Chad Bowar: Why was this the right time for you to leave The Gathering and embark on a solo career?
Anneke van Giersbergen: That’s a good question. It just occurred to me that I wanted to make some changes in my musical life and in my personal life. I had been in The Gathering for 13 years and I was ready for something else. I came to that conclusion.
How did you decide on calling your new project Agua De Annique?
I wanted to have a band name that also had my name in it. Anneke’s Water appealed to me because water of course is a metaphor for the infinite and it’s my favorite element. So I used the Spanish word for water and another word for my name, making Agua De Annique.
Using Air as the album title fits, since it is also an element.
Yes, exactly. It all has to do with one another, it is all one big thing. I didn’t really think about it, it just came together. I’m pretty sure I should do something with fire and earth on the second album.
How would you describe the musical direction of Air?
Compared to The Gathering it is a bit lighter and more straightforward. I had a lot of songs lying around and I wrote many new songs as well. When I write, it’s very simple and I record it at home so I don’t forget. When we went into the studio I wanted to have that same atmosphere, so it is straightforward. We did some changes and reworked them and the guys in the band helped make it more airy and beautiful. All in all it is very spiritual, and the music is very poppy and rocky.
How did you find the guys in your new band?
Rob (Snijders) was easy. He’s the drummer and my husband. I really liked working with him. Joris (Dirks, guitars) and Jacques (de Haard, bass) were friends for a long time. The nice thing is that they are all in other bands and release their own music, which makes it an in between thing because they know band life and aren’t just hired musicians. If they can’t be at a certain show because they have something else with their other band it’s okay. It’s loose.
Do you plan on working with the same guys in the future, or will you bring in different musicians for each album?
Maybe. I like to think that it’s possible. What I like about the band now is that we are quite solid and it is nice to be around them. I like to think that everything is open for the next one.
What are your expectations for the album?
I have hopes, of course. Now we are in the eye of the storm. The whole production is behind us and now the album is coming out. Then people are going to buy it or come to the shows. It’s a weird time. It’s very exciting, but not a lot is happening. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s a nice place to be because we still have dreams and hopes, and then it’s back to reality and we’ll see how it is doing. But it feels very good and positive. For me I’m proud that I made this album. I’m very happy.
You’ll have the advantage of the existing The Gathering fans and you’ll be able to attract new ones as well.
That’s what I’m hoping for. I bring baggage with me, but I’m very happy and proud of it. In Holland I’m doing a lot of press that is pretty mainstream and a lot of stuff that I never did before. We hope and anticipate that a new type of audience will be drawn as well.
You have some live shows in Europe coming up. Will you be playing all Agua De Annique material, or will you also do The Gathering songs?
We do almost all of the songs on the album and do some covers and do a Gathering song.
Is there anywhere you haven’t played live that you would still like to go?
Yes, there are several places. The Gathering never went east to Japan and Australia or those places. I would like to go there.
Do you have any plans for a North American tour?
You can’t tell what is going to happen, but we are talking about coming to America to do some promo stuff and shows. I would love to play there again. We are talking about it, but nothing is planned yet. We are doing Greece in December. We’ll wait and see how the album does. We are trying to do some festivals as well. It’s amazing because you have larger crowds and sometimes mainstream crowds and a new audience to conquer. It is very lucrative if you play your cards right.
Have you done any live shows with the new band yet?
We did a couple gigs in Holland in a very small venue. They went pretty well. I had no idea how it was going to be because we only rehearsed three times. We did a good job.
Was it a strange experience to be on stage with a whole new group of guys after being in The Gathering for so long?
Yes, it was totally strange. It was a different sound and different atmosphere altogether. It was weird to look to my right and not see Rene (Rutten) there. I miss that and our time together and the guys, but I feel so fortunate and lucky and fresh and excited to be on stage with other guys. It’s mixed feelings.