Heidevolk is a Folk Metal band that has been that has been scouring the metal realm for the last 16 years. With every release the band gets bigger and stronger and with last Friday's (January 12th) release of the band's 7th album, Vuur van Verzet; that is no exception. I recently had the chance to be able to ask Jacco Bühnebeest (Vocals) and Koen Vuurdichter (Guitar, Backing Vocals) a few questions about everything going on in the world of Heidevolk. Enjoy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! This Friday (January 12th) brings the release of the band’s 6th album Vuur Van Verzet. How does it feel to be able to finally get the new album out?
Jacco: It feels genuinely good! We’ve been sitting on it for a while now, eager to let it fly and see what it would do for our listeners. We were excited making it, and now we are excited to showcase it. That is the next step, the opportunity to unleash these new songs into the hungry crowds around the globe ;)
How did the songwriting process begin for the new album?
Jacco: This album was written by Rowan, basically. He had the whole album envisioned and let the rest of the band in piece by piece. We all got to add a little to it, while voicing his ideas to our best abilities.
Koen: For Rowan, it was quite the project. He had basically done the same thing before with ‘Velua’, but ‘Vuur van Verzet’, with all its extra traditional instruments, a 24 piece male choir, and a couple new band members as well, was a whole new challenge. Nothing but respect for him how he managed to pull it off and create a wonderful new Heidevolk album.
Every Heidevolk album has its own very distinct sound, for those that haven’t heard the album yet, how would you describe Vuur Van Verzet?
Jacco: It is a somewhat more aggressive album than Velua was. Whereas our previous record was more of a folkloric tale-telling kind, Vuur van Verzet is more about rawness, assertiveness and brawn. The sound follows the theme, so there is a lot of bombast, edginess and heavy pounding on this one, while not foregoing on subtle details and intricate musicality.
Koen: Absolutely. We all believe it is still very much ‘Heidevolk’, combining folk with metal, but there’s been a slight increase in traditional influences, and exploring new grounds going on by means of a 24-piece male choir that is present in a number of songs. All in all, it’s basically the same concept, but with a slightly different, more epic and bombastic approach.
Ontwaakt and A Wolf In My Heart were chosen as singles. How did you decide on these two songs being released before the album coming out?
Koen: ‘Vuur van Verzet’ is quite a diverse album, which always makes the decision to choose a 1st single difficult, to say the least. Both band and record company eventually decided that ‘Ontwaakt’ had to be it. It is the opening track on the album, of course, and one of the more ‘in your face’ songs. Compact and powerful enough for a video. And it also has almost all the elements that are hearable on the rest of the album. For the 2nd single, ‘Wolf in my Heart’ was an easier choice. It’s a very catchy song, instantly recognizable, and because it’s in English, it shows a slightly surprising side of Heidevolk. But as always, it could have been 2 completely different tracks. These decisions are always a matter of
debate and gut feeling.
With the band celebrating it’s 16th anniversary this year, how does it feel to be in a band with this kind of legacy for so long?
Jacco: It is a great honor for a band to be around for this amount of time, especially nowadays where it gets harder and harder to maintain a bands stability as societies expectations step in. Everyone has to struggle to combine their day jobs and the band, but you know what? The sheer encouragement, enthusiasm and dedication of our fans make it all worthwhile! Add to that the natural urge for musicians to actually make music, and there’s all the incentive one needs. We feel like we’ve got plenty of music still in us, so expect us to be around for quite a while longer!
Koen: What Jacco says! Heidevolk is not going anywhere. Onwards to the next 16 years…as long as we’re having fun, there’s nothing that can stop us. What is next for Heidevolk? Jacco: Touring the new album, of course! Playing to as many people as we can, while starting to turn our heads towards new material for… yet another new album! Maybe some special projects down the road, who knows. If i told you i’ll have to kill you ;)
With it being the beginning of 2018? Did you have any favorite albums from 2017?
Koen: Heidevolk is a 6 piece band, so you can imagine the diversity in favorite artists/albums among the band members. Each individual has his own, but some of my favorite albums last year were ‘Malina’ from Leprous, and ‘Lykaia’ from Soen. I’m definitely a sucker for progressive, melodic music. But my taste varies, from Black and Death metal to classical music. It depends on my mood and circumstances ;)
When you are not focusing on the band, what do you like to do in your free time?
Jacco: We all have our hobbies, some music related, some not at all. Koen is an avid writer, for instance. Kevin draws a lot, I am an pipe organ builder, and Lars builds websites. And Rowan and Joost?
Koen: They do all kinds of obscure things haha, I don’t even want to know.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. With being a long time fan of the band, it was awesome to be able to talk about the new album and everything going on in the world of Heidevolk. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Jacco & Koen: Keep an eye on us, 2018 will be a year where one can see a lot of Heidevolk in the wild! There will be tours, new plans, a couple of videos and we would like to meet you all out there in person! Keep the pagan metal brotherhood alive and kicking! Proost, and thanks for the interview!
Heidevolk- Vuur van Verzet is available NOW through Napalm Records
Summoning came from the early days of 90s Black Metal with their own original sound. 25 years later, the band continues to push on with their 8th studio album, With Doom We Come, which is available NOW through Napalm Records. I had the gracious opportunity to ask both Protector (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards) and Silenius (Vocals, Bass, Keyboards) some questions about the new album, the legacy of the band, the recent interview with Noisey, and much more. Enjoy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! On January 5th, you’ve released your 8th album, With Doom We Come, through Napalm Records. How has the reception to the new album been so far?
Silenius: The reaction is as always: a lot of critics, a lot of praise, and some who criticize, but after a while admit that the album grows on them. The only thing I think has changed more than in former times, was that the official reviews by magazines have turned out to be more positive and the response from fans have been turned out to be more critical. In former times it was always the other way round.
How did the writing process begin for With Doom We Come?
Sienius: Normally, we start with the composing process, but this time it was a little bit different. We took all the left over riffs and musical fragments from the old mornings dawn session, put it together and made something new out of it. That means we rearranged, cut out, built up new melodies on old riffs and so on. in the end the new album turned out to be a kind of small brother of that album, and this was the aim of us. After the song process is finished protector usual starts to mix the album, while I try to find fitting lyrics. In this case I not only search for lyrics of Tolkien but also from different writers, which I can set in a Tolkien and Middle Earth connection in the end. beside that I also try to find fitting paintings for the cover and booklet and I also have a piece of paper aside where i write down words and phrases which later can be adapted as song or album titles.
One thing I really noticed upon repeat listens of the album is that With Doom We Come really feels a bit more focused on songwriting in more minimalist ways rather than exploring all areas that have been touch upon in the past. Was that a conscious effort or did the songwriting process just work out that way this time around?
Silenius: Yes, you are right, but this was not planned. It just turned out to be as it is. The song melodies are shorter and less protruding. The consequence is that the atmosphere is maybe a little bit bombastic and epic but a little bit more black metallish and melancholic. I think this time, the songs go more easy into the ear but on the other side has less to explore like it was for example on OMD, where the melodies have been far longer before they repeat. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. This time it turned out as it is, we are satisfied with the album, but of course we face the critics as it is on all our releases.
With recording becoming considerably cheaper and easier in subsequent years, how has that impacted Summoning as far as the recording process and songwriting creativity?
Protector: For me, it was a real progress to be finally able to record the complete music on my own with all time we need. I never liked the idea to be in an external sound studio with someone on the mixing board who decides the the final sound of our music. I always wanted the mixing process to be more a part of the complete song writing process, and since this is affordable we can spend much more time for the mix and arrange everything much better as we want it. Meanwhile, the mixing process and the composition process almost melt into each other, while still composing the songs simulations we already can think about the sounds. Of course, finally, at the end we do the real full mix, but don't have to do it in a few days but can take months for it; just as long as we think we need it.
While not every album in Summoning’s Catalog focus on his work, many albums really portray a great background and soundtrack to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. To someone who may not be as familiar or someone who wants to study more about Tolkien; What would you say is is the biggest thing you can learn from the works of Tolkien?
Silenius: Well, the basic elements that we can lean out of that unbelievable creation of a whole world is that creativity, fantasy and inventiveness have no boundaries. But of course, you can learn being fascinated about languages, about different cultures, about mythology of your forefathers and so on. Of course I started my fascination with Tolkien by reading Lord of the Rings, because even in that time when I was young, this book was quite famous, but after I read everything from and about Tolkien, all his children books, essays and translations of old European sagas. In the end, I liked the Silmarillion the most because this book has a kind of special feeling of spanning a wide range between different ages. I think this is a good example that history book can be exiting and not just a dry treatise.
With the band celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year, how does it feel about the band’s legacy after a quarter century?
Silenius: When we started Summoning, of course we did not know that this band can be alive for such a long time. But somehow, we succeeded all over those years. In the beginning we just wanted to release an album to be as cool as our musical heroes and so on and so on. In the early 90s, black metal was not just music but a whole life-style which I lived 24 hours a day. Everything was in the rise, and in the move and creativity was floating all over. Of course, nowadays, 25 years later, a lot of things have changed. Summoning is of course very important for us, but meanwhile it is just a part of our lives and not the center and the act of composing is far more focused and thoughtful compared to the beginning. But of course, it is an honor of us that meanwhile our music is a source of inspiration for quite a lot of younger bands. So it seems that our music has a kind of quality that spreads unto the hearts of younger generations who maybe continue this style and make their own ideas out of it.
With that, what do you feel are the positives and negatives of the changes in the sounds of Black Metal since starting Summoning?
Silenius: To be honest, I do not really follow the black metal scene, and I rarely listen to black metal since many years now. The funny thing is that i read a lot of metal magazines over all those years because i am simply interested in this and I want to stay updated when it comes to band names, trends and so on, so I mostly know a lot of things from the scene just in theory, but when it comes to being familiar with the sound, I mostly have to quit.
Just a while back, I read an interview on Noisey that featured Summoning talking about the new album, but also showcasing how the band is anti-facist and I am very happy to see you take that stance. In the state of the world in 2018, how do you feel about the political climate and the considerable uprising of Fascist and Nazi agendas gaining more limelight?
Protector: First of all, I want to state that the Noisey interview was a bit misleading. What I said about politics was just my personal opinion, not an official standpoint of Summoning. I also have to say that it was never my plan to connect my music with politics, but because in the history of black metal others created this connection, I was somehow forced to do that, because I won't stay silent if someone pollutes the music I am connected to with some Nazi shit.
But to answer your question: I really don't feel well seeing all those fascist powers rising and I think it more and more it interferes within people lives and therefore with mine as well. So it gets more and more difficult to stay non-political. I see social standards get destroyed, and the environment gets fucked up by some right wing idiots, and no one really seems to care about it. I see that people today feel totally week and more and more long for a strong leader to do things for them. I simply can not accept that and don't want to kneel in front of any leader, and how that more and more people will sooner or later stand up for their rights.
Silenius: After Protector made a political statement many years ago, and after he stated some of his political views some weeks ago, as you mentioned, I think it is quite clear and obvious that his heart is beating left. As he is my musical partner for two and a half decades, I give him all my respect he deserves. But does this make Summoning a political, left wing band? The simply answer is: "no". first Summoning never spread any political agenda, and second my heart is beating on the right side. The result is that summoning barely speaks with one tong when it comes to political opinion formation and in consequence I will try to avoid political statements in the future as much as possible. In contrary to protector I do not want to polarize, but it was important for me to state that I have different views. Originally, I really wished i would not have to explain myself politically in a summoning interview, but as the last interview with Noisey was presented as both of us have totally the same ideas, I simply have to make a statement. that's all you have to know and that's all I have to say.
Is there anything you feel that can help bring people back together, with less hatred, at this point?
Silenius: In my opinion no, and after all that's not our business, but i could see of course that after this Noisey interview, there was a big shitstorm - left against right, and in the end no one was interested in the music anymore.
Protector: Well, actually I don't see hate as something bad - hate, fury and anger can mean constructive power, it depends on the target of the hate. the problem is that today's hate goes into the wrong direction.
What is next for Summoning?
Silenius: well there will be a long break untill a full length release will be out. but what we want to do, is making a small release for just a few people, maybe a 10-inch vinyl with three new songs, as a limited edition. i like these counterparts, making music for many and then making music just for the few.
Once again, hank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I have really enjoyed what has been accomplished with Summoning up to this point and the new album is easily one of my favorite Summoning albums to date. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t bought up yet?
Silenius: No that's all for now. As always: Up the hammer to all our fans in America.
Summoning- With Doom We Come, is available NOW through Napalm Records