Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
We met up with Martijn Westerholt of Dutch symphonic metal band Delain at Bloodstock for a brief chat:
Alan: It’s really nice to meet you in person!
Alan: You’ve just arrived at Bloodstock. Will you get some time to check out some other bands and enjoy the festival atmosphere?
Martijn: I hope so. We walked in, started straight into this promo, and after that we have to build up for our show. I hope I can see a little bit of Sabaton. They’re like our tour mates this year. That would be nice.
Alan: You’ve been touring with them for some time now?
Martijn: Yeah, absolutely. Two tours; in America and in Europe.
Alan: You’re not tired of seeing their show yet?
Martijn: Not yet. They can be quite annoying, but it’s ok [Laughs]. No, they’re really nice people. But it’s going to be a busy day today.
Alan: What was your first impression of Bloodstock festival? This is your first time here, yeah?
Martijn: Yeah. It’s cosy. I get a cosy impression about it. Which I like very much. I don’t know if that’s correct.
Alan: It is smaller than say, Download or Sonisphere, but has a really great reputation.
Martijn: It’s small, but it isn’t small.
Alan: How does it compare to other European festivals you have done this year?
Martijn: I haven’t done the entire round yet, so I can’t judge yet, but so far, I like it?
Alan: Will you watch Sabaton from the crowd or from the side of the stage?
Martijn: I don’t know. I hope I can take five minutes to watch them and then hurry to my own stage and prepare there. That’s the plan.
Alan: You’re headlining the Sophie stage tonight. Are you looking forward to that?
Martijn: Yeah, it’s kind of special because we have a song ‘We are the Others’ dedicated to Sophie Lancaster, so for us it feels like a full circle. We’re also affiliated with the Sophie Lancaster foundation, so it’s really nice. When we got the request to play at Bloodstock, we asked it we could do the Sophie stage, and we’re honoured that we can play there.
Alan: You were one of the original members of Within Temptation, and your brother Robert is still part of that band. They’re playing here tomorrow. Will you get a chance to spend time with them?
Martijn: No, I’m leaving at 5am, but we have some stuff in their trailer which we need to unload, so I hope their trailer comes soon.
Alan: Do you get a chance to hang out with your brother much these days?
Martijn: Well, my brother doesn’t play live any more, so the most time I see him is at family activities. Actually I seldom see him at live occasions. Occasionally I go to his place or whatever.
Alan: What about opportunities to collaborate musically with him nowadays?
Martijn: I don’t see that happening because we both do kind of the same thing. You never know. But for now I don’t see it.
Alan: How do you feel, that you’re headlining the Sophie stage today with Delain, and your former band Within Temptation is headlining the main stage tomorrow?
Martijn: I actually didn’t think about it. But it’s nice. I think I should be very grateful that we are able to do that.
Alan: Are there any bands playing at Bloodstock that you would like to collaborate with? Maybe get on stage with them, or have them come on stage with you?
Martijn: It’s always great to collaborate with other people. I’m always into that because it always gives surprising results. But, nothing concrete right now. Perhaps Rob Halford from Judas Priest if he was playing. It would be great to have him sing some of Marko’s lines [Marko Tapani Hietala, of Nightwish]. We have Marko on our album. Like a real heavy metal singer. That would be great. But I don’t see that happening either.
Alan: If you had to choose between playing an intimate club gig with 150 die-hard Delain fans, or a festival with 15,000 people with a mix of bands, which would you prefer to do?
Martijn: It’s comparing apples with bananas. It’s difficult, because they both have charm. Big crowds have huge energy. It can really take you by surprise. On the other hand, a really good small crowd can be very special too. Bruce Dickinson always says when he does stadiums, he says for him, the art is to make something that big like something really really small. Actually trying to achieve the same thing. I cannot say I like one thing better than the other.
Alan: I think the Sophie stage is almost somewhere in between, because being a tent, it’s warmer, it’s darker, it’s a smaller subset of the festival crowd. It makes it feel a bit more like a club gig.
Martijn: That’s like both pieces of the cake then. That will be great.
Alan: So tell us about the follow-up to The Human Contradiction. It’s been 18 months or so since you recorded that album. Have you plans for the next album?
Martijn: Sure. We’re already writing, because the plan is to release a new album in April next year. We’re writing 6 songs now. It’s kind of a luxury problem, that we got a lot of offers to play live; a lot of nice things to do. But we also have to make an album. And I actually love making an album. That’s one of the highlights of my job I would say. So it’s difficult to get a balance, but we have to because otherwise we’ll be too late getting it ready for April. Let’s hope we’ll make it. We’re on track.
Alan: A lot of artists say they hate writing and recording albums and going into the studio. They prefer to be out playing live.
Martijn: It’s a learning experience, making a song. Every album you make, you learn something new, and I love that. I feel more like a kind of producer for my stuff than a keyboard player for the band. I like them both.
Alan: Have you got any particular themes or ideas for the songs?
Martijn: Well I mainly write the music, and the themes are Charlottes’ department. Of course we discuss it, and talk about it. But it’s a little bit too early right now. She has sketches, and she has some words already, but it’s not done yet.
Alan: So we won’t hear any new songs today then?
Martijn: Not yet. But I hope we can do a new song in our tour in October. We’re doing a headline tour in the UK, so I hope we can do a new song then.
Alan: Last year’s headliners Megadeth sell their own “Blood of Heroes” wine, Iron Maiden sell “Trooper” beer, Fleshgod Apocalypse sell Pasta. If you were to put the Delain brand onto any food or drink, what would you choose?
Martijn: That’s a good one. I personally love chocolate, but of course you get association with poo and that kind of stuff, so I don’t know if that’s a smart move. And I know Charlotte is addicted to coffee, so something like that. I never got that question before. That’s a good one. I know Nightwish have their own beer. They’re Finnish, so they should do some alcohol. That’s part of being Finnish.
Alan: So we’ll look out for Delain chocolate or coffee.
Martijn: Perhaps we should do cheese. We’re Dutch. But very small portions because we have a bad reputation with being generous of course. Small chunks of cheese.
Alan: If you could have a beer and get drunk with any historical figure, who would it be, and why?
Martijn: Ohhh… I think William the 3rd of the Netherlands. He was like the King of England, and he was also Stuart of the Netherlands. And this is why you’ve all the problems in Ireland with the Orange marches because of William of Orange. He’s quite an interesting figure. I think I would choose him. But I will never know.
Alan: Finally, have you any messages for your fans or news?
Martijn: Well, we’re really grateful to be here, especially in the UK. We got such a warm welcome here. Next year we have our anniversary year. It’s our tenth year and we want make it a very special year, and we want to give the fans something special and we’re working on that. I want to thank them for their support, that we can do what we do because of them.
Alan: Well, thank you for taking the time, and we look forward to seeing you perform tonight.
Martijn: Cool. It was a pleasure.