Interview by Scott BradyWhen I first listened to the “Afterlife” EP from Anne Autumn Erickson and her band Upon Wings my first impressions were this has to come from Europe due to the nature of its sound. However this metal siren and her band are not European whatsoever. Anne Autumn Erickson hails from Detroit Michigan. Many Americans are well aware that Detroit Michigan has fallen on some hard dark economic times in recent years. Anne Autumn Erickson is definitely a light coming from a very dark place and in the years to come will give Detroit Michigan something to be proud of much like Kid Rock and Ted Nugent and Motown have. Kiss even titled a song called “Detroit Rock City” and a young upcoming Female Metal singer has chosen to pick up the rich musical traditions coming from Detroit and carry the flag over into Female Fronted Gothic metal. Her voice has certainly received attention by some very influential players in the modern American rock scene. Some of these artists that Anne Autumn Erickson has already worked with in her short time in the industry are Guest vocalist Brett Hestla (ex-Creed, Dark New Day), master Grammy-nominated mixing engineer Glenn Brown (Kid Rock‘s recording engineer) and guitar work and production from Canadian-based Kevin Jardine. Continue reading »
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Many are her collaborations in the metal scene, such is her reputation in Europe. After having released an album for her new project, Trillium, the peppery Amanda Somerville is back to town. We had the pleasure to chat with the blonde American singer, who told us many things about her latest work. Here is what she has revealed to us!
Hi Amanda and welcome to Femme Metal.net. Recently, you’ve released the album “Alloy” for your last metal project, Trillium. In my honest opinion, it is a very good album. Would you like to share with us something more about this project, for those who haven’t listened to the album and/or to be updated about your last work(s)?
Thank you very much; I’m happy and honored that you like it! I tend to call the music on Trillium singer/songwriter metal” because most of my songs started out as piano/vocal demos from me and have a lot of emotion and heart in them, in addition to the hard edge and heavy guitar riffing that’s so typical of metal. Also, since I’ve traditionally been a singer/songwriter and have worked in the metal scene for so long, it was bound to happen. I think there are several subgenres of metal represented here, as well as rock. Elements of melodic, gothic, doom… I like diversity! Still and all, this is the single most straight-forward album I’ve ever released, stylistically speaking. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.
Which is the concept behind the creation of this band?
It’s debatable whether to call this a project or a band. For me, it’s simply a new facet in my work as a musician. I wanted to keep it separate from what I release under my name for the simple fact that I’d like to keep it as “pure” as I can, genre-wise. For years now, I’ve been asked by fans who know me from my work in the metal scene when I would either form my own metal band or release a metal album. The idea had to grow on me because I simply wasn’t ready for it until just the past couple of years and I don’t do anything I don’t believe in 100% and can give 110%!
Was the Trillium project born randomly or was something already created in your mind since a long time ago?
I think I kind of summed up that answer in #2, however the true turning point in the desire to make my own metal album came when I was working on HDK with Sander Gommans in 2007. I loved writing and performing metal music (which only continued to grow after I went on tour with Epica in 2008 to fill in for Simone Simons when she was ill and then with Avantasia) and had planned to make my next solo album more uniformly in that direction. But after some careful consideration, I decided to make it a project to keep it totally separate from my solo music so that I can still put a jazz ballad or Jamaican drinking song on my next solo album and not have to explain or apologize to anyone. It’s still 100% me and those who know me as a solo artist are used to me being rather musically schizophrenic, but since I’m relatively new in the metal scene, I wanted to keep it more clear-cut. The ideas kept coming together and about a year and a half ago, I had everything lined up the way I wanted it to be and Trillium as it exists today was born.
Listening to the album, I’ve been surprised about the second “half” of this record and I’ve noticed that there’s a great cooperation with an artist I really admire: Jorn Lande! I know that there’s a good friendship and a professional relationship with him, moreover he also took part in the Avantasia project. How was the cooperation with him born? What did make you choose him for the track “Scream It”?
Since working with him on Avantasia and touring with him, he’s become a very good friend and won my utmost respect as a musician and vocalist. The man is an incredible talent and I adore his voice! He’s also a wonderful person and can play a role perfectly. I had him in mind when I wrote the antagonistic role in “Scream It” because his voice and character fit so well and I was fortunate enough to have him gladly take part. He did an incredible job and it was exactly what I had in mind!
How did you choose your music partners? I know that there’s a strong feeling between you and Sasha Paeth (since early days with “Virgo”) since so many years now…
I’ve been working with Sascha so long now and we know each other so well, both professionally and personally, that our work flow is always very smooth. Sascha’s the “Big Boss” and so we all (everyone involved with the Gate Studio) owe everything to him. He’s absolutely brilliant and one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever known and I love, appreciate and respect him dearly. Miro and I have a similar taste musically and being that we’re both keyboardists, he catches on very easily to whatever I deliver to him demo-wise. I can give him a very rudimentary piano-vocal demo and it seems like he reads my mind in terms of what I’m imagining arrangement-wise. Robert Hunecke and Olaf Reitmeier I met in 2001 and we’ve done lots of things together, both in the studio and playing live. Those guys can play anything!! Simon Oberender came into our team around 2004, I believe, and he was an amazing asset to our team. Mat Sinner and I got in touch through Kiske-Somerville and we’ve also toured together with an outfit called “Rock Meets Classic”. He’s a powerhouse, a good guy and a big talent and has come to be another close friend of mine in the scene. Sander Gommans and I have worked together for nearly 9 years and we complement each other quite well as songwriters, even though we’re so completely different in the way we approach songwriting. I guess opposites attract and this particular constellation works out beautifully in our cooperation with one another! Sascha and Sander add a totally new aspect to my songs very much of the time for the simple fact that they’re guitar players and take a different approach to song structure and instrumentation than I typically do. It’s a great balance!
I’ve noticed that, inside your crew, there’s also Sander Gommans, ex After Forever former guitar player. How are the working relationship with him that, however, has been a good member for a band that made history in the Dutch metal music?
Yep, he’s pretty great. I call him my Riff King and anyone who knows After Forever, HDK or Kiske-Somerville can hear what an incredibly talented songwriter/musician he is. But I rambled on about that in the previous answer!
Is there a song taken from “Alloy” to which you feel more connected to? If so, why?
I’m really bad with “favorite” questions because my songs are like my children and it just doesn’t seem fair to call one out over the others. That being said, it’s also difficult for me because each is special in its unique way and I’m constantly changing my moods. So one day, I’ll be like, “Man, “Coward” is seriously such a great song!! I think that might be my favorite yet,” because it’s so decadent and the line, “Justice comes to dance upon the graves of cowards” so aptly sums up my belief in karma. Then the next day, it’ll be “Justifiable Casualty” because it’s so emotional and makes me cry every time I hear it, especially the line, “She said there’s no one who can declare a war on warfare.” I don’t know why – it gets me every time!!! Then another day it’ll be “Scream It” because Jorn really nailed the metal “Romeo & Juliet” tragic love story vibe I was going for and it turned out so perfectly. Then the next day, it’ll be “Machine Gun” for its powerful imagery and empowering anger it encompasses Then the next day… do you see a pattern here? Anyway, I love and treasure each song in a different way for a different reason because each one also has its own unique story and personal connection for me.
How the recordings have been so far? How long did they last? How long it took to write the lyrics and music?
Some songs I wrote already a couple of years ago, some I started working on just before we started on the production. All in all we were demo-ing, recording, mixing & mastering from March until August 2011.
On a technical level, “Alloy” is an album based on a deliberately obscure and chilly production, ingredient that combined with the songwriting process could already predict a masterpiece itself, sounding pop/rock, which also shows a great elegance. If you were to describe the album just with three words, what adjectives would you use?
Emotional. Loaded. Dark.
You will start a tour with Trillium in the next months and you will visit so many cities in Europe next to another Dutch band, which was born in these last years: Delain. How did the choice to support this band for the very first Trillium tour happen?
Sander and I have been in touch with them for a while regarding various aspects. I think they’re a good fit to Trillium and it’s something new, so I’m really looking forward to the collaboration.
What are the expectations for this tour?
I’m not a person who believes in having expectations. I like having a blank slate and filling in the spaces as I go along. In my opinion, expectations can only get you into trouble. If you let yourself simply enjoy the experience as it comes along, it’s much more fulfilling and you’ll never be disappointed. I’m just looking forward to the tour and am grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love to do and share the experience with some great people. I hope for the best and that’s all.
What do you expect from this band?
Ah, yes. See my previous answer on the subject of expectations.
Besides being an excellent mezzo-soprano and composer, you’re also a vocal coach. You’ve been the teacher of many singers (like, for example, Simone Simons from Epica), what have you learned from your pupils? What is it left of each of them inside you?
First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. I must correct the statement, however, that I’m a mezzo-soprano. Though my range is actually all the way from tenor to soprano, I feel most at home as an alto. I’m not quite sure where this whole”mezzosoprano” description came from that someone placed on my Wikipedia page but I can assure you that’s not the case. And that being said, I’m a student of life. Each person I’ve worked with, each project I’ve been involved with has presented me with new challenges to change and grow, both as a person and as a musician. I think it’s important to always find new stimuli to keep you on your toes and strive to always be better. In the same turn, I also learn about how I would not like to be and things I definitely don’t want to do. It works both ways!
You’ve started singing from the early age. How your passion for music was born? How did it happen?
I grew up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. According to my mother, I was singing before I was talking. It was always a “learning-bydoing” process and I was fortunate to also have very good music mentors in both my family and at my elementary school, so I learned to read music and play piano at a rather young age. There was no sudden moment or conscious decision in my wanting to become a musician; that’s all I ever wanted to be and do. All throughout my life, I was giving concerts, performing in talent shows and competitions, even DJ-ing, hosting karaoke & singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money when I was in university. It’s just always been a part of my life!
Which are the artists or bands who have most influenced your artistic growth, your music and your Arts education?
I never did study music formally, nor was I classically-trained in singing. My grandmother taught me how to read music and gave me the basic foundation that I still use for composing today. As far as turning points go, the big milestones were: starting to work with Sascha and the Gate Studio team and releasing my first solo album in 2000; then writing “Aina” in 2002-2003; doing more and more work for and with metal bands; writing thrash metal in HDK with Sander Gommans; getting involved in Avantasia; releasing “Windows” and now working on Trillium. I’d say those are the big ones!
We could say that you have a great long path behind. You’ve worked with artists like Kamelot, Michael Kiske, Epica, Avantasia and so on. What these people have given to you on an artistic level and/or a personal level?
Every new album, each new project or band or artist I work with or write and record is a further step in my growth process as a musician and as a person. So each one has changed my life because it left a lasting influence on me that’s led me to who I am today.
How do you feel, at this point, in your career? Are you satisfied about the work done until now? Do you have some other expectations or some other project you would like to do in your artistic career?
I’m very satisfied. I get to do what I love to do, travel all over the world, meet and work with some wonderful and amazingly talented people and I can pay my bills from that. I don’t think anyone could ask for anything more fulfilling on a professional nor on a personal level. I would love nothing more than to just keep the ball rolling!
As I’ve said before, you are best known for having worked with so many bands, in particular one of these bands reflects your fame: Epica. How do you feel like working with this famous Dutch band?
I’ve been working with them since before they were even called Epica (back then, they were Sahara Dust and had Helena Michaelsen as their singer!). They’ve joked that I’m the not-so-secret 7th member of the band and it’s been great being involved.
In 2008, you’ve had to replace Simone Simons, who was facing a serious illness which has forced her to retire herself from the music scene for a while. How did you feel like replacing one of your most famous pupil? I remember that, in the same year, you both performed together in Italy (for the festival called Rock In Field) in a beautiful duet. What could you tell us about it?
It was certainly a logical choice for them to ask me to fill in for her since I’d co-written all of their songs, coached Simone, produced the vocals and sung on every song. For me to agree to it was because I didn’t want my friends to have to miss out on a huge opportunity because the tour was going to be a very important one for them. It wasn’t easy, however, because I had no idea what to expect from the fans, whether I’d get tomatoes thrown at me or what because it’s always a tricky thing to replace a lead singer and not everyone is interested in the details or background story. However, it all worked out great and the fans were very gracious. Our duet in Italy was simply natural since we were both playing at the same festival; Epica and Avantasia. We had a good time!
Having mentioned one of the most famous female fronted metal bands of Europe, what is your thought about bands with female singers? Are you in favour or against the bands that use a girl for their own music? Which is your thought in general?
Haha!! Is this supposed to be a “new” concept, having a woman fronting a musical event? Being a “girl” myself, why on earth would I be opposed to it? I think the term “femalefronted” is a rather laughable one, to be honest. You never hear the term “female-fronted pop” or “female-fronted jazz”, or “female-fronted R&B”, right? So what’s the big deal about it in metal? I think some guys need to get over themselves a little because chicks rock just as much as – and sometimes, quite frankly, even more than – dudes do.
Talking about collaborations and cooperations, in 2010 you’ve released an album with another famous partner: Michael Kiske and last year, you’ve also took part in the new Serenity album, called ”Death & Legacy”, where you’ve played the role of the Queen in the amazing song “Changing Fate”. How was for you interpreting musically speaking a so important historical role? Which were your impressions when this Austrian band asked you to cooperate?
I loved the song and thought the musical portrayal was beautiful. I’m a bit of an actress and a lot of a romantic, so it was fun and fulfilling. I think Serenity is a very talented band and wish them tons of success.
As I’ve quoted before, you are also a great composer. In 2003, you’ve been the backbone of the band Aina, for the album “Days of Rising Doom”, in which you’ve done most of the work: you wrote the lyrics and the music and you’ve also taken part as a singer. What do you remember about this experience? Was it hard to do everything by yourself?
It was scary but extremely exciting. That was my first real, big project I did in the metal scene and I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just thought, “I’m going to accomplish this, come what may!”. And I did. I didn’t do everything by myself, just the concept, story and lyrics and I co-wrote a minimal amount of the music. That was my initiation into the Gate Studio team and I proved myself and was soon a steady member.
How does a work, created by Amanda Somerville? Where does the inspiration for the music and lyrics come from?
I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads. If I have an idea that’s just not moving further, I set it aside and wait for it to “speak” with me again. Some songs have taken months or even years to finish for that reason; they just need their time. And sometimes, a deadline can be a miraculous motivator. As far as songwriting goes, I don’t really have a “normal process”. Sometimes a song will begin as a chorus or a verse, or just a melody, or some chords. Sometimes it’s just lyrics and the body of the musical composition comes later. And sometimes a song will come to me from start to finish in its entirety; chords, vocal lines, lyrics and all! So every time, it’s different. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.
Which is the most beautiful part in creating an album, entirely written by you?
My albums, my songs are like children to me. It’s a huge labor of love, filled with soaring highs and sometimes horrible depths. Music is my highest form of emotional and personal expression. It’s very fulfilling to see everything come together and wind up being a work of art and rather a snapshot of myself at a particular stage in my life.
Do you have already something new in your mind after the tour that will see you around Europe with Trillium or are you going to take a little rest and work, later on, on new projects?
Nope, I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep the ball rolling! Not to sound greedy, but I want more, more, more!
Thanks so much for the great chat, Amanda. I really hope to see you on tour with Trillium very soon. Is there something you would like to tell to your fans and to Femme Metal users?
Thanks so much for your time and interest! I really hope I can see some of you while I’m out on the road – it would make me super happy!! xx Amanda
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
The band Dendura is from Detroit/Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA). Dendura describes themselves as (breath in) Female fronted Egyptian themed prog metal or Egyptian infused prog metal with live belly dancing. Of course, Dendura is not the first band that incorporates Egyptian themes in their music. Examples are Nile (music and texts) and Iron Maiden (artwork see the album Powerslave and the current world tour. Steve Harris, who wrote the music for the song Powerslave never intended it as an Egyptian song. That was the idea of Bruce Dickinson much later in the writing process.) Belly dancing is also something bands use on stage – see DeadCell or the dancers from Rapalje (both from Holland) and singers like Shakira (who has like Dendura‘s singer Lebanese roots) Other references of the ancient Egypt in our modern culture are TV series like Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, the movie 10,000 BC and cats are everywhere today. In fact, one can write entire books about this subject. So what makes Dendura different from these bands? Let’s find out with some questions for Dendura‘s singer and keyboard player Aziza Poggi.
Can you tell us something about Dendura? Who founded the band and why did you decide to use the ancient Egypt as a theme?
I founded the band and recruited Steve Wethy a month into it. I always wanted the middle eastern and Egyptian influence in our sound as I always was intrigued and felt close to that kind of music. In the beginning, only half of our songs had it. Now, they all do.
The fascination of the western culture for ancient Egypt originates way back in the days of the Roman empire, more than 2,000 years ago. Since you use the ancient Egypt for your music, can you tell us why we in the modern world are so interested in a civilisation that vanished 2,000 years ago?
I think Egypt is one of the most fascinating and mysterious countries in the universe and it does carry on in today’s world. So much history and invention comes from Egypt. Makeup, the mummies, architecture, the temples, statues, the kings and queens, deity’s, how Egyptians lived and functioned, their beliefs in the afterlife and preparing their dead for mummification. If you watch The History Channel, you’re bound to see something about Egypt there. Egypt will continue being a place of discovery as long as mankind is still here. There is so much more out there to be discovered and that fascinates people as it is a place of mystery.
Where does the name Dendura come from? There is a Hathor temple in the village of Dendera. (Hathor was among other things an Egyptian love goddess. She also tried to destroy the human race but that’s another story.)
The name came from the Temple of Dendera in Luxor Egypt, Hathor’s main temple. I am very fascinated by the Egyptian deities and found Hathor’s temple perfect for our band name. She was known as being the goddess of music, dance and poetry. We just changed the spelling.
Who is Aziza Poggi?
I am an artist. I look at our music as colors that need the right textures and elements to paint the song. I look at everything as a journey and the road never ends as long as I don’t want it to. I am always learning something new about my voice, discovering new things that intrigue me and I feel deeply connected to my roots.
Tell us about your interesting tattoos.
I have four tattoos total. I have Nephthys, the twin sister to Isis, the goddess of lower Egypt who tricked her sister’s husband/brother into sex to have a son of her own who was Anubis, the god of the underworld and guardian of the dead. She was the lesser known of the sisters. I have her son Anubis on my shoulder, a cobra with hieroglyphics wrapping around it and the Eye of Ra as well.
You have Lebanese/Egyptian roots. Does your cultural heritage makes you a different singer compared to other musicians?
I think everyone is different really. This is just what makes me different, but of course there are other middle eastern singers out there. We just all have our own voice and sound.
Is it difficult to combine being the frontwoman and to play on a synthesizer onstage? Personally I think only Anneke van Giersbergen from Agua de Annique and the Gathering can get away with it. With a lot of other bands, like Grimskunk from Canada it simply doesn’t work. The synth acts like a barrier between the singer and the audience. What synthesizer do you use?
It’s a Korg, IX300.
And how? Like a piano or more for the sound effects?
I use the keyboard more for effects. Like a nice and heavy chamber sound or symphonic sound. In my case, I am not behind the keyboard that much. I play on sections where it fills up the sound. Our newer songs have less keyboards so I wont be back there as much as I have before. I have played it throughout the entire song of “I Have a Gun” and on the song “Symphony” and sometimes I just play sections on the keyboard on those songs that require it. If I were doing fancy keyboard parts, I couldn’t sing and play it at the same time (not yet) but because the keyboard parts I do play are simple, I can do that. I guess it depends on the vibe I am feeling with the audience.
Can you tell us something about the other members of Dendura?
Steve Wethy (Guitar) has been with the band since the formation. He also sings backups and writes lyrics. Sometimes, he comes up with vocal melodies which he is great at. He and I have been through a lot together and have always been on the same page musically when we were going through members and changes in our sound. Paul Stein (Guitar) joined about two year ago. I call him the linear thinker. He is very creative and also very technical. He and Steve are always coming up with new guitar lines and feed off each other very well. The guys all act like brothers. Justin Lee Dixon (Drums) is the newest member. He can mix up the metal and Middle Eastern drums really well. He has an incredible ear. He isn’t just great at playing drums. He sits in on my singing lessons with me often and gives me feedback and knows when I’m singing my best and when I am not. Each one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses and we all know what they are so we all balance each other out. It’s a perfect relationship.
Last time I was checking Dendura‘s website there was no bass player. For what kind of person are you looking for?
We have been looking for over a year now for the right bassist and we are working with one right now who we think might be the permanent member. We won’t be announcing anything final until after our CD is recorded. He fits in perfectly on a musician level and on a personal level. We auditioned several bassists before him and had one other really good candidate. We were looking for someone who musically was right, who would play more low-end bass, no slap (as was before), and who had the right personality. We have had people in the band before whose personalities and styles didn’t quite fit our own and, ever since, the band has said that will never happen again no matter how long it takes us to find the right person. We’ll use session people until then. Justin was playing as a session drummer for three months before we asked him to join, a bassist filled in for four months and we didn’t hire him, and now the bassist we are using has been with us for three months and he is on the verge of being hired. You only can get to know someone’s true colors with time and much practice. I compare it to being in a relationship because it really is like that. I wouldn’t commit myself to someone if I wasn’t with them for a few months. Steve and I just got lucky from the beginning as he was hired right away and sometimes luck plays a big part, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Dendura has released one album in 2006 called “New Life” (Killzone Records). Can you tell us something about the songs and the album in general?
“New Life” was self-released before we were on Killzone but they are releasing our new album we are working on right now with a Grammy-winning producer and Killzone has distribution with Century Media. The songs on the album are about a mixture of self-empowerment and Egyptian gods and ancient Egyptian history. For instance: “I Have a Gun” is our first song we wrote as a band and, at the time, I got out of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I wrote the song as my own defense weapon. Like my own protection. The gun isn’t stating I am going to harm this person, but I am protecting myself in case he comes and harms me again. The gun is more imaginary. “I, Nephthys” and “Isis” are Egyptian goddesses and sisters. They actually lyrically go together if you check out the words. In “I, Nephthys”, I am singing the song as if I am her confessing my sins to my sister for tricking Osiris (Isis’s husband) into sex to have a son, hence Anubis. In “Isis”, the song is still sung as if I am Nephthys and it’s about her qualities as a goddess. “Mummified” is about transition in life. I left it a little cryptic so it’s open for interpretation. “Rage” is about feeling as if I’m a puppet and releasing myself from others wishes on my life. “Symphony” came from a dream I had actually. I was out cold asleep, dreaming of wolves hunting me down in the woods. The keyboard parts were playing in the background like I was in a film. I have always had a fear of being eaten to death. I woke up, remembered those keyboard parts and started writing “Symphony”.“Nemesis” is a self-empowerment song about fighting the machine and way of life others put on us. I remember someone telling me once, we should strip away our Egyptian roots so we are more commercial-friendly and that is what is wrong to me in music. I think creative freedom and control is very important and feeding ideas and thoughts on how to make the song better is completely fine and understanding, but changing someone’s roots is wrong to me and we won’t do that. “Shadowman” has nothing to do with Egypt or self-empowerment but is about the fictional character Laura Palmer from the Twin Peaks series to be exact. I am a movie buff and sometimes, we’ll combine story lines with films we have seen.
And the last question: what are Dendura’s plans for the future?
To continue to grow musically and myself vocally.
Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
We have reached singer and vocal coach Amanda Somerville for discover the latest news about Epica, her new solo album “Windows” and more project too. Enjoy!
Hello Amanda thank you for accepting our interview!
Well, thank you so much for having me!
So for the beginning, as we’ve been told, you are working on a new project with Michael Kiske and Mat Sinner, how is it going and what can we expect of it?
The songs for the album are now complete (I’m contributing 3 songs myself to the album that I wrote together with Sander Gommans) and Matt and his partner Magnus Karlsson are now finishing up the recordings. I was in Stuttgart and recorded my vocals about a week ago and am very excited about the end result. Everything went very well and I was looking forward to it because this was my first time working with Mat & Co. I very much like the songs that are on the album and I’m also honored to be working with Michael Kiske again, since I’ve already been on albums with him before with Aina and Avantasia. You can expect songs that are more rock with a metal edge and I think it’s going to be great!
This year you released your new solo album, the brilliant “Windows”, how much work did it take to get it finally officially released?
Thank you for the compliment. I can’t begin to tell you the emotional, physical, mental and financial efforts that went into getting “Windows” finally released. The album was several years in the making (5+!) and then it was a self-release, so a lot of work went into everything from the cover & booklet design to pressing the CDs to doing promo. And I’m not done!
“Windows” had huge musical variety, how about your next solo album, will it follow the same kind of mixture or maybe something else?
Since my own taste is rather eclectic, my songwriting seems to follow that pattern, as well. I’m sure variety will always be a factor in my albums, but I’m constantly growing, gaining influences, changing. So far I have several songs already written for a new album and they’re a bit darker yet than “Windows” .
Also this year you worked on a project called HDK with Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever), how was the experience working as a vocalist on a lot heavier material than work on your solo material?
It was great! I love a good challenge and this was without a doubt the heaviest thing I’ve done in my career up until now. I was also able to try things out and sing in ways I normally don’t because the material was so incredibly… thrashy! But I totally got into it and feel like it’s my baby, too. I’m quite proud of the work Sander and I did together and since then we’ve been working together pretty regularly. So it was all around a win-win situation!
Another thing you did in 2009 was Epica‘s new album “Design Your Universe”, you worked as a vocal coach for Simone, sang the backing vocals and in the choir, how was it working with Epica again?
I also made a guest appearance and sang a duet originally on “Unleashed”, for which I wrote most of the lyrics, as well. That version is apparently a bonus track for “Design Your Universe”. It’s always been fun working with the Epicans and we came up with more good stuff this time, too, in my opinion!
You are working on new songs with Sander Gommans, how is it that turning out?
Oh, it’s always a lot of fun working with Sander. We’re a pretty good creative match, so the work flow is always great and the end results are solid. We’ve got more work in progress for a few different projects, so we’ll see!
Years ago you were part of project “Aina”, you wrote lyrics and the concept and worked as vocalist, can we expect any more music as follow up for the brilliant “Days of Rising Doom”?
Goodness, that’s a wholly different can of worms and, even though I’ve written a sequel for it, it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening any time soon. Who knows for the future, though…?
You have worked with so many bands and projects, have you ever thought of fronting a band of your own? With this I don’t mean solo work, as an equal band member.
I have my respect for bands but I really don’t think it’s my thing. I’m not one to say “never,” however it’s not something that I can see myself doing right now. I’m much more of a solo musician when it comes to my own music and always have been!
Last year you were touring with both Epica and Avantasia, how was the experience?
Fantastic! I’m a gypsy at heart and performing is my favorite thing to do, so I was completely in my element. I think you could tell from my video blogs, couldn’t you?
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
Quite varied, actually, and I listen to music almost all the time. Usually it’s something that relaxes me, helps me be sad when I need to be sad or gets me in a good mood
Who are your biggest influences?
My family and the musicians I’ve worked with the past several years (the Gate Studio team).
With all these projects and collaborations what can we expect from you next year?
More live shows, more guest appearances with various bands/projects on albums, new songs, new crazy videos – the works!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Doing the same thing, but more of it, on a higher level and probably with 2 or 3 kids to take care of on top of all that. Not sure which continent or country I’ll be in, however!
Thank you for the interview and take care!
Best wishes to you!
Review by Tony Cannella
According to Wikipedia, Mound Road Engine was a Chrysler Corporation Automobile engine factory in Detroit, Michigan. Now it can also refer to a positively lethal power thrash metal outfit from Detroit. The debut 4-song, self-titled EP from Mound Road Engine features about 15-minutes of powerhouse metal, filled with dense riffs and plenty of attitude. The energetic, fast paced opener “The Break Up” kicks things off in a big way. The vocals of Cole are simply huge and dripping with venom on every line that she sings. Kicking off with a drum intro by James, “Digga v2″ is next and offers a little melody to the proceedings as the song gradually speeds up and turns into a straight-up thrash fest, helped out by some great Pantera-like guitar riffs. “Ode” is next and is an angry, riff-tastic metal song with a power groove vibe to it. The final song “Servitude” begins with a Black Sabbath style guitar riff. This is pretty interesting song; it still maintains the heaviness, but features a pretty out of the ordinary chorus. Whether you like this song or not you have to give the band credit for trying something a little bit different, but I really don’t think this holds up to the rest of the material contained within. Mound Road Engine’s debut EP is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart. It will be interesting to see what they can come up with on a full-length, hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
Rating – 83/100
- The Break Up
- Digga v2
- Cole Lux – Vocals
- Dan Pigeon – Guitar
- Andy Morency – Bass
- James Trenko – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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