Over the last year, Dutch symphonic metal outfit Delain have been celebrating their ten year anniversary.
From the release of their fifth full-length Moonbathers and an anniversary edition of their debut album Lucidity to extensive headline tours across Europe and North America to gracing some of the world’s biggest festival stages – the band is set to cap it off with the release of their first ever live DVD/Blu-Ray package coming out on October 27th via Napalm Records.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Delain’s lead singer Charlotte Wessels to talk about their forthcoming live DVD release, their upcoming Danse Macabre tour alongside Marco Hietala from Nightwish and the band’s plans for 2018.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us again, I know we’ve spoken a couple of times in the past and it’s always nice to chat with you.
Obviously, last year marked the 10th anniversary of your debut album Lucidity. I just wondered back then when the band first started out, it was envisaged that Delain would just be a studio project with guest musicians. Did you ever think at that point that the band would become as big as what it has and still be standing 10 years later?
Charlotte: I think not at the moment when we were just initiating the project, but I think very early on in getting Lucidity together Martijn and I were kind of obsessing about it in a positive way. I think neither of us really wanted to it to be over after the album was out, like that felt really weird. So kind of it started with ok you know we’ll promote the album, we can do some live shows. Ok, this works we’ll put the band together. Ok, you know we’ll do another album.
Like I know that after the first album we kind of really wanted to do another one straight away. Since we had the band together we figured ok we are going to approach this really as a band now. You know with every step your expectations about the future also change. But I think that even from the beginning we both really felt like that this is something we’re kind of in for the long run.
NRR: I have to say that I absolutely love Lucidity as an album, it’s one of my favourite Delain records. Obviously, last year you re-released the album with a special anniversary edition of the record. I was just wondering, looking back at Lucidity, do you have a favourite track from the album and if so which song and why?
Charlotte: Well I always have a special feeling with the very first song that I worked on for the album. The first song that Martijn gave me, that he sent me an instrumental demo for was “See Me In Shadow”. I really, really, really enjoyed writing the lyrics for that one and the melodies and I really vividly remember the moment that I went over to Martijn to say well you know this is how it goes for whoever is going to sing it in the end, not knowing that would be me.
So yeah, since I remember that one so vividly as the one that kind of sparked everything it’s got a special place in my heart. But I also still really enjoy “Sleepwalkers Dream” for example, which is always a crowd pleaser along with “The Gathering”. There are quite some songs on there that we still play quite a lot.
NRR: I absolutely love “The Gathering” every time I hear that song it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s such an incredible track.
Charlotte: Well it gets the party started, everyone always starts jumping.
NRR: Your most recent studio album Moonbathers, it’s maybe the most symphonic record that Delain have done since Lucidity. I just wondered was that the intention with this record?
Charlotte: Well yeah it was, on the other hand, it wasn’t. Usually we kind of really trust what is happening in the writing process and the kind of flow that we are in. You only notice after a couple of songs like oh hey, do you notice that all of these songs work really well with big symphonic elements, or oh hey we are doing quite some songs with grunts again.
Yeah, it is something that it happens and we kind of notice how that flows but it’s not something that we’re trying too heavy to really influence. Whenever we do try that and we say, oh ok we are going to write the heaviest song that we ever did, then it will end up becoming something really upbeat. I don’t trust planning a creative process too much.
NRR: I noticed one of your Facebook posts recently you were reading a lot of poetry. I just wondered to what extent do you find song inspiration from literature and which authors have you been reading at the moment?
Charlotte: A lot actually, like most recently on Moonbathers there is one song that actually was inspired by a book I read just before that which was called “The Better Angels of Our Natures”, which is basically a history of violence in mankind. So I can get very direct inspirations from poetry. Actually, also on the last album .. I was working on the lyrics for “Hands Of Gold”, then I was considering the grunt parts and I was reading Oscar Wilde at that moment. I was reading “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, and it fits so perfectly with the lyrics. I’ve done something that I rarely ever do and I just took one verse of it and that became the part that Alissa White-Gluz actually grunts on “Hands Of Gold”.
Yeah, “Turn The Lights Out” was actually inspired by “The Sandman” by Neil Gaiman. It was about the character of death in The Sandman series for anyone who knows it. So yeah, I do really regularly take inspiration from film or from paintings or from any kind of art. Art inspires art, and that’s a beautiful thing I guess.
NRR: Obviously, you are going to be performing an exclusive set of dates alongside your longtime friend and collaborator Marco Hietala from Nightwish on the forthcoming Danse Macabre tour, which also includes a date in London. I know a lot of these shows are now sold out. I was just wondering could you tell us a little bit about the idea and the format of the show, and maybe a little bit about what the fans can expect?
Charlotte: Well what the fans can expect first of all is the special fact that Marco is joining us on tour for the very first time, to really tour with us. We’ve been on some tours with him where he was touring with Nightwish and he always has been very happy and gracious to join us onstage, but of course, that was always in a situation where he still had to save his energy for the main act of that night being Nightwish.
This is the first time that we actually get to have him sing a lot of the songs that we’ve done with him because there are quite a few so we are really looking forward to having him be one of the main performers of the night. Since he is such a big part of our sound over the years I think that is something that a lot of fans have been waiting for quite a while. Also, we are going to play with the theme of Danse Macabre a bit, but I won’t disclose too much about that yet.
NRR: Is there any song in particular on the Danse Macabre tour which you are looking forward to playing – maybe a song you haven’t played before or an oldie that you haven’t played in a long time?
Charlotte: We performed “Nothing Left” for the very first time in 6 years last Saturday because we are thinking of performing that as well on the tour with Marco. I’m actually looking forward to that, it was very nice performing it again after all that time.
NRR: The track “Danse Macabre” on the Moonbathers record, it’s such a beautiful track. I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about the song and the inspiration behind it?
Charlotte: That’s actually another track …it was inspired by a film script from a friend of ours from LA and he had written a film script and he asked us to write a song to go with it. The crazy thing was that I related to the protagonist of the story in a ridiculous way, to the point of like really coincidental shared experiences. So that was actually a perfect challenge for us, and it inspired both the song “Chrysalis” and “Danse Macabre”.
“Danse Macabre” is really about defying death, saying not today, one day I’ll be there like we all will be, but not today. So it’s really a powerful, positive, optimistic song. Kind of the opposite of “Chrysalis” in that way.
NRR: You’ve got a brand new DVD coming out, A Decade of Delain – Live at the Paradiso, which is going to be released on October 27th via Napalm Records. I was just wondering could you describe how that evening at the Paradiso was for you.
Charlotte: It was absolutely nerve-wracking, I wish I could describe it otherwise. No, it was also really fantastic, and emotional and I was really overwhelmed by the response from the fans in the venue because it was one of the warmest welcomes to the stage that we ever got. So that was absolutely fantastic.
On the other hand, since we’ve been doing this as a Pledge campaign, and we’ve spent a lot of time organising this, and getting the funds together. You are not only recording and mixing and mastering the music, but also there is the whole video department and the editing of that, and the special effects involved like it’s a really big project.
Also, there’s a lot of money involved, but contrary to recording an album in a studio, where you can basically mess up and just try again, you’ve got one shot to do it right. Also, you’ve got to look good while doing it, now there we failed – no, just kidding. Yeah, so it was kind of nerve-wracking because you know that it’s one moment that you have to do it and if something really goes wrong, there was not really a plan B that would really, really cover that risk. So, yeah I was very, very nervous. Still, if I watch the footage now, and the intro starts playing I can feel it in my stomach, just from knowing how intense that was.
NRR: Along with the DVD, there is a documentary, which is We Are The Others – A Decade of Delain. Could you share with us any details about that – have you had a film crew following you around or is it bits of footage that you’ve gathered over the last 10 years, how has it come together?
Charlotte: Well we worked with Willem Alkema who also worked with us for the video of “We Are The Others” for the DVD and the live recording. He was overseeing that and he also joined us a few days on tour and then a few days in preparation for the show. Then on our pre-production day, he just joined us on several locations where we were working as a band and put it on camera, and also did some interviews with some fans and put that together. Yeah, so it’s not so much like an overview of bits and pieces of the last ten years, it’s more kind of a registration and narrative about the time for us leading up to that evening.
NRR: On the DVD the band are joined onstage by a whole host of musical guests including Alissa from Arch Enemy, Burton C Bell from Fear Factory and Liv Kristine and obviously, Marco Hietala. Over the years Delain has worked with many great artists and I just wondered if there is anyone on your musical bucket list that you would love to work with who you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet?
Charlotte: Yes, ok so here’s the thing – things that I think that might be realistically possible I religiously don’t say who they are because I always feel like I am jinxing it by saying it before I ask them. So, there’s certainly a lot of people left, I mean we are in a scene with lots of very talented and gifted musicians and it’s always very exciting to see what they bring to the table.
When you’ve written something and you have a certain idea with it, when you give it to someone else, most of the times we say hey this is our idea but go ahead and do with it what you want and if you want to change things or interpret it differently that’s fine. So far, it’s always been very exciting and rewarding and surprising to see what’s come out of that. So definitely looking forward to doing that more, but not going into too much detail about with whom and when exactly.
NRR: I actually thought you were going to say Nick Cave there because I vaguely remember the first time that I interviewed you we were talking about Nick Cave and how much you liked him.
Charlotte: I am a huge fan of Nick Cave and I could die peacefully if I could sing a murder ballad with him, for sure (laughing).
NRR: You are going to be touring South America towards the end of this year and also a full North American tour with Kamelot and Battle Beast in the spring of 2018. What’s the response been like on the other side of the Atlantic, I know you’ve been out there a few times recently – do you feel like the momentum is building out there?
Charlotte: Yeah, I mean when we tour in North America now it really feels like one of our home places, there are so many people now that we have seen a couple of times already. There are cities and venues that we’ve played already and of course, actually now already we are moving up to bigger venues here and there. Yeah, it’s definitely territory that feels very familiar and not only because all of the Walmarts and Starbucks look the same, but no also in general.
I’m hoping that we can do the same thing because in North America we’ve been coming back every year, and I hope that we can build to a similar situation with South America because we are still really building there and we are not doing all of the countries that we would want to do. But if this tour is successful then we can hopefully come back next year and then more countries, and in the end return on a regular basis and visit as many countries as we can.
For a very long time, every Facebook post that I do, it doesn’t matter what it is like – hey look at my new hair – when are you coming to Brazil (laughing)? I know that we’ve got a following there and really want to go there, because every time that we’ve been there so far it’s been really great, so we are working on it.
NRR: We are getting towards the end of this year, I just wondered what are the plans for the band next year apart from the US tour, what’s on the cards for Delain?
Charlotte: We are going to tour and perform slightly less in order to put sufficient effort into a new record. Yeah, we are really trying to give proper time to the writing process, we’ve been very, very productive the last couple of years and while we really want to keep that up we also do want to allow a little bit more time for special things to happen in the songwriting room and to write enough to actually be able to make a selection out of more songs and not having to rush things.
NRR: That all sounds great, and thanks once again for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it, it’s always nice to chat. Good luck with everything you’ve got going on, the new DVD and the touring and hopefully we will catch up with you soon.
Charlotte: Thank you very much, and I hope to talk again soon.
A Decade of Delain – Live At Paradiso will be released via Napalm Records on October 27th. In support of Delain’s upcoming live release, the band will hit the road for the Danse Macabre Tour this Fall, featuring special guest and frequent collaborator Marco Hietala from Nightwish on all dates, along with a very special set list of rarely-played Delain songs! Support will be coming from Serenity and Cellar Darling.
Catch this very special and exciting live package on the following dates:
Oct. 26 – Paris, France – Alhambra
Oct. 27 – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
Oct. 28 – Bochum, Germany – Zeche (SOLD OUT)
Oct. 29 – Munich, Germany – Backstage
Oct. 31 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli (SOLD OUT)
Nov. 1 – London, UK – Koko (SOLD OUT)
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