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Shadow Matter

Het komt niet vaak meer voor dat ik aangenaam wordt verrast door een voor mij onbekende zanger, en zeker niet als het gaat om zangers uit onze eigen kikkerlandje. Toen ik vorige maand echter het album van Shadow Matter mocht beluisteren – de band/het project rondom gitarist/componist Remco De Jong – was ik meer dan onder de indruk van de vocalen van ene Gerben Gerrit Verhaar. Met zijn stem tilde hij een verder minder opvallend album naar grote hoogte. Tijd om eens even wat meer te weten te komen over Shadow Matter. En zo kwam ik in gesprek met de grote man, de eerder genoemde Remco de Jong.

Door: Wim S. | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Hello Remco, how are you? I always start with the same question: where are you right now and what are you doing?
Hi Wim. At the moment I am at home. Did played some ‘World of Warcraft’ online today and worked on new songs for Shadow Matter. It was a good decision to write as much as we could for the first cd. Due to that we could choose nine songs out of 24 and keep the quality high. That is also the goal for the next cd and that’s the reason I am already writing songs for it, although it probably will be ready in two years from now.

So, Shadow Matter. When I read the bio it is not clear if we are dealing with a real band or with a project by Remco. Help us out on that one?
Well it all started as a project. The reason as said before is that I wanted to record these songs I had written. After all the other musicians joined and we worked together on the songs we made the deal with Hidden Tracks Studios to do the mixing and mastering. As soon as we got back from the first mix everyone started to became really enthusiastic about it because they did a perfect job. Because of this the whole vibe grew more into a band feeling. At this moment it is still a project but I hope that as the music gets more and more attention it will develop further into a band.

If Shadow Matter is a band, then what is the difference between this band and your previous band Lap Of Time?
LOT was also a progressive metal band but it was much more symphonic. We had a keyboard player and also had lots of songs that were not as heavy as Shadow Matter. With Shadow Matter everything is down-tuned and there is much more heavy riffing going on. In Shadow Matter there is also an extra guitar added while in LOT it was one guitar. LOT was also a democratic band while for this project I did write all the music and did the decision making for recording the album.

So you just released your debut album, Shadow Matter. I really like the album. As inspiration you name bands like Tool and Fates Warning. Tell us a bit more on how we can hear those influences in your music?
When I think of Fates Warning it is certainly the atmosphere of some of the songs. Also the double guitar approach has lots of features of what they do. One playing rhythm and the other playing tunes and melodies. When talking about Tool I can say that for lots of years it was not done to play riffs like they do. But when bands like Karnivool popped up and later on Soen it was much more accepted that bands have influences of Tool. If you listen to the verse parts of ‘A Fire, A Kiss’ and ‘Shoot me Down’ you can hear a lot of Tool. It’s the strange measurements some of the songs are in and also the hypnotic based riffs that these songs have that can be linked to Tool.

The big surprise for me was hearing Gerben Gerrit Verhaar on vocals. My god, that guy is absolutely great! He has power, range, melody, just everything a rock singer needs. Tell us a bit more about him; where did you find that guy!?
Well I know Gerben from the local music scene here in Alblasserdam. In the past we jammed together and always stayed in touch. Than we joined forces in Lap of Time and did a lot of writing sessions together. We had a great time although there were some musical differences. When that band stopped we kept seeing each other and later on I asked him to do some vocals for the songs of Shadow Matter. The first setting was to get three singers on the record. So Gerben did the vocals on ‘A Fire, A Kiss’. Those vocals were so great that I decided to let him do all the songs. That was the best decision I made because as you can hear on the cd he did a brilliant job. It was very easy working and within two sessions he did one song. What I also like about his voice and singing is that it is not the typical vocal lines you would expect on some songs. It is so much more and has an alternative side which lifts up the songs to other levels and atmospheres. And not to mention the awesome artwork he did for the cd.

What is the difference – if there is any – between the first song you wrote for this album and the last song you wrote?
The only difference is that during the whole process it became much more easier to create and record new songs. So I guess the last two songs which were written (‘Shoot me Down’ and ‘Where is the Girl’) are more loose and free than when it started. It is a natural process that you develop your skills during time. Therefore it’s easier to take it to the next level on the following cd.

In my review of the album I had two little points of criticism: the length of the album (which is not that important because I know it’s about quality, not quantity) and the fact that I miss an up tempo song. Why aren’t there any up tempo songs on the album? I think your drummer would also like an up tempo song, right?
The good thing about reviews is that a person will do the review who has no connection with the band. Therefore I like to be criticized so that different points of view come to your attention. To be honest it never crossed my mind that there is no fast song on the cd. There are some songs with higher tempos but you can’t hear that in the arrangement. For the next album I made at least two songs now and I can tell you that one of that is a faster one. But it is something I will keep in mind for the next one.

Are there plans to go on tour with the band to promote your album? And if so, is it going to be with the same musicians that can be heard on the CD?
Everyone who played on the cd is very busy with working and having a family. There are no plans at the moment to start doing gigs. But everyone would be very willing if there will be interesting offers for doing live shows. Interesting is the key word here because everyone in the band did lots of gigs in the past with other bands. We won’t play on a Wednesday evening in a bar in the North of Holland for five people. So if there will be interesting offers we will consider it and if we gonna play it will be with the same people who played on the cd.

Thanks a lot for your answers, any famous last words?
Thanks for the great review you guys did and also that we can do this interview. And I can promise you one thing: We’ll be back !

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