“Drive” being released at the end of September, RockUrLife got the occasion to meet Anneke Van Giersbergen a month ago, discussing about her forthcoming record.
Hello Anneke, how are you?
Anneke van Giersbergen (vocals) : Good, thank you.
So your new album will be out next month. Are you ready to support it on the road?
A : Yes, totally ready for it and I can’t wait, it’s one of those albums just that you look very much forward to do live because the songs are very much written and I recorded it in kind of a live way, so this will be excellent to play.
“Drive” is your fifth album; first of all, can you explain the meaning behind the title and the different themes of the songs? What inspired you this time?
A : Physically I like driving, I like being on the move and I like travelling, being in my car with music looking at the sunshine and I also like flying and in another sense I like moving, I like going towards something, I like to look ahead and that was the whole thing about this album. Also, in the music I wanted to go, I had a lot of energy and go somewhere and make like ten songs which were all crystal clear, positive, so I felt very clear about it. Everything is changing but more romantic and it’s more worm and soft, up tempos and down tempos but this one I wanted to be crystal clear you know, so I did.
For this album, you wrote the songs with your band mates, old fashioned style, what made you feel that way for this album?
A : Maybe because when a certain album is finished you already have the idea for the next one and because what you did on that album is done, so that feeling, you have space for new ideas and usually it’s a bit like the opposite, like I did “Everything Is Changing” with Daniel Cardoso, mostly by internet, because he’s in Portugal, which is a great way for working, doing things very fast, but in those days I collected around me a live band which is so good, it went better and better live and I thought having this live feeling on the album. I wrote songs with different kind of people and when they were done, we put them into the studio and the guys came in and made the songs ten times better, because their energy and their character are really huge.
On the song “Mental Jungle”, there’s Turkish lyrics, who’s the guy behind them? In which way do you feel connected to oriental music?
A : Of course I’m very Dutch, supra Dutch, but I love the South and also love Turkey, Greece. The whole musical thing that’s going on in Turkey, I like that so much, because it’s so different from our culture. Hayko, I met him in Turkey, I sang with him a few times and he sang with me in Holland with me as well, I think he is a phenomenal singer, in his country he’s a huge rock star, he’s fantastic and he makes kind of metal/rock pop music with Turkish lyrics. In Holland the Turkish community, they all know him, so it’s a funny thing with you know. Anyway, I love his voice and always wanted to have him on one of my albums, on the previous one there were no songs appropriated for and didn’t work out, but on this song, we had this “Mental Jungle” and I really thought of him doing some vocals on it. He did such a fantastic job.
A word about the album cover, as one of your solo album, you are on the cover of it, only the hair color changes. Don’t you never wanted to make an illustration inspired by the songs of each album?
A : Good question. For instance, with The Gathering we never had pictures of us on the cover and I like it because it’s personal. I would wish, when I was with The Gathering, “why don’t we go on the cover of the album?” because it’s us you know, but they said “no it’s all about the music, we should make beautiful artworks”, it’s fine but well… To tell you, my head needs to be on the cover, plus I’m a girl, (laugh) it’s vanity (laugh) but it’s also a way of expressing through arts, pictures and also this cover I really wanted to have the bright hair and the blue background and when you look at it it’s like “wow” just like the music, lots of color, of brightness and I love it. You know we put it on the internet and people either loved it or really didn’t like it, like metalheads there’s too much color if there’s no black is “not good” (laugh) but in general people liked it because it says something, does something and that’s what you need.
If you had to pick up three songs that describes the best the record, which ones and why?
A : There’s only one ballad because it’s a up tempo rock album but I like it very much, it’s very personal, it’s about my parents “My Mother Said”, and I like very much “Mental Jungle” because of Hayko and because it’s such a different song on that album and I like, (whispering) I like everything, (laugh) but I also like “Shooting For The Stars” because it’s euphoric and that’s what I wanted to do for the whole album, they’re all positive minded and that’s what I really wanted to express with this album, so those would be my three favorites.
What can expect the fans about it?
A : Well that euphoric, positive energetic rock stuff and also live, that’s what we’re going to do live. So if you’re into that, into movement, excitement and euphoria then this will be a good album.
A word about your collaboration with Arno Krabman.
A : Actually I didn’t know him before; I got different people telling me he might be a good person to work with for the next album because I asked around “I need a new producer but I don’t know exactly who” and there were a few people who mentioned his name so I thought “who’s this guys?” and I got in contact with him. The first four sessions were only talking, I took my guitar but we only talked so we had like a very good connection as we started and he’s all over the album. I wrote songs together with him and he produced the album and he’s been very important for the whole process because what I had in my mind, he could make it, so that’s fantastic because it’s not likely that anyone just understand what goes on in your head so he was perfect for that.
Is there anything that you haven’t yet done on an album? Taking high risks on doing something else for example.
A : That’s so cool, good question! I would like, you know we talked about oriental songs; I’d like to always improve my singing and discover new things about me and my voice. I always think that I should learn to sing either Arabic or even Indian or Turkish vocals because it’s so interesting, how they do it with the quarter and half notes, the bending and, like I said, I’m super Dutch I feel so white when I’m with those people and find it so interesting that I’d love to, but it’s a risk because how far is it then still you, how far, within my character to try this because you can also good too far and watch that it doesn’t sound like me, so you always kind of searching for those boundaries but I would love, on the vocal point of view, to dive into those technics once and maybe make this kind of an album, but I have no idea of who or what or whenever. That would be it!
Do you already have in mind the set that you’ll play during the tour?
A : Yes mostly and it’s going to be most songs from the album, some “Everything Is Changing”, some Gathering songs, some Devin Townsend of course, some acoustic but it’s going to be like up tempo euphoric rock show.
Do you have any explanations to all these women fronted bands that come from the Netherlands? Delain, Within Temptation, Epica.
A : We have good grounds, good clay grounds to produce this (laugh) but I don’t know why. Few of the best singers are from Holland so I’m not sure why; so the answer is no. (laugh) The very nest of this genre was in Holland, it was us and Within Temptation, but even like we are down to the fifth generation of female fronted bands, there’re still such good bands. And now it is like they are more and more heavy, I like these female vocal because they are very young and they do like strong vocals, I think they’re becoming better and better, it’s great.
They also have red hairs!
A : See! (laugh) Exactly! Simone (Simons, Epica) will never change her hair, she’s always like complaining to me “oh you’re always changing your hair” but I don’t care, of course it’s her unique shelling point so she shouldn’t cut them.
What do you think about the current female hard/metal scene?
A : I like the current movement because there’s operatic metal like Nightwish and the gothic side, but also the new bands with girls and their growling voices and they make like super heavy and fast metal music, and I like it very much, very spirited; I like this movement in the female fronted bands movement.
You already guested on an Ayreon album. A new one is coming up, what is it like to work with Lucassen?
A : Arjen is so nice! He’s the sweetest guy and he’s always working and always got ideas and he’s making this wonderful big productions with all these vocalists, he’s wonderful to work with because he’s very generous but also relax around his work, and that’s very nice for a vocalist because a vocalist always have to be totally in tune and relax to sing, so I like working with him and his music.
It looks like you like social networking and communicating with your fans, what did it bring to you?
A : For me it works very well because my audience is everywhere so it’s very easy to connect with everybody through the internet and also one on one. For a band like mine, it’s very important to keep in touch because I’m not played everywhere on the radio so I have to find other ways to get contact. People share your stuff, it gets around, and it’s fantastic. This is why I also like Spotify even if some artists are complaining about because you don’t earn money from it but I like it because it gets you around, people talk about it, so it works very well for me.
Any message to your French fans?
A : I love to come back and I’ll play in October and they should all come and see us because the album is good and the show is good too and I’m so confident with this one and I’m happy to share it, so I’m very focused on it and the shows. I can’t wait.
Finally, we are “RockUrLife”, so as a conclusion, what rocks your life?
A : My son and my family rock my life. It’s fantastic to see him grow up, and I’m being such a mom but it’s great to see life in front of you, like racing by, it’s fantastic. And music rocks my life, I love music, I love singing, every day I sing in the shower, in the car, I love singing so to be singing for my profession that rocks my world.
Website : annekevangiersbergen.com