Rock Overdose's Zisis Petkanas had the chance to talk with Gathering's founder Hans Rutten about everything! Enjoy the conversation below:
Rockoverdose.gr: Hans, welcome to Rockoverdose.gr. How are you these days?
Hans Rutten: I'm fine, thank you. I'm okay.
Rockoverdose.gr: Disclosure is going to be released on September 12th, by Psychonaut Records. Would you like to tell us some more about this upcoming release?
Hans: It's almost finished; right now, we mixed the album, and we're busy with mastering, which is a long process, to get everything in the right place, and of course, the mastering process itself, but it's almost finished. On and off, we worked two years on the album, and I'm really very, very happy with it. We've tried a lot of new things, but it's still The Gathering sound, and I think we’ve evolved, and I'm really happy. We had some ideas with this record. We wanted to make an album with more epic songs, longer songs, songs with dynamics, and also changes, like we did in the past, which we didn't do on Home and The West Pole. It just happened. we had some ideas lying around, we felt it would be cool to combine the parts we had. We had an urge to make a very atmospheric album. The West Pole is more rock-orientated, it has some atmospheric parts of course. This time, it's way more dreamy; it's not ambient, because there's a lot of rhythms involved, it's more dream rock! We already used the term trip rock, it's perfect for it. It's still The Gathering, you can really hear it, but we tried of course a lot of new elements on it. You can also hear it on the last single we have released, Meltdown.
Rockoverdose.gr: I was going to ask about Meltdown, and if the other songs are going to last as long as Meltdown.
Hans: Well we have some songs which are six, seven minutes and there's one other very long song which is almost nine minutes, so yes, we have a lot of long songs. Also some small songs, but especially long songs. It's one of the strongest points of The Gathering. Of course we look at the past, and a lot of people really like the long songs, because we're quite good at making atmospheres; it's our strongest point. This is what we tried to achieve on this album.
Rockoverdose.gr: Maybe making the listener travel through the album. And travel can't be so short!
Hans: Exactly. Like The West Pole, it was quite harsh, maybe. Rock songs now and then, it was really in the now. Right now, it's much more dreamy. It's the thing we wanted to do. It's a starting point with writing songs. We had a lot of ideas lying around, and we just picked up the atmospheric ones. But there's a lot of diversity in these songs, there's one song that's really industrial, kind of strange, a very slow, doom-y, one song that's up-tempo - it's not happy, but there's a positive feeling going around. There's a very heavy ending of a song - of course I can't talk a lot about it, but it also has a bit of surprise for listeners also. But it's a very diverse album. I think it's a good album, organic and electronic sounds. We worked a bit more with electronics, like we did with Souvenirs, and a bit with Home. It's a bit back again, it just happens.
Rockoverdose.gr: This was my impression listening to Meltdown. The electronic element. Does this song give us an example of the whole record? You did previously tell us that there's a big variety of different songs, right?
Hans: Yes, they're all very atmospheric, I think, but there's' also a great deal of variety. We also have a really small, two-minute song, a little, lovely song. It's very diverse; what can I say about it? you just have to hear it. We're very proud of it - of course you're always very proud of your new album. This time you can really listen to two songs. We released Heroes for Ghosts, and we released Meltdown as singles, so you can already have an appetite for the new album.
Rockoverdose.gr: Yes, we can have the first idea.
Hans: You can download it for free.
Rockoverdose.gr: From Band Camp?
Hans: Yes, all Band Camp.
Rockoverdose.gr: Why did you choose to give these songs to your audience such a long time before the official release?
Hans: It felt like that there's always money involved, and this time we didn't want to involve money with it. Of course you can put it on iTunes and ask for €1 for it, but it's also a sort of promo, and you just give it away. If you like it, you can always buy the album anyway.
Rockoverdose.gr: To support the band.
Hans: Yes, not many radio stations will put on The Gathering. So, why not give it away yourself, so that people can exchange it, can also see it on YouTube and share it on Facebook. Why not give it away, not only as a stream, but as a download, so that people can put it on their mp3 players and just take it with them? We hope that those songs will become friends, so that if we release the album, people will buy the album, or if it's digital, or vinyl, or CD, it doesn't matter that much, and we hope people will support the band.
Rockoverdose.gr: I will! So, who is taking care of the lyrics part of the new album?
Hans: Silje [Wergeland] wrote all the lyrics, except for Meltdown, which is also written by Frank [Boeijen]. Frank sings the lyrics, and he wrote them also. All the other songs are Silje. Musical-wise, it's all Frank and Rene [Rutten]. Everything is written by Frank and Rene, personally or together.
Rockoverdose.gr: Great. What about the history in the lyrics? Is there a special event that you combine it with?
Hans: It's very personal. The lyrics are actually very personal, and it's a bit difficult to talk about it, because if you read them, you can make up your own mind, and that's always good for people to make up their minds themselves when they're reading lyrics, instead of talking about the lyrics. It's all about doing something positive with something negative; if something negative has happened in the past, try to bend it over into something positive. We tried to do it with releasing songs, with making art out of it, out of the past. Again, it's our most personal album, especially lyrically, but also musically. It's really something we really wanted to do ourselves, musical-wise. Lyrically, it could not possibly be more closer to Silje. It's also a bit more direct; the lyrics are not really like in third form. We are looking back of course to what happened, it's also self-cleansing, cleansing your life. To be honest, there's not really a red line in this album. We wanted to make a personal document. It's not like it has a red line, like how to measure a planet, which is about traveling.
Rockoverdose.gr: It's not a concept?
Hans: No. The only concept is that it's personal and direct, and it's a marriage between electronic and organic elements. No, not a concept.
Rockoverdose.gr: What about the cover of the new album?
Hans: There's a Chilean artist, Carlos [Vergara Rivera]; he made some nice little art of Marjolein [Kooijman] and Silje, and sent it to us, and he has a technique, he makes stamps out of wood, and then he uses ink and he makes art out of it, he's printhing art. We really liked his work, we came into contact with him and watched his work, and we immediately loved the work which is similar to our album right now. We think it fitted perfectly with the music.
Rockoverdose.gr: It's very traveling.
Hans: It is. It's typical The Gathering, it gives us all a lot of inspiration as well, because we had known about the cover already for a couple of months, and that really helped us to finish the album, so it worked both ways. Yeah, he's a great guy, he's really nice, and he really helped us out in a terrific way.
Rockoverdose.gr: Back to the first days, 1989, when you first formed the band. Where you expecting all this evolution and success for the band?
Hans: Not the success, but it was something really nice to do, that's for sure. I didn't know how long it would last, and I didn't know if we would have success; it was not important.
Rockoverdose.gr: How the music sounds?
Hans: Yeah, we had in mind that the music could evolve, really. And that's what it did. So, that's why we also chose the name The Gathering, and not a typical metal-orientated name. We always had in mind that this could be something for the long run, but not for 25 years! You're not thinking about that; you just start a band to make a nice demo, and maybe play one gig; that was the main starting point. So that's what we did.
Rockoverdose.gr: So you should be very proud of this.
Hans: Yes of course, we're very proud of it. We came a long way, we did a lot, we made a lot of albums, we made 10 studio albums, we've seen all the world, and we've had success, and I think we made very good albums, and I'm very proud of all we did together.
Rockoverdose.gr: And you have a great future, of course.
Hans: Yeah, we have to see what happens after this, but we'll take a break for sure. Then we will tour for this album, then take a break for a while.
Rockoverdose.gr: Will it be a big break, or for a couple of years? How do you see the future?
Hans: Oh maybe a bit longer, maybe a break of three years. It depends on several things.
Rockoverdose.gr: You need to rest.
Hans: Yeah, we're not tired or something, but it feels like maybe it's wise because we always make albums, every two or three years there's a studio album on. Maybe it's wise to at least for one year, or maybe two years, really nothing with The Gathering, so maybe we can start from scratch. We never start from scratch; we always have tours and then a break of maybe a couple of months, and then we start it again. Maybe it's wise to refresh ourselves. It's not that we made a difficult album or that it was difficult to write songs, but that's not really the point, because you're in a continued mode of recording, releasing the album, touring, and then you start writing songs again. I think it's good to have a sort of break, but don't worry, we won't be that long. Some bands make albums after seven or eight years. That's not going to happen.
Rockoverdose.gr: I suppose you have a lot of ideas already for the next album.
Hans: Yeah, maybe.
Rockoverdose.gr: You're about three years with the new singer? What's the main difference between Silje and Anneke's voices? Do you miss anything from the period with Anneke on vocals?
Hans: Yeah, I miss her of course, as a friend, because we don't have contact anymore. But that's how things go. I don't miss making music with her, because I think we make music with Silje right now which is as much fun and as much creative. I think Silje is doing a terrific job, so, I think we were done with Anneke, and Anneke was done with making music with The Gathering. That's for sure. So no, I don't miss it really. It happened. To be honest, I'm not looking back too much.
Rockoverdose.gr: You are looking forward.
Hans: It was a long period, and it was sometimes painful, and it happened. I don't want to forget it, because that would be a bit too forced, but it happened, and I'm just looking forward, and we have Silje now, and we have made a second album, and we will make a third album with Silje, so we just continue and go on.
Rockoverdose.gr: What about your relationship with Anneke? Are you still in contact?
Hans: No, nobody has contact with Anneke anymore. She's doing her thing, and she's doing a lot, that's what I read. She plays a lot, and I think she's very happy with what she's doing right now, and it's good for her, I'm really happy that she found her way of making music.
Rockoverdose.gr: Everyone has conflicts when they make their own music. But I think it's sad that you are not speaking to each other.
Hans: It is, yes, it always is. but that's how life goes. It's like an ex-girlfriend; it's almost the same. You continue, you have kids, you have a busy life. It doesn't work like that. Maybe we will have a bit of contact in the future, you never know.
Rockoverdose.gr: What about other news of The Gathering?
Hans: Our new album will be out soon, we will also make an EP, which we will release around the same period. We're looking to tour, we will want to play, although we will not do long tours.
Rockoverdose.gr: What about Greece?
Hans: I hope so, I don't know. Maybe, we always do our little round in Greece, Thessaloniki and Athens. We'll be disappointed if we do not play in Greece, of course. I think we have to see. We're just about to release the album, and we'll be very busy with promoting the album the upcoming month. I think we made something which will take some time for the listeners to digest, it's a very detailed album. I'm really looking forward to what people think about the album. So yeah, we hope to come back to Greece, for sure, to play live, but that will not happen this year.
Rockoverdose.gr: So, we'll have to wait until next year to see if you'll come. You told us that an EP will be released before the album?
Hans: Yes, we will release it on our own web shop home page, it's a 10" vinyl release, it will have some exclusive tracks on it, we're also busy with it right now; what to put on.
Rockoverdose.gr: When is the EP going to be released?
Hans: About the same period as the album, in the beginning of September.
Rockoverdose.gr: Let's go to one of the last questions. Where was your best and your worst live shows ever?
Hans: The worst live show was not that long ago, it was a festival in Holland, and it felt like nobody knew us. We played in a little village in the south of Holland, and it was a young audience, and it was such a ridiculous atmosphere. It was packed, it was totally full, but we just played, and it was like we were playing party music, or music for a wedding. Nobody was paying attention, to me it was the worst gig ever. That was two or three years ago. The best? We've had so many very good gigs, so that's very difficult to say. In Greece, we had a great gig, I think it was during the Souvenirs tour, in 2004, we played in Athens, and there was a very beautiful atmosphere there. So I can remember that, at the Gagarin venue. That was one of the best gigs we did in Greece, for sure.
Rockoverdose.gr: So you have even more reason to try and visit us again!
Hans: We love Greece, we'd love to come back.
Rockoverdose.gr: What's your opinion on Greek people? How do you think they see us in your country?
Hans: It's really difficult in Greece now, slowly but surely it will change. First everyone was like, "oh, the Greeks are lazy," that was what the Germans want the European Union to believe. That Greeks just take holidays. There is a lot of corruption in Greece, of course, and tax problems also. Slowly but surely, especially in the Netherlands, and friends of mine, are starting to understand that it's a bit more complicated; with Goldman Sachs, and the money which was lent to Greece, it was swapped - maybe it's a bit of a technical story, but I think maybe people understand what happened to Greece. There is corruption for which the whole country has to suffer. It's ridiculous, and what can I say? It's terrible what happened. We feel for the Greek people, and I don't care about the politicians. They made a mess, and it's not only the politicians, but also the big spending banks, especially Goldman Sachs, who really fucked it up for Greece. So, slowly but surely people begin to understand. Now Spain is a big problem, and Italy, and Ireland.
Rockoverdose.gr: The whole of Europe is a problem.
Hans: The whole of Europe, and people are beginning to understand that there's a nasty game going on with the banks. It's like a big octopus on your head, that's robbing all the money, and you cannot get rid of it.
Rockoverdose.gr: We'll try to stay strong.
Hans: That's a good thing. First there was a lot of negative publicity, and then the real facts came in. That's how it always goes, and the good thing of the Internet, and making your own opinion instead of listening to others'. You hear all the stories, you see documentaries about Greece, you say yes, maybe they have tax problems, but you have big shipping companies that have to pay taxes, and not put the money away in a big bank in Switzerland, for sure, but there's other problems as well, and other things happened as well. I hope it will end soon and people understand what is really going on.
Rockoverdose.gr: I think people have understood, just like you say. The politicians have to be punished for all this.
Hans: Yeah! Obviously this system is not working; this neo-liberalism is not working. people in Holland are getting more left-wing here than ever. People really understand that we need control; we don't want to have this a second time because we will not survive it. Everybody has to work longer, now you have to work until your seventies. It's just stupid, and everybody's just mad, and people have to understand.
Rockoverdose.gr: Until the sixties is a good age. I think afterwards you won't be able to work.
Hans: I think sixty-five is good, now it's sixty-seven or sixty-eight and soon it will be seventy. Maybe I have to work my whole life.
Rockoverdose.gr: You will have to die working!
Hans: We're all slaves, and it doesn't matter if you're a capitalist or a communist slave, you're a slave anyway! We have to make the best out of it, and be clever.
Rockoverdose.gr: Just listen to music, and listen to The Gathering's music and travel away from all the problems.
Hans: I think it's always nice that music can help you, even if it's only to float away for a while. Then it's a very good, healthy drug.
Rockoverdose.gr: Do you believe that your music comes near to someone who listens to heavy metal, can it appeal to metalheads? I think that you're more rock now.
Hans: Yeah, but we still have metal elements I think, and of course we're born metal. Everybody's welcome to listen to The Gathering's music, and I think it has metal influences, and rock, and maybe even pop. I don't really talk about it anymore. For me it is music, and I like music, or I don't like music. There's good music and bad music, but there's no good genre and bad genre.
Rockoverdose.gr: Thank you so much for this interview. I think it was very interesting; we covered many subjects. I wish you the best with your upcoming release.
Hans: I hope to see you in Greece!
Transcription: Vicky Denaxa