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Within Temptation Interview

A Conversation with Vocalist Sharon den Adel

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Within Temptation

Within Temptation

Roadrunner Records
Updated March 29, 2011
The latest CD from Within Temptation is a change of pace for the band, both musically and lyrically. The Unforgiving is based on a comic book created especially for the band, with the lyrics corresponding to the story in the comic book. Musically, Within Temptation's style of melodic and symphonic metal is intact, but they add some rock and pop influences as well. Vocalist Sharon den Adel explains how the album concept was developed, their tour plans (which were delayed until after she has a baby), her interests outside music and other topics.

Chad Bowar: You recently got a new drummer. How did you find him?
Sharon den Adel: Mike is someone who filled in before for Stephen. He's someone we've worked with and a friend, and we know what we're getting with him. He does a great job

You've had a relatively stable lineup over the years except for drummers. There has been a revolving door of new ones. How come?
It's a Spinal Tap kind of thing! (laughs) I don't know why we've had so many.

Your new album The Unforgiving is a concept album based on a comic book. Was it an existing story, or something written specifically for you?
It was specifically written for us. We helped develop it. The basic story came from Steven O'Connell, and we gave him some ideas of our own. We also worked with Romano Molenaar, who was the artist. He worked on the Wolverine comic in America.

How did the idea of the comic come about?
There were two main reasons we chose to do the comic. One was because we grew up with bands that did a lot of concept albums in the late '70s and '80s. Also because we grew up with comic books and liked them. The past five years a lot of movies based on comic books came out, and it reminded us how much we enjoyed them. This album brings back some of the musical influences of the '80s. We wanted to bring some of that back. Nowadays everything is about downloading and just one song.

Did basing the album on the comic book change the songwriting process?
The lyrics are based on the comic. It's a soundtrack to the story. But you really have to read the comic to understand the lyrics, and vice versa.

What is the timing of the release of the comics, and how many of them will there be?
There will be six comic parts coming out. It's one story, divided into six different parts. One will be released every two months. The prequel is available now on the website. The first comic will be published at the same time the album comes out. They will be downloadable and in paperback.

How would you describe the sound of the album?
With our previous album we had a concept in our minds how we wanted it to sound. After that album we felt we finalized our sound and couldn't do any better. We wanted to take a step in a new direction, explore a little bit again. We ended up getting inspired by bands from the '80s; not just metal bands like Iron Maiden, but pop bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their song “The Power Of Love” with the synthesizer sound from the '80s. We didn't do it in every song, though.

You worked with producer Daniel Gibson again. What is it about his style that's such a good fit for you?
He's become a friend. When you start with a new producer, it takes a long time to get to know each other. Why split up something that works? We're always on the same wavelength. We grow together toward a new sound each time, and really complement each other.

In addition to the comic books, you also filmed some short films to accompany the CD.
We felt like some of the backgrounds of the main characters in the comics weren't explained a lot, so we made some short movies. They give a bigger and clearer picture of the background of the characters.

With every album you've become more successful, garnering more fans and playing bigger venues. Does that increase your expectations for this album?
No, not really. Every time we have to prove ourselves again. You're only as good as your last album, that's how we see it. There's always a question if people will like it, because we always change a little bit, and if they will go along with the changes and understand what we're trying to do creatively.

You originally planned to tour in conjunction with the CD release, but you pushed it back for a very good reason.
Yes, you could say that. I'm pregnant, so we had to postpone the tour for a few months. But it gives us some time to prepare a better live show. Normally we are rushing to tour, but we can figure out how to do a really cool light show with screens showing the short movies and maybe work with 3D holograms and things like that.

You're doing one show in the US this spring. Will it be a regular show, or an acoustic type concert?
We haven't really thought about it yet, because it's still down the road a while. Everything's possible, but we'll give it our best. We want to give the fans everything we can.

Do you think you'll be adding more U.S. dates, or will it just be that one show?
It will be just the one show to promote the new album, but maybe we'll come back soon after with a full tour. For a bigger tour we'll have to wait until next year, because we're already booked for the full year.

How would you compare trying to break through and attract a fan base in Europe compared to North America?
It's difficult, for different reasons. North America is bigger, so getting where you go requires traveling a lot of miles. Everything in Europe is close by. That's one thing. Also the culture is different. You see that with radio stations. It's very divided in America. In Europe in certain regions, everybody listens to certain stations. In America everything is more scattered. And when it comes to heavier music, they aren't used to as many female voices on the radio. It's more male dominated.

We actually made two radio versions of our single. In Europe they are more orchestral oriented, and America is more guitar oriented. It's interesting to see the differences in different countries, how people experience music and what they like about your music. You can't please everybody, you can only be who you are.

What are some countries you haven't played live yet that you'd still like to get to?
Australia. We have a lot of requests to play there, but want to combine it with Japan or another country in that part of the world because it's so far away. So far we haven't made it, but hopefully on this album we can go there. It's always nice to travel to different countries.

Ever played a show in an unusual venue?
Yes. We played in Spain in a train station. That was pretty weird. We had to wait until after the trains stopped running to play, at about midnight. It was cool to play there, but it was difficult to get the sound right. It's not really designed for a band to play there, so we had a lot of things to deal with to get a good sound. We played in Germany in some old ruins in the middle of the forest near a river. It was very cool as well. It was a great view, and playing in nature was very impressive.

How involved are you in social media?
I post some messages on the internet. When we have something interesting to say we'll post it. We also talk about our hobbies. Robert likes racing and makes videos about that. The really personal things like the kids you don't get to see. Sometimes now with the social media, people post every little thing.

Which platform do you like the best?
Twitter, because it's very short and easy.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of music?
I have a lot of things I like. I'm getting more interested in racing. I also play tennis, which isn't as interesting.

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