Interview with Seventh Sin

On the back of their recent UK tour supporting Edenbridge (review of the London date), and the release of their great new album When Reality Ends (review) last February, Seventh Sin vocalist Monique Joostenand guitarist/growler Roy Geelen took the time to answer some questions for Swirls of Noise:

Hi guys, When Reality Ends is a really good album, thanks for taking the time to talk to Swirls of Noise.

Thanks for the invite.

First off, you play symphonic power metal, with some very audible black metal elements, as such who are the band’s main influences?

Every bandmember has his/her own favourites. Mixing everyone’s input into our music each with their own influences results in Seventh Sin. Our favourites vary from thrash and gothic metal on one side to doom and progressive metal on the other. On one hand this is the strength of our music (variation), on the other hand it’s the one thing that makes it sometimes difficult to come to a combined result.

The band formed in 2001, and although you’ve released 2 EPs, it’s taken until 2014 to release a full length album. Why did it take such a long time to get to this stage?

The band was formed in 2001 but we started out as a cover band. Four of us were in that cover band together. Around 2003 we figured out that covering songs of others wasn’t going to be our future and we started Seventh Sin. So you really shouldn’t count the years before 2003. The first year (at least) of writing our own material was a very hard year. Everything we did was a copy of something else. It took us quite a while to find our own style. We recorded a (very low budget) EP in 2005 and another one in 2007. The second one wasn’t released, we just used it to get ourselves booked. Then, around 2008, things with the band started slowing down. Three of us ended up having a burn out. I was one of them and it took me about 3 years to get back on my feet again. Some of us started to build or rebuild their own house and some of us got married and had children. When our personal lives got back to normal we started writing and rehearsing again. We felt we had to give it a go again and just see what would happen. For some reason everything is coming together like it’s meant to be. We’ve had some big ups and downs in the last years, but we stayed together. Most bands would have fallen apart I think. Seventh Sin didn’t. We are friends, we helped each other though rough times as far as we could and it made us stronger.

The album sounds fresh and different to a lot of bands in this female fronted metal scene. Is it hard to be different in a scene that’s becoming full of bands playing this style?

Roy : Yes. Female fronted bands more or less have the same line-up and music style.  Still it is reasonably easy to recognize a band when you hear them. I don’t know what makes us different from the other bands. We just do what feels right to us.
Apparently it feels right to the people who hear and see us play too 🙂
Monique: I think it helps that we’ve all got our own influences. No one really listens to Female Fronted Metal a lot. I try to stick to the old material in FFM. That way I try to keep an open mind and not start copying other bands and especially other vocalists. Sometimes it’s hard not to become too curious about the new work of our colleagues. Especially now when it seems like all bands are releasing a new album in the first half of 2014.

When Reality Ends was self released, with it being a really good album, do you think you might be able to get a record label on the back of it?

Roy :  I’m not yet used to the idea that this album gets such good response. We’ll see what happens.
Monique: we were busy with recording, mixing and mastering this album, when we found out about the opportunity to tour with Edenbrigde. At that point we decided we had to take the leap and we had to make sure our new CD would be ready in time. So to be honest with you, we just didn’t have the time to look for an interested label. Now we have released our new CD and it’s well received, we’re becoming interesting for record labels. We’ve already had a few offers. So I think it should be possible to get a label at our side.

How do you think the internet helps with the promotion of music nowadays, given that it’s easier to reach a large audience, but easier for them to listen without paying?

Roy : If you’re a new band, like us, the advantage of reaching a lot of people through the internet outweighs the loss of income of not selling a few more CD’s. Of course we too want to sell as much as possible, but we don’t live from our music. We sell CD’s and merch to be able to make the next cd (and merch). We all have a daytime-job to earn a living.
If you live from your music you’re probably well-known with a large crowd already. For those bands the publicity you get through the internet is just an extra, not a necessity. For them the loss of income is much more important. I can’t exactly tell you where the turning point is.

What inspired the lyrics of When Reality Ends, and do you write the lyrics individually or as a group?

Roy : everything we see, do or read could serve as an inspiration. Hysteria and Silent Tears for example are about a fictional person who has lost his / her mind. Pure fiction, but somewhere someone might be (or been) in a similar situation.
The Bitter Taste …  was inspired by warfare and what could go wrong in the heat of the fight.
For ‘When Reality Ends’ most of the lyrics where written by Monique and myself, except The Choice (written by Ruben). No more than two people work together on the text.

Monique: for me my burn out was a big inspiration. I’ve been a shadow of myself for a few years, feeling miserable, not getting out of the house, feeling ashamed and embarrassed. During that period I’ve been thinking about things that can go wrong a lot. Whenever I read or heard something terrible happening to someone else I thought ‘what would I do if this happened to me?’ ‘When reality ends is about things not being the way you planned it. About the (sometimes) thin line between happiness and devastation.

In other interviews you’ve said that your favourite singers include Anneke Van Giersbergen, Floor Jansen and Sharon Den Adel. Can you say what’s so special about the Dutch scene that has produced such brilliant bands and singers?

Roy : The only thing I can think of is that in Holland we have some very good singers (Anneke, Floor, Sharon and many more) and everyone who starts singing in our genre has a high standard to look up to. Girls train themselves with that high standard in mind and through that keep this high standard alive. The same would probably happen in a country that is really power-metal-minded, only it would be male vocals then.

There’s been a lot of collaboration recently with artists in the female fronted metal scene, if you could get any artist to appear on a Seventh Sin track who would you choose?

Roy :  That’s a tough one. We haven’t talked about this (at least as far as I know), so all I can give you is my personal opinion.

I have been a fan of Trail Of Tears since about 1999. And although they parted ways last year I personally would be honoured to have either Cathrine Paulsen or Ronny Thorsen as a guest on one of our songs.

Monique: I haven’t had this question before and indeed, we didn’t talk about this as a band, mostly because we don’t (or didn’t) see ourselves in the position to being able to actually get the opportunity to invite others on to our CD. I would like to add some clean male vocals. Maybe Marco Hietala (Nightwish), but if I think a bit more about it I’d probably come up with a few more names. But you’ve got more questions…. You’ll get your answer(s) on our following CD 😉

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Are there any more current or recent artists you’ve gotten into that have influenced you at all?

Roy : Seeing the music scene from the inside really opened my eyes. When you look at a band or solo artist from within the crowd it’s a completely different world than when you laugh and talk with them backstage. Every band that we shared the stage with has made an impression.

You’ve recently returned from a UK tour with Edenbridge. How was touring with such an excellent and established band, especially given the good reaction you got in London, and are they a band you look up to?

Roy : When the first signs came to be that we would go to the UK with Edenbridge we were as excited as a few schoolkids who just heard they would go on a dreamtrip. This would be 3 major steps combined in 1.  First a gig (set of gigs) with Edenbridge (helping us reach the FFM-scene by luring a large crowd) ; Second our first gigs in the UK; and third a mini-tour (we haven’t had more than 3 shows in a week so far).  It took a lot of arranging, calling, mailing, booking etc. to get this show on the road, but it was very much worth it.
Of course they are a band to look up to. They have been around in the scene for quite some time and made a name. It’s always a wise thing to watch and learn when a band with such a resume is touring with you. And we learned quite some things in that week.
And if the crowd likes you, that’s always a good thing. The first evening we were just happy we could play. At least the first few songs. After that the crowd went ballistic, feeding us with more energy to give even more.  Every other night we were happy because we knew the English people liked what we did, even before we started playing. Having a headstart in the energy-department.  It gives you wings, so to speak if the people enjoy your show.
Monique: I agree with Roy. Edenbridge is indeed a band to look up to. Especially their stage performance was one we could (and have) learned from. We also had the possibility to see what live on tour is like. And we enjoyed every second of it, both on and offstage. We also had to get used to the UK-crowd a bit. We’re not used to dancing, cheering and headbanging people in the crowd. The Dutch aren’t like that. They just nod a bit, even when they are having the time of their life. Then when we got back to Holland I thought I had to lower my expectations, but in fact, even the Dutch are loosening up to us!

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There’s a lot of energy in your live performance, how much does the band enjoy playing shows? Do you prefer touring to writing and recording?

Roy : Both have their charm. When you’re on tour you get to show what you made / composed in the studio. Try to let people have a good time and of course enjoy yourself.
If you’re writing and recording you get to make something new, create an identity for your music.
Both are very satisfying, but in a different way. You could compare it to building a house and afterwards living in it.

Monique: I’m one of those people who likes to see some result immediately. That’s why in general I prefer touring. That’s where the energy exchange between us on stage and the crowd is the biggest. After a show it takes me a few minutes to catch my breath again, but I can live a few days on adrenaline afterwards. Recording can also give me such an energy boost. I’m lucky the vocals are recorded at the end of the recording process. That way I can really hear how things are going to sound on the record. When the backing vocals are falling in place that’s a moment (or 2) of pure joy. The writing process is sometimes quite difficult because some kind of magic has to happen. Everything has to come together and that’s something that (in our case) just cannot be pushed. There might be a few writing sessions without any success, but when is does happen that all the pieces of the puzzle fall into their place, that’s just such a big rush as touring and recording. It’s just not as often that this happens.

In a short space of time you’ve released your debut album and completed a UK tour. What does the future have in store, will you take a break, or is this a catalyst for Seventh Sin to spring from and get bigger?

Roy : Break ? Why ? 🙂  No, we’re trying to do as much shows as possible this year. Let everyone know who we are. There are already some new gigs planned (or nearly planned) right now. The UK is not going to stay the only “new” country for Seventh Sin this year. *grin*
Monique: In my opinion we’re just starting. We’re filling our gig calendar right now. We’ve got ourselves some professional help in that department because we can’t do everything on our own anymore since things went ballistic in the UK. We’re doing a lot of interviews, we’re shipping our CD’s and merch all over the world. I don’t know when but all of our new fans in the UK will be pleased to hear that we will be coming back to the UK. We have to.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Roy : Come see our show (or book us) and find out why everyone is so excited about us.
When you know why, spread the word and let others enjoy it too.
Monique: I think we owe a big thank you to all the people that were part of our UK tour in one way or another. So if you were an Edenbrigde fan checking us out, a photographer taking some beautiful photo’s, a sound or lighttechnician at one of the venues, working for one of the venues, or if you are a reviewer checking us out, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! You’ve made our tour an unforgettable experience. We’ve gained the confidence we need to make it happen. Thanks for supporting us!!!

Seventh Sin’s debut album When Reality Ends is out now.

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  1. Hysteria
  2. Alone Again
  3. Wings of Despair
  4. The Well
  5. Bitter Taste of Victory
  6. The Choice
  7. Silent Tears
  8. Like a Blazing Flame
  9. My Honor
  10. Just an Ordinary Day
  11. The Screams

Trailer for When Reality Ends:

Find Seventh sin on facebook here, and order the album from their webshop.

 

 

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