Interview with After Forever 2

Source: DPRP

interview for DPRP by Martien Koolen
talking to After Forever's Sander Gommans



This interview had originally been scheduled for just after the release of their fantastic new album Invisible Circles, but as the band became really busy playing festivals and arranging their CD-presentation launch we had to delay matters. So as a precursor to this interview I have included overviews from their launch concert at 013, Tilburg on 17 April 2004 and their live gig in The Bosuil, Weert on 14 May 2004.


013, TILBURG, SATURDAY 17 APRIL 2004


After Forever chose 013 in Tilburg as their venue for the CD presentation of Invisible Circles. The album, which is definitely more metal orientated, has received great reviews all over Europe and it seems as if the band is now really climbing the ladder of success. Before the band presented their new album, singer Floor Jansen had to “go through” her practical exam of the rock academy; which she had dubbed “Get Floored”. She sang a couple of songs from the Exordium album, assisted by the guys from After Forever on acoustic guitars. Furthermore Floor performed a song from a musical together with Spanish vocalist Alfredo Romero and an aria out of an opera from Puccini: Mio Babbino Caro. Arjen Lucassen also made a guest appearance by the way; together with Floor and her sister Irene they performed Valley of the Queens from the Star One album. She showed that her voice is not only the ideal instrument for metal music, and in my opinion she should have passed this exam with flying colours! After a short break After Forever hit the stage with the complete set of the new album. Highlights of this set were the piano ballad Eccentric and heavier tracks like Digital Deceiver and Life’s Vortex, where Floor’s superb voice really set the atmosphere. Then it was time to play a couple of “old” songs from albums like Prison of Desire and Decipher, songs which are definitely more gothic than the new material. After Forever ended this splendid set with the Iron Maiden cover The Evil That Men Do, heavier played than its original, but Floor’s voice is not really a substitute for Bruce Dickinson.


THE BOSUIL, WEERT, FRIDAY 14 MAY 2004


Almost 4 weeks later I visited the Bosuil in Weert to see, and hear of course, if the set list for tonight was different. And luckily for me that was the case; After Forever did not play the entire new CD, but they only played a couple of new songs - Life’s Vortex, Victim Of Choices, Beautiful Emptiness, Reflectionsand the super heavy Blind Pain. Furthermore the band played three tracks from the Exordium album, Beneath, Glorifying Means and the beautiful power ballad My Choice. Compared to the gig in Tilburg the band here made it clear that this was a so-called “home match” and so they all displayed a top notch performance - especially guitar player Bas Maas who let it all out! Maybe they played with so much power because it was the last After Forever gig of keyboard player Lando van Gils, who will be replaced by Joost van de Broek (Sun Caged).

My personal favourites of the night were Moonlith of Doubt and My Pledge of Megiance, both from Decipher, Life’s Vortex and the magnificent piano ballad Eccentric; both from the new album Invisible Circles. I really preferred this show to the one in Tilburg because of the pure energy of this gig. All five members played their asses off and Floor was as magical as ever. I truly believe that this band is going to be very big in Europe and maybe even in the USA. I am already looking forward seeing them play on the “famous” Pinkpopfestival.


THE BREAKTHROUGH OF AFTER FOREVER

Sander GommansSo after a lengthy postponment I finally got my chance to talk to guitar player and sometimes grunter Sander Gommans. After Forever’s debut album "Prison Of Desire" and the follow-up "Decipher" really put The Netherlands on the map as gothic metal country. A few months ago After Forever surprised us with the mini-CD called “Exordium” and later on, the new album was finally released (for a review of that album you can check our Reviews Section). So, Sander was my “partner in crime”, let’s hear what he has got to say ...


MARTIEN: At the end of February After Forever played in Mexico, can you tell our readers something about that experience?


SANDER:
“Well, that’s a long time ago already… Mexico has very enthusiastic fans, there is always lots of adventure in Mexico and lots of sunshine, which is why we were really looking forward to this trip. It did not fit in with our plans, because we were trying to promote our new material in Germany very strongly. We think that there are a lot of German fans that like our music and we would really like to expand our market over there. Mexico, on the other hand, is a country where we are already very popular since the release of our first album. And we sure noticed that during the live gigs, the atmosphere was really great and it is always a pleasure to play for such a fantastic audience. The disadvantage of the CD market in Mexico however is that everything is illegal and that all the CDs that are sold over there are not the original ones. Sadly, this means for us that we really do not earn any money in Mexico with selling our CDs. However, if you notice and witness the bad economical state of the country, then you can understand this and forgive the Mexican fans right away. There are a few very rich people and the rest is poor, there is almost no middle class. Well, to make a long story short, it was a great tour, where we learned a lot and we hope that we can go back some time.”


MARTIEN: The reactions and reviews of Invisible Circles were all great. Does it not scare you that you have to top this fantastic album in the future with an even better one? The pressure to improve the quality of your music gets higher and higher, or does it not?


SANDER:
“I do not think so, because I am convinced that we are still in our developing state, we get better and better with each album, but there is still more in us and there is more to come for sure. Of course it is a real challenge to make a new and better CD, but as a band you can never tell how the audience or the press will react. Our goal is to make the music that we actually like and that we consider to be good, and if that is the case, then our mission is already accomplished. Of course I am dependent on the reviews and opinions of fans, but they will never become the incentive of our band.”



MARTIEN: Could you tell something more about the title of the album?


SANDER:
“Invisible Circles describes the paths of life that someone can follow. Life consists of several circles that you can follow; many times you will come back at the beginning of a circle, although you have tried to get out of that particular circle. This also happens with the main character on the album.”


MARTIEN: Is it difficult to make a concept album and why did you choose to make this new album a conceptual one?


SANDER:
“If you think of planning, then making a concept album is very difficult, because during the writing process you have to consider a lot of things. However this did not turn out to become a limitation, but it rather worked as inspiration. The music literally becomes a story and that story offers you a lot of new and other musical starting points. After we decided on the concept, the writing process was rather uncomplicated, but I have learned a lot form this way of working and I am sure that I will use some of those working approaches for our coming album as well.”


MARTIEN: Personally I truly miss some real guitar solos and I am not very fond of the grunting parts. Is there anyone in the band who maybe agrees with me on that point and is there a slight possibility that this will change in the near future?


SANDER:
“The grunts fit in well with the concept and the atmosphere. We, as a band, decide eventually how many grunts we use in a song. You cannot decide this beforehand, a song writes itself and if it is finished then the vocals bring the song to completion. The sphere of a song decides if we use normal vocals or grunts. This can be very different on the new album, you will never know… It would also be cool if we could use the vocals of Bas a bit more in the future. Guitar solos have almost never been used by After Forever, however at this moment I am thinking of trying to build in some sort of guitar solos, although we will never really build in real long guitar solos. In my opinion you can only use guitar solos if they are really GOOD and effective. Most of the time you can better replace them by a musical middle part. But, hey, you never know ...”


MARTIEN: You played at a couple of big festivals this year already (Dynamo, Graspop, and Pinkpop), do you like playing at festivals, or do you rather prefer the smaller clubs?


SANDER:
“I do not think that you can compare those two things. A festival and a clubshow both have advantages and disadvantages. The variety makes it worthwhile and interesting to do.”


MARTIEN: When will After Forever finally break through and when will you decide to become a full time professional musician?


SANDER:
“At this moment I am a full time teacher and I do not want to throw that away right now. I do not understand why so many people just give up their job, because that job “eats up” all their time. I am also responsible for the management of the band and I write a lot of material for the band and I can still go on a tour once in a while. So, it is possible to have a job besides your musical career, however you need a little bit of luck with the kind of job that you have. A full time musical career is my dream, but it has got to be a realistic dream, and at the moment that is not the case, so …”



MARTIEN: How do you combine your work as a teacher with your work as a musician?


SANDER:
“You know, it sometimes gets quite busy, but I can combine it. Sometimes it works refreshing and I get a lot of inspiration by doing these two rather different jobs and sometimes it is really tough and then you have to rest whenever possible. Unfortunately I am rather bad at knowing when to take a break to give myself the necessary rest, but Floor watches me very carefully and keeps an eye on that.”


MARTIEN: I know that you suffer from migraine attacks. How is it possible playing in a metal band with migraine?


SANDER:
“Ha ha, that really is not easy. Lately I must say that the attacks are not that frequent anymore and most of the times I notice when I will get a migraine so I can adjust to that. During a gig this is ofcourse very troublesome, but the adrenaline I get from performing helps me to deal with the migraine on stage. However after a gig with a migraine I have to lie down immediately after the show. But you know, I know a lot of people who are far worse of then me, so I cannot complain really!”


MARTIEN: How is your HE-Man collection coming along?


SANDER:
“Hahaha, it is nice of you to ask me that. Well, I can truly say that it is getting out of hand big time!! The collection gets bigger and bigger, I have an entire room reserved for my HE-Man stuff, so go figure ...”


MARTIEN: Sander, thanks for your time and your answers and good luck with the band.


SANDER:
“Thanks for the interesting questions."



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