Anneke Van Giersbergen has been a personal favorite ever since she joined The Gathering way back in 1995, a time when a girl taking front stage in a metal band was far less common than nowadays.
Together they recorded a score of fantastic albums that explored new musical boundaries with every new record. In 2007 Anneke embarked on a solo career that mainly showcased the softer side. Her love for more heavy music resurfaced here and there in various collaborations like with the Devin Townsend Project, Moonspell or Arjen Lucassen. With her solo work going purely acoustic last year, this opened up the prospect of starting a real metal band again.
When offered the opportunity to meet her face to face for a small chat about her new band ‘Vuur’, we ddi’nt need to think twice but headed down to the impressive Gibson room in the top of the A’dam tower in Amsterdam. Surrounded by some really cool guitars and with a wonderful view of the Amsterdam river bank and skyline, the ever smiling Anneke opened up on her return to her metal roots.
Reactions so far have been quite positive. Of course, we’ve only had the single “London” out for the moment, but I’m really happy how it turned out. That was very important to me. I did not just want to make just another metal album. When I did take the decision now to start my own metal or rock band, it had to be really good and I think , me and the guys, we’ve accomplished that.
This new band Aptly called, Vuur, is a deliberate distinction from her acoustic work. ‘ I love singing and I’ve been so fortunate the last 10 years to play pretty much everything I wanted from metal over classic and acoustic stuff to theater and children’s plays. Recently I did the another project with Arjen Lucassen, The Gentle Storm and that brought about the plan for me to make my own metal record. I‘ve been walking around with that idea for some time now, but I never actually got round to it because you also need to find need to find the right musicians for that.. The liveband we got for The Gentle Storm though was so good, that I felt now was really the time to push that plan forward. The guys were immediately up for it.
She does bring together a host of familiar names from the Dutch Metal scene: drummer extraordinaire Ed Warby, Stream of Passion’s Johan Van Stratum on bass, Revamp’s Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens and closing things off with Joost Van den Broeck on keys and as the producer with whom she has co-written the album.
In fact , my last solo record ‘Drive’ was originally supposed to be a lot heavier, but in the studio it grew naturally into a different direction again. So this time I did not want to compromise in any way. So in that way it’s also a very honest record.
‘Honesty’ is a keyword throughout Anneke’s career. There is another side to making honest music though. ‘ If you take Mandylion’ or ‘Nightime Birds’ for instance the first two records I made with the Gathering , they were very successful and the record companies figured they had a golden goose on their hands, but the follow went in a much more inward direction, which did not sell that well with the label bosses and critics alike.’
Funnily enough that record in question ‘ How to Measure Planet’ is nowadays heralded as a classis that was years ahead of its time. Exactly, and I’m not just saying that because I was part of thar record, but the guys really had a unique vision and they stuck it out. At the time a lot of metal zines did not take to it neither, but after a while we started getting in emails like ok now I get it.’
The debut album is just about to be released, but it’s clear from the Dutch singer’s enthusiasm that it won’t be a one off project . ‘Vuur’ will be the moniker under which I want to put all my heavy, proggy stuff, preferably with the same band as I have now. I truly hope we can keep this train going.’
Each song is named after a city Anneke has visited over the years and tries to encapsulate the vibe that particular place gave her. Designed to be an outlet for her love for progressive metal you can easily hear echoes of both her time with The Gathering as with Devin Townsend.
‘I don’t think you can get around Devin’s influence. I’ve learned so much from him and Arjen during our collaborations. Devin’s always working on something, so it’s quite possible we will do something together in the future.’
Going back to the central theme of the album. ‘I’m always very inspired by the travels I make and I got the idea , why not write about those cities where I’ve been. With prog and metal you can have really long epic songs and that theme naturally lent itself to come up with epic, poetic lyrics. A certain city evokes a particular feeling with me like Berlin or Istanbul. With “London” I wrote about a specific event in its history namely the Great Fire. I try to unite darkness and light in my songs, which is reflected also on the cover that has a burning city on one end but also has green in it, a more positive, hopeful element. The light will always shine though to bring hope
‘‘Vuur ‘ will be the main focus for me. I might do a few small solo things on the side, but I really want to put the band in picture. In November we’ll tour Europe with Epica, we have a big headlining show in Utrecht and also in the Biebob in Vosselaar. We’ll also be heading to South America for a small tour. They are really very open to rock music over there.’
As a sort of closure, I wanted to go back in time once more to look upon the most meaningful moments in her career. ‘There are some moments with The Gathering like playing Dynamo Open air where we went to ourselves when we were teenagers. Or recently I got to sing for the King, with a big orchestra which was a really special moment.