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|with Sander Gommans on May 21, 2007|
Just before ther release of the fifth album of After Forever, I got the change to speak to Sander Gommans (guitar player, gunts, songwriter) face to face. So I went to his place with the new album and a lot of questions.
|Hi Sander, congratulations on your new record. Itís called after the band self, can you explain why?|
When recording an album, most of the time we know what direction we want to go. Most gothic bands play metal in the style of Within Temptation, just like we did on Decipher. At the time of Prisoners of Desire we wanted to write more melodic metal and have fewer classic influences. Exordium was much heavier. With Inner Circles we decided we wanted to be more progressive and the last album Remagine was musically positioned between Decipher and Invisible Circles.
This time we had no idea what we wanted at all. We just started without having an idea what the result would be. Later in the writing process we came to the conclusion that all elements of After Forever were in the songs, from Decipher till Remagine; so we decided to simply title the album `After Forever`.
|Can you tell us something about the writing process? |
Well, there has always been a good chemistry amongst the band members. Floor is always responsible for the lyrics and the vocal lines. On the first 2 albums, the melodies were made by Mark and me, on Invisibles Circles I did them on my own, and on the other albums Joost and I made the melodies. We always make a song and record it in the studio. All band members can give their interpretation on the songs, which finally results in the typical After Forever sound.
|What inspires you when you are writing songs?|
Perhaps it sounds strange but I always have to be in a good mood. That is a part of After Forever, it gives me a lot of energy. When I have the melodies in my head, I know exactly how the song should sound and what kind of style (riffs) the song should have; a heavy or bombastic style. The rest of the song is a just a logical continuation, it just seems to happen. It is so very different from the project Iím now working on, which is fed by irritation and aggression. Obviously, it sounds way different from After Forever.
|Can you tell me more about this project?|
The project is much more guitar oriented and a lot heavier then After Forever. On the songs you will hear a combination of rap, metal, melodies (in the studio of Sander the rough mix sounded great already!!) and styles that are more like Annihilator than After Forever.
|You said you have to be in a good mood for writing After Forever-songs. When I compare this mood with the problem story of Invisible Circles, I clearly see a big controversy.|
Youíre absolutely right, but I donít write the lyrics, Floor does. However, the story was my idea. As a teacher I have seen many situations like the one described in Invisible Circles. I had to do something with these stories and I wanted the world to be aware of this. So I decided to contribute my mite to helping these children by telling the world about these problems. Floor can put herself very good in someone else`s situation, which makes the store very realistic and emotional. The only thing Iím not happy about are the spoken words. At the time we recorded the album it fitted very well in the story, but now I must say it sounds less professional. Originally the ending was much worse, we decided to create a more open ending, it was a lot more positive.
|On After forever you worked with several guess musicians like Doro and Jeff Waters. How did you get in touch with these people?|
On stage After Forever is pledged a lot with metal music of the 80`s. At that time Doro was a big name in female hard rock music. On a festival our guitar player Bas met Doro and they talked about After Forever and Warlock. We had an idea of working together on our next cd. Bas suggested this to Doro, who immediately was very enthusiastic. Her vocals were recorded in the studio in Germany. The combination of the vocals of Doro and Floor sounds amazing; they go together very well.
The other guest musician is Jeff Waters, who is my hero and idol; Iíve got every cd of Annihilator. A lot of After Forever music is based on this band, Jeff`s style and their way of song writing. In my new project the songs are even more based on Annihilator.
I met Jeff occasionally on a festival in Berlin, we talked about a lot. After a while I had the courage to ask him if he would play a guitar solo on our new album. This guy is very down to earth, no swagger at all. He agreed, the management also agreed. I felt very honoured.
|Would you agree that After Forever is the most guitar oriented album of After Forever?|
Youíre right and I can guarantee you this will be more and more. In the beginning of After Forever we were labelled as a gothic band. In this musical direction guitar solo`s are not very common. Since Invisible Circles we pretty much broke with the gothic style, our albums got heavier and therefore also more guitar oriented.
|Actually I meant that on your last album there are a lot of guitar soloís - in contrast with the earlier After Forever albums.|
Well, I know what you mean. This is also the consequence of the more dynamic direction we turned into. I wrote all guitar parts, after Decipher I put more emphasis on heavy riffs. Now I feel it`s time to make the next step in our music and add more soloís to the songs. Therefore I was very happy with the solo`s of Jeff Waters. We are big fans of 80`s metal and though we want to get rid of the gothic stamp we have, we certainly want to keep the classical influences; they are a part of After Forever. We have grown up.
|What is your favourite track on the album?|
I always listen to how songs sound, in that way Transitory is one my favourite songs; it has a lot of cool effects. The first song of the album ĎCordí stands for what After Forever is today, heavy and impressive. When I think of what the band After Forever is today, I also think of De-energized, which is a very good song; especially with Jeffís guitar solo.
|Joost was keyboard player with Sun Cage, he wrote a lot of songs and he had a lot of space to play complex melodies and solos. Donít you think Joost will miss the extreme progressive and technical parts after a while?|
No, I really donít think so. From the Remagine album on he was involved in the writing process and took over the keyboard parts. With Sun Cage he got a lot of experience both on the writing process and in playing. Joost is a very talented songwriter and keyboard player. What is the power of Joost, is that he immediately knew what After Forever needed. I give him all the opportunities he needs to write the keyboard parts. Sun Caged is trying to find the boundaries, so is After Forever. He joined the band at the right time. We want to develop to more heavy and progressive songs; Joost is able to support us in this.
Especially on the song ĎDream Flightí he got the possibility to write a song with complex keyboard parts. It was a real challenge to write this song with its complex structure and a lot of challenging keyboard parts and guitar riffs. This song would not have been possible on one of our previous albums. Iím very proud of this song.
|You broke up with the Transmission label and signed a contract with Nuclear Blast. Why Nuclear Blast?|
For years we`ve had contacts with label companies like Sony, Roadrunner and Universe Records, who were all interested in After Forever. For us however, it is important to be at a real metal label because we are a metal band, and we want to do things our own way. Night Wish is contracted at Nuclear Blast and we visited the label in their office. From the first moment on it was clear that the guys at Nuclear Blast are really metal; they play metal and all these people are into the metal scene. They can promote us as a metal band, which was the most important reason for selecting them. Bands like Within Temptation have other things they find more important, more commercial; so they have signed with a different label. Donít get me wrong, I think the way Within Temptation works is great as well, and for that reason that band is a great band also. The difference is that we put a little more emphasis on metal.
|Is the new album the break through of After Forever?|
To be honest, there are so many things you canít control if you want a break through, I donít believe in the big breakthrough of After Forever anymore. One of the most important things in this is that radio stations have to play our music. That is the only way to achieve that goal, through radio you can reach huge numbers of people. At the same time this is the biggest problem, because metal is just a small world. But for some reason radio doesnít want to play metal music; and only if this changes After Forever really has a chance of a major breakthrough - especially with our new cd and our single ĎEnergize meí.
|You mentioned your new single, but there are more radio minded songs on the album. In my point of view the ballads of After Forever are really strong because they are full of emotions.|
Youíre absolutely right, it is a great power of the band. Normally I donít like ballads at all; they are just sweet as honey, but without any real emotions. That is also the biggest problem of making a ballad. If you play a metal song over the top, it still sounds great. That`s different with a ballad: if a ballad goes over the top, it sounds like a fake. With īCry with a smileī we gave Floor all the space she needs; Floor has the capacity to create a huge emotion with her vocals. Not many people can do that. In the song īStrongī she is at her very best, it is one of my favourite After Forever songs ever. At the end of the song her vocals turns over. At first we wanted to record to the vocals all over again, because it wasnít perfect. Fortunately we didnít do that though, therefore it has become an absolutely emotional ballad.
|Can you make a living out of After Forever?|
I have always worked as a teacher, but now I canít combine the job with After Forever any longer. I find myself in an absurd situation: I gave up my job and at the same time I canít play with After Forever on stage for a while. According to the doctor I have to take a rest. This exhaustion, the new album and the forthcoming tour have all together lead to a very strange situation. I hope I will be back on stage in three months time, and in this period there will be no replacement for me; so the set list will be limited. Bas will be the only guitar player and there will be no grunts.
To answer your question if I can make a living out of After Forever: I`m afraid not, so a breakthrough of After Forever would be very welcome. Actually my situation is sort of a compromise. Because of my job as teacher I have earned some money, that I invested in the band and in my home studio. Now I can record and mix the music of After Forever and my new project myself, at home. This is a big advantage, I can work on it anytime I want thanks to my earnings in the past.
|Please can you complete the next sentences?|
2007 is the year of
After Forever because After Forever finally breaks through and becomes world famous.
To be back on stage again soon and play the rest of the After Forever tour. I also hope that my project will be a big success.
After thanking Sander for the interview, he treated me to a private listening session in his studio to have a sneak preview of his new project. The mix was only a rough one, but it sounded great already!