Our friends in Heidevolk have released another amazing album in 2018 following my favorite album of 2015 in “Velua”. With a solidified lineup now, the Dutch horde unleashed “Vuur Van Verzet” featuring a bevy of new sounds and some of the familiar classic Heideviolk as well. Bassist extraordinaire Rowan Roodbaert answered some questions for us regarding the album , the lineup, the tour and a few other things… check it out…
Congrats on your epic new album ‘Vuur Van Verzet’… how has the response been so far to it?
“Thank you so much. The response has been nothing short of amazing so far. I feel we made a very successful effort to follow up on ‘Velua’ and make it a new experience that will grab the listener. The feedback from fans and the reviews have been amazing and the first live shows the songs have been more than well received.”
This is another concept album for you… how did the idea come about to do another concept album and could you give a brief explanation of the storyline?
“It is indeed another concept album though “concept” can be interpreted loosely. It is not a storyline nor one specific topic. The album consists of different themes that are connected and written into historical perspective. Themes like the uprising of Germanic tribes against the weakened Roman Empire, the great migration where tribes search for a belonging and the ecstatic rage warriors feel while they are in battle. All of these themes form the concept of ‘Vuur van Verzet’.”
How does the songwriting differ if at all when you are doing a concept album? Is there more direction in terms of what will work and what won’t?
“Well, to start off there are certain themes and feelings to convey but you want the historical perspective, so this involves a lot of research to find the right story or string of stories. But also, the other way around, sometimes story just grabs you and won’t let go. Then you dive into this story and find out the details. The composing goes hand in hand with the stories, so the music is tailored to theme.”
Did you have more songs written for the album that didn’t work for one reason or another as part of the final product?
“When have a creative spurt I write a raw version of a song at least every Friday which is my day off from my day job. Later on I decide what works and fits the theme and what not. But the songs we take for the album will all appear on the album. Failure is not an option haha.”
The lineup has gone through some changes over the last few years… did the solidified lineup make for a different experience in the songwriting and recording process?
“It did. Though in 2015 we made the decision that I would write the album as we had worked with three new session members. This was a personal challenge. I did write the major part of ‘Velua’ but I never wrote a whole Heidevolk album. Luckily when the songs were finished we could announce the session members as long-term members and we could start the preproduction as a band. This meant that every musician joined me in my home studio to work on their own parts. And this is where you’ll hear the influence of the new members, their skills and specific timings. It gives a breath of fresh air. “
“…dreamed up in English, written in English and translated in Dutch afterwards…”
There seemed to have been a decent amount of “experimentation” on the new album, were there some new things you wanted to try and this was the time to do them? (Specifically, tracks like “Yngwaz Zonen” are different from other tracks in the catalog)
“Haha I like the term “experimentation”. Actually, it is a classic Heidevolk formula to have the variation between metal, acoustic, a cappella and instrumental. We did add some new elements though. To work with a choir has been a personal wish since I started writing music. When we came into contact with the Brabant choir they had 24 male singers listed in no time. This was an amazing experience. Then to voice the archaic we’ve used several Folk instruments like a Celtic Harp, Bouzouki, Nyckelharpa and some archaic drums. And again, we used the string quartet that was also present on ‘Velua’ although this time we integrated it more into the music and I made it part of the basic writing process. So, although the album is classic groove, vocal and guitar driven the extra elements give it a new depth and more feeling. Though it is, like everything in Heidevolk, evolution instead of revolution. There are no crazy experimentations, just deepening of the songs.”
You have also done another track in English here (“A Wolf In My Heart”), why this specific track as opposed to others on the album? What is your comfort level of singing and writing tracks in English? Do you think that singing in Dutch lends more authenticity to the tracks?
“That is three questions haha. The story about “A Wolf in My Heart” is based on Offa of Angel and since the Angles are the namesakes of England (Angelen Land) I used the English language. The song however was also recorded in Dutch and added as a bonus track. What can I say, we are Heidevolk haha. Then as far as comfort goes, we are Dutch and we use a lot of English in our daily lives. This song was dreamed up in English, written in English and translated in Dutch afterwards. Of course, it is unique that we sing in Dutch, a side step in English though is also a nice and fresh thing to do. And hey, now you have a song in English and Dutch, I call that a codex haha.”
“We have always integrated acoustic songs since we started off as band that would dream up songs around campfires”
“The Alliance” feature the vocal talents of one of my favs in AA Nemtheanga from Primordial, how did his involvement come about? Were the parts of the track written with him specifically in mind?
“It is exactly like you say it. I was writing the Alliance and could not hear anything else in my head than the characteristic vocals of Alan. We know him for quite some time now and did several tours together, it was great to have him on board. One of the more important elements of this album really.”
From Old Ground
Our mutual friend Olivia Willard put together an epic documentary on you guys with “From Old Ground”, how was that whole experience working with her? Is it surreal that someone made a documentary about you?
“When her question to do this documentary came in we thought about it for a while. Heidevolk was transformed during the last few years and we barely had the time to reflect ourselves. But we liked her idea and the fact that she was adamant to make this a nice picture. During the time she was here we were demoing some of the first songs from “Vuur van Verzet” so she had some snapshots of what would be the new album. The experience though to dig into Heidevolk and find the very core and cause of our existence was an eyeopener. It did a lot to us, behind the screens as well as on camera. So, while making a nice picture she unknowingly helped us reflect a lot.”
What are the future touring plans to support the album?
“Well, first off, we are on tour in Europe now then we have the summer festivals. Next two years we’ll cover North America, South America, the parts of Europe we didn’t visit on this tour like the UK and Poland and we’re looking into Russia and Asia. We also need to do the special show we always do in Arnhem when we release a new album. Big plans, we’re covered until 2020.”
There are some videos floating around of Heidevolk doing acoustic, any thoughts on this being a possibility for a future release? Pros and cons for you?
“This is definitely a field on interest for Heidevolk. We have always integrated acoustic songs into our since we started off as band that would dream up songs around campfires. There is also an acoustic song added as a bonus track on ‘Vuur van Verzet’.”
Any favorite music from 2017 or any albums in 2018 you are looking forward to?
“I must admit I have not been actual with new releases for a while now. I’m focusing on Folk music, some classical parts and the catalog I gathered throughout the years. Streaming services however offer. A good opportunity to dive into new music so I’ll be doing this soon.”
You are on tour with some amazing folk acts… care to tell how the tour is going?
“Yeah, it is a nice line up. Some people call it Paganfest anno 2018. There are some similarities, the crowds are as a big as they were in 2010 and the reaction is absolutely incredible. I think for a visitor that saw these acts in the early days it is quite interesting to see how they’ve evolved and are still around these days. As part of the tour it is interesting to see how the backstage and tour bus have been transformed from partying areas to more serious hang outs. It is not that we don’t party anymore, but the bands have become more focused and prepared for their performance. This is something you definitely need in the music industry nowadays. It will be interesting how a tour like this will be in say, about 8 years.”
“Yes, firstly: thank you for this interview. Secondly, find ‘Vuur van Verzet’ on streaming media services like Spotify or Apple music or buy a copy at your local record store. Give it a spin, try to find essence of the story and let us know what you think on Facebook or Instagram.”