There aren't much bands coming from Belgium which are widely known. And if it comes to female-fronted bands you hear a lot from the Netherlands. Gwyllion want to change that with their symphonic metal. Their latest album is called The Edge Of All I Know, time to learn more and drummer Wouter Debonnet answered my email interview within no time!
Please tell us first how Gwyllion started!
Gwyllion was formed in the fall of 2003 by Annelore and myself. We had both been part of several musical projects but we wanted to try to see how far we could get with our music if we really put ourselves to it, so we contacted some other guys we knew that were also experienced and skilled on their instruments. From the first rehearsal on, we had a lot of fun, and Gwyllion has been a fact ever since!
Why did you choose a name which is based in Celtic mythology?
We are all pretty interested in mythology, and the Celtic and Germanic mythology is of course part of our own heritage. Gwyllion's lyrics have always focused around visions, dreams, thoughts, etc so the mythology aspect is not really far away from that.
Your second album The Edge Of All I Know was recorded with Annelore Vantomme, but she left soon after the recordings. What happened?
We have really given that record everything we got, and we are immensely proud of the result, but it also means more work and dedication to the band more gigs, possible touring, etc which Annelore could not commit to at the time. She felt she was holding the band back and did not feel ok with that, so she took a step back and told us she was leaving the band. Luckily we are still good friends with Annelore and we are still thankful for everything she has given to the band in the past years!
Was it difficult to find a replacement? To find Ann van Rooy?
Annelore has a very specific voice, which was a big part of Gwyllion's sound, so of course it was not easy to find a replacement. Luckily a friend of ours turned our attention to Ann, and we were amazed at what she was already capable of in the first rehearsals. We did our release show with her and the fans also gave us great feedback on our new front woman, so of course we were very happy that Gwyllion was back on track again!
It seems that there aren't many metal bands in Belgium, even if there is a quite active scene. But most bands are into more extreme metal... And usually we don't hear much about Belgium bands... Did the media don't pay enough attention to bands from Belgium?
That's a difficult question to answer, since I am also from Belgium of course. ;) But I do have the feeling Belgium does not appreciate its own bands like it should in Germany, the Netherlands,... the local bands have a following and they are respected by both their fans and the gig promoters. In Belgium while there are of course great guys who are still doing gigs and are keeping the scene alive most bigger organizers think of Belgian bands as second rate, which is a pity of course as there is a lot of talent here, just check out bands like Oceans of Sadness and Thurisaz, for example. And when a band is not really respected in its home country, of course it is not easy to get a following in other countries anyway...
I guess that quite often you are compared to bands like Within Temptation and Nightwish... Actually your music is more symphonic... Are you tired of this comparisons just because you have a female singer?
No, we don't mind. We don't see ourselves as very similar to Within Temptation of course, we don't even see ourselves as 'Gothic Metal' which is a common way to describe us, but we don't mind what people try to label us with as long as they like what we're doing, and as long as we like what we're doing, everything is as it should be, regardless of who or what we are being compared to!
The album was produced in Sweden by Jens Bogren. Was Jens your first choice? And will you work with him again?
Yes, he was our first choice, and he did such an amazing job, we would like nothing better than to work with him again! The guy really is a genius!
Somewhere I heard that you thought about having some guest in the album, but then decided not to. Is that right?
Yeah and no it's not true that we really had some names set out to ask, if they wanted to do a guest performer, but we did play with the option of having some guest performances. In the end we decided not to do it, because this album really had to be a statement of who Gwyllion was, and we did not need any outside influence for that. So there were never any concrete plans.
Can we expect some guest appearance next time? Perhaps some duet with a male singer?
Everything is possible! We'll see when we are finishing all the ideas for the new album, but if it fits we will never be against guest appearances or things like that as long as it adds to the music and it's not used as some gimmick!
After the tour in June with Autumn got cancelled, have you already started writing new songs? And how much influence will Ann have?
There are already a lot of ideas and even a few songs that are almost complete. The songs are mostly written and arranged by Martijn and me, and afterwards they get the 'band' treatment where everyone adds his own thing to the music. So yeah, Ann will surely have an influence!
Talking about live... How was the Celtic Rock Open-Air?
It was great! It was a really fun festival in a great setting, and we had a lot of fun on stage! Hopefully we can do some more shows like that in Germany and beyond! ;)
As far as I know there are only 2 shows in Belgium scheduled for 2009... Are you working on more shows? Perhaps outside Belgium?
Yeah, there are a few more gigs in the pipeline, some that are already set, but are not on the website as we're waiting for the promoters to publish their flyers etc. Next to those, we are always looking for more shows!
Nowadays it seems that as a musician you not just have to record albums and play live, these days social networks are very important and part of the job. Pleasure or pain?
A bit of both. ;) It's fun to keep contact with all the fans and other bands, but sometimes it can be a drag to work on that every day, sometimes with minimal results... But it's always great to get to know new people!
Any news you can share with us?
At the moment we're working on a WASP cover that will appear on a WASP tribute CD, so keep your eyes out for that! ;-)
Thanks for the interview and see you later!
Seems that it won't take long until we hear again from the Belgians. And hopefully they get the chance to tour - and make more friends.