Gorefest - Doesn't stop for a small bomb
At the Paaspop festival, Metalrage members BuzzinHornet and CarpeSiem got invited to have an interview with one of the most extreme metal bands from the Netherlands. Gorefest was just two and a half hours away from their first appearance at the festival in many years and we had a chat with two members, bass player/singer Jan-Chris and guitar player Frank who told us he had Metalrage in his ‘My Favorites’ section. It was funny, because we took a seat in a container that was moving from the one side to the other one when someone stood up from a chair and moved.
Thanks to Niamen for coming up with a lot of questions for this interview.
How does it feel to be back at the Paaspop festival?
This is the beginning of the festival season in Holland and also for us, this is the first festival we’re playing this year. And to be honest, it’s always a little bit more exciting than playing a club show. At club shows you have your sound check in the middle of the day, you know what to expect and the people in the venue are coming to see just yourself. At festivals, the people in the crowd are really different from each other and today we are even the most extreme act. And besides that, I live in the nearest city from here so it’s pretty close to my house.
A few months ago, your tour got cancelled and the support tour with Bolt Tower got cancelled. How frustrating was that?
A lot. For a little while it was really frustrating. We did not feel a lot of confidence with the booking agency this winter. We cancelled the tour three weeks before we should start it and one of the reasons for canceling was the booking agency. It took a lot of time before everything was arranged and all of a sudden a lot of money was gone. It was just not working at any level, but as a band you discover such problems a little later. Then I had contact by Mika, I forgot his last name, our third Scandinavian promoter in a row an he told us he had booked all of the shows over there and he thought he would be able to use national radio stations to promote the gigs but in the end, three weeks is too short to have a proper promotion for the tour. And then he told me we would be better of to have a Scandinavian tour by the end of the year or at the beginning of the new year. He was not in the position to guarantee a good tour at that moment. It was a weird situation but we feel as this was the right decision. We could have been into a financial disaster if we decided to actually go on tour, something that is impossible to survive. We feel so good with each other and didn’t feel like risking that.
When you take a look back in history, what would you consider as our best album and what would be the worst?
Without a doubt, the most important record is ‘False’. It was our breakthrough and because of that one, we were able to accomplish a lot more than before. Even now, in 2006, this album reverbs throughout the years. We did our first shows in America and when you take a look at reviews, ‘False’ is always used as a reference. Every band has it’s own ‘one important’ record. Iron Maiden has got ‘Number of the Beast’, Slayer has got ‘Reign in Blood’, and without really comparing ‘False’ towards those albums, it was seen as an important one within the European death metal scene.
And looking back at ‘Chapter 13’ which received a lot of critical reviews?
I’ve always found that a bit of a shame. In my opinion, it is still a really nice album, maybe my favorite one after ‘False’. Al lot of people want to compare the album with previous ones.
But that means you keep a close eye on the reviews?
Of course, every band does that. When bands say they don’t read them, they just lie. I still remember our first live review in ‘ ‘t Beest’ on the 23rd of April in 2005. I came home at 5:00 and was still awake at 8:30 because of the adrenalin, reading the first live review of that night on ‘De Muur’ or something. After that, I got back to bed but come on, everyone wants to now other people’s opinions about the thing that you like to do. And reviews are important for us as a band too.
Last year at the Graspop festival, the drummer got the advice not to go on stage by a doctor but he did show up. Did that have any consequences for him?
His ankle was pretty bad and needed medical treatment. During the show, there were some droops of blood but afterwards he went to the first aid section and there he got a new treatment. Nothing really special.
How was it to play such kinds of festivals again?
Incredible, it was awesome. Although I (Jan-Chris) was pretty nervous; especially Dynamo and Fields of Rock because I was also working. I took my bike half an hour before the show to bring my guitar to the stage. But playing those festivals was a great opportunity for us to show ourselves to the world again and I think we did that pretty well. It’s a shame Dynamo had bad luck due to the weather. It’s a really nice spot to have a festival.
But now, Holland doesn’t really have a metal festival anymore.
Fields of Rock, although the circumstances have to be absolutely perfect in order to give it a go. That’s why there won’t be an edition this year. But for us as a band, there’s not that big of a difference. Ten years ago, we played at the Dynamo festival in front of 20.000 German people. Now we do the same thing at the Wacken festival, were there are likely to be a lot of Dutch people as well. So in the end, there will always be a way for us to promote ourselves towards a bigger crowd than just our fans. It is actually surprising that we could play at so many places last year.
Right from the start, your lyrics were not about typical death metal topics. How did that emerge?
Well, the first record was a real splatter. We were sitting with a pile of beer in front of a tv, watching one bad horror movie after another. But after the first two demo’s which contained eight lyrics, I was out of my gore topics. But back then, I had a background in a hardcore/punk band and I remember handing my first serious lyrics towards Frank nervously asking whether he’d liked it or not. His reaction was why on earth I didn’t do that two years before that. And I think it gave us a unique identity. The big advantage is that these are topics I can always write about because they’re interesting to me.
Don’t you miss that within the scene?
Well, the fun thing is that journalists say: ‘Normally I don’t give a damn about lyrics’, but with our work they refer to the lyrics every now and then. As long as one out of ten mentions them, I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal.
And I believe it was you Frank who once after a show said that you hate metal?
No, that was Boudewijn. We played a gig at 11:00 and the show before that was cancelled. My ex-wife called me and said: ‘Come back home I’m giving birth to our child, man it took another two weeks. However, he did pay for the promotion and did not receive his money. So we cancelled Poland. And at the show we did play then, when we had a little bit of a frustrating weeks, he said that after the show. But this became a whole story of it’s own with a lot of different explanations of it while in the end, it was no big deal.
When you were on tour with Deicide in 1992, there was a bombing attack in Sweden. Did that have any effect on you back then and maybe even now?
Absolutely not. I remember my mother was reading the morning newspaper, reading the regional section, tossing her eggs, and it said ‘Gorefest won’t stop because of a little bomb’ (Gorefest stopt niet voor een bommetje) I did not call her and she thought: ‘Well, I did not hear anything so I guess everything is ok’.
But you didn’t feel like canceling the whole tour like Pantera did after September 11th?
No of course not. We did stop for a small moment in the middle of a song and I remember myself screaming ‘Let’s play!’ (Speuluu!) and we just continued. Theo checked under the stage if there was anything else but that was all. It did not sound like a bomb, it was a higher sound like a pistol but very loud. Outside it must have been a blast but not inside. The only thing was that there was a door hanging a bit weird because of the blast so we kept playing. And every now and then, in a pub we still talk about it and right now there’s a topic on our form saying ‘What happened’.
The upcoming times, what can we expect from you?
We will be playing a lot of shows and we are working on new material for the upcoming album. We will be playing eight festivals, Germany, Brazil, Chili and Spain and have a good time. That’s the good part, we’ve been there and we’ve experienced it all so there is no real need to be in a hurry anymore. We decided not to go on tour for more than thirty days. However, we decided to do forty and now we think ‘we won’t be any longer on the road for more than four weeks.’ We now have a social life besides the band and of course we’ve reached an age in which making these decisions is easier. Being on the road for forty days with each other is pretty tough and we try to keep having a good time, that’s the most important thing.
Is it a big advantage then that because you have your name right now, you can tell the record company what you want instead of the other way around?
Well, Nuclear Blast was an amazing thing. At the Dynamo festivals we announced our comeback with a potential record. And then I spoke someone from Nuclear Blast who asked me if we already had a label. But because we did not know whether we would be recording an album I could not answer his question so I told him he could call me back within half a year. And then, when I was moving to Den Bosch, I got a call from Markus, asking if we were into making an album which I confirmed. I told him it would be a dark heavy record and he immediately said he would sign us then. The contract was signed three days after that. It was a really special happening because we had not recorded one single note and were given the opportunity to record three albums.
And what will you be playing on stage today?
A mixture between the old and the new songs. The reactions of the crowd are really good, ‘False’ again but the new songs work out pretty well too. Right now, we’re really digging heavy songs and we can make really fast songs again, something we just couldn’t do anymore after 1995.
Thanks a lot for the interview and good luck tonight.
Thank you, come and see us live.