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In Words: Wicked Mystic

- Harald & co. - Jan. 2000 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Harald & co.
- January, 30th 2000 - Helmond (Netherlands) -

At the show in Helmond of Annihilator and Overkill I saw the Dutch band Wicked Mystic. I liked what I see and so I asked spontaneously, if they would answer me a few questions. They took their chance and so we sat down to talk about the band.
Here is the line-up: Remko Roes (voc), Harald te Grotenhuis (gui), Niels Kuenen (gui), Erik Schut (bs), Wily van Haren (dr)

I haven't heard about you before, so please tell me a little bit about the history of the band, etc.!

Niels: Well, about the history... I think we started in 1989 as a thrash metal band. I'm the only surviving member of that line-up.

The first line-up someone mentioned.

We did a CD with the trash metal line-up. He was also there (pointing at...) that was back in 1994. And than for a few years we played a lot.

I guess you played almost in this area.

Niels: Yeah, here in Holland! Holland is not that big...

Bigger than Luxembourg!

Niels: Yeah, bigger than Luxembourg and we played a lot here in Holland! Two or three times a month we played live! Our singer got problems with his voice and so we got Remko in the band. He sings fairly melodic and so the band had to change. The second guitarists....

Wily: ... I think it was in 1996.... It supposed to be in 1996.... We did a lot of melodic things at that time... But for also a thrash audience.

Niels: The problem was we couldn't reproduce our guitar which we did on the CD live at that time. We did a lot of tuned guitar work. So it was a problem to find a suitable guitarist for that stuff. I saw Harald with his former band in a small club and said: "Wow!!! That is what we need for our band!" About this band, it's a really stable line-up now. In the past we had a lot of guitarists and vocalists in the band, but now the last 3 or 4 years we didn't had much changes. Last year our bass play Erik joined the band. I know him for more than 10 years. About 10 years ago I played with him in a band. Our former bass player didn't have the spirit to go on with the band...

Wily: And the time!

Niels: And he was really... He was a good friend, but the band wasn't going on in the right direction! With Erik it's different!

You said that you played a lot in Holland... Also on a festival...

Harald: Yes, we got this... We joined the Hitman Agency, our management,they do a lot of shows through out Holland, Germany and Belgium.

Niels: And they started letting us doing some supports, e.g. Bruce Dickinson, Loudness, Dio, Motörhead... They really like us and so we can do more shows. But we are waiting for the release of our CD. Than we can go out and hit the road!!!

When the album should be released?

Niels: I guess it'll be sometime in the beginning of May! It was first scheduled for the end of last year...

Remko: October / November, but we didn't make it! We weren't finished...

Niels: We finished the songs, but we weren't satisfied, so...

I think it's better to take the time you need, instead of hurry to make it for the release schedule!

Wily: It was the first time we recorded a CD this way.

Niels: In the early times we always recorded demos and CD... It was always rushed! The CD was done in one week, the recordings and mixing! This time we really took the time and we found out that we are not as experienced as we thought! We needed much more time.

Harald: We got a producer... He is from Vandenberg! Dick Kemper, he was the bassist in Vandenberg.

Niels: He produced the album and he's a very good producer!

Erik: He doesn't listen to what you're playing, but how you're playing. Checks if the timing is right...

Niels: And the feeling!

Erik: He hears a chord and he knows, if it's out of tune! He listens for you... You just play and he listens and check if it's okay!

Niels: It works fast and one the other hand it works slow!

Erik: At some parts I found out that I didn't know them as well as I thought.

But if the result satisfies you, fine! Another topic.... You said that you started as a thrash metal band, so where are you're influences?

Niels: Uhh, there are soo many bands!

Harald: When I joined the band they were really something in the style of Slayer and Exodus. I also liked stuff from Rap music up to old Iron Maiden, 70's stuff...

Niels: And Jethro Tull and stuff... And Kansas... When you're playing guitar, in my opinion, you're much more interested in all kinds of music. To me it's all music!

It seems that musicians see it that way and the fans are not that open minded, almost...

Harald: That's always a problem which you have with fans, when the band is changing the style or develops, some guys can't get along with it. That's always a problem which will remain!

Like I said fans are not open-minded enough...

Erik: Not all the fans!

Harald: They like a certain sound and when the band changes, they don't like it. Look at bands like Megadeth or Metallica... They changed over the years and a lot of people don't like it anymore.

But they got a lot of new fans...

Harald: Of course....

Niels: So the things we do know... The vocals on the record are completely different to what it been in the past.

I think that there is a lot of power in your music, but also a lot of melody. Remko uses his voice like an instrument and the vocals are different at the songs which make it more interesting, in my opinion.

Remko: It's also related to the period the song is from. Before I joined the band, I never did this kind of music. I'm from a rock background. In the beginning it was very hard to get the feeling of the metal...

Erik: That's probably related to Wily who listens to the all-time favorites like Motörhead, Saxon and Exodus. Harald listens more to... His favorite is Megadeth, my favorite is Queensrÿche and Dream Theater and his favorite is more like death metal and Testament and Death. Remko's is more pop rock. So you have 5 completely different backgrounds. When someone comes in with a new song, I have to write a bass line. But I write it from my background on his guitar part, so you got the different influences together. Than he starts with the drums and his background is the 3rd influence.

But it makes it more interesting then having 4 or 5 guys in the band who listens to the same stuff. That would limit it to one genre.

Erik: That's why our music got a large audience.

The variety of the music make you able to open for different kind of bands.

Niels: Right! Hitman says it doesn't matter what kind of band, he can book us any­where.

Erik: If we are playing with Annihilator and Overkill we do the more heavy songs. When you playing with a band like Megadeth you can play two ballads instead of one. That's easy for the management and easy for us to play a lot.

Perhaps you reach more people due to this fact when the CD will be released. A lot of people know you and that might help in the beginning.

Niels: On the other hand with playing this kind of music it ain't easy to find a record company! All record labels are looking for a certain sound. We come in with all kind of sounds and songs... Short songs, difficult songs, etc... "Hm, it's nice, but I don't understand it." And that's really a problem. They think and maybe in some cases it's true that the audience has a certain view on music.

But you already found a label...

Niels: Yeah, a very small German label called Dream Circle Records. They released in the past Psychotic Waltz, Enchant and Vanden Plas. It's a small label, but... We'll see!

I think it might be better to be signed to a small label who knows you instead of being signed to a major and be no. 247 something.

Niels: The label manager Ole Bergfleth likes us and saw us live....

In the past he had Angra also...

Erik: Yeah, right.

Niels: What we hope is that we can release this album and maybe a second one. And than change to a bigger label, but we've to wait and see!

I hope that this was interesting, even if the album is not released yet. I'm sorry guys, if I mixed up and probably indicate the wrong name to the quote, but it's what you said. Only that there is the possibility that another band member did the statement.... Don't blame me for it, please! Hope to see you guys in Wicked Mystic soon and we'll keep you, the readers informed about it!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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