Disquiet – Spirited Metal CondemnationSaturday, 9th January 2016
As you’ll learn in this interview, the Dutch metal scene has been making waves for a lot of its symphonic output- but lest ardent followers forget it’s fervent appeal for heavier sub-genres in the thrash/death mold as well. Names like Pestilence, Gorefest, God Dethroned, and Textures are very familiar to most Dead Rhetoric readers – plus renowned venues and festivals associated with the Dynamo moniker. If you are seeking to add another newer band to the mix and melodic thrash with slightly heavier nuances fits the bill, Disquiet should be in your aural scope.
Starting off 2016 with their new release The Condemnation, strong guitar playing and a crushing overall sonic outlook carries the weight of these tracks to heights of Arch Enemy and Testament domination. Seeking to learn more about this Dutch quintet, firing off questions via internet means seemed more than feasible – and drummer Arthur Stam is happy to inform the readership about the new record, the complications which led to a lineup change shortly after recording said effort, and the double edge sword that is social media and instant communication technology for bands these days.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your early memories surrounding music growing up – as far as favorite albums, bands, and how you made the progression up from being a music to metal follower and then picking up an instrument to perform your own music?
Arthur Stam: I started playing drums back in 1991 when I was 9 years old. But it took me five years until 1996 to discover metal. Sepultura played Pinkpop festival that year which was broadcasted live on national television. When I saw the brutality of Sepultura performing the Roots album, I was completely blown away. This was my official first step in the world of metal.
Dead Rhetoric: Disquiet began in 2000, recording two demos Above the Law and The Plague while taking a significant break before reestablishing yourselves in 2008. What events took place to cause this prolonged absence, and did the band decide to shift gears musically for Hate Incarnate?
Stam: Well this is a complicated story but the essence lies in the fact that a lot of lineup changes kept us from moving on. So 2008 can be seen as a rebirth and reestablishing. We made the right decision to work with Tommie Bonajo as a producer. He gave us the sound we needed and that’s why we still work with him. Hate Incarnate was a three song promo which took us back on track again.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album Scars of Undying Grief came out in the fall of 2011. How much did this elevate Disquiet in terms of your career, and were you hoping to put this release out on a record label or did you mind going the independent, self-release route again?
Stam: Our debut album was very well received by the (international) press. It opened new doors. We played Wacken Open Air 2012 for instance which was an amazing experience. The Condemnation will be released by Soulseller Records and this opens new doors again. Distribution and promotion is a lot easier with a label.
Dead Rhetoric: Five years have passed to this latest record The Condemnation. You’ve gained a label deal with Soulseller Records plus added a new bassist with Frank van Boven. What circumstances took place for Koen Romejin to leave – was it due to his workload with Apophys increasing? And was it a difficult process to find a new bass player?
Stam: It became too complicated for Koen to combine Disquiet with Apophys which were signed to Metal Blade around that time. Besides that Koen was also asked to join Heidevolk. We had to decide to part ways. Luckily we already worked with Frank van Boven who replaced Koen a couple of shows. Frank fits perfect in the band, so there were no doubts to take him as a permanent member.
Dead Rhetoric: Does the band prefer a quality versus quantity approach when it comes to each release – even if there is significant time between efforts? Or is it a case of life circumstances that need to be balanced against your music output?
Stam: We start recording an album when we’re ready. No deadlines or other pressure. It’s done when it’s done. We pay a lot of attention to the composition, breaks, solos. It has to be perfect. Some songs took a lot of effort to get it together. We had plenty of good riffs, but you can compare it to cooking; Good ingredients don’t always make a good meal. You have to make choices to get everything in balance.
Dead Rhetoric: Your new album has a crushing overall sonic quality to it – especially in terms of the guitars, bass, and drums coming together as one, while also being very melodic and textured for the songwriting. Was there a particular game plan regarding the songwriting and performances, and how do you feel about the recording, production, and overall end product?
Stam: The main plan is always to give each instrument its own place in the music. It has to be heavy as hell, but also clear as crystal. A modern metal sound so called. We recorded the whole CD ourselves. We did the guitars and drums at home and in our rehearsal room. Vocal recordings we did with Jorrian Piek at R3 studio. After having everything recorded we sent this whole package to Tommie Bonajo at Tomster Project, who did the mixing and mastering. We’re very proud of the end product. We wanted the guitars a little heavier and dirtier than our debut album. It sounds immense!
Dead Rhetoric: Acts like Testament, Arch Enemy, and even some modern influences are a part of the Disquiet sound. Do you feel this helps differentiate the band from others because of your ability to synthesize a number of sub-genres from thrash to melodic death and power while not necessarily diluting or diminishing your sound for commercial gain?
Stam: We write the music we like and of course we’re influenced by melodic thrash and death metal bands. We mix a lot of styles to the Disquiet sound, which is always melodic and rhythmic. Every song includes a solo, so that’s also a selling point so to say. With the vocals we go from grunts to clean vocals and everything in between. We try to avoid dull moments in our music when we’re in the whole songwriting process.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the Dutch metal scene currently? Do you have any particular favorites as far as bands, live venues, festivals, or media outlets that you would like to inform our readers about?
Stam: The Netherlands are famous for the female fronted scene (Epica, Delain, Within Temptation) but we feel more associated with Dutch bands like Textures, God Dethroned, Gorefest (R.I.P.) and upcoming names like Spartan, Variscythe, Undawn, From Earth, Seita, Ichaos, For I Am King, Apophys and more. There is a lot of talent in The Netherlands but a lack of support by the Dutch government to invest more in culture. So the venues cannot take too many risks to book new bands and the audience has too many choices. You can see a big international metal act every week at less than a one-hour drive from your house. That makes it difficult to survive and a lot of talented bands quit the last few years for this reason.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve had the opportunity to play on many European metal festivals as well as do shows in South America – how were these shows in your eyes and what do you feel Disquiet offers in a live environment compared to your studio records? Do you get the chance to hang out and meet some of your metal heroes and network as well?
Stam: These experiences were amazing! It’s no daily routine to play with bands like Arch Enemy and Annihilator and have a chat with them one minute before they get on stage. The international shows are the ones you’ll never forget. So we always try to do our very best and play as well as possible.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on instant communication and social media for the band and how you view this on a personal basis? Is it a double edge sword in a sense because fans want to be in touch consistently with easier access to musicians, while some of the mystery when it comes to bands, activities, and releases are now gone?
Stam: You have two sides. One side is the fact that you have easier access to your fans but the other side is that every band has that same access. There is simply too much choice. When I started listening to metal in the 90’s , you had to focus on the big media like MTV’s Headbangers Ball, Wet & Wild (TMF) and you had to read magazines like Aardschok and Metal Hammer. That was it and only quality made it to these media outlets. Nowadays there are too many sites, bands, video clips, blogs etc. etc. That makes it difficult to stand out.
Dead Rhetoric: How have you adapted to the digital music consumption model – or do you still enjoy the physical experience with vinyl and CD’s? What are some of your go to albums that you use as fuel for fire or creative inspiration?
Stam: I have to be honest, the last CD I bought is maybe 7-8 years ago. I remember the music felt more worthwhile when you listened to it on CD compared to mp3 or a tape. But times are changing and only the huge names like Adele and Coldplay are able to neglect Spotify. There are already bands who only do a digital release. So if you do a physical release, you have to offer a product worth the (already low) price. That’s what we did. We made a three-piece digipack with great artwork by Kevin Storm, so please order it!
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have the support of friends, family, and your day job when it comes to your musical efforts? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding the music business over the years?
Stam: Our families and friends support the band, but it’s a fact that metal is a difficult genre to explain to people. The best advice we gave ourselves is that we don’t have to or want to explain what we do. We do this because we love this music and if you like our music, great! If you don’t, no problem. There are more things in life.
Dead Rhetoric: What fears or concern do you have about the world that we live in today?
Stam: Lyrically the main topic is the evil we face on the news every day. Far away or close by with for instance the Paris attacks. The album is about the belief that all evil will fall in the end. Terrorists, dictators, racists etc. represent the dark sides of this world we live in. A huge inspiration for an aggressive lyrical explosion!
Dead Rhetoric: Who are some of the drummers that have made the deepest impression upon your views of playing through the years? And where do you stand on intricacy versus steady groove elements in Disquiet’s work?
Stam: I started with Igor Cavalera (Sepultura) and Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) as one of my first influences playing metal. Through the years my musical preference developed to more technical/heavier bands like Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Dimmu Borgir, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage. For instance Justin Foley from KSE is a drummer I can identify myself with. This guy always plays in charge of the music. Steady, practical, and with a great groove. That’s the way I like to approach our music. We’re mainly a guitar orientated band, so I try to do my part as useful as possible.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the next 12 months playing out as far as Disquiet activities for shows, tours, festivals, videos, or additional product?
Stam: We launch the CD January 29th in Utrecht, The Netherlands with a big party. In February we’ll do a short UK tour and after that we’ll play a lot of shows in The Netherlands. We hope the CD will bring in a lot of cool shows/festival/tours etc. We look forward to 2016!