Before Heidevolk laid waste to London recently, Stefan sat Rowan (bass) and Kevin (guitar) down for a brief interview about touring, playing acoustically, their own introductions to metal and what it is that makes a really good song.
Rowan: Great! We’re in London, the weather is beautiful over here and we’re really psyched about playing this gig tonight.
How’s the tour going? What’s fan reaction been like?
Kevin: Really good, some really cool gigs so far. Last night we had a hometown gig in Eindhoven. That was great, coming home, playing to the Dutch folks. We don’t do that, with a lot of international gigs, so every time we do play the Netherlands it’s always a party! The rest of the European countries live up to the standard as well, though!
R: Definitely. The German-speaking countries were great too, of course. We’re quite big on the metal scene there. Poland, too. We were there about nine or ten months ago and we’ve just visited the same places again. We could see the crowds coming to see us. It was really nice.
K: Nice to see familiar faces.
What’s the plan after this tour for Heidevolk?
R: We’ve got a South American tour coming up – two dates in Brazil, one in Argentina. That’s the first one, but we’re also writing for a new album. The plan is to record over January/February and have the product finished by June for release just before the festivals, then do our own European tour at the same time. We’ll definitely visit the UK. As for the festivals, they’re being booked but nothing confirmed as yet. But there will be festivals! We’re really hoping for one in the UK.
What were your inspirations? What made you want to be in a metal band?
K: I remember my cousin, Sammy, gave me a choice. He gave me two records. One was a really crappy Belgian artist… and Metallica. I chose the crappy Belgian artist because it had a cartoon-ish cover and he said “Wrong!” Then he played me Kill ‘Em All and I’ve been hooked ever since.
R: I think for me it was my uncle. He’s a bouncer and a free fighter. He really loved glam rock and sleaze rock, that kind of thing. Everyone looked up to him so when we were eight or nine years old, in the car, we’d be listening to Whitesnake, Motley Crüe, Skid Row… that kind of stuff. We got some tapes from him and I think that was my first step into rock and then into metal.
Do you remember the first concert you went to?
R: It wasn’t the first, but one that will stick with me was Six Feet Under when I was twelve or thirteen. It really, really impressed me. I’d been to concerts with my parents before, but this one I went to on my own. It was at the Willemeen in Arnhem, where I come from. I travelled to this gig on my own, and my parents didn’t know this!
K: I’m into really sombre music. I’ve seen some incredible shows by Anathema, who really use their music to get rid of their demons. I’ve seen shows where they get so deep into their music that they forget the crowd is there. It becomes almost unbearable to watch how personal it is. On the other hand, you get some party bands where the crowd just forgets where they are. But Anathema… a really intense band. I love them.
R: Most memorable? Tonight! No pressure! No, there have been many memorable concerts. What makes a concert memorable is when the energy of the crowd hits us and we bring back this energy to the crowd. It’s like a loop. Everybody gets so into it that you feel like a big room is a very small room and everyone is connected. We did a lot of those in Germany, in the Netherlands… in Mexico when we had 500 Mexicans singing along to Dutch songs. In New York – well, New Amsterdam of course, we played a nice gig in Manhattan. It was 800 or 900 people, but it became so small.
A lot of your songs are based around Germanic mythology. What was it that drew you towards this?
R: Well, the concept was that there were two groups. One was a Viking choir and one was a folk metal band. They came together to form Heidevolk. That’s how Heidevolk started up. The main theme for the songs was always Germanic mythology. There are a lot of nice stories, nice legends, nice myths to sing about. They are usually stories which are quite well-known. There are a lot of stories from our region that have the same kind of meaning and ideas behind them, but not so well-known. To keep on telling them is something that Heidevolk stands for. Keeping these stories alive. Music is a great platform for this. You can create an atmosphere with music, set lyrics to it.
You’ve done quite a few acoustic shows recently. What made you decide to do these and will there be any more?
K: There are definitely plans to do more. People really enjoyed them. The great thing about acoustic shows is that you have the stories and then you have the atmosphere that carries the story. When you take away all the distortion, the metal and the aggressiveness all the people who are scared away by the metal and the aggressive growls get the chance to experience the story, and the feeling behind it. It’s not so much about listening to it acoustically, but when you listen to the metal album again afterwards you get more of a feeling from it. They understand what we’re trying to say with the music. We did a gig at an old castle which was full of old ladies, singing along to the stories! A week later we played the exact same songs with distorted guitars and the people went nuts. It’s cool that when you strip it down, it’s the story and the feeling which matters.
Nerd question now – if you could have one superpower, what would it be?
R: I would like to be able to live just from making music. That’s a superpower these days!
K: I’d like to live off his music, then! You could be the Music Man – or The Creator. Your logo would be a dollar sign with a big finger in the middle. I’d be The Leach!