Ahead of The Gathering’s upcoming live shows in November as a twenty fifth anniversary celebration, keyboardist Frank Boeijin took the time to speak to Swirls of Noise about the band’s history, his favourite songs, the upcoming shows, the success in South America and more. Enjoy:
Hi there! My pleasure!
First off, The Gathering announced in January that they would be going on a hiatus and that Marjolein would be leaving the band. After 25 years, what led to the decision to take the time out?
Back in June you announced that you’ll be reforming to play two 25th anniversary shows on the same day, featuring all the former members (besides Martine) who’ve previously played with The Gathering. How long were you planning this for before it was announced, and how did such a momentous occasion come about?
The 1992 era lineup reformed back in 2012 as the 20th anniversary of the Always…album for a handful of shows. How difficult was it revisiting material from so long ago, and when will you start rehearsing for this round of reunion shows?
People are coming from all around the world for these shows, did you envisage such a reaction when you announced the shows?
One thing that has made a lot of people excited has been the return of the previous iconic vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen. After she left the band in 2007 have you been following the music she’s been creating herself, and vice versa?
I listened to some of her songs online, but never to entire albums. Its quite different compared with what we are doing nowadays. I don’t know if Anneke kept track our music during the years.
With both shows being sold out and some fans unable to attend, will either of the shows be recorded as a live album or a DVD?
With eleven full length albums, as well as the return of former members to the lineup for the show, how do you go about choosing the perfect setlist from so many songs?
The Gathering have always been a band that has changed their sound from one album to the next, while always containing that same penchant for atmosphere, with the latest album Afterwords taking on a more post-rock and electronic feel to it than ever before. What drives the desire for constant innovation and changing the sound from one album to the next?
Following on from that, the fifth album How to measure a planet? marked the start of a fractured relationship with Century Media when you moved away from the highly profitable gothic metal sound, and eventually the band left the label and released material on their own label Psychonaut records, sticking to what you wanted to create at the expense of making it big like other of the female fronted metal bands. Looking back how proud are you that you’ve always done things on your own terms?
When you left the label, the musical landscape was starting to change in the beginning of the 2000’s with the rise of digital media and music piracy. In the 2010’s there’s the problem of streaming services which pay the artists a pittance if anything, what are your thoughts on these challenges in the 21st century?
Another challenge to the band was Anneke leaving in 2007. Despite the fact that you’ve delivered some of the best work to date in Disclosure and Afterwords featuring the beautiful voice of Silje, some of the fans of the band stopped following you to some extent after her departure. How frustrating was this, given that the band was always bigger than one individual member?
While the record labels in Europe seemed to lose interest with the band during the switch from the gothic metal of Nighttime Birds to the more atmospheric trip-hop of HTMAP? and I_T_E, The Gathering became huge in South America. How do you think that came about?
I dont know exactly why South America where suddenly very into us. I guess it grew also with the years. Maybe the gothic atmospherical approach fits the fans in SA. I remember things went better and better, when we did our very first gig in Mexico City back in 1998. It also helped that our video for “Liberty Bell” was on heavy rotation in music television in the Santiago’s Underground train stations.
Do you have a particular favourite song or album that you’ve recorded with The Gathering?
What can you tell us about your best and worst live experiences with The Gathering?
Do you know yet how long The Gathering’s hiatus will go on for, or will you just decide to pick it back up again when you all feel that spark again?
The band haven’t played in the UK since 2003. Do you envisage The Gathering returning after the hiatus?
Yes, if a booker or programmer wants us there we will.
With the eras of the band with both Bart Smits and Anneke Van Giersbergen a collection of demos and b-sides was released. Is there anything from the archives with Silje that could see the light of day?
For the already released albums we recorded of course loads of demos and rough ideas, so there is plenty of material. But we have to see in which context such is good enough to be released. We don’t have any plans for this yet.
The band has collaborated with artists such as Ulver’s Garm and Stream of Passion’s Marcela Bovio in the past. If you could choose someone else to collaborate with on future material with The Gathering, who would you like to work with?
No nobody particularly. But we would love to work more with guest musicians who control the art of playing non electrical instruments (like instruments from a classical orchestra, or ethnical instruments).
Are there any up and coming artists that you’ve been enjoying recently?
You yourself have just released your second solo EP as Grimm Limbo, and it sounds completely different to your work with The Gathering, being much more based in electronic music. What can you tell us about your own influences for that project?
My goal with Grimm Limbo was to create music which is and listenable in your living room, and suitable for the dance floor. All this with a glance of gloomy dark atmosphere. Of course as a keyboard player, I was always interested in electronic music, and I listened to it a lot already as a teenager (Jean Michel Jarre, the Art of Noise, Depeche Mode etc), so I guess it was already there for a long time. In those days there was no possibility to create anything decent from out of your own bedroom (there where no computers, let alone things like affordable music production sequencers). So when this was possible at some point I decided to start this solo project.
Well, I wish you luck with this great blog! Its so cool to see that you are trying to reach people who are into new music which cannot be found very easily on the internet or elsewhere. Thanks for the interview!
Find The gathering on facebook here
Listen to and download the new Grimm Limbo EP at name your price:
Watch the video for Echoes Keep Growing from the band’s latest album Afterwords below (and read the review here)