Just a week after the release-party Heidevolk stood at Into the Forest part II in the Baroeg, Rotterdam. The supportacts gave away a good show, but it was nothing compared to the fabulous show of Heidevolk. Folk-metal.nl spoke with Raemon and Rowan after the show.
3rd March the new album ‘Batavi’ was released. Compared to the previous albums it’s a lot heavier and less folk. ‘We always worked with a rock producer and despite of the fact this lead to good albums, we we’re in for something heavier’. We met in a pub in Arnhem (Café de Beugel, Arnhem, red.) and brainstormed about this. We had already wrote some quit aggressive tracks, but what should we do with it?
‘We wanted more metal and it works when you’re working with a capable metal-producer. We ended up with Peter Tägtgren. Peter has already produced a lot of nice metal-albums. He’s the one who managed to put the aggression in the record and gave the dark touch to Batavi.’
Last year I spoke to Jon of Kampfar at their CD-release. They had also chosen to work with Peter Tägtgren and they were raven about him. Did this influence you choice?
‘It sure did. The drummer of Kampfar lived in the Netherlands and we have a lot of contact with him and the rest of the band. It was also due to them, we ended up with Peter.’
Another big difference with the previous albums is the fact Batavi is an concept album. Why a concept album and why the Batavians?
‘The Batavians were very interesting people and on top of this, there is a lot of knowledge of them, in contrast to other people. We had a few songs already, but they didn’t cover the whole story. When we decided to write the whole album about the Batavians we got the work on. There was so much more to tell! Everything in the lyrics is historical correct. Fortunately there was some space for our own inspiration and we got to work out our own feelings in it. Because it’s not our purpose to write a history book.’
Batavi is a big step forward for Heidevolk. Is it also to you personally an improvement?
‘Sure, we don’t want to brag about it, but we’re really proud of Batavi. We were glad with our previous albums, but there we always noticed things we could have done better. I can listen to Batavi again and again and still feel satisfied about it. One of the first thing we said to each other was: it doesn’t matter what the reviews say, we’re proud of it!’
Are there besides Peter other people deserving credits for their contribution to Batavi?
‘Nico. The drums are recorded at Peters’, but all the other instruments are recorded in a small room in Nijmegen at Nicos’. And on top of this Black Lounge Studios and Jonas Kjellgren.
This fabulous guy really made this album what it is now and together with Peter he forms a very good duo. All in all we made them really crazy. We gave a lot of input and wanted to alter small things on a regular basis. They did this time and time again, because they could live with it when it felt wrong in the end.’
There was a big change in Heidevolk, guitar-player Sebas decided to leave the band. Kevin became the new guitar-player, which he does very well by the way.
In which things are you going to miss Sebas?
‘To Sebas Heidevolk was a very nice thing to do, but it’s a closed book now. We didn’t part fighting at all. Sebas announced he wanted to leave the band but it was his wish to finish the album first. During the recordings we had introduced Kevin already, and this felt right immediately. Kevin was a member of Thronar in the past and we knew he was guitar-virtuoso. Sebas was ready to do other things. The last thing he did was playing at the CD-presentation in Arnhem.’
What’s it like for Kevin to play in Heidevolk at once?
‘This is where it’s all about, I’m glad it turned out this way and I’m also glad they’re happy with me.’
‘Kevin kicks on gigs just like us and that’s what was missing a little bit with Sebas. He’s a very fine songwriter, but it seemed if performing live was not really something he desired to do.’
In Arnhem you played the Batavi songs for the first time live in front of an audience, nervous?
‘Sure, we were nervous, it’s the first time you play the songs live and you’re very curious about the opinion of the fans about it. The last album was unfortunately leaked on the internet, but this time we prevented this. This could be noticed well, because of a lot of people waited for the songs really to end before they began to clap and cheer.’
‘Previous to this there were some people in the audience who could sing along, but they deserved a kick in the ass, because this meant they had downloaded the CD.’ (or were enthusiast reviewers, who got to listen to the CD before the release. Red.)
‘We also had flame-throwers and a slide screen in the back of the stage, which made the show awesome. Here in Rotterdam we were a lot less nervous and just did a nice show.’
‘What was striking, was the fact, all folk related magazines said it was a pity there were no real sing-alongs on the album, where the general magazines were glad they could listen to folk-metal for once.’
Do you try to put a message though to the listener with Batavi?
‘No, there’s not really a message or a deeper thought behind it. We’re trying to take the listener along in a beautiful story or an interesting piece of history of which the most of the people don’t know a lot about. We have our sources and we’re creating an image of it, but there’s is also room for the listener to fill it in with their own interpretation.’
In your songs you’ll always give a beautiful description of Gelderland. And also in the project with Arkona, Na Moey Zemle, you give a desciption of the Netherland in very beautiful words. Of which are you more proud? Being Dutch or being a resident of Gelderland?
‘I don’t want to choose between these two. The people of Gelderland are very relaxed and ‘down to earth’, I’m always feeling very comfortable in Gelderland. Kevin is from Groningen an the people there are even more ‘down to earth’.’ ‘I’m proud of where I live, proud of the things I experience and what I create. You don’t have t feel proud of what people doing in your area, but it certainly gives you a special kind of feeling.’
‘In the project of Arkona there were a number of bands invited to describe the land in which they grew up in their own language. It has become a very nice song.’
Are you going to do songs in the old Dutch language?
‘We tried this a couple of times and in some songs there’s some Old-Dutch. But we are also people of here and now and we don’t want to do all kind of spastic movements to create something. But never say never!’
In you announcement on facebook about Paganfest we could read: ‘Bringing the pagan back to paganfest.’ Did you think the rest of the line-up wasn’t pagan enough?
‘No. Well there wasn’t a really serious thought behind this message, but with a name like Paganfest you expect paganmetal, musically and in the lyrics. And in previous editions this wasn’t really so. This time it’s a lot better with real good bands.’
Thanks for this interview! Do you want to say something to the readers?
‘That’s always a hard question. I tried it with the CD and our music. I hope a lot of people get to listen to our CD, and also form outside the folk-metal, because this CD is a lot more metal.
And of courses: Thanks!’