Charlotte Wessels, Delainâs vocalist, is passionate about art in all its forms and loves to create above all else â whether it is music, lyrics or visual work. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that she should appear less than enthusiastic when asked if Delain will soon release a live album, especially since so many videos can be found on YouTube nowadays. As it turns out, sheâs much more excited when she describes the way Delain turned their way of composing upside down for their new record, We Are The Others â which will finally be released on June 4th, after heaps of difficulties related to the selling of Roadrunner Records to Warner â, the way the artwork and the lyrics of the album were created, or her new photography project.
The creation process is so captivating that itâs bound to elude the listener, who only ever discovers an album from the emerged surface. For an artist, on the other hand, this process is never-ending and represents an entire lifeâs soundtrack.
Radio MetalÂ : Youâre here in Paris to talk about your new album and your upcoming concert in May. Do you do that in every country Delain is going to visit, or is France merely lucky once again?
Charlotte Wessels (vocals)Â : France is usually one of the countries that we go to for some extensive interviews and promotion before the tours. We donât do all the countries, but we definitely go to France and some other countries. This time, it was really lucky, because I was just happening to drop by in Paris today! Very lucky coincidence.
Your guitar player Timo Somers will not join you on this tour. He will be replaced by current Doro and former After Forever guitarist Bas Maas. What brought about this situation?
Timo is really busy with a lot of musical projects. When he auditioned for the position of guitarist for Delain, we already knew that music was really in his blood. He has so many projects going on, and he was really busy. We were wondering how we could think of a solution that would provide everybody space. We were actually thinking about having two guitarists joining us when Bas Maas came along. There were enthusiastic about the possibility of filling the job together. Itâs not really a thing that you would automatically go for, but when we saw the option of having these two very talented guitarists who were willing to take the responsibility, we thought it might be a very good idea. Weâre curious to see how it turns out and to have Bas on stage with us for the first time.
Your previous tour ended in May last year â in Paris, actually â, youâll soon be back on the roads, and in the meantime, youâve managed to record an album. Do you guys ever stop? Does the band suffer from some kind of artistic bulimia?
Thatâs really not the case, to be honest. If you think of it that way, that we stopped touring, recorded an album and now weâre touring again, it seems everything is going really fast. But to be honest, the last tour was already meant to be a promo tour for the new album. Actually, I prefer the way you put it! If you put it the other way, you could say weâve had a pretty big delay, but weâve had some circumstances, considering the problems with the label. I think everybodyâs already heard about that on the net. But now weâre really happy to have the album done and fixed.
How did the composition process go this time? Are you still behind the lyrics?
Iâm behind the lyrics, but also more behind the music and the songs. The story used to be that Martijn wrote most of the stuff, and I wrote most of the lyrics. Jos also sometimes joined in on some songs, on the previous records. This time, we really tried as much as possible to write from scratch, all three of us. Weâd sit together in a room and see what kind of songs we were in the mood for. Apart from that, a lot of people have been influencing the songs on this record. When the songs were kind of finished, we went to Sweden and we did rewriting session with the Tripod team, our producers. So they also kind of put their stamps on the music. Thatâs kind of how it went: we started writing songs in a small circle, and then we did rewriting sessions with Tripod in Sweden. Then we recorded the bunch!
Your new single, âWe Are The Othersâ, was inspired by the hate crime against a British girl called Sophie Lancaster in 2007. She was killed because she was a Goth. You seem particularly touched by this subject. Is it important for you to talk about the right to be different?
Itâs very important. The case of Sophie was extremely tragic, and I guess everybody has heard about it on the news. There was an animation video made in her honor a year after her death. I guess anyone who has seen it cannot be anything but extremely touched. To me, itâs a very special subject. I started gender studies a while ago, which is about the way differences in human beings can chance cultural or political processes. It also has a lot to do with prejudice. Growing up dressing alternative, or listening to alternative musicâŠ You already know thereâs a lot of prejudice against that. But I donât want to make it a subject only about subcultures. Itâs also about sex, ethnicity and sexual preferences â all those things that need a bit more acceptance.
These past few years, weâve heard many metal bands start talking about the state of the world, the financial crisis, environmental issues, ecology, etc. Those were the main themes of many albums in 2011. Is it something you also tackle on this album?
Environmental issues, not so much. Itâs something I care about, but not something I draw lyrical inspiration from. Not yet, letâs say. The main influence on most songs for this album was the whole thinking about difference and acceptance. Inter-human actions, so to speak.
Unfortunately, we havenât heard the album yet, but there were a couple of extracts in various videos you posted on line, especially in the tour trailer. These tracks sound particularly heavy, and some of the titles are quite aggressive: âHit Me With Your Best Shotâ, âWhere Is The Bloodâ, etc. Does this album mark a change of direction for Delain?
These questions are very difficult to answer for me. Usually, itâs more the public than ourselves that decides whether or not itâs going in a certain direction. What I can say is that, lyrically, Iâve been trying not to avoid anything, like aggressive things or lyrics that I would normally think should be a bit more subtle. Iâve been looking for the limits, like: âHow far can you express yourself without crossing certain borders?â Musically, you mentioned it was quite heavy. I think it has to do withâŠ I mean, there are very different songs on the record. Some songs are actually much more poppy, and others are more heavy. It really goes in a lot of directions. But I feel that it does portray one identity. I think we also owe that to Tripod, our production team, and Jacob Hellner, whoâs worked with Rammstein and Apocalyptica. Heâs worked very much with the band, on just the groove of the band. When you listen to this album, thereâs a little less orchestration going on. Itâs a little bit more straightforward, with drums and guitars, more in your face. This is what I really like about it, and what I think makes even the poppier songs still more intense, in a way. Everything is real and right there.
Youâve already played a couple of songs on stage. Have you received some comments regarding this evolution? What do the fans have to say? Arenât you afraid they will be a little lost?
I think the responses to the couple of songs that weâve played have been very good. Weâve played one track called âGet The Hell Out Of Meâ, which was very popular right away. People started jumping and clapping without even knowing the song, so it went really well. You already mentioned âWe Are The Othersâ as a single, but since the album was delayed a bit, weâre probably going to throw in another single. Thatâs probably going to be âGet The Devil Out Of Meâ. This is one that people will no doubt hear very soon. So I think people have responded to it very well. How theyâll respond to the album as a whole is unpredictable. But I like it! (laughs) So I can only assume others will like it too! I donât know why they wouldnât!
Maybe because the change seems to be very important â compared to Lucidity, at least, perhaps not to April RainâŠ
I can imagine. In a band, you feel like you naturally evolve to a certain state, because there are years that you just spend writing songs. Of course, the audience doesnât see the whole process. They see one spot of the process, which is called Lucidity, one spot called April Rain, and then We Are The Others. They donât get to know what happened in between, and how some choices donât come from a sudden desire to do something else, but were naturally created.
The artwork of the album is very original, very art nouveau. You donât see that often on a metal album. What was the idea, the concept behind this artwork?
The concept wasnât so much behind the artwork itself as it was behind the artist. The artwork was made by Glenn Arthur, a California-based artist. He works a lot with the art nouveau imagery, as you said, mixed with steampunk images as well. Iâve been following his work for a very long time, I really love it. I think what heâs doing in visual art is similar to what weâre doing in music: itâs kind of dark, but then again, it has this really aesthetic aspect to it. Iâve been writing blogs about him, and at some point we got in touch. He asked me: âIs you cover of âSmall Town Boyâ available on iTunes? Because I really like itâ. And I was like: âOh my God, he likes it!!!â And I thought we had to do something with him. As for the concept behind the artwork itself, I gave him the lyrics, and thatâs where he drew his inspiration from. Thatâs how that went. Iâm so proud he did the artwork. There are going to be little surprises, because heâs also made extra sketches for the booklet. Itâs really nice.
Youâve already mentioned the problems youâve had regarding the release of the album. For those who donât know about it, can you tell us why the release has been postponed?
It had to do with the fact that Roadrunner, where we were signed, got sold to Warner. We always had very good work relationships with the label, and we were really satisfied. But then we moved to Warner. Of course, they didnât sign us, and they were just not 100% behind the album. The former boss of Roadrunner has a company in Holland, called CNR Music. So in Holland, we are going to publish the album there. The funny thing is that the album has been licensed out to some Roadrunner countries. In the end, weâre back with the same people, which is really nice! But now itâs under a new name. Weâre really happy we could find a solution. Off the record, the release date is not out yet, this information is all very new, and we will announce the release date on Monday. So if you put it out there, please donât do it before Monday! (laughs) Weâre really happy, because a lot of people were really worried, and they were making petitions. Weâre so thankful for that. It was a very stressful situation for us, but we saw all the fans responding to it. Now weâre just happy weâve found a solution. (Note: the release date has since been announced; We Are The Others will be out on June 1st for Benelux and Germany, and on June 4th for the UK and France.)
We Are The Others is Delainâs third studio album. It was probably too early before to talk about a live album, but are you starting to think about it now?
(long hesitation) Itâs not the first thing on my mind. Weâve recorded some live tracks and mixed them properly, so weâve actually got some decent quality live songs ready. Maybe one day weâll do it, and of course, it will be great to have it. But I just really like to create new music more. These days, you can see every live gig on YouTube. I can imagine it would be nice to have something, because I like listening to live tracks of other bands, but to me, itâs not the most exciting thing. Iâm more thinking about album number four already!
Youâre taking part in a very interesting artistic project with Wendy van den Bogert, a Dutch photographer and designer, whoâs made several photoshoots for Delain. Itâs actually a photo project, for which youâre looking for models. Can you tell us more about that?
No! (laughs) No, really, itâs a project in the same vein as what I told you about earlier: diversity. The photoshoot will probably take place in April, so it will be out there very soon. But I donât want to talk about what exactly is going to be in it. Itâs a new direction for me, I havenât been actively creating visual art, so itâs really new. Wendy and I found each other because we both wanted to take on some artistic, visual project. We really found each other in this idea. And now we already have six projects on the shelves that we really want to do! Youâll see about that when itâs done, but for now, Iâll keep it for myself! (laughs)
Iâll follow your blog to see the developments! Very last question: you recently graduated in art studies â congratulations! Art in all its forms is obviously very important to you. Could you imagine yourself evolving in a type of art other than music, being a painter, for example?
Taking on the project with Wendy is actually the first step into a new direction, to see what I could do in the visual department. I love writing, painting, drawing, photographyâŠ So yes, I could, but I donât know if itâs in my destiny! (laughs)
Interview conducted on march, 24th, 2012 in Paris
TranscriptionÂ : Saffâ
IntroductionÂ : MetalâO Phil
Delain’s websiteÂ : www.delain.nl
AlbumÂ : We Are The Others, out on june, 4th, 2012.
This post is also available in: French