On Tour With   

On tour with Delain (6th & 7th October 2009)

Delain a few minutes before the concert…

Our latest article on Delain caused a lot of commotion ! In fact, we noticed a great sense of eagerness from the crowd during the Parisian show on 29th of April. It was also hard not to notice that during their gigs in Lyon and Strasbourg, despite their recent arrival on the scene (their first album Lucidity came out in 2006), Delain have already got a great deal of followers, most of which will probably follow the whole tour.
The band’s shy entrance to the stage is also quite enjoyable: the whole venue reacts, the fans know all the songs off by heart and thanks to their enthusiasm, they manage to push the band to go further.

The first fans are already there.

This respect is definitely given in return. On the one side you’ve got the passionate fans who drove the whole way and booked a hotel, or even worse, dared to navigate the SNCF (train service website in France) website! And on the other side, you’ve got a band struggling not to cancel each of the dates as they come and yet still trying to satisfy their audience…

A struggling singer

Charlotte on the edge of the stage (Strasbourg)

Charlotte’s health problems were like a sword of Damocles in the midst of Delain’s tour. As we go to meet the band (on the 6th of October in Lyon), they are practising Metallica covers (“Nothing Else Matters”, “Enter Sandman”, “Wherever I May Roam”) as they had plans to play some that very night. Little anecdote just to say that it sounded pretty good! Delain are clearly fans of the four horsemen (who isn’t to be honest?), so we thought we would break the ice by starting the St Anger versus Death Magnetic debate with them (and yes I assure you that this debate exists!). In the end, the Metallica covers were dropped as the band didn’t seem to know the songs well enough…

Basically, the concert the night before was pretty much only intrumental, apart from a few songs sung by Telya, singer of Whyzdom, who was lucky enough to replace Charlotte. This was obviously to the fans delight as they cheered for her whilst not being too pleased with the Dutch. According to this, the plan was now to economise on Charlotte’s voice to the maximum so that she could give it her all on their last tour date in Paris. Therefore, it came as no surprise when they asked us to limit our interviews with her. Either way, it was pretty difficult trying to find her anywhere throughout the two days, since she was so exhausted the whole time.

Charlotte « au naturel »

It was a frustrating and difficult time for Charlotte; nonetheless, she never lost her smile, accessibility or calm. However, she was away a lot of the time. It could be said that she really didn’t want to be though. For example, she even came up to me and asked if I wanted to do a short interview before excusing herself to go rest again. Whilst slurping up her magic honey treatment, she admitted that cancelling their gig at Tattoo The Mind (held just a few days after the Paris gig) came as a relief to her, as she would be able to rest a little more.

The Lyon concert was then reduced to one hour (compared to 1 hour 15 in Strasbourg and 1 hour and a half in Paris), during which Charlotte sang incredibly in tune despite the weakness in her voice. The band’s fun stage antics weren’t affected by her illness in the slightest. Although Charlotte does her best on the stage, she often takes breaks off stage during the instrumental parts. The band play an honest show and with their cards laid out they ask the audience to sing along to help their young vocalist. Ronald Landa also does a great job as dynamic second front man. Honesty really is a good word to describe the members of Delain. They are not fake on stage, speak frankly in their interviews and are always open to self-criticism.

What did the band learn from this experience? Ronald Landa (guitar/vocals) is honest about his playing; it has to be said that the music holds no bearing without the vocals. The band put forward the vocal melodies, which are always written first, and the instrumental then simply grips unto them. This technique is the opposite of how Metallica or Dream Theater work. However, this way of doing things doesn’t damage the compositions at all. This also explains why they have no plans to make any instrumental tracks.

Ronald Landa (guitar / vocals / grunts)

Although Martijn and Charlotte are not against the idea of having some more male vocals in their tracks, Ronald prefers not to even think about it, stating embarrassed « I can’t stand my singing », as though he was expecting some kind of criticism. No one seems to be shielded from criticism, from us, from the fans or from fellow bands. It has to be said that even though Ronald isn’t heard very much on certain tracks, his live performances remain convincing and his singing potential is assured. His vocals are reminiscent of those of Marco Hietala, notably on “The Gathering”, previous sung by this same bearded man.
Martijn, being the band’s strategist declares that he is completely satisfied despite the lack of diversity which could be worked on. As for Charlotte, either way, she “prefers male vocals!”.

Delain day by day

Delain’s dressing room
(You will notice the unavoidable bouncy ball on the left)

Apart from all of these little anecdotes which are allowing me to fill this report, much to my joy of Charlotte’s sickness, Delain’s everyday life is pretty much like any other band and quite classical. These days went by very calmly and it was nice. This calm was also thanks to K Productions, and notably Julien our contact, whose main worry was the well-being of Delain. It must also be mentioned that La Laiterie (Strasbourg) had impeccable organisation.

Cables, and some more cables…

Chronologically, a day on tour with Delain goes like this:

– Arrival at the venue,
– Sound check,
– Preparation of the many details in the show: lightss, special effects, video, smoke…
– Waiting: the « worst bit » according to Ronald. Each person has their own way of filling up the time: as Ronald goes for walks or gets on top of his work as programmer, Martijn enters a world of video games in the land of Wolfenstein :

Wolfenstein !!!

– Meal time: according to the chefs, our musicians are not fussy when it comes to food, unlike other artists, natably Rap/RnB stars. Ah, you really missed out on a spectacular burping contest won hands down by the sound tech guy!

The cooks !

– Pre-concert : the band sit around a table and plan. It’s fair to guess that the shows in Lyon and Strasbourg must have encountered a few set list setbacks because of Charlotte’s health. In fact, at this very moment I am asked to leave the dressing room.
– The concert,
– Meeting the crowd: the band think that this step is crucial and they make sure to do it every night that they play.

Delain is an accessible band. They never made me feel like I was in the way and in the end I was the only one who felt that way. Even if I was not allowed around during the sound checks, I was still able to look in for lots of privileged moments, such as seeing them rehearse their entrance onto the stage to “Invidia” or to see them on the edge of the stage right before the start of the show. I was even allowed on stage! During Whyzdom’s set, Ronald, Martijn, Sander and Rob were standing on the side watching the crowd.

Martijn, Ronald and Rob watching the crowd

In fact, Charlotte and Martijn often came to see me to ask if I had enough information for this article! They were very honest with me (“I hate playing “Shattered” and “Go Away”. They are great tracks, but they are a pain on guitar!” admits Ronald) and were open about their personal lives too. Martijn is the only member to be sacrificing 100% of his time to Delain, as the others all have side activities such as work or, for example, Charlotte is a student in History of Art and Ronald is a programmer.

Sander, the drummer

Sander also has a job on the side and he won’t let his drummer come before his family. Therefore, he admits to practising “half an hour a day, half listening”. After playing the instrument for 20 years, Sander just tries to keep up his level of skill because he no longer has time to try and get better at it. Charlotte admitted to us a bit of gossip: she plans to get two tattoos in the near future; one of them will be the flower in The Wall (Pink Floyd). And secondly, that she doesn’t actually get that many love declarations via MySpace !

Ronald’s departure

« I don’t wanna go !!! »

Here is an announcement that appeared on 28th October 2009 on Delain’s official website.

« Being a part of Delain has always been a tremendous privilege and humour for me. It was so awesome to play live and record albums for you guys. You have been so great to us, and to me, and I want to thank you so much for that. However, the time has come to step away from the band, and to persue a different dream. My musical taste has always been very wide, and I want to play in a band that plays a different kind of music for a long time. I could never do this because being in a band like Delain requires you to put all of your time and effort into that band. But the desire to play music with different people in different genres doesn’t let go. Therefore I decided to continue my role in Delain as a dedicated fan and friend. I will follow Delain very closely, and do everything I can to still be of value to the band. Besides that, I hope that you’ll check out what I’m doing once in a while, and that you will like my new musical endeavours. I want to thank Charly, Martijn, R
ob and Sander so much for the fun we had, the great moments we shared, the hard times we conquered, and the beautiful music we played. I also want to thank all our fans so very much! You guys make it worthwhile! Thank you for coming to so many shows, and for making me feel good! I love you all!
I’ll see you soon at a Delain show!
Ronald. »

Are you gonna talk or what ?!

Indeed, even though from the moment we met him, with his cheerful attitude (despite his discontent over the few vocal parts and his honesty about some of the guitar riffs), nothing could have led us to believe that he was uncomfortable, bored or distant in any way. Ronald, the thinker of the band, would be active, play well and answer questions like a truly committed front man. It will be difficult to think of Delain without him from now on. Anyway, good riddance to him! His successor’s sweet name is Ewout Peters (ex-Mythlorian /death metal).

Delain and « feminine metal »

Let’s remind ourselves that Delain is part of the great sphere of metal with female singers. Us media bastards are simply ace at locating different metal styles. Up until now there has been German speed metal, melodic death metal from Sweden, Norwegian black metal, Finnish power metal, to name a few. If there is one country we could crown as first metal with female singers producers in the world, it would have to be Holland. Historically, as well as relating to the metal scene.

Why so many? According to Charlotte, symphonic metal is something that doesn’t relate to the Dutch mentality. People are crazy about it because it allows them to escape from their own lives, contradicting the message, atmosphere and imagery completely. In fact, Martijn is somewhat of a veteran in this sector, since the keyboard player is the brother of Within Temptation founder, Robert Westerholt. This is a fact that might disarm any accusations of opportunism that one might have about the band. When one of your lead composers is one of the engineers of the genre, you can’t say that they’ve just cruised their way into this.
As for the clichés about their style, Ronald preferred to laugh at them and avoid hearing them as much as possible. His philosophy is that “what really matters is doing what you want to do and not be scared of doing it, just because it’s considered cliché! Manowar manage perfectly well (laughs). All in all, don’t do metal with female vocals just because it’s in fashion !”

Now for some details on the concert:

Live Report Lyon (06/10/2009) & Strasbourg (07/10/2009)

In Lyon, Boyond D Lusion, a band from Macon, opened up the concert with some conventional yet good symphonic metal with their shy yet competent singer. The guitarist/vocalist’s great stage presence was definitely that best feature of the band.

Vynce (Whyzdom)

Having personally not really connected with the complex symphonic metal that is Whyzdom despite their massively growing popularity in France, I bow down to the band’s exemplary attitude and amazing presence and proximity with the crowd from the stage. I have nothing more to add about them on a human or stage personality level: each individual does their job and make an effective contribution to the show. As well as being very attractive, Telya Melane, has impressive charisma and striking vocals (perhaps she over does it at time?).
Xavier, the new bassist, Marc (keyboards) who is always as smiley and Vince (guitar/vocals) who even lets out a few death metal vocals; they are all part of the stage antics. Regis and Nico are the only ones who remain quite reserved. And yet!
Vocalist Teyla Melane confesses to us her first impressions of the tour:

Overall, both of Delain’s shows ended up being incredibly similar. Telya from Whyzdom admitted that she found the Lyon audience quite shy. The concert in Strasbourg was longer than the one is Lyon and accordingly, shorter than the one in Paris, despite the fact that Charlotte gave it her all. As for the set list, the song “April Rain”, reserved for encores, did not feature on either of those nights.

Martijn, thinker of the band

I went to this concert with a sense of apprehension. To be honest, I was even feeling quite negative (ain’t that right Spaceman?). Have a look at this report of the band’s previous performance to see what I mean Metal Female Voices Fest 2009 : “Even if Delain’s two albums are, quite frankly, conventional and unconvincing, their songs take a whole new meaning when you see them played on stage and their amazing impact on the crowd is undeniable. It’s practically impossible not to clap your hands to “Sleepwalker’s Dream”, shake your ass on the punchy “Go Away” or to jump around on “The Gathering” . This still hasn’t changed my opinion of their discography; however, I have started to appreciate some of the tracks more than I did. The exception would be “Stay Forever”, which is simply a boring track. Another exception would be the death metal chorus in “Sever”. Not great…

Happy birthday !

After having wished Sander a happy birthday, Delain finish with « Pristine », which reminds us of Within Temptations’ old stuff (perhaps Martijn is feeling a little nostalgic?). As the curtain falls again and we hear a few more double pedal hits, the evening ends in a beautiful crescendo.

The band put forward their friendliness on the stage, Even though Martijn is left slightly in the background, Charlotte and Ronald are constantly smiling and talking with the crowd. It has to be known that, occasionally, Rob likes to mimic them.

Delain seem to want to build a friendly bond with their audience and distance themselves from their status as artists. They take the time to shake a few hands and take a few pictures with people at the end of each show. This is a habit that the band do not want to lose. What follows is the Meet & Greet, which is a time when ten lucky individuals get the opportunity to meet all of the members in a more quiet area. Away from the signing of merchandise and memorabilia as renowned by bands like Nightwish or Dream Theater, the band have some real conversations with the crowd members. Although this is nevertheless a commercial ploy (you have to admit it), the band seem very sincere and Martijn even goes up to some of the shyer people to ask them questions himself.

Meet & Greet : takes a while but not too long !

Once the traditional band picture in family frame has been shot, marking the fans complete inability to pull silly faces (play spot the different here below), Delain finally make it back to their dressing room while Whyzdom are left chatting away,

Ok guys, nice try but the silly faces need improvement…
Conclusion : What next ?

Delain concert (Lyon)

What’s next for DELAIN ? « We always say we wouldn’t use any pyrotechnics because everyone already does. However, we have. So yeah, a concert with an orchestra could be an idea…” admits Ronald.
Fans are used to the fact that DELAIN albums often have many guest stars, as well as some reoccuring ones (Marco Hietala). There are so many guests that fans can only hope they manage to get them all on stage together with DELAIN one day, yet you have to be honest here: “it’s way too complicated logistically to have everyone on stage at the same time” declares Martijn, even though this has been done before with a few of them (Sharon Den Adel, Marco…).
Although these guests have mainly been from the metal scene so far, Charlotte seemed very interested in the idea of opening up to other musical styles for collaborations. In fact, her influences are far from being just metal: Radiohead, Jeff Buckley… Check out her “influences” category on her MySpace ! She also mentions the singer of The Cure, with who she would love to work.
But what is really going to happen in their musical future ? According to Martijn, the big riff followed by simplistic drumming in “April Rain” (as inspired by PAIN’s electro) could be the premises for DELAIN’s evolution.
As long as they don’t start working with the exasperating Peter Tägtgren, then it’s fine…

Thank you :
Julien and Laetitia from K Productions, Rik (Delain tour manager) for their welcoming
Delain : Rik (Tour Manager), Charlotte, Ronald, Sander, Martijn, Rob, for their accessibility
Thank you also to Whyzdom !

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