Soultamer - Project or Band
A couple of months ago I was completely surprised by Soultamer, a project of Victor Nefkens from The Badlands. With both himself and Joost de Graaf from Discipline on vocals he created an album that dropped my jaw to the floor. Remedy In Disguise is still an album that takes many spins in my cd player every week so I didn’t have to think twice when they told me I could do a phoner with Victor Nefkens himself.
Remedy In Disguise is released a couple of months ago. What are the reaction so far?
‘The reactions has been great from almost every corner of the music scene. Especially from the streetpunk and hardcore scene, which is also the background of all the musicians on the album. Especially these reactions are positive which is a bit remarkable because that kind of music is known for his simplicity and that is exactly what this album isn’t. Of course there are several influences from punk and hardcore, the song structures for example are quite clear but on the other hand there is much more then just those influences. Yes the reactions are most of the time very positive with of course a little point of criticism here and there.‘
To me it’s one of the better albums of this year.
‘Yeah I’ve read your review which was great. It’s always great when you record an album and it affects people. I take that as a compliment.’
You’ve written all the music for Soultamer. Did you know from the beginning who you wanted to work with?
‘Yeah definitely, especially Joost de Graaf from Discipline and me spoke a lot with each other about doing a project together. We’ve known each other for quite a while now because with The Badlands we were in the same music scene together. We always stayed in contact and I even did some shows with Discipline in Germany and Spain as a second guitar player. So in the end we just made some plans and started everything. Of course Joost had to be there because of his great voice, Wouter from Razorblade, which is good friend of mine and owner of Rebellion Records played the bass. He also took the drummer from Razorblade with him to fill in the drum spot in Soultamer. Oh by the why Rough Diamond Records, where we released our album, is a sublabel of Rebellion Records.’
Yeah especially the addition of Joost is great. The mixture of your voice and his gave me goosebumps for several times.
‘Indeed the combination of the voices is great, which is something I couldn’t dream of before. Of course you have some idea of how it should sound but you don’t know it for sure until you’ve entered the studio. Joost has a great warm voice with a rough edge and is a great addition to my voice which is a lot cleaner, it gave much more dimension to the songs. Which is also nice to hear Joost in a different kind of way, because his vocals at Discipline are much more straight forward.’
How did the recording process go with these gentlemen?
‘It has been a long course we had to follow. We started to record the drums which were followed by the guitars and the bass. The only problem was that most of the songs had several layers which you all have to record separately, especially the songs with the twin guitar pieces in it. Also the solos which most of the time were improvised in the studio took a lot of work. Especially because I’m sometime a bit lame. I write a certain framework for a song and within that framework I know what kind of solo I will improvise in the studio. Oh and don’t forget the vocals that has to be dubbed and the backing vocals that has to be recorded.’
The main question is of course is Soultamer just a project or does it has the potential to become a real band? Because The Badlands also started as a project.
‘That’s completely true. The main problem here is of course that most of the character of Soultamer is coming from Joost’s Vocals and as we all know he’s very busy with Discipline. It’s even so that Discipline doesn’t play every show they can. All the guys have their own jobs and families. So that takes a huge amount of time. As for myself, I’m much more a studio musician than a touring musician. All the time packing and unpacking my gear for a couple of songs just isn’t my cup of tea. So if you add up all these things you can say it’s a project. Maybe we’ll play some shows but until now nothing is certain.’
The only thing I can say is that I hope to see you live someday.
‘Yeah a lot of people are telling me that.’
Yeah I know that your album is in my yearlist for sure.
‘Okay thank you very much, but what is your favourite style?’
I listen to all kinds of music but hardcore and punk are still the main influences in my life. Especially since I bought the albums Demonstrating My Style from Madball and Urban Discipline from Biohazard. Within Metalrage.com I have the honour to do most of the hardcore and punk releases.
‘The reason that I ask you this is because of the reactions I get from the hardcore scene, they are mostly very positive. When I look at AsIce.net the reactions are overwhelming. Of course we all have our hardcore past but Soultamer isn’t a hardcore band at all. It’s more like we build a bridge between different kind of styles. Mostly the influences are from bands like Danzig, Dio, Black Sabbath and a bit Judas Priest. Soultamer is the result of years of development, it’s much better than anything I’ve done in the past. So the next project is also something that has to be better than this. I’m still improving myself but right know I have the feeling this is it. Because I hate it when I become a copy of myself.’
You’ve just mentioned some names that have influenced Soultamer. Are there more bands that have influences in the project?
‘A name that came back in the reviews quite often was Iron Maiden, but to be honest I don’t have any albums of that band. Lately I’ve just looked at some of their clips on YouTube. On the other hand I do like Judas Priest a lot, I just love the Painkiller album, it’s much more aggressive. For the rest it’s mostly the bands I’ve mentioned before and classical music. Most of my records are classical music by now. I started as a teenager with house music before I got in touch with rock. After that it was more punk and Oi besides that I’ve listened to classical music all the time, especially Bach. So you can say that it’s also an influence to Soultamer.’
So you can say that you’ve turned your back a bit on Hardcore and Metal?
‘No I don’t think it’s like that. To me it’s more the fact that most of the time I think that it can be done better. I’m really critical you know. Most of the time I only like two or three songs from a band and that’s it. With classical music that’s completely different. So it’s more like there’s much more than hardcore and Oi. To me music is good if I get affected by it. For example I’m a great fan of Johnny Cash, especially his work with Rick Rubin.’
The name Soultamer where did it come from?
‘It’s always hard to pick a name for a band and during some brainstorm session I was reading across the lyrics and I noticed it was very divers. There are lyrics about women and stuff like that but on the other hand there are also lyrics there that are almost spiritual. Especially the lyrics that handle about the fact that people want to control themselves with religion, political dogmas etc. Most people just want a framework where they can rely to so they can live a life without sin. I kind of interpreted that as a way to tame your soul. So that’s how I ended up with Soultamer.‘
As for Soultamer the future is completely blank, but what about your own future?
‘For me right now it’s quite hard to decide what I’m going to do right now. I’ve been busy with Soultamer for about 2 years and I’ve released several albums in the past. As for Soultamer there’s not a real breakthrough so I could go on with that. But I only look from the artistic point of view, am I still integer to myself? With this material I believe I delivered my best work, so it’s kind of hard to overcome myself. Especially because I don’t want to copy myself. So you can say that everything that comes on my path has to be better than what I did before.’
That was my last question do you have anything left to say to our readers?
‘I’d like to thank all the readers of this interview. I’d like to thank you and Metalrage.com for the opportunity to promote my album. And to all the rest, if you ever want to hear something else than all those bands that are copying each other and you want to try something new check out Soultamer.’