Interview by Miriam C. & Michelle Henriquez
This interview marks, in a way, my first interview on Dutch soil and my first meeting with my long time friend Michelle (which co-conducted this interview with me): it was collected back this Spring in Tilburg before the MaYaN gig during which it has seen former Orphanage‘s member George Oosthoek debuting officially with the band. It’s just an informal chat about the recent devolopment and how this it gonna influence in the future because MaYaN is a creature that is in continue mutation…
Hi Mark, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, how are you?
I’m very well, thank you.
Do you mind recalling for our readers when and why you have to decided to create MaYaN?
For several reasons. First of all, I met Jack Driessen after many years and I worked with him in After Forever. There was always a great chemistry between both of us. So when I met him, we started talking about making music together again. So we did, and after a while we also met Sander Gommans, also a guy from After Forever, and we wrote some songs. But at a certain point, Sander Gommans said that “I really don’t feel like playing live again”. So we looked for another guy who could take Sander’s place. Then we found Frank and it worked as well as with Sander, but with a guy who loved to play live. From there on, it was fun to do. I wanted to also do something different from After Forever and Epica, where I was playing guitar. Now I only do vocals. With composing I also play some guitar, but mainly Frank comes up with a vast majority of the guitar riffs. I am doing a lot of structures and also some songwriting. But live, it’s just vocals. It is nice to have variations.
So, the latest MaYaN’s release dates back to 2014 with “Antagonize”: after so many years, how do you think the specialized press received it and what are your thoughts about this release?
I am still very happy with that release. It is a very strong album. It won album of the month in Aardshock, the biggest metal magazine. So I am really happy with that album. Now we are finding the time to start composing new songs. It is time to make the third album. It is going to happen, that’s for sure. But we take our time and “Antagonize” is a good reference we want to have as a good album. Hopefully the new album is going to be even better. At least equal in quality.
This topic of American centrism and invasion was mainly written about in “The Divine Conspiracy” from Epica and “Design Your Universe” a bit too. But then it seemed that there was a change, in which this topic is more written about in MaYaN then Epica. Can we assume that you will keep writing about American centrism for MaYaN?
Yeah, for sure. I use MaYaN, especially for the more dark themes and the more problematic things happening in the world. Epica is more for spiritual things and scientific discoveries. I try to keep it separate, yet sometimes there is an overlap here and there, because still whenever I feel I want to write about something I do. Like “Divide and Conquer” for Epica also could have been a typical MayaN song.
I remember that “Quarterpast” was released back in 2011. If you could draw a parallel between “Quaterpast” and “Antagonize”, how did MaYaN evolve from the debut?
With the debut, we were still searching for what would be fitting for our style. We were also working with many guest vocalists. Now we have a core of people that we play live with. I think it evolved into the current line-up of MaYaN who wants to record the next album. I think for now we know exactly what we want. It is nice to experiment, but it also feels nice to have fun. Now there are no guest vocalists. Everyone you see on stage are part of the band.
Since you’re also part of Epica too, I was wondering to learn how different is your approach in terms of writing and production?
It is completely different, because in MaYaN we write together with Jack and Frank mainly. Also, whenever somebody else has an idea, he can drop the idea and we start working on it. It is mainly the three of us that develop the ideas. With Epica, everybody writes on its own and we come together when the songs are basically finished and then we start working on each other’s tracks. So with MaYaN, we work on the tracks together. That is the reason that MaYaN tracks sound so different from Epica tracks. There is also a thought in my mind: “Shall I use this for Epica or MaYaN“ because it is clear for which band what the music should be.
Recently, MaYaN has welcomed 2 brand new members in the family: Roel Kaller and George Oosthoek. Would like to spend a couple of words for present us Roel and how did you convince George to join you since for what I get it’s really busy with other projects too…
Yes, yes, that was at the start with Roel. We were looking for a new bass-player, because Rob wanted to have more time for Epica and a new project he was working on and he said that he could not really focus on MaYaN at this point. He said “I want MaYaN to have full attention from somebody and not have somebody who could give half of his attention”. So he said “Honestly, if you can find somebody who can replace me, fine. If you cannot find somebody, I will play shows until you find somebody”. So that was good and we found Roel. He is a great bass-player as well. Just like Rob is a great bass-player and Jeroen van Tesseling, our first bass-player, was also a great bass-player. Roel also plays fretless. That is quite difficult, but Roel plays it very well. So we were very happy that we found a guy. And then, George yeah, that is a completely different story. He had to think about it first, because he is already in a few bands. But we told him that he is the only man who could do this job. I’m often away with Epica and there is only one man who could replace me in MaYaN. If he would have said no, I really would have no idea who I could ask.
Yes, because he is one of a kind.
Exactly, exactly. And whenever we can we even do it together. So tonight we will be together onstage.
So does this mean that now he is in the band, MaYaN will tour abroad.
Hopefully, because that’s the reason to get him on board, because I am so occupied with Epica that I have no time for touring. It is so tricky, because MaYaN can only grow if MaYaN tours. So if there is a chance now to do some touring and we also have a guy to do the drums when Arien is on tour with me with Epica, then George is in good hands.
For sure, MaYaN’s peculiarity is being a band with different line up in every live show. How this can in some ways undermine the stability of the band? And if not, why?
The thing is that it is funny. It is easier in this band with so many people then I have experienced in other bands. I don’t really how it is possible, but everybody gives each other a lot of space and there is no ego thing going on whatsoever. It is going natural and everybody is having fun. Everybody has fun, just purely fun. So everybody finds its way and we also say nothing needs to happen, everything can happen.
So you let it happen?
We let it happen. So, also sometimes when, well, Laura for example, denied we played a new song, because in the verse in which Henning would sing in she cannot happen. He had the Full-Metal Cruise the week before and he could not rehearse. So Marcela took over his parts and does it in a great way and everybody accepts this from each other. Everybody gives parts to each other, “Hey, maybe you can do this better”. So, it is so easy to work with these people!
At the moment, MaYaN counts 9 official members – let’s take everybody on the table while producing the new album for ex, in which way all the members actively contribute with their ideas?
In the past, on the first album, it was really a project for three members: Jack, Frank and I. The singers were basically guest singers. And now everybody is contributing, now it is really a band. So that is the big evolution we went through.
So, Mark, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for this interview!
Promo pics by Tim Tronkoe