuff on our own, we do stuff together. It starts with a lot of big inputs that gets smaller in the end until everything comes together.” Wessels added more by saying, “We share some of our ideas online, but the actual work is much easier to do when we are all together.” Westerholt shared, “I think we are an unbeatable team when we are together. I think another important thing to mention is Timo our guitar player, he is beginning to contribute more as well. First on the guitar arrangements and riffing. He is becoming a very valuable team member.”
One thing I always wanted to ask about was I heard that when Delain started it was going to be a one album project. It has obviously become so much more, and I wanted to know more about the beginnings of Delain. Westerholt started by saying, “After Within Temptation I wanted to prove myself to myself and I wanted to do one too. I didn’t really plan anything. I met Charlotte and it just began to grow and it became our mutual thing. Now we are here. It was not a pre-planned thing, it just grew into where we are. So, there was no plan. There was a lot of hard work and you need to know what kind of music you like.” Charlotte added to this interesting topic, “There comes these important crossroads where you have to decide. Are we going to perform live, yes or no? Are we going to search for musicians that can do a lot of gigs? We took the decision that would not rule out long term ideas.” Westerholt continued, “You have to work extensively together, and you can’t take it for granted. You have to maintain that relationship, or you can’t continue the way you do. Working in a band and socially with this kind of job it is all intermingled. It is something to be cherished and not taken for granted and you must work on.
This next part of this interview was very interesting to me. I mentioned all the hard work behind the scenes that a fan does not really see to get to the point where they get to do the gig. I assumed that is what they both enjoyed the most, the answers to this were not quite what I was expecting. Westerholt started by saying, “A lot of artists are doing it to make music. The show is just a part of it and that is nice, but they might like the studio work more or the writing more. The preference can differ for each musician. I like the full process. There are different reasons for being a musician.” At this point, Wessels threw a curveball into this question by asking a question to Westerholt, “But I think if you had to chose between never writing a song again or never performing live again what would it be?” Westerholt did not hesitate in answering this question, “It would be to never perform live again.” Wessels then answered her own question, “I think it would be hard, but I am not sure. The creative part of this is so rewarding.”
I decided to touch a little bit on Moonbathers, even though this is the last tour in support of the album. I mentioned I thought this album was a bit harder than their previous albums and the songs were a bit darker. Wessels excitedly commented, “I like that you say that. I think that is a positive and I think we have worked very hard to make an album we really liked. I am not sure I would say edgy.” Westerholt jumped in and said, “I always use the word contrast. We have more softer parts and more harder parts that are quite different and personally I like that.” Wessels mentioned, “When it comes to the lyrics, it is definitely darker. It is not necessarily to make it on the edge or evil. It was even more extreme when we had to decide on the art work very fast, 4 of the first 6 songs are about death. That was not a deliberate thing, but we rolled with it.”
Delain gets lumped into the symphonic metal category a lot, but Wessels’ vocals don’t really fit that label for me at least. I asked her about her singing background and how she developed her voice. She had this to say, “I started with pop vocal lessons. I started with clarinet and switched to singing. Then I had two years of classical lessons and stopped because my teacher wanted me in a choir instead of a band. We did not agree on that. Then I actually did not have any training for years. It took me one time of losing my voice on the road and then I took training again. Now I use a still voice technique which you have to learn all vocal styles. The theory is that everyone has all of these vocal types in them, so why would you pick just one. I never liked the lessons where they would say pretend to smell a rose and then sing. I am like, no I want to know what my actual throat is doing and what should I do to sing. I really like the still voice technique and hope to do more in the future. Right now, I only do it every now and then when I have time. On a weekend I will do some really extreme training and then do some warm ups and cool downs based on the techniques.
I asked if this was truly the end of the Moonbathers tour or would they be doing any summer festivals and anything else in the future. Westerholt said, “No, no more tours again. There are a couple shows with Nightwish in South America. We have a couple special shows coming up in the Netherlands and Germany. That will be it except for a couple festivals. We have to do that, or we won’t have another album. We passed on the second leg of this tour, so we can make an album.”
We finished the interview there and I thanked them for their time. For a band I know so well, I definitely felt I learned some very interesting things about Delain during our discussion that I did not know. It is great we have a new EP this fall to fill the void, until the next album most likely will come out next year. I know all Delain fans will be looking forward to these next two releases!