The Dutch metal band theNAME isn't really a household name yet amongst heavy metal enthusiasts, but we cannot really speak of a new band, for the first incarnation of the band was born already 2000. Between then and now the band released several recordings, but with your latest effort 'Unchained' things are finally start to pay off, judging by the fact you signed a deal with V2 Records, not really a small and obscure label. How do you guys look back at the first dozen years of your career?
I have learned a lot during the time I have been with theNAME. We all have. We have worked really hard on writing music, playing music, performing, communication, marketing, bookings, developing artwork, our first music video, etc. It has been tough and it has been lots of fun. For me personally, being in the band has helped me to grow as a person as well. I think we really needed all these years to get where we are today.
With 'Unchained' you pretty much surprised yours truly. I mean, I wasn't that impressed with your earlier work, lots of good ideas but it never really culminated into really good songs. It was like you guys were looking for a distinctive sound, but in the process tried too much at the same time. Now however it seems you have found the sound that really fits, and all pieces of the puzzle now have fallen into place. Can you agree with this observation? (And why or why not?)
Thank you very much for your kind words! I really appreciate it and I think you’ve put it right. It feels this way for us as well. Our music is not like most female fronted metal bands, I think. We don’t look at the concept from the outside, we wanted to put our true selves in the music. Therefore we needed to find a way to combine me, a pop / rock singer who likes to come up with catchy melodies, with the rough groovy metal that Silas writes. I have always believed in what we wanted, but it wasn’t easy to make it work and find the right balance. I think it helped that I grew as a vocalist, Silas grew as a songwriter, a second guitarist made it more musically and the other musicians grew stronger too. Also, we found the right studio that knew how to make our music sound like the wall of sound we have been searching for.
I described your music on 'Unchained' as modern metal, with an emphasis on mid-tempo groove, seasoned with a hint of 80s Bay Area thrash and blessed with a really nowadays production. Are these terms you would use yourself to explain people what theNAME sounds like?
Yes, I think you can put it that way. I think I would describe theNAME more like dynamic, groovy, rough metal with melodic, sensual, emotional female vocals, male grunts / screams and a touch of rock ‘n roll. I think in a way, temptation is our thing as well.
Obviously your music is a blend of quite a few different musical metal styles. Which bands or artists have played an important role in your own musical development and does this also reflect in your music?
I think Silas writes the music the way it comes naturally to him. That’s also how I write the melodies and lyrics. Still, we are probably influenced by the music we listen to. I’m curious if you can recognize the following artists in our songs. I personally listen to bands like Epica, Halestorm, Evanescence, Disturbed, The Gathering and I can also appreciate the attitude of certain edgy pop diva’s. Silas, on the other hand, likes bands like Kiss, Doro and Annihilator.
Speaking of production, you recorded 'Unchained' in the Split Second Sound Studio, owned by former Texture guitarist Jochem Jacobs. In what ways was he involved in the recording process?
He gave us feedback during the preproduction. Let me explain that. Before the recordings in the studio; we wrote the songs, rewrote the songs and finally recorded everything at home. Jochem checked those recordings and he told us how we could further improve the songs with a tempo change, a more interesting middle part, samples, more backing vocals, making the song more compact, etc. Most of the times we listened, sometimes we didn’t. And of course, he helped with finding the sound we searched for and gave it a modern feel as you mentioned. Jochem’s help was great and his studio colleagues, Sander and Bouke, were great too. They just make a very good team. They gave us the room to create the best album we could at that point. I am very thankful for that.
The overall sound of 'Unchained' is quite good, so I would not mind you guys recorded a follow-up in the same studio. But if money was not an issue, with which producer would you love to record some tracks with?
I find that really difficult to say. I wouldn’t really know. Some American producers seem pretty cool, but there’s a certain clash in me. That’s because I have a romantic view on how to bring music, but I also like things to sound as perfect as possible. Creative wise, I wouldn’t know either. I have no clue who could get the best out of us. I find it hard to hear on albums what the input of the musicians is and what of the producer. So, if you might have an idea, let us know ;)
theNAME is a so-called female fronted metalband, but sounds nothing like a gothic band, though that is quite what lots of people expect when they are confronted with a female-fronted band. On the other hand, judging by a couple of live-pics on your site, you seem to have no problem with using your femininity to enhance the overall performance. In other words: dressing quite sexy for a gig seems every day business for you. Aren’t you afraid that will diminish the focus on the music, or worse yet, that theNAME will end up just like Warlock did in the eighties: an outstanding front women surrounded with some disposable musicians.
Ah, you make me shy. That’s not really what you think, is it? I think that is too much credit for me. I love playing with my guys and I think they have enough charisma to compete with my appearance, haha. I just love to dress up feminine. It makes me feel sexy and strong. On stage I might exaggerate it a bit. Not only in femininity though, also in emotion. That’s part of me as an artist. That’s part of the show. It wouldn’t be show time for me if I had to wear jeans.
Obviously I am not the only one who noticed you've outgrown the amateur status. Recently theNAME signed a record deal with V2 Records, the same record company that also has former Nightwish singer Tarje Turunen on its roster. How did this deal happen?
I emailed Michiel of V2 Records and he just happened to like it. Although I believe in theNAME, I was surprised that he honestly liked it so much as he did. I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy that he recognized our qualities. It felt really unreal. Also because it was the first time we tried to get a record deal. I think there was no better time than now. I am very thankful that V2 believes in us. We are very lucky.
Now signing with a well-known record label is kind of the wet dream of each band, but isn't is difficult after thirteen year of 'do it yourself' to give up some of the controls? What are the pro's for you as band to sign a record deal in an era of declining record sales?
Oh no, it’s great! We’ve been working so hard on theNAME, with lots of love of course, but we are happy that we are getting great help now. With professionals like V2 on our side, I personally hope to have more time to develop as a singer.
Despite all the changes in the music industry the last decade, one tradition still stands firmly in the metal world: when the album is out the band will support it with a tour. Now a full-scale tour might be a bit too far-fetched (I take it all you guys have regular jobs), but doing a shitload of gigs during the weekends is of course something to hope for? What can we expect from the band the coming months?
Yes, we want to play as much as we can! Right now we are doing the bookings ourselves, but we want to get a booker to help us with arranging gigs. We do have normal jobs and it’s mostly the arranging that takes a lot of time; not the gigs themselves. Wrong order, don’t you think ;)? I wish 2014 will also bring us a great booker and lots of great gigs in Holland, Belgium, Germany: where ever we can play! Right now we have a gig planned with Serenity at P3 (April 18) and Stream Of Passion at Melkweg (May 1).
Perhaps the deal with V2 records will open some doors to supporting some established touring bands. In the past you shared the stage with the likes of Epica, Delain, Y&T, Autumn, Stream Of Passion and ReVamp, but with what band you would really die for to support on a tour?
There are just so many great bands in our scene that it’s very difficult to choose. Once in my life I just hope to be on a stage with an ocean of people in front of me.
Right now it is still winter in Europe, but al lot of summer festivals are already gearing up for the summer season, and already lots of names are being confirmed for lots of festivals. Any chance that we can catch theNAME on a couple of summer gatherings?
Oh I hope so! We are trying hard at the moment. If we can succeed to get only one gig out of that, I would be so happy! I can’t deny that more than one would be better.
Alright, this wraps it up from my side. Feel free to add anything you want off your chest. The space below is yours.
Thank you for this interview! I really appreciate your time and all your nice words! I hope that more people will like our new album and that they will come to our shows! Beause in the end; we really love to rock the stage and nothing feels better than doing that with a great crowd. In my tight little suit of course, haha. Rock on, sweets! \m/