Fireworks Magazine Online 76 - Interview with Delain

DELAIN: An interview With Charlotte Wessels

Interview by Dave Scott

It doesn't seem that long ago that Delain appeared on the scene with their bombastic style of Symphonic Metal. What started out originally as a project has grown into an act that is increasingly popular in the genre and beyond. Since 2006, through determination, hard work and an ever-growing collection of infectious and catchy songs, Delain have released four albums and two EP's alongside an immense amount of touring. Fireworks sat down with vocalist Charlotte Wessels to discuss the 10th anniversary, a new addition to the band and their fifth brand new album 'Moonbathers'.


Delain

2016 is a landmark year for Delain as it signifies the tenth anniversary of the band, which is quite an achievement. What emotions or thoughts do you have about this and did you consider that you would reach such a point – accepting the latter part is more pertinent to 'April Rain' and going forward?


When we worked on the first release we were generally very excited about the things that we were doing. I think that as soon as the album was released, we were actually a lot more ambitious than we expected to become when we first started out. I think that from the moment that we got the live band together and decided to actually try this thing on stage, I always had the feeling of being in it for the long run. The fact that we have made it to where we are at this moment – and that we are doing so well at this point – is a fantastic thing and I do feel like our efforts are being rewarded right now. Sometimes I look back and think if we didn't have certain bumps in the road, sometimes through external factors, we could have been here a bit earlier. There have been moments when I have been frustrated about that but when I look back now I mainly think that I am kind of proud of us that we didn't get too discouraged and that we just continued pulling on. It was very hard but now we are in an emotion that we want to be in.

How have your thoughts changed from those early days to now? How have you yourself changed as a person and an artist in that time?

When I started working on the tracks for Delain I must have been seventeen because I remember I couldn't sign my own contract with Roadrunner because I wasn't of legal age at the time, so my parents had to sign that. So I was seventeen or there abouts when I meet Martijn Westerholt and of course that is a very different age to be than nearly thirty. I think that we as a band matured a lot but I myself matured a lot as well because I was a typical, somewhat difficult teen and I would dare to say I am "kind of" alright now ha-ha.

At the end of last year, you announced that Delain had become a six-piece with the permanent addition of Merel Bechtold on guitar. What factors came into this move and how has it changed, if anything, the dynamic of the band?

The thing that really has changed is our live performances it was such a blessing to have her with us. We knew her for a while and we have been considering for a while that maybe we wanted a second guitarist because there are a lot of songs that don't work as well with one guitarist when we play them live, which kind of limits our live repertoire. We have been considering it for a while and had some contact with her, back then we didn't feel like we were all ready to make that decision. Then there was one tour where Timo Somers couldn't play so she filled in and we noticed that she was a good fit. There were some festivals and we thought well maybe let's just try it for the fun of it, let's see how it will go with two guitarists on stage. It was just a very good experience, her attitude on stage is fantastic... her interaction with the rest of the band and the audience... it was just a lot of fun. So yeah it definitely makes a big difference and I am very happy to have her with us.

Moving into the present, you have a new album due out shortly. Two of the tracks from it first appeared on the 'Lunar Prelude' EP earlier this year, given the title was it always the intention from the start that those two would be part of 'Moonbathers'?

Yes. What we did is we basically started working on the album very early because we had the "luxury" problem of having back-to-back tours. Traditionally, we would take the time off between tours and then do the writing, recording and production process more or less in one go. We didn't have the time for that and like I mentioned, it was really a champagne problem but we had to fix it some way. So what we did was basically chop up the entire production into three chunks and we started with recording and writing the first set of songs really early on. Then later we got a request from a lot of people asking if we could do another EP. I am not necessarily a fan of doing EPs a lot of the time, but since we already had those songs for the album – which we knew was going to be called 'Moonbathers' – and since there was this request along with the fact it is nice that we don't have to sit on those songs for two years, we thought that in this case it might be a good idea to actually do an EP. So those were the songs that we were already working on for the album and that we then put on the EP when that arose.

Lyrically, 'Suckerpunch' is an interesting song. What does it focus on and where did you get the inspiration for it?

As you say, it is an interesting song. I have heard people say "lyrically" because I have got some comments regarding this song that people expected something deeper from me but for me I like writing an upbeat song every now and then. It seems whenever I write a song that is more upbeat than really sad, people would rather have me write sad songs. It's not a bad thing because writing sad songs is kind of my therapeutic state. The song was written in the shape of someone basically quite violently breaking up from a toxic relationship. Of course, that could be seen as the classic break up song but when I wrote it I wrote it more in the sense of being a metaphor for like breaking with whatever demons you have inside of you or outside. Whether that is a toxic relationship with someone or whether it is a toxic relationship with certain behaviours inside yourself. That is what it is about and I like how it is kind of upbeat.

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Can you give us an idea of some of the other songs on the album and their lyrical meanings and inspirations?

'Chrysalis – The Last Breath' and 'Danse Macabre' were both inspired by a film script. This is the first time that the inspiration for any of our songs came from a film script. It came from a screenwriter friend in LA and he had this script and he let us read it and asked if we could do anything with it. It is a horror script and it is quite a cool story and there were certain struggles of the protagonists that I could really relate to. It was an interesting challenge to actually work with the script and write the songs that we have for it.

With the songs being based on the scripts, will they have any connection with the film beyond this album?

If the film happens, then I do think we will most likely have the song in it. So that was a very interesting process for us. 'Chrysalis...' is at the same time also the very first song where I broke my own rule... I always have this rule as a lyricist that if I write a lyric and it starts in a bad place that there should be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. This is the first where I didn't do that because it just didn't fit. After the song was finished, and I was already settled on the fact that it would be like that and a very sad song, I kept on writing little poems to offer a resolution to the track. In the end, when the album nearly finished, we wrote one vocal hook and then wrote the very last track – which was supposed to be a bonus track –based on that and then I think almost the last day of the mix I recorded one of the poems and sang it and put it on top of that track. Now, at least, there is still a part to the song that offers a resolution and a more positive side to what happened. That is also why the titles are linked together – 'Chrysalis...' and 'The Monarch' – it is all about transformation. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to that point as long as you do. I was very happy that it did happen in the end. 'The Glory And The Scum' is one of my favourites, the lyrics inspired by a book I read called 'The Better Angels Of Our Nature' by Steven Pinker and it is a book about the history of violence in human kind. I know that doesn't sound especially uplifting in any way but the conclusion of the book says that despite everything, today we are living in the most peaceful time that we have ever known as human kind and that is a trend that is still developing in a positive way. That is something I really needed to read at that moment because I was kind of affected by all the things that I and everyone sees around them at the moment. Sometimes it is hard to realise that everything is not lost yet. I still don't know where we are heading for, and it still might be horrible, but at that point and moment it was a book I really needed to read. There was a quote by a 17th century philosopher that was a big monologue which ended with the quote "we really are the glory and the scum of the universe" and that kind of summed it up for me. So the song for me is really about our great potential for the very best and the very worst and how we use it.

You have covered the Queen song 'Scandal', how did you come to cover that song and for it to be included?

I must be totally honest; it was not my choice. Westerholt came with it and he was saying he loved the track, he really wanted to cover it and what did we think. My first response was "oh my God you can't do that... don't burn your fingers on that... they are giants"... I guess it was partly due to the fact that it is not one of their most well-known songs, I had heard it before but it is no one of the songs I sing in the shower. That was also the good part because that made me want to dare to do it. It helped that we got explicit permission from Brian May himself to cover the song along with some very nice compliments. That was really lovely and nice. We tried to strike a balance between making it our own and respecting the original at the same time.

You often have guests appear on your albums, has anyone lent a helping hand on 'Moonbathers'?

Yes, we had a guest appearance by Alissa White-Gluz again. We asked her to participate on the track 'Hands Of Gold' which is the new album's opening song. It is a very upbeat track but this has somewhat darker lyrics inspired by my favourite literature. The part that White-Gluz grunts is part of a poem by Oscar Wilde. Her interpretation of it is really cool, she always does a great job by really giving full effort. Recently I have tried to learn some grunts and screams myself. Actually on 'Glory...' and 'Pendulum' I attempted them for the very first time but it still, even with learning some of the basics of it, it is still a mystery to me how she does what she does.

Once again, you are extensively touring Europe at the end of the year with eight dates across the UK in November. Are you excited to be returning to our shores?

I am very excited about it. On the last European tour, the UK dates were the biggest, the earliest sold out and we had great audience response. I do genuinely think that the UK is one of the best territories for us to tour and people are so nice to us over there. We are really looking forward to going back.

You are touring with Evergrey and Kobra And The Lotus, how did it come about that these two acts are joining you on tour?

Whenever we are looking for bands to join us on tour, especially on our headline tours, we basically look at bands that get us excited ourselves. I think especially Evergrey has some fans in the band so we are pretty excited about that. As for Kobra, I am very curious to see what they will be like when we tour with them and I am very excited to have them join us on the tour and I cannot wait to be honest.

With your 10th Anniversary now here, have you made any special plans to celebrate?

We are doing a special 10th Anniversary gig-party-birthday bash-show on the 10th December and we're going to invite a lot of people we have worked with to join us on stage. We are also going to record it and then release it. We are doing all this through PledgeMusic, which is a cool music platform. It started a while ago and we hit 100% within no time. It is still open which is a good thing too because we realised that we are going to need quite a bit more to make everything happen so we are happy it is still running and that people are still checking it out. Something nice to mention is that everything we make above our 100% goal, a part of that goes to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation so if people need any encouragement to go to the pledge campaign, even though we have hit our target, you are not only helping us but also helping them. As well as that, I can also tell you that we are going to mark the 10th Anniversary of 'Lucidity' by releasing a re-mastered special edition with lots of bonus material. As for the future, we are already excited about what we are going to do for our next album. We have already sat together to decide how we want to do the writing and recording process next time around. Basically I want the flow that we are in right now to continue because I really think that things are looking up, it feels like we are being rewarded for our hard work with how things are going and I want and hope that will continue.

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