Interview with Koen Romeijn (Guitars & vocals)
Interview conducted by Scott Murray
Date online: March 23, 2003
Greetings! Congratulations on the success of your album An Epic Defiance. Do you find that the praise you’ve been receiving from all of the positive reviews can get to be overwhelming at times or do you take it modestly?
Hey Scott! Thanks for your compliments. We actually take it quite modestly, you know. Although we have only received positive reviews thus far, we have to remain realistic about the whole thing and concentrate on the things that actually make a difference for the future. Of course it’s fucking great to receive these kind words and compliments from people all over the world, but we’re holding ourselves back until the CD has been released officially in May this year. We are all wondering how An Epic Defiance will sell in the stores, and if we will be able to tour Europe, and perhaps the world following this release…unfortunately, nothing is 100% certain at this point.
Just recently you were signed to a three-record contract with Osmose Productions in France. What circumstances brought this about?
We had been searching for a suitable label for more than two years, I guess, long before we recorded An Epic Defiance. We recorded a promo-CD with three songs in 2001 and decided to send it to all labels that might be interested in Detonation. I guess about 60 labels received a copy of our promo- CD back then. Although we got some great reactions, nothing substantial came out. So, we decided to record and finance our debut full-length CD ourselves in 2002, and so we did. We launched ourselves in to the Excess studios (Rotterdam) in July 2002, and recorded and mixed the whole thing in 14 days. The result even amazed us, since this was our first time experience with a professional studio. Once we got Niklas Sundin to finish the artwork for us, we printed the CDs, and prepared another "label assault" in order to receive the desired deal. So, again we shipped out the packages, and again we got good reactions, but again no real- deals, damn it! Until January this year we suddenly got five different offers from labels. We almost signed with one of them, when Osmose gave me a call on one evening. I was completely surprised, and could barely talk to the guy, but fortunately the right words came out eventually…. They offered us a 3-album deal, and we accepted it with open arms!(well, we read the contract first of course..)
How did you react to being offered such a great opportunity for the band?
We were fucking stunned! We never believed a label as big as Osmose would sign us ever! We did always have the confidence in ourselves that we could get a deal from a small label, but we never thought our music would be spread throughout the world! The first thing we actually did after hearing the news was set up a party for our friends from Utrecht to celebrate. So we invited the entire Utrecht-scene (all our fellow musicians) to our local pub, and we got totally drunk that night. Damn, we all get drunk once in a while (…) but this night was fucking something, I can’t remember myself drinking so many litres of beer…It was after the party that I started realizing that we were signed by a label at last!
What is the significance of the title An Epic Defiance and how does it relate to the songs on the album, lyrically and/or musically?
Well, it’s difficult for me to describe it in English, but the title reflects the way we look at modern society. Our lyrics are a symbolical defiance towards our society. If you read our lyrics, you’ll notice perhaps that they all deal with everyday problems, although sometimes wrapped in a cover of words. Lyrically seen, the album is based on a concept, the concept of our Epic Defiance. All lyrics on the album are personal, and they show how we deal with everyday problems, especially the psychological ones. The songs are not made-up stories, but actually direct reflections of our personal lives. Musically seen, the title does not relate to the songs.
Could you tell me about how the band was formed and its history up until this point?
That’s a long story, I’ll try to keep it short and to the point. Thomas (drums) and I, as schoolmates, were jamming together once in a while, playing covers of Sepultura, Biohazard, and other classic bands. We were about 15 years old I guess. As years went by, we both started our own bands. I became a singer in death-metal band Engorge, and Thomas played the drums in Foox, a grunge/rock band. We both went our own way, and started playing live with our bands. Since Thomas and I were living in the same area, we bumped into each other in 1997, and we decided to form a new band, a band with no musical borders since our other bands were quite limited for us, technically seen. So we did, we started a new band, together with Mike in summer ‘97, who we accidentally met through another friend. Thomas and I were stunned by the way Mike handled his guitar, and the decision was an easy one to make. We started rehearsing together under the name Infernal Dream. Our first written song was called Through the eyes of God, and it was pure black-metal! This was what we wanted to play, extreme metal as fast as we could. We decided to recruit a bassist a year later after rehearsing about eight times in the first year of existence. We met Otto at a local pub, he was only 15 years old then, but it felt all right so we recruited him. From this point things started rolling for us. Within the same year we got the opportunity to participate in a compilation CD for Skullcrusher Records with two songs. So we stormed into the studio for the first time in our existence. It took us six hours to record Life in Hell, and Slaying the Serpent. We decided to change our name to Detonation since we weren’t satisfied with our old name. The reactions we received from the compilation CD were so overwhelming that we decided to record our first own work, the mini CD Lost Euphoria in 1999. The CD contains four songs, still black-metalish, though with quite some melodic influences shining through. After releasing it through Skullcrusher records, we played numerous gigs throughout the country to establish a name within the scene. Everything went great! Again we went into the studio in March 2001, to record three songs for a promo-CD, primarily meant for labels to get interested in Detonation. We were still with Skullcrusher records, but they could not help us with distribution and promotion, so we decided to look for a bigger label. Nothing substantial came out of this, so we decided to record and finance our debut full-length album An Epic Defiance ourselves in the summer of 2002. You know the rest of the story…
Why was the name Detonation chosen for the band?
After changing our musical style from black metal to more melodic thrash/death- metal, we had to change the name Infernal Dream because we hated it. So we started searching for a new name, and came up with Detonation. The word detonation describes our music best. Our music is (especially live) as a punch in your face, as an explosion so brutal at times. Before every detonation there is a moment of peace and quiet, the same goes for our music. There is a lot of diversity in our songs. We have extremely fast and brutal parts, but we also like to play slower and more melancholic songs.
Who are the artists/bands that have inspired you to write and play metal?
There are to many to mention, but to name a few: Dissection, Morbid Angel, Edge Of Sanity, Anathema etc… All four members of Detonation have a different taste in metal, all though some bands are shared as source of inspiration, like Dark Tranquillity and Dissection. Thomas and I are into all kinds of metal and non-metal music. Mike is more into pure thrash, especially old stuff, like Exodus. But besides that, he's also a huge Nick Cave fan! Otto is into the brutal stuff, which varies from black- to pure death-metal.
Are you or any of the other members of Detonation involved in any other bands/side projects at the moment?
Yeah. Mike is a solid member of M-90’s, an Utrecht-based thrash/death formation, pretty technically though, cool band! I am still a member of Engorge (NL), yet as a guitar player nowadays and some background vocals. We are actually recording our second full-length album at this point, a concept album about Second World War German warship the Bismarck, it will be a killer album (Bolt Thrower fans watch out!). I’m also doing a project with Thomas. This is a very cool project as it develops. We’ve written a couple of tunes till now, and it’s gong to be some sort of melodic pop-rock ambient metal, with a lot of emotion in the songs, very cool!
What have the live shows been like so far? Do you get a good response from the crowds?
We have played about 70 shows since 1998, and almost all of them were worthwhile. The response from the audience has always been good, sometimes overwhelming! I think we established ourselves as a good live-band here in Holland. We usually get shows offered, and almost never have to arrange gigs ourselves, so that’s positive I guess. Of course, we played at a lot of different venues, varying from small bars with 10 people in it, to pretty big venues with more then 500 people in the crowd. But overall seen, we’ve had quite some success with our live-shows.
What bands/albums have you been listening to lately?
I’m pretty into Opeth, always have been. But since there last album came out, I’m re-discovering all the old work again. I really think Morningrise is still the best album they made. I’m also listening a lot to Pain of Salvation, old Edge of Sanity, Arcturus (The Sham Mirrors!) and lots of other stuff.
Are there any independent metal bands in the Netherlands who you could see making it to the point where Detonation is now?
Yeah, Virulent is definitely going to follow our footprints! Virulent is also a band from Utrecht; they play technical death in the vein of Morbid Angel, though with a lot of unique parts. This will be the next band from Holland singing a record deal with a foreign label, mark my words!
What big-name bands would you like to tour with and why?
Opeth! Definitely Opeth, I’m a big fan, so that would be great. I guess my dream –tour would be Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Dissection and Detonation. I’ve seen Dissection live once, back in ’95 and the show made such a big impression on me, so it would be a dream come true to share a stage with them. Dark Tranquillity is also one of my favourites, and they have been of a great influence for Detonation.
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year in terms of releases and shows? Will there be a follow-up to An Epic Defiance recorded anytime soon?
Well we are very busy right now preparing everything to release An Epic Defiance in May this year worldwide! In the meantime, we will play as many live-shows as we can, including shows outside our own country. We’ll do a couple of shows in England around June this year to promote the album, and we’ll see what will happen from there on. We are already writing new songs for another album at this time, but I guess a new album is still very far away. Let’s concentrate on this album first and see how people respond to it. If all goes well, we’ll try to release the next album in 2004.
Looks like that’s all for today. Good luck with the future of Detonation!
All right! Thanks, for the interview and for your support!
|Other information about Detonation on this site|
|Review: An Epic Defiance|
|Review: Portals to Uphobia|
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