Interview with Martijn & Charlotte from Delain, 11.02.2009, Roadrunner Cologne .[ face2face ]

At the beginning it was more a project consisting of many guest musicians, but nowadays it has developed to a constant (live-)band. We`re talking about Delain from Holland. Now the musicians will already publish their second album called “April Rain” and theyīre also back on the road touring. On the 11th of February 2009 we met singer Charlotte and keyboarder Martijn in Cologne at their labelīs office and we talked about the new CD, Guitar Hero and Cologne`s carnival.


Lea: Did you have a nice winter so far or are you already longing for the spring to come?
Charlotte: I`m always longing for the spring, because Iīm more a spring-person than a winter-person, but winter was nice in Holland this year. We had ice, so I went ice-skating.
Martijn: I went to Switzerland for some skiing. I had a really nice winter. Iīm a real ski-addict, so I had pleasure, but spring might come now. Thatīs okay.


Lea: Do you go skiing regularly?
Martijn: Ja, every winter. Switzerland, Austria, Germany wherever. But I have to ski. (laughs)


Lea: The release date of your new album “April Rain” is coming closer, but actually it was delayed for about a month. What has happened?
Charlotte: We just needed more time for a good preparation. We didnīt want to compromise because of a lack of time. Now we can do everything properly the way we want to.


Lea: Now the release date is closer to April, what is also better referring to the album title…
Charlotte: (grins) Ja, that`s a coincidence, but we didn`t want to release it in April, because we have a big tour coming in April and we wanted the album to be out before the tour. So weīre really looking forward to that.
Martijn: Actually we should have called the album “March Rain” instead of “April Rain”…
Charlotte: …but that doesn`t sound that good. (laughter)


Lea: But why rain and not sunshine?
Charlotte: Ja, because it`s more the overall feeling of the album and because of the song “April Rain” was called “April Rain” and not “April Sunshine”. (laughs)


Lea: Your debut-album “Lucidity” had more like a project character because of all the guest musicians taking part on it. Now there is only one, Marco Hietala from Nightwish. Why exactly him again?
Martijn: First of all his voice kicks ass. Second of all our process of making the album went so easy with the band members that it was not necessary to have guests and it went so gradually that we didnīt even had time to ask guests, because you have to ask for their schedules and you have to arrange stuff. Our stuff was done already. But Marco`s voice fits so well and he can sing in the same register as Charlotte. Actually our vocal lines were ready and he could just sing them, too, and that is very unique for a man to sing girls` vocal lines.

Charlotte: That is very amazing. He can really adapt to my vocal lines which you think that a guy would normally sing lower, but Marco can sing whatever line he wants to sing and that is really amazing.


Lea: Aside from less guest musicians what is mainly different if you compare “April Rain” to the first album?
Charlotte: Of course the guest musicians is a big difference. And then probably the fact that this album was made with contributions of the whole band. Everybody put his creativity into this album and I think you can hear that. Then there are lots of other sounds on the album, other instruments, some electronics, we have a mandolin and I think that kind of made the album fresh.
Martijn: It`s also more guitar orientated. Itīs heavier. The structures of the songs are still like a pop structure with a verse, chorus et cetera. But nonetheless it`s heavier because of the guitar riffs in it and also the way it`s mixed. So it sounds heavier and it has more balls. The songs are pop songs, but with a metal colt.
Charlotte: And the songs are more written with a live perspective, I think. With the first album when we started we didn`t have the plan of being a live band and now we are. So there are more rhythms with a live perspective in mind like how would it sound live and does it have enough balls for being played live. I think, that also makes a difference.


Lea: How do you work within the band?
Martijn: Well, the writing takes place before we`re going to the studio. We do it at home. For example I write parts and then I go to Charlotte and she looks at it. Then you have this interaction and you get the song. The recording itself took place partially at home, because of the current technological developments. You can do a lot of stuff at home. For example the guitars we did at home, but we recorded the amps in the studio. So it didn`t take much time for that anymore. The drums we did in Germany and for a small part also in Rotterdam, in Holland. And the mixing took place in Denmark. So the recordings took once again place in different countries and there`s not only one studio where we made the stuff.
Charlotte: For every part of the music we checked out where it would best to be recorded and that works. (laughs) I think, it`s better than having one studio. So everybody got his own speciality into the environment.


Lea: Martijn, you`re more the composer of the band and Charlotte, you`re responsible for the lyrics, right?
Charlotte: Ja, that`s mainly the fact. But now I also try to work a little bit more with the music, but it`s still minor, although I try developing that.


Lea: At which point do the music and the lyrics come together?
Charlotte: At “Lucidity” it was like there was already a song and then the lyrics came, but now sometimes the lyrics and vocal lines were first there and then the song was built around it. It kind of depends on which song youīre talking about. Most of the time it`s first music and then lyrics.
Martijn: But I have to say that the lyrics came much earlier in the process of writing the music this time, it came together much earlier now than it did with “Lucidity”.
Charlotte: And I think that`s good, because then music and the lyrics can adapt to each other. You can really find the right interaction and balance between the music and the lyrics. For me it makes it a lot easier sometimes. (laughs) And I think it made a good cohesion in the songs.


Lea: Is “April Rain” based on a concept?
Charlotte: Not really. There is kind of a theme which comes back in, I think, two or three songs, but there is not really a concept lyric wise. Also not music wise? (looks at Martijn)
Martijn: No, because even the other way around, it`s important to me to get really different songs and that you can really identify a song as a listener. This is this song and that is a recognisable part for that song. And that is very important for me when Iīm writing.


Lea: I just remember track 9 on the new album which is called “Come Closer” and track 10 is “Go Away”. So I just got the feeling that there is some kind of connection between the songs…
Charlotte: (laughs) And then there is also “Stay Forever”. Yeah, we saw that there`s a kind of contrast. I think, it`s not bad to have contrasts anyway. Isnīt “Come Closer” only a bonus track on the Japan-album? Itīs not on the usual album anymore.
Martijn: Ja, it`s not on the usual version anymore. That`s one of the changes we did, because we wanted everything to be perfect, really perfect, so also the balance of the album should be exactly right. We put another song on it which is called “Lost” and we keep “Come Closer” as a surprising present with the extended version.

Lea: Well, I have a promo version of the album and thereīs the song still on…
Martijn: Yeah, I can imagine. (laughs) But that changed now.

Lea: Which songs of the new album are potential single tracks?
Charlotte: Probably the title song “April Rain”. We actually recorded a video for that last week and we`re waiting for the results now. Thatīs very exiting. For the rest we`re actually still looking for what the second single could be or should be. To me there are of course a lot of highlights on this album. Every song is new and fresh and I have a personal connection with every song. You really have to look at them in another way to see which one would be a single candidate. Iīm not really sure yet.
Martijn: Itīs funny, cos I noticed that people who already listened to the album, they have several candidates for that second single by themselves, which I think is good, because then you have a lot of possibilities and a lot of options. “April Rain” is certainly for me a song that qualifies, because it has all elements of our music in it. It`s a good ambassador to be a single and presents us. Now you have to think about if you wanna have a bit harder song or a softer song as a second single. And that depends on a lot of things.


Lea: As you, Charlotte, just mentioned a video referring to the song “April Rain”, can you already give us some hints about it?
Charlotte: Yeah, of course I can give some details. We shot the video with a company called i-code. We`ve heard a lot of good things about it from other colleague-bands. Of course we know the script of the video, but we donīt know how it`s going to look, because it was a green screen. So itīs gonna be a partially animated video. At the moment I can only tell you that the video that we saw was very green. (laughter) But I think it will be an exiting video and I donīt wanna give you the story or the plot, because it will be a surprise.
Martijn: I think, we can tell you that the video takes place on a bridge for a part. But we keep the rest as a secret.


Lea: How important are ballads for your albums?
Charlotte: That was actually one of the things, because “Come Closer” was like the ballad-ballad of the album and I think we`re kind of suckers for ballads, because we do make them and we have fun making them. But on this new album “Come Closer” was one ballad too much, because we want to keep the balance heavy. Nevertheless I love the song “Come Closer” and Iīm glad that we have it as an extra song to do something with it.
Martijn: Yeah, we also donīt see it as a B-song or anything, but it was just that the balance needed another kind of song. “Come Closer” is really like a “Kill-Your-Darling-Situation” and we had to make a choice. I have to say for myself that I kind of always had a relationship with ballads when I played in Within Temptation. I always wrote ballads like “Restless”, for example. For me it was easy to write, but nowadays – which also reflects in “April Rain” – I wanted something different in general. Thatīs also why we shifted the balance of the songs a little bit. A lot of songs are heavier and also faster. In the past I was more doomy-orientated and slow. So this is new for me and actually also that what I was looking for.
Charlotte: For playing live I like to make a ballad once in a while to calm down.


Lea: Do Delain still need regular rehearsals?
Charlotte: It kind of depends on whether we`re playing a lot or not. We had a period when we were playing like four times in a week and those were rehearsals for us. So real ones were not really needed. Now that weīve been busy with writing for a long time and not playing so much, we do rehearsals, but also not that much. Itīs cool when you go on stage and it kind of comes automatically. Then you can enjoy the show more and focus more on the interaction with the audience than thinking all the time “Am I singing the right notes? Am I playing the right riffs?” We try to get it as tight and easiest for us as possible. I think, at the moment we rehearse like once a week, because we`re very busy with promo and stuff. We just see how much its needed in a certain period. And now we have a new album and should rehearse our asses off. (laughs)


Lea: Last year in December youīve been on tour with Subway To Sally. How was it?
Martijn: Well, for us it was a challenge, because you have an audience which is actually not your audience. But this is what we wanted. We didnīt want to have some kind of audience within our genre, but something from outside, because it challenges you. It was also a little bit of a training for us. We were in writer`s mood, if you know what I mean? So it was good to play live again and it was a very learning experience for us, but also very positive. I think, the audience responded well. Of course there are always like in relationships ups and downs, but I have a really positive feeling about the tour and also about the band there. Nice people.
Charlotte: Yeah, it was very nice. It`s always like you donīt know each others, but the last night there is always some kind of magic where everybody gets relaxed, because “Ahh, it`s the last night and we had some fun”, so it was cool.
Martijn: They also did some stuff with us. They modified the drum kit…
Charlotte: …put some Whiskey in there…(laughs)
Martijn: …so during the show we didnīt hear the base kick anymore for a certain part…and that kind of jokes. It was fun.
Charlotte: Yeah, I mean, you could think it`s annoying, but they took their time to play a trick on us and thatīs a good sign. It was a really good tour with nice guys.


Lea: In March and April you will continue touring, this time with Kamelot. How did this co-operation come about?
Charlotte: Yeah, when we heard about the possibility to tour with Kamelot, we had a good feeling about it, because the timing was right.
Martijn: They asked us if we were interested and for us it was perfect because of the timing and also, I think, their fans and audiences like melodic, symphonic kind of metal and rock music and we make that as well. So I hope they will like us, too. We`re really looking forward to it.
Charlotte: Yeah, we`re going to see a lot of cities that we havenīt seen before and kind of widen the horizon. We`re looking forward to it.


Lea: Are there also coming some headliner shows again?
Charlotte: Yeah, we`re trying to fill the gaps on the days that weīre not playing with Kamelot as much as possible with headliner shows.
Martijn: But also after the Kamelot-shows we`ll do a big tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. That will actually be our first headliner tour for the new album. Yeah, thatīs the kick off for us actually.


Lea: Charlotte, in our last interview in summer 2007 you told me that you wanted to start studying “Art History”. Is that still up to date?
Charlotte: Yeah, it`s still up to date. Iīm in my second year now and until now everything is going right. Sometimes I have to slow down a little bit, because we get quite busy with Delain (laughs), but Iīm still enjoying it very much. And actually I also get a lot of inspiration for me and my lyric writing. I read some awesome literature. So yeah, it worked out fine.

Lea: Do you still have time for drawing?
Charlotte: No. (laughs loudly) I haven`t done that for three years or something. Thatīs not really up to date anymore.

Lea: Martijn, in your profile on Delainīs website Iīve read, that youīre a lot into computer games. Ever thought about to create music for a game?
Martijn: No, I havenīt thought about it. I know that my brother did it with Within Temptation. Actually you`re the first mentioning this possibility. Actually yesterday we were talking about…I don`t know if we can make some advert? You have like a certain computer system with faked guitars…
Charlotte: You know what we`re talking about, right? (grins)
Lea: Guitar Hero?
Martijn: Guitar Hero, exactly! That would be nice if you could play our songs in that game. Actually there in the corner (points there) is one guitar of that game. (laughs) It would be cool to take part in there. There are a lot of Roadrunner bands who are on Guitar Hero. Actually yesterday we were thinking about asking it from Roadrunner.
Charlotte: It would be so nice if that works. Then we could play our own songs on Guitar Hero. Would be silly, (laughter) but anyway…


Lea: In May it`s time again for the Eurovision. If you had the chance to take part in there for your own country, would that be something for you or do you think sceptically about that kind of contest?
Martijn: Actually thatīs very funny you ask, because with “Lucidity” we had this question in Holland, but at least we thought at that moment – when we really just started – we thought that if we gonna do that it`s suicide. Most of the time when you enter the contest and you donīt win, then you have some media attention, but then it`s completely gone…
Charlotte: …and you always stay a band which sucked at the Eurovision Song Festival. (laughs)


Lea: You need more self-confidence!
Charlotte: No, not really. Our audience is not really the Eurovision-Song-Festival-audience. Okay, I have seen Lordi going there. They are one of the exceptions. But still their approach is different than our approach, not only the masks, but also the music is different. For them it was a very good move, but for us it would have been a very strange beginning, just coming out of nothing. I think, people always want to see a band that has struggled to get somewhere.


Lea: Soon itīs carnival and especially here in Cologne it`s a big celebration. What do you think about carnival?
Martijn: Well, if Iīm correct we`re both not Catholic (means Charlotte and himself), but Protestant. Yeah, and if Iīm correct itīs more a catholic party, at least it was in the areas which were more Catholic. In Holland itīs kind of divided between the North and the South. And the South there is really party and beer and in the North you notice nothing.
Charlotte: Yeah, itīs really dead where we live. It`s only in the South of Holland. I also have some childhood-nightmares-memories left from carnival, because when I was first musically educated, I played clarinet and I was in one of the walking bands, you know, on a carnival procession for one year. I hated that when we had to walk through the city. Then we had to walk through the cities dressed up like Japanese with really big hats and it was so cold. But we only had to wear panties. Carnival is in the wrong season.


Martijn: I never understood why carnival is in February.
Charlotte: The drinking gets you warm, I guess. That’s the whole idea behind it.
Martijn: But why do you have the October Fest in Munich then?
Charlotte: Good question. Iīm not sure.
Martijn: Carnival would be better in summer. I can`t understand why it works in Sao Paulo.


Lea: Your wishes for 2009?
Charlotte: To kick ass, to have great tours, to have “April Rain” being received really well, having a good time with each others and on a personal kind of level to be happy, satisfied and kind of relaxed. (laughs)
Martijn: It sounds very clichč, but I must agree. I really hope that people gonna like the album.

Lea: I can already say I like it.
Martijn: Thank you very much.
Charlotte: Thatīs good to hear.

Interview: Lea Sommerhäuser .[ face2face ]