Delain starts 2016 by releasing their brand new EP, Lunar Prelude, toÂ coincide with the start of theirÂ US tour with Nightwish.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Charlotte Wessels, lead singer of Delain, in between her recording sessions for the band’s new full-length album, which is due out later this year. She talked about their new EP, Lunar Prelude, Delain’s touring plans for 2016, and Charlotte’sÂ side project, Phantasma.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review and Happy New Year, it’s great to speak with you again. The last time we talked was just before you went on tour with Within Temptation, so it was a little while back. You guys have been really busy since then.
You are about to release your new EP Lunar Prelude on February 19th via Napalm Records. The EP has two new songs “Suckerpunch” and “Turn The Lights Out”, could you tell us a little bit about those tracks and the inspiration behind them?
Charlotte: Well, so we’ve basically been working on some songs for our new full length album. It’s really weird to be working on such a thing and be so silent about that and then having it all come out at one time. So we actually like to break that with the EP and being able to share some of the things that we’ve been working on already.
So it’s a really fun project in that sense. When it comes to those songs, the inspiration behind it, I think for “Turn The Lights Out” that’s a very clear one. That one was inspired by the character of death from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series. Now i’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman as a writer in general and I think that his Sandman series and in particular his personifications of all these things like death and dreams and delirium that they were very poetic.Â In the series, death is a young goth girl, and i’ve always thought it was a very poetic character, an empathetic character and I just really love it. This song is inspired by that and from her perspective.
Then “Suckerpunch” is rather different because obviously “Turn The Lights Out” is rather melodramatic and “Suckerpunch” is more up beat, like a fight song. It is in the strictest sense of the word, it’s a breakup song I guess. For me while writing it I was more thinking of of course the poetic form of making it between two persons metaphorically very interesting and also a very familiar way to work with, so I chose that form. For me it is more about breaking with maybe even certain aspects from yourself or the things that are weighing you down. Kind of about fighting your own demons.
So that for me is what I feel with “Suckerpunch” and it really fits because like I said it’s an up beat song and it fits kind of a powerful message like that, you know fighting your own demons and not letting them weigh you down. So this is a rather positive track.
NRR: The keyword in the EP title is “Prelude”. Does this mean a full studio album is on the way this year?
Charlotte: It is on the way this year. We are actually working on it at the moment. An hour ago I was still in the studio recording vocals. So we are working hard on making that happen somewhere like half way through the year, maybe a little bit later.
NRR: I believe you recorded a new music video too quite recently. Are you able to tell us anything about that or which song it was for?
Charlotte: Â That was for “Suckerpunch”. In a week or so we will release the video for it.
NRR: With you being on the road so much over the last couple of years. Where do you find the time to write?
Charlotte: By using every spare minute that we are not touring to write. So I remember for April Rain for example where we just had Lucidity, there was just a longer period of intensive writing and now we really try to spread it out because we know we wont have a few months to work on the album because we are touring so much. It’s a bit of a champagne problem.
Yes, so we really try to make an effort to keep the whole writing machine going. I think it’s nice because we are writing at different moments in the year. Coming back and going to different tours kind of thing in different states of mind, I think it also opens the door for very different kinds of ideas. So it’s basically just a matter of anticipating and planning ahead to get everything done for the new album.
NRR: At the end of last year you made Merel Bechtold a permanent member in the band. How is she settling in?
Charlotte: Very well, we’ve been playing with Merel for a while. So we already knew that she was a great fit in the band and in the group. It’s been so great doing our last headline tour with her joining in because on the record we have a lot of double guitar parts, tricky guitar parts, there’s a thousand guitar parts (laughing). There were some songs in the past that we couldn’t play live because they just wouldn’t work as well with just one guitar and of course we’ve got some strings on too because Martijn only has two hands and can only play so much of the orchestral parts.
So actually we’ve kind of opened the doors to playing a new number of songs from our repertoire which is really nice, which we have never done on tour. What is really important to us is the fact that she works well now within the band, within the group and considering how much time we do actually spend on the road, this kind of group chemistry is so important for us as a band and it’s a real pleasure to have her with us.
Last but not least, i’m really curious what she will bring to the process working on this new album. I can imagine that it’s tricky. Martijn and myself have been working together for over ten years. We’ve got kind of a fixed writing group and everybody kind of defines what they do and what they bring to the table with that. For everybody else that’s different. I’m curious to see how that will work, yeah I’ve got high hopes.
NRR: Obviously you’ve also been working on Phantasma over the last year or so as well. Could you tell us a little bit about that project and how it came about?
: Yeah, well i’ve been doing a lot of side projects over the year and I guess this one was most within the realm of what people know me for so it got quite a bit of attention. I was asked by Oliver and Georg to join in on this project and they basically gave me carte blanche on creating the concept for it. Yeah, it’s a challenge that I took with both hands and I wrote my first novella for it and I think that people are really liking the album. So yeah i’m really enthusiastic about it.Â Like I said from the start it’s going to be a side project, but it’s going to be the coolest side project ever you know (laughing). I’m really pleased with it.
NRR: You’ve been out on the road with Nightwish over the last year and you are going back out with them in the U.S. with them very soon. How have the shows been going with them?
: It’s so lovely being on the road with them. We went for one tour with them in the U.S. and it was like oh can’t we also do the South America tour. Basically, new plans keep developing because we like each others company. I really admire the band and it’s great being on the road with them and I think that people who like their music appreciate our music too. So it’s kind of a good match musically. So it’s been absolutely lovely and I’m really looking forward to the U.S. tour which is coming up very soon.
NRR: Speaking of touring you’ve also got Download Festival this summer. You must be really looking forward to that right?
Charlotte: I am, definitely. It’s something that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’ve been looking at the lineup, which looks absolutely fantastic. So I’m really, really looking forward to it and i’m hoping that we can stay for a bit and watch some of the other acts perform.
NRR: Do you have any plans to do a full headline tour again in the UK this year?
Charlotte: Yeah, probably at the end of the year. Like the second half of the year when the full studio album is out, then we are going to do a new headline tour.
NRR: What’s your favourite song to perform live and why?
Charlotte: At the moment I really like to perform “Lullaby” because that is one of the songs that we used to not play and we’ve been playing for the first time on the last tour. It’s got that new shiny glow still on it and it’s really a song that doesn’t ask so much, like weird vocal techniques that really asks a lot from the musician. It’s one of the songs that when the song has finished I really have to shake my head and realise that i’m on the stage. It’s one that I can really get into and I have a feeling that it’s like that for the entire band. It’s a fun one and usually something special happens when we play it.
NRR: With the recent passing of Lemmy, I saw a picture that you posted on Facebook of yourself with Lemmy. How much of an influence was he on you and what was he like as a person, what are your memories of Lemmy?
Charlotte: I’ve got very fond memories of my first encounter with Lemmy. We were playing at a festival in the north of the Netherlands. We started out not too long before that, so I probably wasn’t even twenty years old. We were performing and I was very nervous because I was always nervous for festivals, I am still nervous for festivals then I am for regular shows.
I was looking to the side of the stage and Lemmy was there (laughing) and I became infinitely more nervous because I thought that he was watching the show. As I walked off the stage, he was still standing there and I wasÂ all like ah say something cool, say something cool, say something cool and as I passed him the only thing I could say was (shrieks) and I could shoot myself.
So, but then I have his autobiography a little bit before that, so I knew a little bit about him rather than just the songs that everybody knows. I really enjoyed reading that. At one point a guy with a Motorhead crew shirt walks up to me, the nervous wreck that I was and says ‘Lemmy wants you in his dressing room’ and I was like oh my god there we have it. This could become a very dirty story but it was not.
I walked into the dressing room and he was there and he was holding a Motorhead girly shirt size M and he said ‘here this is for you, I really enjoyed your show, I really appreciate you know women in metal’. He kind of made a big statement to me. He mentioned he liked Evanesence a lot (laughing) and he was just very, very encouraging. I think he must of noticed that I was kind of nervous and everything and he spoke such kind words and he didn’t have to, but yeah I thought it was just a very, very kind gesture. I’ve met him a couple of times after that.
Last time he wasn’t looking too well of course, he had the health issues for a very long time and I said hey Lemmy do you remember me and he said ‘Of course love’. I don’t think he did to be honest. Yeah, I cannot say a lot about him because honestly I didn’t know him enough, I already feel bad kind of talking about my experiences with him while I just met him briefly and there’s a lot of people close to him with real grief at this moment. I never quite know how to deal with those things.
The only thing that I want to say to cut a long story short is I really appreciated the guy a lot and he was a true gentleman, absolutely.
NRR: That’s great, and that’s a nice story as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, again we really appreciate it. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you. We are really looking forward to hearing the new album. Hopefully we will catch you on the road sometime this year in the UK and we will see you again soon.
Charlotte: Yes, thank you very much it was a pleasure talking with you again.
Delain’s new EP Lunar Prelude will be released via Napalm Records on February 19th.
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Photo credit: Sandra Ludewig