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Cirrha Niva Special
by Remco and Samantha Schoenmakers


…An old man longs for the peace and reunion that death will bring him. On October 31st (at midnight, the hour of ghosts), when the border line between the two worlds is at its thinnest, he yields to his desires with hoping to embrace His deceased wife. While dying, he sees a parade of dying people walking towards the underworld. The man finds himself in a limbo, between earthly life and death… Here he meets his deceased wife, who in spite of her seductions has malevolent ulterior motives for her former lover…

…The only one who triumphs is The Lord of the Underworld, a cynic and sarcastic person who rules the ignorant living and dying people. The Gate to Death is his property and no one is to escape!


On October 31th I left work early and went to Tilburg to pick up my wive Samantha from her work to go to Nijmegen, where the Cirrha Niva concert that evening was. I had read something vague about dressing up for Halloween, but did not pay much attention to it. As a matter of fact, I was quite underdressed at work already, let alone that I would walk around in dark stuff... The journey to Nijmegen proved to be a long one, with one traffic jam slowly dissolving into the next, and an hour later than the time I had an interview appointment for, we arrived at the (rather hidden) venue. One of my older collegues at work told me that in his time Doornroosje had the reputation of being a place where you could easily get "eight miles high". I guess some things never change... ;-).

The band was waiting, people were dressing up, and a whole lot was already going on. We were going to have the interview with Rob (guitar and lyrics) and Rommert, who had only very recently joined the band as a replacement for Peter Vennema (guitars). But while we were searching for a relatively quiet spot (which in the end turned out to be the merchandise stand between all kinds of spooky props) we were joined by Tommy (drums) and later Arnold (vocals), so we had an interview with almost the entire band (we missed Liselotte, the bass player and Wilbert on keyboards). The result of the pleasant chat can be read below.
After the interview we had a rather disgusting meal at a nearby Greek/Turkish/Egyptian/Italian restaurant, and made our way back to the venue. The people in the line before the door were all dressed up like vampires, witches or general creepy Gothic clothing. Hmmmm, there I stood in my flanel shirt and Samantha in her nice pink shirt.... Anyway, the time that I would feel really uncomfortable in such a situation is behind me, so we went back in again. The lights were low, incents were burned, and soft quiet music was played. Between the creepy stage and the dito audience, people dressed up as ghosts made their hissing way. On a big screen at the back of the stage, a silent horror movie played... A very mellow, anticipating atmosphere was created, quite something different from the usual pounding crap that venue owners think they have to play before a concert!

Relatively on time the band entered the stage and started the integral performance of Liaison. Since there were only between 100 and 200 people (my personal guess, but I am not too good at guessing),and we were standing at the front of the stage, we enjoyed an excellent show. The sound was perfect and the band made a stunning performance. Unfortunately, everybody had already anticipated on the visual aspect of the show and brought their cameras with them, with the result that during some of the more spectacular parts of the show, there were about 15 people crowling around the stage, flashing and trying to get the best shot, turning it more into a press conference than a show. But this was just a minor detail. The live performance easily beated the recorded one. Not only due to the show, but in general the sound was much richer (I found the sound on the cd to be a bit bleak), of which the entire experience benefitted. The theatric aspect of the show is really something of an added value to the music. Arnold dressed up as Old Man or Lord and Liselotte doing a marvalous job as the Wife, whilst playing bass at the same time! The other four band members do not really hit the spotlight during the performance, with the exception of Rob, who does a cool solo now and then, or beats the midi-drums. At a certain point during the show, in fact three of them are drumming: Tommy on regular drums, Rob on midi-drums and Arnold on what looks like a witch-pot but is in fact a large drum as well. A fantastic sight and sound. The visual highlight of the show is the moment where there are a couple of ghosts on stage with burning torches as fingers, waiving licking flames in different colors in front of your face...
Well let me not go on too much about it, since you might want to go see the show yourself (just do it if they are in the neighbourhood!). Veronica KinkTV, a Dutch TV station, has broadcasted a, rather disappointing, item on that particular show as well, so you might have seen something of it already. As a matter of fact, I saw them filming the entire show, so who knows....maybe in the future we can watch it all on tv as well!

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DPRP: You are a relatively unknown band whose star is currently rising fast. Could you tell us something about the your history?

Rob: About twelve years ago, I founded a band with roots in the Iron Maiden, Metallica and Slayer style. At a certain moment, some people entered the band who were good enough to start writing our own tracks. Our first CD evolved out of that. Immediately after release, it turned out everybody was too busy to perform. That was also the beginning of Cirrha Niva as we know it now, because in one month time, we got Arnold on vocals and a keyboard player, something which we never had before. We have played in the current lineup for almost six years now, until last Sunday. Peter Vennema is now replaced by Rommert van der Meer. Unfortunately, Peter could not play anymore due to personal reasons. But we keep in touch with him, I will visit him once in a while and listen if he has any ideas and then just steal them ;-).

DPRP: Arriving at the here-and-now, Liaison de la Morte is a concept album. How did you get the idea for doing a concept album?

Tommy: We didn't start out with that idea. We had already written part 2, Nightwish, in its current form. But in terms of the lyrics, some of us had the idea that it wasn't finished yet. Rob then started to elaborate on the story. We also had a lot of musical ideas related to Nightwish which we could not put into that track, so Peter got the idea to turn it into a concept album.
Rob: Yeah. So I had worked out the story on a couple of A4 sheets, which I thought would be enough. But I got comments of for instance Arnold that some of the characters had too little lyrics. The Lord had only two or three lines for example. So together with Arnold, him coming up with melody lines while I wrote more lyrics, we came up with more. This was a way of working that we had never done before. I mean, I always wrote lyrics, I have a whole collection of finished lyrics, and then we would put music on it. But now we did it all simultaneously.

DPRP: In one of the movies on the CDROM track of the cd, you can see a copy of Scenes From A Memory lying around in the studio. Indeed your music has evolved from Iron Maiden, even Slayer, to progressive and symphonic metal. How did this evolution come about?

Tommy: The Dream Theater album was a kind of joke. Dream Theater also has this "inspiration corner" with Genesis albums etc. But indeed, our music has evolved. New band members come and bring with them new ideas and inspirations. For us, an idea cannot be crazy enough. Just hand it over and maybe we'll use it.
Arnold: And of course our own musical taste develops.....
Rob: You're not supposed to participate in the interview! And of course our own musical taste develops. [laughter].
Arnold: We don't listen to the same music as 15 years ago.
Rob: No, of course. But for me the basis is still metal. But apart from that, Tommy for instance listens to Volumia, we like classical and folk, so we have a broad taste represented in the band.
Arnold: The end of Nostalgia is actually based on Irish folk.
Rob: But we didn't evolve consciously. We're all Dream Theater fans, most of us like Rush, so your music evolves with that.

DPRP: Could you shortly summarize the story of Liaison de la Morte

Arnold: The story revolves around the Old Man. His wife, played by Liselotte, has deceased years ago. The Old Man has no joy left in live, and in Nightwish he decides he doesn't want to go on living anymore. His wife exists in a world in between life and death, but she is not happy there, she wants to leave it. That world is ruled by The Lord of the Underworld, who is just interested in getting more souls. Liselotte, the wife, comes up with a trick. She wants to close a deal with the Lord; if she gets her husband into the world, she is allowed to go on to the next world. On October 31th, a very important date, and the reason why we give this concert tonight, the dividing line between the world of the living and that of the dead is thinnest. In this night, the wife tries to contact the Old Man, and he does hear her. She then seduces him to come into the world of the dead, only to find out that both the Old Man and the wife are being betrayed by the Lord of the Underworld. Well, that is in it's shortest form the story.

DPRP: Today is October 31th and you are going to give a spectacular concert this evening, with a big stage show and all. How do you manage to do that financially?

Rob:: We have got grants from different cultural organisations because we wanted to record the concept well, and give such elaborate performances. There were three different funds where we had a change of receiving money from. But it was a lot of work to get the funding, and not the nicest work too, I might add. But after a couple of weeks we were given two grants for added value to the Dutch culture,thanks to Fonds voor amateurkunst and Stichting Brabant Pop. We used that money for the audiovisual part on the cd, the video clip and the costumes, stage props etcetera for the live show. The show today is financed purely by the wage we get from the venue and the fact that we work with volunteers. But mostly we need the merchandise.

DPRP: How about the sales of the CD?

Rob: We just learned today that we have almost run out of stock. So we sold almost 2000 copies and probably need to press another 1000. We will never be a top selling band, but with these numbers we at least are beyond the break-even point.

DPRP: Pain Of Salvation is also present on the album. How do you know each other?

Arnold: Well, we have always loved their music and especially the choir parts. It was our dream to have something like that on our album as well, so we just contacted them.
Tommy: Their parts were recorded in Sweden, while we were still working here in Holland. At a certain point the master tapes were flown back from Sweden with their parts on it and we put it together with the stuff we had been doing over here.
Rob: And we have played live with them too. It was our wish to play Melancolique, the track on which PoS had participated, really live. So two weeks ago we had the chance. The second day we played as their support act they were present at our soundcheck and were quite enthusiastic. They had not yet heard our music, except the part that they participated in of course. But they asked us if we wanted to do that piece with them. At that point it was technically impossible, as we use electronic drum pads which we had not connected then, but we did it the next day. The nice thing was that they took five minutes off their own set to do this track with them!
We have also done a couple of shows with Evergrey, but that was quite a difference, they were much more reluctant. We didn't know each other, and it took a while to get to know each other. With Planet X it was even a bit more extreme. We, as down-to-earth Dutchman, just walk up to Derek Sherinian and say "Hi, we're your support for the coming days!". You immediately noticed the distance. He is of course used to tour with bands like Dream Theater, and this was quite something different. But it turned out to be fun in the end.

DPRP: Inge (their management) also works for The Gathering. Is there any relation between your bands ?

Rob: I have been in the same class in highschool as Hans, but that is about it. We see each other once in a while. They were looking for someone to do the same kind of job as Inge did for us, so that is how we came to "share" her.
Tommy: But musically we do not work together. That would be too obvious as well, but we also have a different style now.

DPRP: How about the future?

All: Rommert, you take that one!
Rommert: Well, until the end of the year we'll be touring with Liaison. Beginning of next year we want to start writing new material, in which I hope to participate. What exactly that will be is still a surprise. And maybe we'll take the show abroad as well.

DPRP: Are there any concrete plans for taking the show outside Holland?

Rob: We have contacts in Italy, they are very enthusiastic. Tonight we just heard that Hof Ter Loo in Belgium has been confirmed, for 26th of April. For the rest we just want to make good music.

DPRP: Thank you for your time, and good luck with the concert tonight!

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Arnold Kloek
Vocals, choir, midi percussion

Rob Willemse
Words, solo- and rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, midi

Liselotte Hegt
Bass guitar and fretless bass guitar, choir, ghost voices

Peter Vennema [replaced by Rommert van der Meer]
Solo- en rhythm guitar, midi

Tommy White
Drums, percussion
Wilbert van den Broek
Keyboards, midi, sequencer programming


  Cirrha Niva at DPRP:

Enter The Future Exit
Liaison de la Morte

All photos taken by Samantha Schoenmakers are © DPRP 2002

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© November 2002 - Dutch Progressive Rock Page