Dutch modern death metal outfit Purest Of Pain won the Dutch Wacken Open Air Metal music contest which earned them a lot at the infamous metal festival. This might be the break the band is striving to for quite some time. ThisIsNotAScene talked to guitarist/main composer Merel Bechtold and vocalist Jesper de Kruyff about this amazing feat, their outlook on the current situation in the music industry, their upcoming debut album and Merel’s involvement with Mayan and Karmaflow.
Purest Of Pain won the Dutch version of the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle. How do you look back on the whole experience?
Jesper: It was quite a surprise really, because we faced some stiff competition from the other bands. We were somewhat intimidated because of that, but I’m very glad that we won. The price you ask? Well, we go to Wacken Open Air!
Merel: At Wacken we’ll join the international competition. The big prize is a record deal with Nuclear Blast. It would be a great push for the band if we want that price as as well.
You guys have the reputation for being a very intense live act. Where do you get all the energy from?
Merel: We really love to play live shows and to give it our all. We’re a young band, so we’re all still able come up with that level of energy. We really like to have a good time on stage and we want to entertain our audience as well. We really feed off the energy of the crowd.
I’d like to move toward the band itself. Who does what within Purest Of Pain?
Merel: I write most of the music and Jesper writes all the lyrics.
Jesper: Michael, our other guitarist, is kind of our ideas guy. He takes care of a lot stuff together with Merel and Frank, our bassist. Frank is our guy for the grandiose visions and he comes up with things that the rest of us doesn’t think about. Our drummer Jop is the one who brings a lot of cheer within the band. He’s really like to let everyone have a good time and he makes us laugh.
Last year Purest Of Pain faced some lineup changes. What happened?
Merel: Ilja and Daan left the band due to study and other commitments. So we had to look for for new members. We organised a couple of auditions and soon we found our two new guys. We’re really happy to have them in the band and their arrival meant that we could grow as a unit.
The band has released some singles and some EP’s, but do you guys have any plans for a true full length album?
Jesper: We’re actually working on our first full length album.
Merel: I’m in the process of finishing some loose ends on two tracks and we already started on tracking the album. We want to release the album on a record label, but we’re still looking around for suitable partners. We’re going to play at BUMA Rocks, which is quite a big deal here in the Netherlands. We expect to meet a lot of business people there, so let’s hope that something will come of it. Our performance at Wacken will bring a lot of exposure as well. Musically speaking the new album is a quantum leap forward compared to our older material. Thus far I’m very pleased with it.
That’s good news! What can we expect?
Merel: The band matured quite a bit and that resonates within the new material. It’s more melodic and more technical.
Jesper: It’s going to be a kick ass metal record with lots of diversity. The material is still coherent but within certain boundaries there’s a lot going when it comes down to overall variety and diversity.
Merel: Writing songs is a very eclectic process for me, but because I write all the music for the band it will always sound like Purest Of Pain.
Throughout the band’s career you played with some pretty big names, like Textures, Delain and Suicide Silence to just name a few. How do you look on playing with such bands?
Merel: It was a great experience and I can’t wait to play with more bands of that calibre. I would love to be a part of great touring package, but it’s really hard to break into that without being signed to a label and having a full length album out. For now we’ll play mainly within the Netherlands. However, I’m more than ready to participate in a major tour.
The musical landscape has changed dramatically the last couple of years and many labels and bands are struggling. How does this influence your outlook on the future of Purest Of Pain?
Jesper: The changing climate within the music industry isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. I’m quite used to it in all honesty. The last couple of years the whole D.I.Y work ethic is back with a vengeance and it makes things a lot easier I think. Bands that are complaining about albums sales dropping down often don’t take the effort to evolve and learn to cope with this new reality. There are lots of local bands who are happy playing for a small fee and that also affects a band like Purest Of Pain in a negative way. It doesn’t bother me that much now I’m think about it. If you do things in a smart way it can only benefit the band.
Merel: Albums sales may dropped significantly, but the sheer volume of music has increased quite a bit. There are way more festivals and gig opportunities. Social media makes it really easy to share music with other people. When I put new music on my facebook wall it will spread like wildfire for example. Yet a record label is still invaluable for a band like us, because they still have a vast network of contacts, which I don’t have or it would take me a lot of time to build. Crowd funding would be another interesting option, but it may be a bit too early for us.
Merel, you’re also a member of Mayan. How did you land the gig?
Merel: Two and half years ago I approached former Mayan and current Epica guitarist Isaac Delahaye for some guitar lessons. Nothing came of it, because of time constraints on his part and I wasn’t able to go to him because of transport issues. However, six months later Purest Of Pain was booked as a last minute support act for Mayan. Before the show I had the chance to meet Isaac and we talked a lot of guitars and stuff. Six months later I received word that he was leaving Mayan and whether I was interested in stepping in. Isaac recommended and they liked what they saw with me playing in Purest Of Pain on stage. That’s how I landed the gig.
How do you combine playing in two bands with a possible study and social life?
Merel: It’s my passion, my work and my study, so it’s pretty easy so far. It’s all part time so to makes things a lot easier. I wouldn’t make turning this into a full time gig though.
You’re involved with Karmaflow, which is quite a remarkable symbiosis between a rock opera and a video game. What’s your take on that?
Merel: Frankly, the concept behind the project is still vague to me as well. When you enter a certain level different pieces of music act as a sort of guide throughout the game. You’re also able to put together your own playlist. A lot of famous musicians are involved, like the singer from Sonata Arctica and Mark and Simone from Epica. We also play some live shows in order to promote the game. There’s a tour planned for the end of this year and this will culminate in this big live spectacle in early 2015 with a lot of special guest and the famous Metropole Orchestra. I’m very much looking forward to that!
Finally, there a lot of great things in the cards for Purest Of Pain. How far do you want to go with the band?
Merel: We want to play as many gigs as possible. We’re going to play on Buma Rocks and also on Ascension To Hellfest the day after and Wacken of course. I’d love to turn this into a full time gig and see how far we can push it and have as much fun as possible while doing it.
Jesper: I couldn’t agree more. I’m looking forward to tour as much as possible and to release some great music in the future!