The Gathering
with Hans Rutten & Frank Boeijen on Sep 09, 2001

As a special favour to REZ, -The Gathering isn`t doing any `big` interviews at the moment-, me and Frank Alders were invited by Hans Rutten at his cosy home in `downtown` Nijmegen. Frank Boeijen was also there and the 2 hour plus conversation we had about the band made us clear that a beautiful future is on the horizon for the band. Due to the fact that the band would be doing doing a short tour in Holland at the end of october we agreed to bring this interview to the REZ site around that time, so the public will know what the band will be doing in the next couple of months...or longer.

So, The Gathering, 5 years after `Mandylion`, how do you look back at that time, hasn`t it been going very fast for you?
HR: I don`t ever look back...and no, I don`t think it was going that fast for us. Now that we are going to take a 7 month break we do get the time to rest.
We will be busy with the band but we won`t be performing for a long, long time. I do think back about certain shows from the past and re-enjoy them, that is a thing that is happening now when I`m at home on the couch with a beer...there are a lot of shows from a lot of tours we did that were special.

But the last 5 years were very important and now that you can overlook them, what was the most enjoyable time? `Nighttime Birds` kinda was the definitive album wasn`t it?
HR: I really enjoy to look at the future...`Nighttime Birds` was a playing safe album for us. For the first time we could continue with the same band and same producers. But continuation isn`t our strongest thing and we always want to evolve ourselves.
FB: The album `Nighttime Birds` meant taking a step back actually.

I remember a gig in the past, when Niels Duffhues was in the band, in Wageningen where you said that The Gathering would be making more Progressive styled music ala Rush. Do you think that `vision` has come true?
FB: No, the `Almost A Dance` period was a very big learning period for us, it became clear that we had to learn a lot in the business and our musical ideas changed automatically anyway.

  The `Mandylion` album did meant a boost for the band, major success in and outside Holland, you had to learn quickly...
HR: Success...for us the real success was `How To Measure A Planet`, that album is our highlight musically wise, although there certainly are a few flaws on it.
Perhaps it should have been a single album instead of a double and the order of songs should have been different.

  `HTMAP` was about making it clear that the musicians are the band The Gathering and that there was a certain evolvement going on in the music...
HR: ...we always did that. We don`t want to make the same album over and over again. There always be lovers and haters and that`s very normal in music.
Bands as AC/DC and Motörhead are happy with it but bands like Opeth for instance also keep changing and improving with each album. They certainly do have a lot to offer to the Metal genre.
I have much more respect for such bands than for all those copycat bands. Nu Metal, a genre that is getting a lot of criticism from the traditional Metal people, but it is a genre that brings something new to the scene...I don`t understand that criticism.

  They too have to cope with copycats though...
HR: That will always happen, a certain style becomes hot and bands jump on that bandwagon. It is up to the listener to pick the true musicians and music and that can be hard sometime.

  A thing that has happened with The Gathering also of course, you were one of the very first to bring keyboards in Metal...
HR: We were laughed at! And now almost every Metal band has keyboards on stage...

  Because there are so much record labels these days it isn`t hard to have an album released. And every label wants to have their own Dream Theater, The Gathering etc.

  This creates a polluting music scene because not all bands are actually that good or original.
HR: There are too much bands and labels. A lot of crap comes out and people are losing interest because of that. The copycats are drowning the good bands that way.
FB:Especially when you are young, you don`t have a clue about who`s original or not. The kids all buy that shit.

  So you feel that `HTMAP` is The Gatherings` musical highlight, your `Masterwork`?
FB: Yes, we want to equal that album, and we always will.

  Did `If_Then_Else` equal `HTMAP` for instance?
HR: In some parts it did, insome parts it didn`t. The pressure that we felt from the record company made us bring out the material before it had the chance to ripe. There is no bad material on it, but some songs could have been better when there would have been more time on our hands.
FB: There definately was more in this project than actually came out, it was a rushed album for us.

  So you say that `I_T_E` could have been a better album?
HR: It would be more homogeneous, it lacks a bit of that now. The albums before all had a certain homogenic feeling. It was the first time we produced ourselves and we didn`t have the time to do what we wanted to do.
The next album will be co-produced with someone, we are sure about that already.

  But I think that `I_T_E` has its` very own charm, maybe because of the difference between all tracks...
HR: Oh yes, it certainly has that. And the variety of styles almost makes it a compilation album in a way.
It also felt that a circle was closed, all things we`ve ever done into one album. I do think that the best songs we have made are on it though...
FB: Sure, there are some very good pieces of music on `I_T_E`.

  How do you select the songs that will be on an album as a band, along the way or do you take time to listen to each others ideas when the time comes to record the next album?
FB: The most important thing is taking the time with that. When you can take a little distance it`s then that you will see where some ideas are heading to. The more songs we have the more we can say these are fitting together nicely, these should be done more that way. That can`t be done in just 6 months time.

  Why did you release `Downfall; The Early Years`, purely out of nostalgia?
HR: Yes, to complete the picture. We were glad to get the chance to show people that we didn`t start as a Death Metal band. The rehearsal section shows us experimenting, even back then. Hammerheart wanted to release it for us, something we didn`t want to do ourselves.
Guido from Hammerheart wanted to do it very much, out of nostalgic reasons and because of the fact that the `Always` era of us is still populair. We are very proud of those days but we don`t look back at it that often.
FB: We were all in puberty 10 years ago, I was 17! I am more proud of the `Always` period then on the `Almost A Dance` time, it was wonderful.

  Can you imagine being in music for another 20 or 30 years? The first 10 brought you were you are today...
FB: 20, 30 years is very long, I don`t know...I can`t see myself playing at Unitas in Wageningen for instance, it depends where you are at that time.
HR: I can imagine it, but I don`t think I want to play that seriously when I`m 50. There are different levels of making music possible. We never anticipated that music would provide a living, it kind of happened that way, luckily, so maybe on an amateuristic level at that time...that would do for me.

  So you won`t be found on stage playing music from now just to make a living like so many other bands are doing now...
HR: No, those people are pinned down to a certain style of making music and can never do anything else. They are trapped and simply can`tstick out their necks to do something else.

  Moonspell for instance, just released an album where they return to the old style...
HR: Because they weren`t selling any albums probably. The fans that left when they changed the style won`t return, I`m sure. I don`t think that a return of a band to an earlier style ever turned out a success. They had the urge to experiment, re-invent themselves, which is always a good thing to my taste. But when money and things like that become more important it is easy to return to the familiar path.
FB: A real pity because I don`t care about that kind of music...

  This rules an album like `Mandylion` out for the future of The Gathering...
HR: We couldn`t be able to make an album like that again because we have changed mentally and physically. We outgrew those days, there are bands around who do try something like an earlier album again but it always fails. It cannot be done, not for us.

  A big period of rest is coming up for you, what exactly are the plans?
FB: Doing a lot of studio time to build a large song collection.
HR: Write as many songs as possible and do some maintenance band and musically wise. When all turns the way we want, but we aren`t sure of that at this moment, an EP will be released in the Spring of 2002 and a full album after the summer.
To support the EP we want to do some festival gigs again, but again it depends how things work out with our label we are still on at this moment. We are having some problems that could turn out difficult for us...we`ll see.

  I guess you already have a lot of new material in stock?
FB: Written and recorded already. 12 songs by now but some of them aren`t finished yet, we do add stuff in with computers and other gadgets. We want to have as much songs ready as possible so we have the luxury of choice when a new album is actually coming up.
HR: Maybe we will have material for 2 albums ready by then, we will see what we have ready then. It will be a dark album soundwise, that I can say already now. We can turn a negative event into positive energy and translate that into music.

Wouldn`t a concept album be something for The Gathering?
FB: No I don`t think so. I love to leave some room for imagination so people can interpret for their own.
HR: We do build in a common thread now and then but a whole concept wouldn`t work for us.

The new songs that you have made already, are they different to your previous work again?
HR: Some of them have to be finished. We have `Session 1` and `Session 2` at this moment and it total I think there are about 16 pieces of music written. Some are almost finished, some need a lot of work.
This process wil continue so I guess we will be having 20-25 pieces ready next year. That will be the first time for us, it`s a luxury indeed to have that much material and create an album that is finished from the beginning to the end, as homogenic as possible.
And this can be reached with different kinds of songs of course.

Sure, dark and agressive songs varied by lighter songs can create a homogenic feeling too...
HR: Agression is a word that we scrapped a long time the mood of a couple of new ones with songs as `Marooned`, `Amity` and `Analog Park`. Dark and athmosperic...

  How often are you together in the rehearsal room?
FB: Up to 3 times a week and for the whole day, back in Oss.
HR: We don`t `rehearse` like other band maybe do, do old material over and over again. We are actually together to focus on the new stuff and the feeling of having plenty of time now is liberating.
We are very busy with the band, as always.

What is Anneke`s role there and then, is she always there with you too?
HR: Yes, and she jams with us just as well. Although we sometimes go a little too fast for her in the creating music way. It is hard for her to keep up with us, she has an extra job to come up with lyrics and vocal lines...
Beacuse so many of us write music lots of ideas are often tried out and not everything will be used. She floats in the middle and the pace is sometimes too fast. She also has her own ideas and in this band all ideas are given an honest chance. Everyone is involved in the creative process.
FB: We do discuss about some ideas and never make decisions spontaneaously. But we ultimately have to like all five, if there are some doubts left we simply don`t do it.

And on that note we leave the band to themselves. The Gathering still has a lot of plans for the future and when the problems with the record label have become straightened out a refreshed band will emerge. I do expect a lot from it, the new songs that were featured in the set at the last shows were impressive enough...

(Winston Arntz)

© Sep 09, 2001, viewed 1723 times since 666