Ray of ThisIsNotAScene gets the chance to talk with fellow countryman Maurice Swinkels of Legion of the Damned. The talk about metal in general and the early days of the band as well as how Maurice and fellow musicians cope with the current state of metal.
Congrats about releasing such a strong album as Ravenous Plague. The Aardschok and the German metal press seem to be very pleased with it as well. Are you happy the way the album turned and do you feel its the band’s most accomplished work to date?
Yes I am very satisfied with the result, most accomplished to date? I don’t know, its just another album where we put a lot of time and energy in, but every album has its story, it did became one of my favourite albums though.
Ravenous Plague is the band’s first album for Napalm Records. How did this impact the creative and recording process for the new album?
Absolutely nothing! I mean the writing process or anything does not interfere with whom we sign a deal with. But we were excited of course, lots of new things happening in the Legion camp, new album with new label, first album of Twan our new guitar player, added a 2nd guitar player etc…
The musical style of the band is fairly cast in iron, so how do you manage to find new musical angles to keep things fresh and exciting for yourself?
It’s nothing complicated anymore since we have a new guitar player. Twan has a fresh new look on the band, new vibes and tons of inspiration, and he is hungry, whereas our former guitarist Richard, it was much harder, we just kind of sat in a corner not being able to try new things, with Twan we are able to try new corners and things keep being excited, thats what happened with the new album.
The album is recorded at Stage One studios with Andy Classen manning the helm. Why did you decide to return to that studio again? How did this help the overall result forward?
We just wanted another familiar environment for us , especially since this is Twan’s first Legion album, we needed someone behind the desk that knows the band, its music, its borders, limits etc…and there is no one better than Andy Classen. Andy helped us alot in making the songs even better, normally when we go in studio the songs are kind of plain, most of the melodies, solos are all created in studio, usually Andy is a big help in this. He is kind of a 5th member!
How did you guys land the deal with Napalm Records and in which capacity is this an improvement over being on the Massacre roster?
Napalm was one of the labels offering us a deal, which we accepted. The difference is that Napalm is dedicated and not the 9 to 5 mentality, which Massacre was usually stuck in. There are some young people working at Napalm that are dedicated and do a great job! Of course its too early to give a good review on this since the album is not even out yet, but the working between us and them in preproduction is great!
Fellow Dutch (extreme) metal bands like Izegrim and Hail Of Bullets choose to play during the weekends only, because of better attendance records and it works better in conjunction with their day jobs and social life. How do you go about things in this regard?
I absolutely agree! I started the band with drummer Erik 23 years ago as a hobby and the love for metal, we decided there already that the band IS a hobby and nowadays with much success the band is STILL a hobby, we all have our own jobs. The band is doing well and thats great, but doing it as your daily job? No way! Its hard you know, I don’t want to play out of obligations, and see it as a MUST! Which is great, I mean, we can take festivals and shows that we like without being in this position where you have to do these shows! I have seen bands on tours that live off this music and when there is a day where ticket sales go down of a concert, there is panic all of sudden, it is their income of course, for us it doesn’t matter if there are 150 people or 1150 people.
The music industry is pretty much in shambles nowadays. What is your secret of getting by and what piece of advice do you have for aspiring musicians seeking a career in playing metal music?
Just never give up and do your music because you love doing this music, don’t start a band because you wanna be famous or popular, especially in metal, play it because you like playing in this sort of style and music, and take it from there.
Some time ago one of the Metalsucks writers caused quite a stir by claiming that metal as a genre is almost completely void of any innovation and that many metalheads are incredibly conservative in their taste, thus giving younger bands no chance to really leave their mark on the scene. How do you see things from your end?
Yes it’s hard! I must agree, I also do not care and listen to younger bands, mainly because I don’t have the time. A lot of young bands send me their cd’s and want me to comment, listen, and advise them, but sometimes I just don’t care to listen, its also because 99% of those bands sound like 100% of other bands. On the other hand its a pity, I mean generations come and go, and so we must open up I guess. I still enjoy the older style of metal, old Slayer, Bathory, Celtic Frost, its the time where I grew up, so in that respect I kind of got stuck in time.
One thing still puzzles me. Many moons ago Legion Of The Damned was once known as Occult, a band with a quite a similar style of music, but it never really took off, like Legion does nowadays. What are your thoughts on this?
Tons of reasons! We have always been playing thrash! Even our 2nd album with Occult called “The Enemy Within” recorded by Harris Johns (Kreator, Pestilence) was a typical thrash album! But we had so many setbacks with Occult, bad decisions on album cover, logo, recordings, labels etc..that in the end we just reached a dead end. Many people hated our first album which I recorded with a serious bad throat infection, so people did not care for our 2nd and 3rd album, then there were people who thought we were a black metal band because of its name and logo, then in the end we only ran into labels that were in debt and not being able to release our albums, at the very end of the line we almost had to take a label to court. So it was time to take a drastic decision!
Finally, What touring plans do you have in support of the new album? Are there festival performances scheduled as well?
We are touring with Sepultura in February/March, then we have some european festivals planned like Graspop, Rockharz, Out&Loud, MetalFest Czech, Summer Breeze…