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Gorefest Interview

A Conversation With Guitarist Frank Harthoorn




Candlelight Records
After breaking up in 1999, the Dutch death metal band Gorefest reunited in 2004 and released La Muerte a year later. They are back with a new album, Rise To Ruin. Guitarist Frank Harthoorn fills us in on Gorefest’s latest release, their tour plans, how the band has been getting along since the reunion and many other subjects.

Chad Bowar: Rise To Ruin has been out in Europe for a while. What has the response there been?
Frank Harthoorn: Excellent, really excellent. It seems people are starting to figure out there's actually some sense to the fact this band is writing songs again, so that's cool. Best ones are those people that begrudgingly have to admit they actually like some of our stuff. That just kills me. Or the reviewers that seem to think we want to be in some kind of competition with other bands, for some reason or another. Funny stuff.

What are your expectations for the U.S.?
I honestly have no idea. There are so many bands around, and of course the U.S. has their own share of great bands in this particular kind of music. It's hard to see this band getting the attention, let alone recognition, we obviously feel it deserves. I guess, for us, it's best to just let the music do most of the talking, and hope a few like-minded people pick it up and enjoy it.

How has the band’s sound evolved from La Muerte to Rise To Ruin?
As much as I love La Muerte, I do think it's a bit all over the place with ideas and directions. Part of that is that it was written by all of us. This time, realizing the other guys were writing better stuff than I was, I took myself out of the equation, and the whole album was written by Ed and Boudewijn, which led to a much more focused, cohesive set of songs.

The album is possibly your most diverse ever. Do you agree?
No, I don't. I think albums like La Muerte, Chapter 13 or even False are much more diverse. At the same time, lots of people have never understood that diversity, judging it as lack of direction, uncertainty, or just plain stupidity. A large portion of the metal community likes their albums pretty much straight up, not too much adventure or sidestepping. And while we usually ignored those mentioned criticisms, we do find there was something to be said for a bit more focus in songwriting, so we tried that out with Rise To Ruin. There's still stuff in there that you won't find with many other bands of our ilk, it's just a bit more restrained.

How did Jacob from Hatesphere’s guest appearance come about?
While all the music was recorded at Excess studios in Rotterdam, JC (de Koeijer) recorded his vocals at Tue Madsen's Antfarm in Denmark. Tue felt he could get a better performance out of JC that way, and judging by the result, he was right. He also thought some backup screams would sound good, and since Jacob lives just around the corner from Tue's, he was an easy target. It did help that Jacob likes our stuff as well, though.

What inspired the title Rise To Ruin?
Turn on the news, inform yourself in more ways than one of topics like consumerism, exploitation and corporate accountability, demographic developments, and do the math. It's pretty much all right there.

You had Tue Madsen mix the album again. What is it about his style that you like?
I guess it's his ability to make things sound really heavy and loud, yet at the same time huge and clear, with quite a bit of space. Mixing's really a job on its own, and I think Tue is really, really good at what he does. I'm just glad we still can afford the guy!

What are your upcoming tour plans?
Seeing we're probably not giving up our day jobs anytime soon, touring isn't as easy for us as it was in the ‘90s. We''ll be doing three weeks across Europe next month, some Russian dates in December, and more European dates in the weekends. We'd love to do more serious touring, but with things being the way they are at the moment, it's just not something any of us can afford right now.

Any chances of a U.S. tour?
I'd say those chances are pretty slim. Not that we wouldn't want to, but again, it's not something we could afford right now. We came over to the U.S. once, as support to Death back in '93, and had the time of our lives. But at this point in time we just have to stick to Europe, I'm afraid. I do see us doing a week's worth of U.S. shows one way or another, but that's hardly a tour.

The band was apart for about 6 years. What is different this time as far as member relations, attitude, etc. since you’ve reunited?
Being apart from each other for six years gives you a completely different perspective on things. I mean, to the outside world, we're just one of a couple of hundred bands doing their thing. To us, however, this band was our lives, more or less. That has changed. We all have our jobs and our own lives beside the band, so that takes a lot of pressure off. It also helps we all like to write and play the same kind of music with this band again, the kind of stuff we started out with still suits us best, I think. We do still have our disagreements, but that's just part of being in band together. Some friction in a band is a good thing, I think.

What do you think is the most underrated/underappreciated Gorefest album?
Chapter 13, without a doubt. I've just finished writing the liner notes to the upcoming limited vinyl version of that one, and again it struck me how much I love that album. I think it's a very misunderstood album, which was never really given a chance. But you know, even Soul Survivor, for which we got the most flak when we released it, seems to be turning into something of a cult album among a select audience, so I hope Chapter 13 someday will find the same, or something like that at the very least.

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