Interview with bassist/vocalist Marloes and guitarist Joroen | By Eric May
Izegrim has been around for quite a while, but they’re now starting to make some major headway with their smashing fourth full-length release, Congress of the Insane. I spoke with frontwoman Marloes and guitarist Joroen about the album, their thoughts on being a “female fronted” metal band (they hate that classification, by the way), as well as what it was like to work with thrash metal legend, Sabina Classen on the album.
Congress Of The Insane is an incredibly fierce record. In some ways, I think it’s even heavier than Code Of Consequences. What was the attitude like going in to record this album and what was your goal for the disc? Were there any albums in particular that you looked to for inspiration?
Jeroen: Thanks ! Mission accomplished I guess [laughs]. While we are still very proud of our previous album, we all knew the new one had to reflect the rawness that we expose when performing the songs live. From the moment Bart and I wrote the first guitar-riff, we aimed for a non-polished sound, brutal, heavier and more “in-your-face” compared to the previous albums. These songs just screamed for a new approach and a different sound. Slow passages are now really slow and gloomy and the aggressive, faster songs are absolutely kicking serious ass. Actually, our own live-performances were the main inspiration; one could say that all our fans we met over the years are the main inspiration for this album. We tried to capture the energy we get on stage, that adrenaline-rush when the audience goes berserk. Sure, we have our favorite bands too; Bart finds his inspiration in Cannibal Corpse, Carcass and Nevermore (to name just a few), I tend to listen more to the death metal genre like Asphyx and Entombed. A cool mix of bands that Bart and I blend into our own compositions.
What was it like recording the album? Where did you record it, how long did it take and what was the atmosphere like in the studio?
Jeroen: We returned to the Soundlodge Studio in Germany again. We’ve recorded our previous album there, and it was absolutely clear from the beginning that we would return to the same studio. Relaxed atmosphere and superb sound-engineer (Jörg Uken). He nailed the sound we were aiming at. A brilliant mix of a raw yet defined sound, that grabs you by the balls. We stayed there for 2 weeks in a row. Next to the recording-studio there is a neat apartment where we stayed (and spent the evenings with games, beer and pizza’s, hehe). We recorded drums, all the rythm guitars and vocals at the Soundlodge. I’ve recorded Marloes’ bass and Bart’s solos at home in my own studio. Jörg mixed and mastered all the tracks and created our new masterpiece. Worked like a charm.
Explain to me the concept behind Congress Of The Insane. Is this record more political based, or is this more about the insanity of people in general? Do you think that the world has really gone insane?
Marloes: No, we’ve never been a band that preached political opinions. But you are correct, there is a main theme on this album. It’s not a real concept where we tell a story from A to Z, but it features the general thought based on the evil in the deceiving human nature. Everyone seems normal, until you get to know them. There are so many freaks amongst us, one cannot open a newspaper or watch the latest news on television, without being confronted with gruesome acts of crime. Think of all those high-school shootings, people like Breivik, just to mention two completely different examples. Some shit is seriously horrible and one has to be really sick to even think about those crimes we see on the daily news. What disturbs and fascinates me the most is the fact, that most of these people (for instance Breivik) could be your neighbor. Apparently you cannot trust anyone these days. The whole world seems a gathering of freaks, turning today’s society into a global, worldwide “Congress of the Insane” and we are all part of it. The cover expresses the feeling and atmosphere of those old carnivals and travelling parties where they had all these freaks exposed. It fit perfectly to the whole theme.
Marloes, do you think that being a female death metal vocalist means that more is being expected out of you, than for male fronted death metal acts? Why or why not?
Marloes: Well, if you asked me that question 5 or 6 years ago, I would definitely answered with a convincing, yes! But fortunately times have changed. We’ve always preached that we are ‘just’ a metal band, not a female-fronted metalband. I simply hate that stigma. I get the impression that my message came across and people are looking at me as a member of the band, not as the “girl” singing in Izegrim. Besides, I’m not singing (and playing bass) in Izegrim to prove myself to anyone. I joined the band because it’s awesome to play gigs, to visit places I’ve never been before, meeting new people and having a good time. If I don’t live up to some peoples expectations, then no problem. Just turn off the cd and play something else! (laughs) I have a pretty distinct sound and I can imagine some metalheads don’t like it. But hey, let’s get real; I don’t like every band either. One cannot please everyone, now can we?
What was it like working with Holy Moses frontwoman, Sabina Classen on the album? She has been known as one of the very first women to ever use a death growl. What do you think that her presence brought to the album? Did you learn anything from the thrash legend?
Marloes: Sabina has always been high on my wishlist to cooperate with, like you stated; she is a legend. In the past we had some gigs with Holy Moses, so we already knew Sabina for a while. They got added to the roster of our agency (TMR Music Promotions) a couple of years ago. All it took was one email to Sabina and she was immediately very thrilled to cooperate on the our new cd. We sent her the song I had in mind to do the duet. They (Holy Moses) have their own studio in Frankfurt. I spent a day with them in their studio when Sabina did her part of the vocals. It was a great day and I had a splendid time with the band. It was interesting to see that she has a totally different approach on how she uses her voice. We soon came to the conclusion that my technique is much different from hers, and that I’d better stick to my own technique. All in all it really is a great honor to have one of the leading ladies in thrash on our record ! I’m sure the fans of the old school genre will certainly be very thrilled about this song.
What is the metal scene like in the Netherlands, and how do people approach your band over there?
Jeroen: Our country is small, so you see the same ugly faces over and over again at all the gigs we visit (or play ourselves.) (laughs) It’s a small community, overcrowded with bands. One can visit dozens of gigs every weekend. If we don’t have any gigs scheduled with Izegrim, you most likely see us as a visitor at some concert. As almost every metal head in the Netherlands is also playing in a band themselve, most concerts are not as energetic and total chaos as you sometimes can witness in countries in (for example) South America. Guess we are just too spoiled over here, hehe.
Marloes, what was it that made you decide that you wanted to be in a death metal band? What artists or bands could you cite as your earliest inspirations?
Marloes: Wow, let me think, that’s a long time ago. No particular death metal band brought me to the point where I am now, but I grew up with Iron Maiden, Queen, Pantera, Kreator, Guns ‘n Roses and stuff like that. The energy those bands gave me made me decide to try to do something more than just listen to the music. It actually started with playing guitar in 1996. I’ve played guitar in Dutch band Deluzion from 2002 till 2004, where I had my first stage experience. After a few years and several gigs I had a chance to join Izegrim as (just) the bassplayer. I knew the band for some time and liked the music, so it was an easy decision. You all know the rest of the story: old members leaving the band, me taking over the vocals, bladiebla (we skip the uninteresting stories about line-up changes in the past).
What do you think of females being represented in the scene? Do you think they’re being healthily represented, or do you think that some labels are merely expressing them as pieces of meat? Do you take pride in the fact that you’re a woman doing this type of extreme metal, or do you just think of yourself as another metal guy?
Marloes: First of all; I presume that everyone who plays in a band isn’t a complete moron and they have their own opinion. If a label exposes the singer of a (oh no, there we go again) “female-fronted” band as a piece of meat;I guess that person is totally aware of how she is represented and agrees on how she is exposed. Totally not my cup of tea and we always stay far away from this kind of exploitation. However, if a band decides they need it in order to get better selling points; then it’s all fine with me. Who am I to judge, right ? In every band the singer is the frontman, the face of the band. Yes, I’m on a lot of pictures, do a lot of interviews; but isn’t that the case with ALL bands in every genre ? Like I said before, I hate the whole “female-fronted” buzz, I play in a metal band, and that’s all that counts. So yes, I consider myself as another metal guy and sometimes even with bigger balls than the real guys, which makes me proud. [laughs]
What advice do you have for other young women who are out there trying to crank out death metal and other forms of extreme metal?
Marloes: Pfff, I don’t know. Stick to your dreams, work hard, drink a lot of booze. That’s basically what I did.
Out of all the shows/tours you have done, what do you think has been the best experience and what has been the worst experience?
Jeroen: We never have bad experiences. We always try to make the best of every situation, even if they are far from perfect. One could sit in a corner and start whining and complaining, but it’s not our nature to behave childish.
As for good experiences, we’ve had a lot! Our most recent European tour with Onslaught and Cripper was a blast, we met so many new friends. Also the gigs in Eastern Europe are always superb, Devilstone Festival in Lithuania for example. People went absolutely crazy. We got treated like real rock stars and the response from the audience was overwhelming. Every gig should be a good experience, that’s our credo ! We are a live-band and we want to meet our fans. We are not the typical band that stays backstage all the time. It’s a good chance that you see us all in the middle of the audience, looking at the other bands when we play at a festival.
What kind of music are you guys currently listening to? What could I find on your playlists right now? Are there any bands that you want to give hails to?
Jeroen: Hmm, that might include my latest purchases: the new Annihilator and the live-dvd from Kreator. Furthermore you would find some old stuff from Entombed, the latest Asphyx, with some Unleashed on the side. And some hails to bands that I really like (on a musical and personal level) would contain Bodyfarm, The Monolith Deathcult, Onslaught and Cripper!
Marloes: My playlist would include Carcass, some Nevermore, mixed with a touch of old Dimmu Borgir.
As you well know, your record leaked onto the internet about a week ago and before I even had a chance to review the promotional copy assigned to press. What is your opinion on this leaking/downloading of music and of the digital music age? Do you think that it’s a double edged sword for bands, or just a deep cut to the heart?
Jeroen: Yeah, I don’t know which fuckface from the press leaked the download, because we don’t even have the CDs yet. It’s only available for the press at the moment I am writing this. Listenable is tracing him/her down and it’s a good thing the French are well known for their excellent knowledge of different torture methods. No, seriously; we have to be realistic. Downloading is the new tapetrading (an era I grew up with). One cannot stop it, we have to deal with it, that people download albums first, give it a listen and hopefully buy it. To be honest, I listen to albums too before I buy them. Metalheads are dedicated people and I hope they support us by buying the album.
Finally, the world is making some drastic changes as of late and given some of the song/album titles and topics, you’ve definitely noticed these changes. Do you think that one can actually make a difference in the world this day and age, or are we all headed for some horrible wasteland and there’s nothing that we can do about it?
Marloes: Ah, we are suddenly in a “Miss Universe” contest? *sticks finger in mouth and pouts* “If I was the president of the world (yes indeed, the world), I would give everyone world peace and food…” Personally I have mixed feelings with your statements. I’m a firm believer that a single person is capable of changing things. However, the topics that I cover in my songs are mostly about the “normal” people around us that turn out to be freaks. Reactions like, “My god, I lived next door to him, and never noticed he had several children abducted in his basement.” That is what fascinates me. And I’m convinced that these kind of people will always be amongst us, spreading their weird yet intelligent, thought patterns (manifest of Breivik) and well-thought-out acts of revenge (school-shootings, terrorists attacks etc). With all the attention in the (social) media, I’m afraid this exposure will lead to copycats. So, yes, we have to watch our neighbors closer, we cannot trust anyone.
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