With an album just out and some under-wraps plans for 2019, what else can Dutch band For I Am King tell us about themselves? Quite a lot, as it turns out…
(KOEN) I’m from Tilburg.
(JAAP) Born and raised in a beautiful little town called Delft, but currently living in Amsterdam.
(JURGEN) I live in the city of cheese, Gouda. Alma currently also lives in Gouda and Wouter lives in Utrecht.
How did you meet?
(KOEN) I was playing in another band on the same management roster when For I Am King had just started. Wouter couldn’t play a couple of shows so our management reached out to me and asked if I could fill in for him. I became their back-up guitarist until I eventually joined them in the summer of 2017.
(JAAP) That’s a long story but in short; the founding members of For I Am King (Alma, Jurgen and Wouter) already knew each other and played together in a band called All Heads Rise. At one point their drummer, Stefan, was looking for someone to fill in for some time and called me. This was not only a great experience for me but also the start of my relationship with those wonderful people. When the band called it a day, Alma, Jurgen and Wouter quickly started writing new material for a new project, which they would call For I Am King. After the first few songs were done, they called me to ask if I was interested to join. After 5 months of writing and practising together we announced the band and released our first single.
(JURGEN) I had already known Alma for a while. We met as teenagers as we both grew up in Gouda and had similar interests. We went to the same alternative bar/club and shows. I met Wouter when already playing in a band together with Alma. Wouter was part of a band we played a couple of shows with.
How long have you been playing as a band?
(KOEN) The band has been around since 2014, so somewhere around 5 years now.
(JAAP) 5 years now and one hell of a ride it was and still is!
(JURGEN) We played our first show on January 31st 2014.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
(JURGEN) It is a sentence of the movie The Man with the Iron Mask. When brainstorming about band names, this ‘name’ was suggested and we all liked it. We wanted to avoid a stereotypical name.
What are your influences?
(KOEN) Just about anything, really. We love all kinds of different music and different bands. I myself listen mainly to metal, classical music and jazz. Especially classical music is where I tend to find a lot of inspiration. There is always a lot going on and to make more than 70 instruments connect in one big orchestration is truly a magical thing. I love researching how different composers approach that and what is going on theoretically.
(JAAP) I want to make music more than anything in my life. When I was struck down by a burn-out, I realised that there was more to life than just work, making money and being employed by a boss who I helped realise their dream instead of my own. So, I started my own graphic design company (Studio-Relou) which gave me the freedom to be in the band and discover what I want to do in life. Bands who helped me out in this period with their lyrics, music and passion and are also a big inspiration therefore are: Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying and Parkway Drive.
(JURGEN) Bands like At The Gates, As I Lay Dying, Darkest Hour, Architects and Parkway Drive really inspired me when writing new music. But I also have a few bands which I listen on that moment I am writing a song.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
(KOEN) I think we provide a perfect mix of different types of metal with our main focus being metalcore and death metal with strong hooks and melodies, heavy breakdowns, strong growls and sick guitar solos, but being always easy to listen to with tunes that stay will get stuck in your head.
(JAAP) Raw like a sledgehammer but still elegant and melodic at the same time. Lots of hooks and pumping trash beats without clean vocals.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
(KOEN) With I we focused more on our personal lives. We wrote about things we experienced, happened to us in the past or things we have a strong opinion about. For example, Prey is about trophy hunting and the useless killing of animals and how we condemn that.
(JURGEN) What Koen already mentioned. Some songs are written about what we see in the world, happening around us. But also a few songs are about what we’ve been through. Like depression and the loss of a loved one. With the lyrics on I, we want to reach the listener on a deeper level.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
(KOEN) The first three words that come to mind are engaging, tight and energetic. We love to connect with our fans on stage. It’s part of what in our opinion is essential for a good live show. People come not only to hear your music, but also to see you and, maybe most importantly, to connect with you.
(JURGEN) We’ve played over 150 shows. This year we chose to play just a few to focus on the writing and recording of the album. I agree with what Koen said. But, also, an important thing for us is that we enjoy ourselves while on stage and playing music together. I think the audience can feel if we do, or not.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
(KOEN) Maybe not the wildest thing, but definitely the cutest was a 12 or 13-year-old kid who was at his first metal concert. Alma saw him in the crowd and asked him to come on stage, he headbanged with us and even stage dived. It made his day and we were able to give him a first concert he will never forget.
(JAAP) Oh, and of course that time we played the all mighty Wacken Open Air Festival the first time and I saw Alma climbing a wrestling cage/ring where she was screaming the song hanging on and in the ropes. Good times.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
(KOEN) I use a VanderMeij 7 string guitar with Bare Knuckle Warpig Pickups, Ernie Ball strings, A Fractal Audio Axe-FX MKII and Dunlop Jazz III guitar picks.
(JAAP) I feel very honoured to be endorsed by these great companies: Zildjian for cymbals and sticks, but also Pearl, Remo and vratim. My Pearl kit is a master maple complete and my Zildjian cymbal set consist out of an A and K Custom mixture. Playing Zildjian’s super 5b sticks and Remo Powerstroke, vintage emperor and ambassador drumheads.
(JURGEN) I play an Ernie Ball Musicman 4 string Stingray which I run through my Kemper Profiler in a live setting. I write music with my six-string baritone custom made Vander Meij guitar.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
(KOEN) We just released the third single (“Home”) off our new album (I). So, we’re mainly promoting that at the moment. But maybe we have something else up our sleeves before I comes out…
What are your plans for 2019?
(KOEN) In December 2018 we released our new album I, so in 2019 we are planning to play a lot of shows, do a few tours and play all summer long at a festival near you!
(JAAP) All we can say is keep your eyes and ears peeled.
(JURGEN) Shows.. shows.. and more shows ☺
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
(KOEN) I would love to support Trivium. I think our music fits their music perfectly. Both have great melodies and songs while still being heavy. Besides that, I listened to Trivium a lot when growing up. Especially ‘Ascendancy’ and ‘The Crusade’. It’s also a big part of how I learned how to play guitar and formed me as the musician I am today. As for an opening band I would choose Vuur. We actually did a tour with and opened for them last year. But they make great music, are great musicians and more importantly are just really nice and genuine people.
(JAAP) For me personally it would be a dream to support Killswitch Engage but also Any Given Day again. We always have the best time with these brothers in arms!
(JURGEN) It would be an honour to support the mighty Darkest Hour. I would love to play some shows with our Dutch friends in The Royal but also our Belgian friends in Spoil Engine. You should for sure check out those bands!