On the Road, Again: An on-tour interview with Delain’s Martijn Westerholt
Delain is certainly a hard-working band! In addition to putting out new albums every two years, they constantly tour around the world to the delight of their fans. They recently celebrated a huge milestone in their career with their 10th Anniversary Concert in Amsterdam last December and have been heavily touring last year’s new album “Moonbathers”. I caught up with the band during their first headlining North American tour and had a chance to chat with keyboardist, composer, and band founder, Martijn Westerholt. We had a chance to discuss the current tour, their Anniversary show, new music, and future plans. Here is how it went:
Afternoiz: This is Joe Prostredny with Afternoiz and I’m here with Martijn of Delain! How are you doing today?
Martijn: Good! Yeah! This is our fifth show or sixth one and we’re getting into the structure and the groove so yeah, it’s good!
Afternoiz: Every time I’ve interviewed one of you guys in the past… at least once a year for the past few years, I’ve asked the same question every time. “When are you going to headline in North America?” But I don’t have to ask it this time because you’re finally doing it!
Martijn: Yep! We’re doing it!
Afternoiz: We’re here in Baltimore, which is one of the earlier dates of the tour. How is the tour going so far?
Martijn: Good! Because you never know until you go on tour… bands go with the crew and the whole production thing. It has been heavy I have to say, to get everything, the production on the road. The vibe is really good but it’s just a lot of work. We have to get into the groove of that and get everything structured and I think now we’re getting there so, yeah, it’s good!
Afternoiz: For a lot of North American fans, except for some of the crazier ones like me that fly over the Atlantic, this is their first chance to see you perform a longer set… unlike your spoiled European fans who get that all the time. What has the fan feedback been? I know it’s only been a few shows so far.
Martijn: Good! And it’s actually what you said people are finally (getting) a longer set. They never hear you play this song or that song and now we can do it and that’s great. I think there’s taste for more, so to say.
Afternoiz: It’s the first time all six of you have been here… at the same time?
Martijn: Yeah! At first we didn’t have six band members, but five. And then we got a substitute for the one then we got a substitute for the other and now we’re all here, finally!
Afternoiz: Finally! And you’re sharing the stage with HammerFall! How have they been to work with?
Martijn: Yeah! They are fantastic; they are great guys. They are really relaxed. And it’s a lot of drinking together I guess. With Swedish people means you really have to watch out (laughs).
Afternoiz: Really! (laughs) In my experience… with Dutch people you have to watch out too!
Martijn: Really? I think the Dutch people are more screwed in that regard. (laughs) But it’s good and nice people and the cooperation goes really well.
Afternoiz: The last time I did an interview with you guys, you were on your last North American tour which was about a year ago. You were touring the newest album, ‘Moonbathers’, but it hadn’t been released yet. We had the EP, ‘Lunar Prelude’, but fans had not heard the entire album yet. But you’ve been touring the album a lot in the last year. What’s the fan reception of the album?
Martijn: Really good! I think it’s one of the best actually. Normally we play a lot of songs off of ‘Moonbathers’ and before this album release it was always a collection of songs from this album or songs from that album and the album we released it wasn’t even so much many songs played and with this album it is. A lot of these songs are normally played live which is a good sign I think. We select the songs in accordance to how people react or respond to it, like a balance in the set list. And that goes with this album exceptionally well, actually.
Afternoiz: Does it get hard after you’ve been touring, and you have a lot of albums now, to let go of some of the earlier songs that were real popular?… your signature songs? Do you have to let them go because you’ve got to get the newer ones in?
Martijn: No, it’s not a “Kill your darling” situation. It’s actually the other way around. It gets easier and easier to get a really good balance in your set list and in your live show because some songs are better in this place of a set list or some songs are better in that place… in terms of buildup because that it what you want. You want to build up your set with a good balance and interaction etcetera. And the more material you have to build with the easier it gets.
Afternoiz: This current tour is a pretty big one, twenty-three cities, if I’m not mistaken!
Martijn: Twenty-three cities, yeah… I think that’s right.
Afternoiz: Is there any place you’re really looking forward to hitting?
Martijn: I like to do west because it’s nice and warm…
Afternoiz: (laughs)… not like rainy New York?
Martijn: No… because we have plenty of that in the Netherlands… but of course I just like to tour the states. Also here in Baltimore and also New York. And there’s an extra bonus appeal to me when we come to California and Arizona. My girlfriend is from Arizona so I’m also there privately a lot. But all places have their charm I think.
Afternoiz: You had a day off yesterday… actually, I think you spent three days in New York, right?
Martijn: Actually, yesterday we did Baltimore and before that we did New York City and New Jersey. We took a cab to the city to downtown Manhattan which is great always. Yeah, it was cool!
Afternoiz: Anything special you like to do on your days off?
Martijn: Well, this is not going to entertain people by saying this, but I love my hotel! Netflix and some nice food on the side and just do nothing. Couple of emails perhaps. But rest.
Afternoiz: Rest is important! Other than New York City on Monday, the last time I saw you was at the 10th anniversary show at Paradiso in Amsterdam in December. From the perspective of an audience member, I thought it was phenomenal! Over the top and one of the best shows I’ve seen your guys do. And I’ve seen a lot! Maybe not as many as some, but…
Martijn: (laughs) Yes, you’re an expert!
Afternoiz: How did you guys feel like it went?
Martijn: It was very special. The vibe was very special. After the show I was actually very pissed off because a lot of stuff we’d planned didn’t work out. We had far more confetti moments planned for example. Light moments which didn’t work and I didn’t like that because it was a DVD so it’s about what people see and not only what people hear. You come to watch a band, you don’t come to listen to a band, you come to watch a band. And in that regard I also didn’t like the attitude of the venue because we were not allowed to do anything and they made problems out of everything. I wanted to use this system; this backdrop which falls down but I couldn’t because “the roof would fall down” and that kind of stuff. This is the last time we will do that venue. Although the vibe was great and the fans were phenomenal and everybody had fun so I also count my blessings. But for the next anniversary, I want to redo it (laughs)!
Afternoiz: That would be the fifteen year or the twenty?
Martijn: Yeah, both (laughs)!
Afternoiz: I saw you guys briefly before the anniversary show at the VIP birthday party and you guys are always very friendly at meet and greets. But you guys seemed more nervous… distracted…
Martijn: Yeah, we were totally overstretched and I actually didn’t have time for this VIP… but of course you have to when you promise people that. And on top also there the venue screwed up by opening the doors for the normal crowd [before the VIP fans were let in]… which we fixed by offering everybody [the opportunity] to watch at a sound check [at a future show]… so some people went to another show and saw our sound check and even walked on stage while we played.
Afternoiz: That’s a great experience!
Martijn: Yeah! Because fans are so important. Because of them we can do this and we are here. But we were really, really on edge there.
Afternoiz: Well, that’s understandable.
Martijn: Yeah, it was a very important show… the most important show… thus far.
Afternoiz: You’ll be releasing a DVD of the show. How far along is that?
Martijn: We will release this summer so actually it’s worked on right now. I was a little bit nervous because of course we are on tour right now and there’s almost nothing you can do. It’s a totally different animal being on tour than making an album or a DVD. But the plan is to finish it in June and then release it somewhere in August or September. That’s the plan, yeah.
Afternoiz: Is it just going to be the show or will there be extras thrown in?
Martijn: Extras as well. We’re going to do a lot of stuff on there.
Afternoiz: Any hints or do we have to wait?
Martijn: We’re working on a small documentary bonus thing and videos and that kind of stuff that we’re going to put on there as well. Just a collection of ten years of Delain.
Afternoiz: You have another special series of shows coming up at the end of the year, ‘Danse Macabre’. What can you tell us about that? Obviously, it’s heavily featuring Marco Hietala from Nightwish because he’s right there in the center of all of you on the posters.
Martijn: Yeah, together with us, you’re right. We got a lot of requests from fans asking if Marco could join us… also here in the states…but it’s difficult because he has his own schedule and to fly him over to the states, yeah that’s ridiculous and of course not possible. But he has a sabbatical year this year, so I called him and said hey, what about doing a couple of shows with us and make it kind of a mini tour and make it a special thing together. Because a combination of Marco and Delain is a unique combination so that’s when we made up this tour with six shows and we’re going to do special songs. It’s meant to be a very, very special mini tour. Both in production and in songs we play and of course having Marco on stage with us.
Afternoiz: I, unfortunately, am going to have to miss that tour…
Martijn: Oh… too bad!
Afternoiz: Yeah, I know!… It’s terrible!
Martijn: It will not be the last time we perform with Marco, so…
Afternoiz: What else do you have planned for 2017?
Martijn: We’re going to do a couple festivals. Last year, it was really rush hour when it came to festival season, but this year we’re speeding down a little bit in that regard because we have a new album to make but we will still do a couple festivals. We’ll do Summer Breeze which is a big one in Europe and we’ll do Greenfield, a big one in Switzerland, and a couple others. So, we will do some festivals, yeah.
Afternoiz: And you’re headlining the Female Metal Event in Eindhoven, right?
Martijn: Yes! FemMe Fest, exactly!
Afternoiz: … in September. Now that one I will be at!
Martijn: Ah! OK, good!
Afternoiz: You mentioned you’ll be working on Delain’s next album already this summer?
Martijn: Yeah. We have to because if we were to start working on it next year, then we’re talking 2019/2020 for a new release and that’s just too far away. So this is why we have to get into it because writing music and the other band members are getting more involved and we have to develop that. So yeah, working on new stuff!
Afternoiz: Does the writing process flow from one album to the next? Or do you take a mental break when one album is done?
Martijn: We take a mental break. I was feeling… (make hand motions)
Afternoiz: Wound up?
Martijn: Yeah, exactly! All the juice is out and you have to recharge again to write new music. So…
Afternoiz: Well sadly our time is coming to an end, but I’m really looking forward to seeing you onstage tonight. Do you have any final words for your fans?
Martijn: Yeah! Especially for the American ones here that we feel very supported. We’ve got a fan who is driving our bus, our Nightliner, Ken. And Chip, another fan, he helps us with storing our American equipment. American fans are so dedicated and it’s incredible!
Afternoiz: We gotta keep you coming back! (laughs)
Martijn: We will! We will for sure.