Legion Of The Damned - The only Dutch band to play the Wacken mainstage
Yeah I know, it’s been a while that I did this interview with a mildly drunk Legion of the Damned frontman Maurice. It was at the show Destruction gave at the Dynamo some time ago, which was a load of drunken crazy fun. We were unable to find a real quiet space to do this interview, so I hope I can get the information out of the recording I want. Here we go!
Looking back at all the problems Occult (the old name LOTD used for many years) had in the past, is it righteous to say that everything worked out in the end?
‘Yeah, In the end I’m very happy we continued doing what we do, because we thought about throwing the towel in the ring in the last months for Occult, even when we were called LOTD. I felt like, no this isn’t gonna work either. But I’m very happy we pushed through and still tried to do something with this band.’
I can ask you about all the trouble with the label and so on, but I think you don’t really want to go into it anymore either.
‘Yes, and I also think that everybody knows that about now. We’re Legion of the Damned now and it’s going great!’
What do you think that the main cause is that you’re doing this great now then?
‘Well the first thing is the promotion that’s behind us now, we put a whole lot of money into that and it’s certainly paying of now. Big adds in big metal magazines, where we used to have a tiny little piece that no one would see. Now everybody saw it. And of course the name we have now. It’s something new, people see it and they want to know what it is. So the combination of a lot of people seeing a new name in so many places really worked out. The music and bandmembers all stayed the same. Now of course there are a lot of people asking me what if you would have done this still under the name of Occult. I don’t know if it would’ve gone as well as now. If we would have just done this new sleeve that says Occult, I don’t know if that would have worked. Occult gets associated a lot with what we did in the past, the black metal stuff, and we don’t play that anymore. In the last months when we were called Occult when we had released Elegy For The Weak, there were still a lot of people that were like; ‘Occult? Is that thrash metal? I always thought…’ Without even listening to it, and that was mainly the problem, And now, a new name, printed everywhere. So it’s just a combination of those factors.’
And afterwards they’re all like, oh are these the guys from Occult?
‘Yeah, but by then it doesn’t matter anymore. If they like it, they like it.’
Personally I prefer the Elegy For The Weak album which is still Occult over the last (and first) Legion of the Damned album.
‘Well, Elegy For The Weak is going to be re-released under the name of LOTD.’
Oh yeah, I heard about that! But I also heard you guys first want to proceed with the band to an even higher level.
‘I don’t know about that. We do what we do, and I don’t see us getting more technical or complex than we are. We still sound like on Elegy For The Weak, and the question is how many times can you do that? I just tell everybody that we’re just enjoying what we do right now, everybody’s comfortable with were we are right now, we get to play at some cool things, we’re just enjoying ourselves! We’ve been doing this for so long now that I don’t want to push pressure on things anymore, so we just enjoy it. And may it end by the end of next year, at least we experienced it. If you keep pushing yourself to a higher level, it will backfire. You just have to relax and be yourself.’
So, how was it to play at the Wacken Festival this year?
‘Haha, everyone asks that. I’m very proud of it of course, we are the only Dutch band to ever have played the main stage there. It’s very hard to describe. Nervous as hell of course, hoping that there would be people at all, and I had this weird pain man. On the DVD that’s gonna be with the next album there is some footage of Wacken and you can see me sitting in pain, I’ve never had that before.’
You guys also played Dynamo a couple of years ago, wasn’t that about the same?
‘Well, at both places there were a lot of people, but this time at Wacken it was outside. And you have to get used to that. It was awesome, I’m glad we got to experience that.’
The tracks on Occult’s Elegy For The Weak, how about them?
‘We are going to re-release Elegy For The Weak with a new album title, new cover and with under the name of Legion Of The Damned. Maybe there will be some extra’s on it, like live tracks or something, we don’t know yet. But that’s gonna be the next step, first we want to release a new album next year. And I agree with you that it’s an awesome killer record, personally I like the rawness of that album better than Malevolent Rapture, only my vocals were better on that one. There are some great tracks on Elegy For The Weak and we want to play them live. It’s a good album but we sold so few of them. And the band doesn’t want to play it until it’s been released under the name of Legion Of The Damned. We want to leave our Occult past behind us, there are still some webzines and magazines that keep printing Occult behind our new name, and I really don’t think it’s necessary to keep bringing that up. We changed out name, and that wasn’t easy to do. We had to fight over copyrights and shit like that, that isn’t fun to do.’
And then you replaced bassist Twan for Harold, who’s also currently active in Inhume and Charlie*Adler. Why was that?
‘Progression. Harold is also a guitarist, so he brings riffs to the table as well, makes up riffs on the bass as well, knows how to handle his stuff very fast. He learned our new songs plus our old songs within a week. And Twan had a situation at home, and he lost his fire a bit. And we knew we had many tours coming up, as well as festivals like Wacken so we had to make a tough decision. We had a fight on tour and stuff, but this is what Legion Of The Damned is now. Harold suits us better too, we all give a 100%, and if there are three guys giving 100% and one is giving 50%, that just doesn’t work.
How many meters of hair do you think you have combined?
‘I have like a meter, Richard, has like a meter and a half, Harold I don’t know. Like three meters or so? But this is also an important factor I think, at the shows we play like with Cannibal Corpse some time ago you see a lot of younger kids coming out there, and they look up to a thing like that. Just when I was a kid and went to see Max Cavalera when I was fifteen or so, I already had long hair, but seeing him with his nasty hair, you look up to that, and everyone wants to do that. In average everyone wants to show of their long hair, but with the new generation, they look at bands like us like we did back then.’
In a way you also combine the old school thrash with what you hear nowadays.
‘Yeah, but there are so many thrash metal bands here in Holland. Bands like Flesh Made Sin which is awesome, but it’s mainly old-school stuff. We want to do it a little different than just keep looking at bands like Slayer and Kreator and such. And another thingthat is important is mingling with the crowd. And people come up to you, want to take a picture with you and you have to ask them their opinions. Look at what people are wearing, and what sells on the market. And there are so many people that don’t do that. Especially when you’re at a summer festival, most of the big bands just play and sit backstage, they think they’re more than someone else. But if you walk into the crowd you hear from people which band they find to suck, and why. And we’ve always done that.’
Have you also noticed that you’re doing very well in Germany?
‘Yeah, but if you look at all the European countries, Germany is number one when it comes to metal. When you look at Holland, if you play at, like for instance the Dynamo festival, you have played in front of everyone. Everyone goes to Dynamo. In Germany you have tons of festivals, an at each festival there are a whole lot of people that have never seen you before. The difference between crowds can be noticed, the German’s thrash a whole lot more and harder, we saw that at the tour we did with Cannibal Corpse. Germany also has a whole lot of influential metal magazines, like Rockhard and Metalhammer. Also when I look back to when we were on Karmageddon with Occult, those people send stuff to like Singapore and such, this doesn’t do anything for you. Now we just got the real big magazines, and you can see this works. Now we also get good shows, good reviews, Wacken, everything’s better. You have to start in Germany. For example take Amon Amarth, they’re from Norway and they’re practically nothing there. But in Germany they’re huge! In Germany you can play ten shows that are like sold out, in other countries you just can’t.’
What’s the gayest album you own?
‘Pffffffffff, hahaha! I really can’t tell. I have to be in front of my collection, then I can probably pick a couple out. But an album that really disappointed me was the new Assassin. I’m a big fan of their old stuff, some good old-skool German thrash metal. And they send me the last one to review for this magazine for which I had to review quite some albums this once recently, and I played the first track and I thought, okay, all right. But later I thought what the hell is this shit. This sucks!! Althought it’s hard to really say something about an album, it’s just my opinion you know.’
But the question wasn’t what was the worst album you’ve heard in a while, what’s your gayest album?!?
‘Well I do listen to Madonna. I also like The Cranberries, but that’s not really chick music. Rob, one of our roadies, is also a big Madonna freak. But I listen to a lot of other music, because I’m busy with metal all the time, also with my company Lowlife Media. But I own everything of Madonna and The Cranberries and I also listen to the radio occasionally.’
Can you tell something about the new album already?
‘What to say about it? It’s called Sons Of The Jackal and it will be released on January the fifth. With a bonus DVD with two hours of material on it, like a track from Wacken, a track on Summer Breeze, tracks from Rockhard and more stuff like that. Also photo-galleries, studio report, a whole lot of stuff. It’s gonna be great.’
And now for the most important question of the interview; in movies, who do you prefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone?
‘Then I have to say Sylvester Stallone.’
Aah man, are you a Rocky fan too?
‘No it’s not because of Rocky, it’s because of First Blood! When that was released I was like seven, so I saw it when I was like ten. I remember exactly when we went to rent that, my first movie with Sylvester Stallone. Commando was my first Arnold Schwarzenegger.’
How about Terminator then?
‘Mwoa, that ‘I’ll be back’…
The Terminator didn’t destroy Rambo?
‘No. Well, one or two?’
‘Okay, that one kicks ass! Part three sucks of course, but no, First Blood. That was the first I saw. I thought Commando was cool too, this one guy fighting an entire army, but his one-liners spoil everything for me.’
After this we are interrupted by ‘groupies’ of which one claims that Occult was the best hip hop band ever. That’s metal there for ya!
So, do you have anything to add to this brilliant interview?
Brilliant interview haha! Well, thank you of course for everything. Buy the new album, with DVD, the songs kick ass.’