Dutch symphonic metal outfit Stream Of Passion had their fair share of business related struggles lately. That’s why they decided to turn to crowdfunding in order to finance the band’s latest album, entitled “A War Of Our Own”. ThisIsNotAScene caught up with keyboardist Jeffrey Revet on a rather thunderous Thursday evening to discuss this remarkable initiative, working with producer Joost van den Broek (Epica, ReVamp) and the challenges of being a musician and the strain it puts on one’s private life.
“A War Of Our Own”, the new Stream Of Passion album, has just been released. How’s the feedback coming along so far?
It’s been really positive thus far. Most reviews have been really good and the album is mentioned in the Aardschok (major Dutch metal publication. ed) top 10 as well, which is nice. Of course we received some negative comments as well, but that’s fine with me as well. You can’t please everyone.
The new album is remarkably heavy, especially for a symphonic metal release. How come?
Stream Of Passion doesn’t really fit the so-called “female fronted metal” template, if you will. We’re more of guitar-based band, where many of our peers choose a more symphonic direction. It was a deliberate choice to make the guitars sound heavier when we could, but also create the space for more symphonic elements, like the keyboards and piano parts for instance.
Musically, I don’t the new record much darker of heavier compared to our previous releases. However, the lyrics are pretty intense at times. They reflect a lot of personal issues Marcela Bovio (vocalist and main lyricist) went through. As a band we had to contend with a lot of business-related issues as well. Some of that went into the lyrics as well.
You mentioned that Stream Of Passion went through a lot of business-related struggles. That’s one of the main reasons to use crowdfunding in order to raise enough cash to record the new album. How did it all go?
We were signed to Napalm Records at the time and we weren’t too thrilled about some of the business aspects of our partnership. This caused friction from both sides, so at a certain point it was better for everyone involved to go our separate ways. We looked for other possible labels, but we decided to do things ourselves this time to around. We used crowdfunding to raise enough cash to be able to record “A War Of Our Own”. It was a very positive and satisfying experience, but also a lot of work.
What were the nicest perks of the whole pledge campaign?
Our fans could win two acoustic sessions in their living rooms, a barbeque with the whole band, handwritten lyrics by Marcela, stuff like that. The one perk that I especially like was the so-called “Marcela-sings-you-a-song” in which she would something for your voicemail. For some reason nobody bought that one sadly.
Another interesting fact that some of our diehard fans bought several items at the same time, like an acoustic session, a listening session of our new album and an old band backdrop as well. We really wanted to make it special and as personal as possible for our fans and I think it worked out very well.
Do you think the whole crowd funding phenomenon is here to stay?
For now it’s a great way for bands to release their music to their fan base directly without compromising their artistic integrity, but I wonder whether the whole concept behind crowd funding becomes tainted by less successful attempts and by people who want to use this for their own gain.
It’s still a relatively new concept, which makes it fresh and exciting for people to become involved, but I doubt that will still be the case when people get used to it over a longer period of time. You need to have an established fan base in order to make it all work, so crowd funding may not be a viable option for every band out there.
Why it worked for Stream Of Passion is because we tried to make our pledge campaign as personal and accessible as possible. We did our utmost to come up with creative and interesting perks and we kept our fanbase informed as much as we could. We listed all the participants in the album booklet as a way to thank them. If it wasn’t for them, the new album would never been recorded and released.
The pledge campaign for “A War Of Our Own” was a resounding success. Would you consider doing it again for a possible next release?
For now we stick with it, because we really appreciate the freedom that it brings. We haven’t discussed this for a possible next record, because the current situation is still quite new for us, so we want to see what this will yield first. However, a new pledge campaign is still very much a viable option for us. We hired people to promote the new record abroad. Within the Benelux it’s fairly easy to organise your own PR campaign, but outside the Benelux it becomes more of a challenge.
Let’s talk a bit about the recording process of the new album. Joost van den Broek (ReVamp, Epica) took care of the production chores. How was it like to work with him?
Joost’ involvement with Stream Of Passion reaches back to the band’s early days when Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) was still a member. He knows us from the inside out and he co wrote most of the material on the new album, together with Marcella. Joost was also the one who supervised the overall production process, so he played a pivotal role in the recording of “A War Of Our Own”. He also has a vast knowledge about the technical aspects of recording an album. The record itself was recorded all over the Netherlands, because we all have our own home studios nowadays. Because of this working method, it’s important to have one person who guides and coordinates the overall process. Joost was the perfect man for the job.
You’re a producer in your own right, so how does it feel like when someone else is tinkering with something that features your contributions as well?
Because I know the whole recording process from a producer’s point of view I’m able to let go even more and let Joost work his magic with me “just” being the keyboardist for Stream Of Passion.
From my own experience I know how tedious and fruitless endless discussions between a band and a producer can be at times. Sometimes it’s refreshing to be told which parts you need to play and not to get involved in endless discussions. Of course there’s room for input once the mix is done, but this time around it went pretty smoothly. There’s was little discussion, because the overall results were that good.
Is this also a nice opportunity for you to learn a few tricks from an experienced producer like Joost?
Certainly! Truth be told I wasn’t that involved with the recording process of our new album. However, with our previous albums I was always there to learn some tricks of the trade when it came down how to record drums for instance. It’s always nice to watch someone like Joost go about his business and learn from him. Last year I actually did a co-production with him in which I mixed some music for him. Joost gave me some valuable input which I took to heart.
Would you be interested in producing an album for Stream Of Passion yourself?
It would be an interesting experience to say the least. But because I’m a member of the band I like to have someone from the outside involved. It’s a challenge for me to maintain enough distance from the music itself, let alone be the guiding figure in the overall process. With this in mind I don’t think I’m the right guy for the job.
Finally, you’re a very busy guy. Besides Stream Of Passion, you’re also a producer and you’re also a music teacher. How do you combine all these things with something of a private life?
It’s very hard in all honesty. It comes with the territory of being a musician I’m afraid. We’re not in the fortunate position to make a living off Stream Of Passion and that goes for most bands out there as well, so all band members need to have jobs in order to get by and provide for their respective families. My girlfriend is also active in the music business, so she understands what position we’re in and what sacrifices need to be made.
Regardless, being a musician does put a lot of strain on your private life. However, doing something of which you’re very passionate about is very rewarding in itself.