Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Karin from Asrai. Karin is the drummer from Asrai, a Rotterdam based gothic band.
To what kind of music do you listen yourself?
What I like most is Gothic Rock and eighties stuff.
And what are your favourite bands and artists?
There are several bands I like, In random order; The Damned (was great that we had the opportunity to be on stage with them), Nick Cave, Bauhaus, Dreadful Shadows (pity that they split up, I had real high expectations from them), Siouxie and the Banshees (Damn good drummer), The Birthday Massacre (One of the nicest bands we ever met, nice music too), Goth Minister (Fun on demanding), The 69 eyes, Scream Silence, Rammstein, Leave’s eyes, Death Stars (Great entertainer), and there were some artists who recently made a good impression on me, one of them was Samuel, I was impressed by their stage act and attitude when they play at the Waterfront after some disasters with their tour bus. Also Cradle of Filth and Gaahl from Gorgoroth. Tiamat (they were very impressive live) , and so on….
While women in metal are more common these days than some ten years ago a girl behind a drum kit is still rare. Did you always wanted to become a drummer?
I never thought about it like that. We just wanted to make music. I started to play guitar and did that for three years. At that time, you could find me more often behind the drum kit when our drummer left the band years ago. We decided that I would become the new drummer and we would look for another guitar player. Although at that time not an easy decision, but one I never regretted it.
And what drum kit do you use?
From the beginning I use a Pearl Export, I like the black hoops and especially the solid quality of the kit. I still use my first kit at the rehearsal studio and that one is almost 20 years old. I have an endorsement for my cymbals and sticks. The sticks are from Balbex with my own signature on it and the Cymbals are Amedia the Vigo rock series.
What is your favourite Asrai song?
Difficult , I have more than one… “Running”, “Alice”, “Recall”, “Tower”, “Stay”, “Roses”, “Touch in the Dark”… I guess much more then just one…
Did you have any other bands or projects besides Asrai?
Not at the moment, although a while ago I had another project together with Martin and Johan. Years ago I played in another band for some months. For me: in the end nothing compares to Asrai
Where did the name “Asrai” come from?
The Asrai are small, fragile, female beings who turn to a puddle of water when they are captured or exposed to sunlight. It makes them unreachable….
There are a lot of female fronted bands in Holland and most of them started much later than Asrai. What makes your band unique compared to all those other bands?
There are quite a few although most “female fronted” beholds only the singer. I don’t know if Asrai is more unique because we have three women in the band. I have the impression that we are more unique because of our background. And our friendship is at least special for us personally.
Last year Asrai released the album “Pearls in Dirt”. What are the differences between this album and “Touch in the Dark” or “As Voices Speak”?
First of all the big difference is “As Voices Speak” is analogue recorded. We did all recording within three days and the whole production in a week. Recording of “Touch in the Dark” and “Pearls in Dirt” was all digital and we had a month time for recording, also together with a producer. “Touch in the Dark” was produced by Roman Schoensee and “Pearls in Dirt” has been produced by Sascha Paeth. Also a big difference for us will be that Manon and Martin joined the band while recording “Touch in the Dark”. So therefore, we didn’t write the songs with the five of us. The CD “Pearls in Dirt” is written by the five of us.
And what is the idea behind the title of the album?
It’s the title of the song that was originally written for this album but was never finished. Three songs grew out of this one so we thought that it the album should name after this. To us it means beauty in a rotten society.
And can you tell us something about the songs on the album?
The songs are all about things you experience in life. Last two years was a personal hard time for some of us, with difficult and sad situations. You can hear that in our lyrics. These themes mixed with raw themes like abuse, global disaster and some fantasies. We don’t like to explain this one deeper, because everybody has his own emotion to a song. We don’t want to fill it in for the audience.
Which one is your favourite live song?
My favourite songs to play live are “Awaken” and “Sour Ground”, “Delilah’s Lie”, “Touch in the Dark”.. also more then one.
About the song writing: is this teamwork or is there one mastermind behind Asrai’s music?
For us making music is teamwork.
Asrai is clearly a “gothic” oriented band. In this case the gothic from the eighties like Bauhaus or the Sisters of Mercy. This gives your music a real “eighties” vibe. But most Gothic bands of today have a lot of “metal” influences. Have you ever thought of writing more oriented “metal” stuff?
We don’t write our music with a concept in mind, of course we’re influenced by other music styles and that’s automatically combined in our songs. I think that you can find metal influences. Although don’t expect a guitar solo… we don’t like them.
Can you tell us something about the other members of Asrai?
Rik – Guitars
Rik joined Asrai about eight years ago and in the end we wondered ourselves why we never met before, because we know a lot of the same people from the early days. When Jos (Grendel) played guitars at Asrai we wanted to experiment a bit more with our music and Jos knew Rik and so he introduced him to the band. One of the best parts of him, besides he’s a good guitar player is that he doesn’t like solo’s too.
Manon – Keyboards
We know Manon from the city we live in. She was hanging around with a guy who played guitar at Asrai when our regular guitar player had broken his leg. As soon we got to know each other there was a connection and Just after recording the demo for “Touch in the Dark” Manon told us that she could play the violin, we invited her to play with us… well in a couple of days she went with us on stage… Unforgettable.
Martin – Bass
We know Martin for such a long time; He played together with one of our friends in a band. That’s how we met him. For more then ten years he played together with our brother in Vanity 4 and I played with him for a while in the band Popes from Hell. When we wanted to record “Touch in the Dark”, our bass player went ill. So we asked Martin if he want to join us… We’re still glad that he said yes.
Margriet – Vocals
Margriet is my twin sister, best mate and to me (one of) the best vocalist I know. She is a special person, like the rest of the band. We’re lucky with this line up. We have a really good time with each other.
How did you get involved with the Hellhounds fest?
We still were looking for a tour after releasing “Pearls in Dirt”. And when the first idea was born for the Hellhound festival we were suppose to join that tour. It took a while before all the bands could be confirmed and in the meantime we got the opportunity to do the Darkest Tour. And with our days off in mind, it wasn’t possible to do two tours in a row. So it was nice to do Dutch show at the Boerderij at Zoetermeer.
Asrai did a tour with Cradle of Filth last year. What have you learned from this tour?
The Darkest Tour was a festival tour with Asrai, Septic Flesh, Moonspell, Gorgoroth (now God Seed) and Cradle of Filth. It was a great experience to be a part of something big as this. We did learn a lot of it and it was really nice to meet some diehards in the music scene. Now I’m not only talking about the bands, also the crew, one of the light techs said it so nice: “The band is for the Rock and the crew makes it Roll”. And some basic stuff we learned was that first make sure that you are one of the first who can take a shower; with so many men and facial paint you never know when will be the next opportunity of a nice hot shower. The crew of Cradle of Filth was awesome and they gave us some good technical advice. Sleeping in a nightliner bunk and waking up every morning in another country is something special too…. and don’t think that we see much of the countries we visit. You don’t have the time for it. Although at our days off we did some sight seeing.
What are your highlights with Asrai?
Through the years we had several highlights, every time it is something special to release an album. Being singed by a record company, the first time we saw our video clip at MTV, also our Mexico tour was so awesome.
With a band you are a lot of time on tour. Is it easy to combine Asrai with your personal life?
It’s not always easy to combine; we all have a daytime job… so we’re not drowning in days off. So sometimes we have to make choices because of that. When I couldn’t get a day off for the gig at WGT years ago I even wanted to quit my job, gladly suddenly there were opportunities to get that day off.
And do you have any negative experiences in all those years with Asrai?
Of course we have, I guess one of them was at the beginning when a German record company were supposed to release a compilation CD, we had to pay for that one. And in the end the organisation run off with the money. And about 20 bands lost their money and gained one disillusion more.That some recensists put the album already on internet before the release date… that our record company went bankrupt, not only for us. But personally I think it’s hard to see something end like this. Specially when somebody put his heart and his soul into it. Travelling a long time to a gig and at the day that we would play the organisation run off with the money, so the rest of the festival was cancelled… All important papers were been stolen from our dressing room and Rik’s guitar was been stolen from the rehearsal room… well that one had a happy end, he got it back.
What can we expect from Asrai in 2009?
It’s hard to tell, we have the feeling that the financial crisis has his reflection at the music scene as well. Too much organisations (bookers, festivals etc) are struggling to survive… so I hope everybody else will survive this all (I know Asrai as a band will!) and that we can do some nice stuff.. Like nice festivals etc. In the meantime we decided to work on new material.