~ Interview mit Boris Suvee (Bass), Rico Noijen (Drums), Remco van der Veen (Keyboards), Daan Dekker (Lead Vocals) und Kay Bouten (Gitarre) ~
Sie haben ein fantastisches Prog Metal-Album veröffentlicht, das sich nicht auf den Lorbeeren der Vergangenheit ausruht, sondern den Blick aus der Gegenwart nach vorne richtet: ARMED CLOUD.
Da die Begeisterung beim Hören und Reviewen (siehe hier) nicht abflaute, musste ein Interview anvisiert werden, das wir Euch nicht vorenthalten wollen:
Welcome back with ´Torque´! How active have you been in the last three years?
Boris: After our former guitar player Wouter van der Veen left us, we first needed to find a guitarist who had the abilities to do what he could do. Not an easy assignment, but early 2018 we found Kay Bouten. He was the only one we had on audition who was equally good at the solo parts as well as the rhythm guitar.
Rico: With Kay in our ranks we started to practice again and we also worked on new material. Spring and summer of 2019 was our introduction tour with Kay on board, we played several metal festivals in the Netherlands and Belgium and the response was overwhelmingly positive!
Remco: After that tour we focused on new material for a new release, which eventually resulted in our third full-length album ´Torque´.
But first you only wanted to release a EP?
Daan: Yes, when we started the writing process we were quickly finished with more than three songs. At that moment we felt that it would be better to just steam roll to a full blooded album!
Or did the lockdown help you to write more songs?
Kay: Yes and no, we had two separate recording sessions, the first one was early in 2020 when we recorded most of the album. Even with six songs it still did not felt complete, something was missing. We went back in summer and recorded two more tracks (´Big Bang Theory´ & ´Torque II´), and we never had any regret, because some of our most direct friends and fans, plus we ourselves now considered ´Torque´ as a full-fledged and mature album.
And with a new guitarist, as the old had also said goodbye.
Remco: We held several auditions for which we campaigned through some advertisements on social media and music websites. We had very different types of guitar players on those sessions, like strong rhythm guitarists who had an awesome sound, but lacked the solo skills we wanted for our music. There were also guys who would fit better in a psychedelic band, rather than a modern alt-prog metal band like we are.
Rico: When we still did not find the right guy I suggested Kay, because I knew him from other bands. Not as a guitarist per se, but also as a bass player or more as a multi-instrumentalist. Our first session together proved to be a match, because Kay surprised us with the ease and skills he displayed while playing some of our older material!
And how did you come across the “Toneshed” studio?
Daan: The previous year, 2019, I was there with another project (MOTHER BOSS, neo grunge, ed.) and working with Erwin Hermsen at the Toneshed Recording Studio felt so good that I suggested the band that he could be the one for ARMED CLOUD.
Boris: Moreover, we wanted to have more emphasis on our raw power, which we almost always manage to generate in a live situation, but in our own opinion never on a record. As a producer Erwin is well-known for his heavier metal productions, so we thought that this could work out with our desire for more energy on the album. Well, we think it did!
How do you see the musical development since ´Master Device & Slave Machines´ three years ago?
Remco: ´Master Device & Slave Machines´ was already a new direction compared to our debut ´Obsidian Desert´ (2015) on which we sought to depart from the more traditional prog metal in favour of a more rougher, darker and heavier sound. I think we really succeeded back then, but the old-school prog metal influences were still there. We took the influences of what we think are the best songs (´Warhead´, ´The Cycle´ & ´King Lear´) of ´Master Device´ and continued on that more atmospheric, slightly experimental and more important alternative heavy route, which lead us to the here and now on ´Torque´.
I think you have more toughness and heavyness and play more appropriate to the zeitgeist! Suddenly you’re even talking about influences from AVENGED SEVENFOLD and DISTURBED. I hadn’t expected that, although I can’t hear them so directly either.
Kay: Thank you very much, well I understand why. These two bands are there in a more subtle way. For example, the ending of ´Big Bang Theory´ sees a duet between Rem’s keyboards and my lead guitar, which is very AVENGED SEVENFOLD-like.”
Boris: Yes, it is not that we use these two directly in our songwriting, but still the deep grooves of DISTURBED and the sleaziness of A7X are present in our work and we think that these two elements give our sound something that not all prog metal bands have.
So, can every one of you tell me his 5 all-time LP faves?
Daan: For me that would be Alice in Chains – Dirt (1992); Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994); Fates Warning – Disconnected (2000); Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger (1991); and Stone Temple Pilots – No. 4 (1999).
Remco: Mine are Ayreon – Into the Electric Castle (1998); Kayak – Cleopatra – The Crown of Isis (2014); Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns (2010); Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Nightingales & Bombers (1975); and Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays (2009).
Rico: My favourite albums are Savatage – Streets (1991); Fates Warning – Perfect Symmetry (1989); Dream Theater – Images And Words (1992); Dio – Holy Diver (1983); and Pagan’s Mind – Enigmatic: Calling (2005).
Boris: I will choose Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988); Dizzy Mizz Lizzy – Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (1994); Porcupine Tree – Lightbulb Sun (2000); Savatage – Streets (1991); and Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare (2010).
Kay: My pick will be Van Halen – Van Halen (1978); Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1992), Guano Apes – Proud Like A God (1997); Heideroosjes – Fifi (1996); and Rowwen Hèze – Zondag in ‘t Zuiden (1995).
Very good selection. Now you’ve been sitting on the album for a longer time until his release. Do you already find something to complain about or are you perhaps completely satisfied for the first time?
Rico: Yes we have, we could have been smarter and just have waited to record all eight songs at once, cause this second studio trip costed us a lot more money, haha!
But you also sent me a beer in advance, so that I can drink me the album great, haha, just kidding! Do you want to sell the beer in larger quantities or are you still looking for sales opportunities?
Rico: Our brewer is a relative of one of my best friends and we are certainly going for another brewing. When a live album release show is possible again, we will serve it there. There have also been some offers from liquor stores to sell our beer, but we have to check if it is legally possible.
What are your plans in these terrible times?
Boris: We are looking for corona proof gigs with a small audience, because that could mean that we can play in larger venues. Always good to add some renowned stages and concert halls on your resume! And of course our album release show, which will happen in SJIWA, the house of Prog Power Europe when the COVID rules will be less strict.
Do you feel like going to drive-in theater concerts? Seated concerts? Or do you prefer live streams? The best for cash, like the really big bands who often eked out a meager existence. 😉
Remco: We did a seated gig ourselves and the response was very good, so I am definitely a fan of that type of entertainment. Live streams depend on how good the quality is. Sometimes a band sounds so thin and dry, which does the artist really no justice. They sound better if you would be there at the venue. That was one of the reasons that we did not choose to release ´Torque´ during a live stream session. Instead, we stream the album three times during a YouTube event at the 28th of November.
Or are you already writing the upcoming record? A new masterpiece? A concept about humanity in isolation?
Daan: Well now that you mention it, I just recently recorded some guiding vocals for a new song that was written by Remco. It is a very sensitive and quiet song with heavier moments. Coincidentally, we started the ´Torque´ sessions with the most atmospheric, poppy song, namely ´Wound In My Heart´. So, if starting nice and easy promises another versatile record like this one, count me in!