Andy Brailsford speaks to After Forever's
at the recent Download Festival
After Forever are a relatively new band to me, but after hearing what they do, and becoming quite an appreciater of the modern day female fronted rock band, they were added to my list of bands to check out. So I was delighted when I saw their name come up on the cast list of Download Festival at Donnington and made it my mission to arrange a chat with someone from the band. I was even happier when that someone turned out to be the stunning Floor Jansen, who is the vocalist for the band. I felt quite diminutive in her presence as she is a very tall lady, but I put all my insecurities to one side and the following is the conversation we had a couple of hours after finishing their set on the Dimebag Darrel Stage on the final day of the event.
To be honest you are a new band to me and I have not heard anything before this album here, and now Iíve heard it, I love it. Itís the big sound that I like.
So you are with a new record label. I assume that this is better for you.
Yeah. Definitely. Because our former record label in Holland was a small independent label that got us to a certain level but we noticed that we couldnít grow any more, especially internationally. Like here in England we barely stepped foot because there wasnít any decent distribution or promotional work done. But with the big, international, well-oiled machine like Nuclear Blast, where weíre signed up now, these things are possible. Thatís the reason we are playing here at the Download festival. Itís a cool thing to start growing on and reach more people and weíve noticed already that sales have gone up and all the reviews are amazingly positive.
Like I said, I love the big music and there is lots of orchestration on there. When youíre writing material, do you write it with that in mind or do you write then think ďThis will sound goodĒ?
Of course we write things thinking and hoping they will sound good but we didnít write it thinking that we would have an orchestra. But to be able to work with a full symphonic orchestra was not something we knew when we started writing. So for us it works like this:- Sander (Gommans) our guitar player, heís our main song writer now with (Joost Van Den Broek),our keyboard player, heís also the one that makes the arrangements and together they start making the instrumental parts for the song. So they determine the main basic structure and the melodies for the instruments. Then I start making my vocal lines on it and then write lyrics and rerecord that. And then we start working them out with the band and this time with our producer Gordan (Groothedde). Then we had the ability to work with the symphonic orchestra of Prague and thatís when our keyboard player started writing all these arrangements and made it extra orchestral. Once you know what you are going to have, what you can use, you can adapt your parts to it and make it as orchestral as you want.
I love to hear orchestras in rock music like you play because it expands it and makes it so much bigger.
Yeah. On this album, itís actually the first time weíve managed to make everything more extreme. Weíve always made the combination but this time, weíve worked with the real orchestra, which makes a difference of course, because before we had real strings but not an entire real orchestra so this time we could do more like that, and the sound on the album became much better because of the producer we worked with. We wanted to keep a heavy sound, a real heavy guitar and metal sound and compare it with a real orchestral sound. We wanted al all and thatís kind of hard to achieve cause often real symphonic and orchestral albums sound orchestral but not heavy and real heavy albums with orchestral things have maybe a flute in the back and now we finally managed to get both out, real clear and heavy.
Youíre right because rock musicians, Iím thinking guitarists cause Iím a guitarist, like Yngwie Malmsteen and various others have done things with orchestras and youíre right, it doesnít sound heavy. But the way you marry it up and of course, it compliments your voice because thatís the area youíre in. Are you operatically trained?
Yeah. I started studying in í99 on the school rock academy, so that was like a conservatory for pop and rock music. But while I was doing that I was also working on my lyrical voice and operatic voice and then during that study I started studying more on that direction and when I finished at that academy, I did one more year of music theatre and then one more year of opera. So I kind of did everything.
When you first started the operatic training, did you think that you wanted to do rock music?
It was the other way round. I was already in rock music. This is my tenth anniversary in the band. We started playing this kind of music with high female voices but I didnít want it to become all ďwah wah wahĒ. I wanted to have some balls too. So I wanted to make a difference between a rock voice and a more lyrical voice so that was my self-study through the years to get both sounds, more divided and more clear;- now itís going to be a heavy rock voice, now itís going to be light, now itís going to be low, now itís going to be high, now itís going to be opera, now itís going to be belting like a more musical style to make a diversity that we havenít heard yet in other bands with female voices. So I wanted to make a difference.
I donít know if you have them in your country, but we have impersonators here who do lots of different voices. Do you have to think carefully about which voice you use?
Yeah, definitely. When I start writing my vocal lines itís like ďwhich voice shall I use?Ē
How difficult is it when you play live? Do you sometimes start with the wrong voice?
No itís automatic. I was gifted with this voice that has never got me into any limits. I could always do whatever I wanted with it. I just technically adjust it and there are no limits there really. Iím so happy with that. I can very easily switch.
Thatís the beauty with having the sort of scale and range with the voice youíve got. Has anybody yet suggested that you go out on tour with an orchestra?
Well yes but itís more based on financial reasons that we canít. There are even orchestras that really want to play with us but it is a huge thing to do.
Thatís answered my next question; has an orchestra approached you yet? At some point I can imagine it will happen because these things do, especially when orchestras are interested in doing it.
Yeah. That would be great but weíll see whateverís possible.
I must admit, Iím not a big fan of Grunters. When I put the album on and there were a few tracks on there, I thought ďItís not going to be one of those albums is it?Ē But itís fine because you donít do that much of that sort of song.
Itís part of the music and just to make an extreme view the other way, the combination of grunts and clear voices is a nice refreshment in that way and it has to be a functional element in the music to add a certain thing. But itís not like we have to have grunts in it because people want it or weíre not going to have grunts because people donít like it. Itís what we want to do and where we want to do it. On this album itís not too much but itís still there. It emphasises the happiness of some of the songs and emphasises the metal element in our music. And thatís important to us.
As a progressive rock fan, would you say you have some progressive elements in your music, because when I listen to it, I listen to the chord structures and the way the songs are constructed?
Definitely, especially if you listen to our third album, itís like a complete progressive album and has much more progressive elements and in the literal meaning of progressive I think we are a progressive band. If you listen to the first and last album, we have progressed in our own style. We started over ten years ago when female fronted bands in general were not as popular as they are today. The entire scene was not there. We are a part of making that and part of creating this type of music. So we have been growing in that ourselves as well and itís funny to notice. So in that way, yeah, I would definitely call it progressive.
Itís right what you said about female fronted bands. Actually thatís when things started to come out. I always used to think that female vocalists used to try to sound like the male vocalists sang, like they sounded like Robert Plant or something and it never worked for me. But now they have evolved so itís based around their own voice rather than trying to be somebody else.
I know what you mean but still it sounds different.
You could be compared to Nightwish. They have just evolved with a new singer. Do you think that you are vying for the same sort of area?
Of course, yeah. But on the other hand if bands like Nightwish and also Within Temptation grow, the genre and the potential of it grows and thatís interesting for us because it expands our possibilities as well. And of course we all want to be the number one band. We are sticking to ourselves. Everybodyís doing our own thing. We are still all very different bands. Even though we are all in the same genre, we are attracting a lot of the same people. We also attract some people that wonít listen to those bands and the other way around. The skyís the limit as far as Iím concerned. But weíll see where it leads to.
How many times have you played England before?
This is the third. We have played the Bloodstock Festival and we did a club show in London. Both were very successful. Just as surprising as today, the places were packed, very enthusiastic. The merchandise was huge. Everybody wanted to have our shirt or CD. Thatís also something that shows how enthusiastic people are. So Jeez, I really hope that we are going to see much more of England.
It makes it better because we could tell you were enjoying what you were doing today.
Very much so.
So when are you likely to come back again?
Well we are planning on it but it depends on what happens after this. Since we signed up with Nuclear Blast, we have become a little bigger. So there are a lot of places we are going to such as Germany, Belgium, Spain, France are countries we have been before and are places we are definitely going back for club shows, probably in September. In October, we will fly to North America so we are going to have our first North American tour and very likely a South American tour right after that one. And maybe at the end of the year, weíll see if itís going to be Scandinavia or/and England. Our booking agency has a lot of things coming in so itís cool because we can choose depending on which place we want to go first. Exciting.
I suppose America is a big one to go for.
Itís a very new challenge. Weíve been talking with the guys from Within Temptation who have just come back from a very successful tour there, Epica and Lacuna Coil are doing great there. So European female fronted bands in general are doing good there. So I think we definitely fit in and if you see how much reaction we get on our website and how much North American interest in general there is, Iím looking forward to it.
Interview & Live Photos for DPRP by
EUROPEAN TOUR DATES:
01 September 2007 - De Vorstin, Hilversu,m Holland
08 September 2007 - Appelpop, Tiel, Holland
09 September 2007 - Raismesfest, Raismes, France
10 September 2007 - Bierkeller, Bristol, UK
12 September 2007 - Rios, Leeds, UK
13 September 2007 - Rock City, Nottingham, UK
14 September 2007 - The Underworld, London, UK
15 September 2007 - Trabendo, Paris, France
16 September 2007 - La Cooperative De Mai, Clermont Ferrand, France
18 September 2007 - Santana 27, Bilbao, Spain
19 September 2007 - A ! Club, Vigo Spain
20 September 2007 - Mau Mau, Oporto, Portugal
21 September 2007 - Paradise Garage, Lisbon, Portugal
22 September 2007 - Copernico, Madrid, Spain
24 September 2007 - Apolo, Barcelona, Spain
26 September 2007 - CCO, Villeurbanne (Lyon), France
29 September 2007 - Transilvania Live, Milan, Italy
30 September 2007 - Rohstofflager, Zurich, Switzerland
01 October 2007 - Chez Paulette, Pagney-derriere-Barine (nr. Nancy), France
02 October 2007 - Biebob, Vosselaar, Belgium
USA TOUR DATES:
06 October 2007 - Progpower USA, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
07 October 2007 - The Muse, Nashville, TN, USA
09 October 2007 - The Meridian, Houston, TX, USA
10 October 2007 - White Rabbit, San Antonio, TX, USA
12 October 2007 - The Reverb, Ceddar falls, IA, USA
13 October 2007 - Station 4, St. Paul, MN, USA
14 October 2007 - Pearl Room, Mokena, IL, USA
15 October 2007 - Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland, OH, USA
16 October 2007 - Opera House, Toronto, ON, Canada
17 October 2007 - Mavericks, Ottawa, ON, Canada
18 October 2007 - Club Soda, Montreal, QUE, Canada
19 October 2007 - Marks Place, Bedford, NH, USA
20 October 2007 - Jaxx, Springfield, VA, USA
21 October 2007 - B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, New York, NY, USA
01 December 2007 - Winter Masters of Rock, Hala Novesta Zlin, Czech Republic
After Forever Official Website
After Forever MySpace Page
Napalm Records Website
Download Festival Website
DPRP Review of After Forever - 2007
DPRP Review of Mea Culpa (Duo) - 2006
DPRP Review of Remagine (Duo) - 2005
DPRP Review of Digital Deceit - 2004
DPRP Review of Invisible Circles (RTR) - 2004
DPRP Review of Exordium (RTR) - 2003
DPRP Review of Emphasis / Who Wants To Live Forever - 2002
DPRP Review of Decipher - 2001
DPRP Review of Prison of Desire - 2000
DPRP Interview with Sander Gommans - 2004