Powervice - Maybe within ten years people will say ‘If you like Powervice than maybe you should listen to the first two records of Iron Maiden sometime’
Paaspop 2006; it is Sunday, the second day of the festival and I had to get up early to prepare myself for the first gig of the day. Powervice, formed only one year ago, already loaded with a nice package of melodic heavy metal songs in a way that is very rare in the Netherlands. After the show, me and Sledgehammer Messiah went over to the backstage area to have an interview with all members of the band. (Ries Doms on drums, Selim Lemouchi on guitar, Willem Verbuyst in guitar, Richard Nijhuis on bass and Rogier Stockbroeks on vocals)
So, was this your first big festival gig in Holland?
Ries: In Holland, this was our first big festival, but in Germany we’ve played some big festivals already.
And how big was the crowd over there?
Selim: About 1500 people showed up. It was at the ‘Keep it True’ festival and we played as an opening act at 12:00 just as we did today.
Ries: It was totally filled already and I think it hasn’t been that crowded before. There were much more people than today.
Selim: Holland is a little behind.
Richard: Here you can see it. The sound isn’t that good though.
At this moment, we get to see a movie on a mobile phone of that performance in Germany. The venue looks like some kind of a sports hall but indeed the place was totally filled.
Richard: The demo is doing really well in Germany. After the demo was recorded we gave the tape to someone who was visiting a festival in Tilburg and there was one guy who thought we are great who’s been spreading our material into his network. Besides that, the demo is selling great, it looks like we need to make even more copies now that we’ve already sold 2000.
Well, could you perhaps tell us about how you’ve come together as a band, since most of our readers might not have heard from you?
Richard: We’ve been together in a band called The Spades. We’ve also played at this festival but it did not work out that well with the people in that band. Most of the time everyone was drunk as hell inside of the bus and I was driving. We were sitting in front of that bus listening to metal all the time and that’s what we decided to go and play. At that time, I knew who I wanted to ask to participate in the band, because working with our previous singer and guitar player did not work out that well. However, he got the opportunity to play with a band in America so we haven’t been doing things for a year but afterwards I saw him (Rogier) playing at an anniversary party in Eindhoven as a supporting act for Testament and that’s when I asked him if he would be interested in joining us. I had no real paved path for us but I thought I could at least ask him and he said: ‘Ok, all right, why not.’
And you are still in that band?
Rogier: Yes I’m still in that band but only for four more shows. I don’t know what they’re doing afterwards but I quit.
Right now, the press lady comes in, telling the band they have to leave their dressing room in five minutes and Richard replies: ‘Hey, it’s easier to get blood out of a stone than getting me out of the backstage.’
Richard: But anyway, I already contacted Willem and at his first rehearsal we decided we should really go for it. However, our former guitarist decided to quit just two hours before our rehearsal and I quickly called Selim who was also playing in another band, performing on a festival I visited. That’s how we got together and it just fitted immediately after our first jam sessions.
I saw you (Rogier) today and also at a gig in Den Bosch going off the stage during the instrumental parts. Does that have anything to do with the fact that you entered the band later?
Rogier: No, I just want to make some place for the other four guys. We are with five men together and as a singer I’m the main thing on stage. So when it is not necessary I leave to make some space for the rest of the band.
If you could choose between the young generation who have not really experience the wave and the old ones, who do you think would fit as best with Powervice.
Ries: Anyone who thinks it is cool what we do. It really doesn’t matter.
Rogier: There are also young people walking with Iron Maiden T-shirts so there’s a potential fan base in every age.
Selim: The fun thing is, that when we played in Germany, there are indeed some 45-year old men who have witnessed the first releases of Iron Maiden visiting our show and buying our demo but there also some young people who have discovering those things throughout the last few years. And they all appreciate what we are doing, that’s the great part.
Do you really see a difference between the German crowd and the Dutch crowd than?
Selim: I have to admit that right now I prefer playing in Germany. No offense to all the shows we’ve played in Holland. Yesterday and today it was awesome but the thing is that I think that people over there are more intended to really listen to what we have to offer.
Richard: Besides that, we are completely new over there. We’ve all played in different bands which are somehow familiar to the crowd.
Selim: And people over there have never heard of those bands, they just come to see Powervice. It was so amazing; we’ve played there for three times and all of the times we were asking ourselves what the hell was happening. ‘Keep it True’ was really incredible
Rogier: Watching people with a Greek flag in front of the stage is just amazing. And they could all sing along with the songs of the demo.
Selim: And they could even sing the songs that are not on the demo, the ones they’ve never even heard off! In Holland it seems like it is important who you know, what your knowledge is etcetera but over there, people don’t really care. If it’s cool, they’ll support it. They hear the demo and think: ‘Well, this is nice’. I feel like over there, people support us because of who we are instead of what we believe or something.
Do you prepare yourself different for those gigs than in here?
Ries: I don’t think it is more important than any other show we play. The only difference is that there are more people over there. Yesterday we played in Zeeland. It was pretty crowded, in a smaller place though but the sphere was better on stage than in here because today it was 13:00 when we were on stage. But still we go 110% It doesn’t really matter if we play in front 5 or 1500 people. We have to prove every single time that we are a good band and what we’re about.
You are currently touring a lot. Do you have the time to write new songs?
Richard: We mostly play in the weekends so we’re not really touring. Currently I’m working at in-between jobs.
And would you say that Powervice is 100% hobby?
Selim: Well, I actually dislike hobby bands, because they take in places at rehearsal rooms. They make it impossible for us to practice four times a week instead of two times a week. A hobby is something you do in spare time. In my spare time I work every now and then so I have a little bit of money. We are really putting a lot of effort in it and I think you can hear that when listening to our demo. It is more something of a goal.
The lady comes in again and tells us we really have to leave the room. We decide to go outside and Ries, Richard and Rogier continue the conversation with us.
Can you tell us something more about the three-track promo?
Ries: At the end of July we recorded the songs. Richard wrote the material and I was able to drum the parts. I was a matter of saying: ‘You do this and you do that’ and everything worked out well.
Does it make it a little bit easier for you to promote yourself because you made the demo so fast?
Richard: We actually don’t see it as that fast. We were all busy in other bands. Maybe for the outside world it was pretty fast but we do not see it that way. We literally live from nothing; we’ve paid everything of our own, pay for the repetition rooms.
And are there already some plans for a complete album?
Richard: We have set October as a deadline for a full album. We have enough material to fill a cd. We know exactly which songs we want to include. Maybe there will be some new material and some other things will disappear but we have a pretty good impression of what will happen during the recordings.
Ries: If there will be a good deal right now, we are ready to record the album within a month. We’ve been preparing well.
I’ve indeed noticed a difference in your live performances. Especially the performance on stage has been improved a lot.
Ries: There is only one way to improve as a band and that’s by playing a lot of shows.
Richard: That’s a consequence of the fact that we started immediately after we got together. We practiced a bit, recorded a demo and started to play live. After only eight months we play here, that is pretty fast. Normally you are into a kind of evolution as a band. We knew each other before we started but not as good as we do now.
I found a quote about you which I found interesting. ‘Powervice is the band that looks like Iron Maiden more than any other band without being Maiden.’
Ries: A lot of people think about that band when they hear a guitar solo but that’s only because Iron Maiden is the only band they now of. Of course we are influenced by them but there are so many sounds that we originate from. If you dig really deep, in the end you will end up with The Sonics in the 60s or something. We make rock&roll but than a little bit heavier.
Rogier: People who hear the songs that are not on the demo talk about heavy metal instead of Iron Maiden, it’s what the interest is.
Richard: I think we do have sound of our own although it may sound familiar to some people. Right now we have only a demo that we recorded to have something to promote ourselves with. The sound won’t be really that different but maybe within ten years people will say ‘If you like Powervice than maybe you should listen to the first two records of Iron Maiden sometime’.
The quote did say that there is some distinction between you and Maiden.
Richard: But on the other hand, there are also people talking about us saying we’re some kind of a clone. Personally, I think that’s a shame and a bit weird. Personally I think nothing happened within the metal scene after 1985.
Ries: We recorded the demo not in a metal studio. We’re more of a hard rock band and I think a metal producer would not understand our music. Our producer had a broader interest in the music business which makes it a lot easier for us to have an identity of our own.
Richard: We did not start this band because we love to listen to Pantera or something. We are not ashamed of the fact that we like a lot of different music styles. And I think that’s an advantage.
Rogier: I think you will notice that in the tour buss. There’s death metal and Queen.
Ries: In every genre there is something good.
Richard: Except for techno. Ow, but there do come some nice ladies to that shows.
Then, the autograph on the Selim’s guitar. Where does it come from?
Richard: Ross the Boss, first guitarist for Manowar. Thé guitarist. Last week we’ve played with him and he signed two of his guitars.
Ries: He’s a really cool guy. You would expect someone who’s made it to the top like him not that accessible anymore but he’s like someone you can hang out with until closing time in a pub.
Than what’s on the agenda for the next period?
Richard: We have a tight schedule. We have a meeting every week to talk about how things are going. But we are organizing things pretty tight. We are not in a position in which we can hang out, we have to work hard now.
Rogier: I think we have two weekends vacation until the end of the summer and the rest is totally full.
And will there be a new website because right now there are only tour dates?
Richard: Then you must buy fanzines.
Ries: Maiden didn’t have a website either. Right now, there is the tour section and that is enough for us. But keep in touch.
Ok, thanks a lot for your time and good luck with the upcoming activities.