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3rd June 2008
METAL DISCOVERY: You’ve played several live shows with Agua de Annique already, how have audiences been for you?
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN: Good! We play mainly Holland, of course. The Dutch crowd is usually the most difficult because they are looking at you; you are the girl next door, and people know you, and …we don’t have stars in Holland, so you have to kind of prove yourself, which is okay because we have really good audiences and it’s been really good. But we’ve also been to France now recently, and it’s a madhouse, and it’s great to play abroad. So I’m very happy, but I realise I have to build it up, and make another record which is really, really good, and better than this one, and so I’m eager to do that as well.
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(Anneke on the musical potential of her son)
"He likes to dance and sing, I think all children do, but I like to think that he is also in good pitch, and he knows rhythms, and he has something..."
Anneke performing on stage at the Melkweg, Amsterdam, 3rd June 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: Do you see lots of The Gathering t-shirts in the audience?
AVG: A lot, yeah, yeah. I think the audiences 90% consist out of people who already know me, so that’s why I have to maybe take a leap somewhere to another type of audience. Of course, we tried that with The Gathering as well - people really like to put you in the category, and people from other styles and genres, you cannot easily draw them into your world. That’s always been a challenge, and it is now as well, but you know, who knows, I’m looking forward to trying that as well.
MD: You got a couple of big gigs in there as well supporting Within Temptation and the Smashing Pumpkins - how was your music received by those crowds?
AVG: Nice, good, yeah. Of course the Within Temptation crowd partly knew us - we are from the same scene, and people really liked it, so it was good to introduce to this music, and we were really welcomed, and that’s great. And Smashing Pumpkins’ audience is a bit more mainstream, rock mainstream, and it was really nice. I didn’t know how they would react because people know me also from the mainstream audience, but they think the metal and rock scene is so different from what they’re listening to, but it’s not, it’s so broad, it’s a very broad scene. So they were looking like this, and after two songs they really liked, so we had to really kind of draw them to us. You know, it’s a different audience than we are used to.
MD: Do you find it easier now to strike a better life/work balance now playing in a band with your husband compared to The Gathering for touring and…
AVG: Yeah, it’s nice. First of all, it’s nice because we work together and we see each other all of the time so that’s fantastic! And it’s sometimes really good to play together because things are made easier but also sometimes it’s just, because we have a child together, so when we play together, we have to of course arrange that he can sleep somewhere. But we have two sets of grandparents, so we are blessed! Totally blessed! [laughs] So that saves our way of working. But we combine a lot with our child - when I play a lot, for instance on my own, or somewhere in afternoons or so, I take him along, and it’s kind of working out. It’s really nice.
MD: With such musically gifted parents, has your son shown any musical talent yet?
AVG: Yeah, I would like to think so! But maybe every parent says that! Of course everything’s available, like the piano, and drums, and…he likes all that stuff so…he’s drawn to it as well, so we don’t really sit him behind the piano. He likes to dance and sing, I think all children do, but I like to think that he is also in good pitch, and he knows rhythms, and he has something, but…
MD: Does he sing your songs?
AVG: Yeah, he does, kind of. But he’s three, so he makes up the lyrics and then….ahh, he’s so cute, it’s the best thing.
MD: You did an acoustic show in Tilburg at Little Devil with Danny Cavanagh at the start of the year playing Anathema songs, The Gathering songs, and other stuff. You’ve got more shows coming up in Scandinavia….
AVG: Next week.
MD: Is that collaboration something you’ve talked about doing for quite a while with Danny?
AVG: Yeah, it’s a typical thing, like you say with friends - oh, we have to go on a date; yeah we have to see each other - with this as well, we know each other for ten years. Kind of from the start we kind of clicked and we said yeah, we should do something together, and only now it came about. And it was quite successful, it was…
MD: I saw the footage on YouTube, and it was like, I wish I was there! I love Anathema, and The Gathering, and your voice, so it would’ve been a perfect gig!
AVG: That’s what we thought because the music, the styles and those two bands were really in a lot of people’s hearts, and I think we extract some things out of it and do…so yeah, because it was very small, it was kind of a big café, so 200 people, so really packed, so yeah, we enjoyed it so much that we do a lot more. We are busy with doing even more gigs at the end of the Summer as well.
MD: In which case, any plans to do any UK dates at all…..please?!
AVG: I don’t know. There should be.
MD: Please! He lives in the UK - there’s no excuse!
AVG: [laughs]
MD: There’s no excuse! You know, he can just book somewhere and you can come over! Please!
AVG: That’s true, that’s true! I’m not sure whether they were working on them, but they were working on some different countries so they have to include the UK.
MD: Yep.
AVG: I will tell them!
MD: Any plans to bring Agua de Annique over to the UK, or is it a matter of waiting for a promoter to contact you.
AVG: Yeah, kind of, kind of. We are letting everybody know that we can play, but of course we are not big enough to book a big tour with the tour bus and blah, blah, so we have to do kind of weekend shows. So we’re kind of in between those phases but we would love to play London. It’s good, you can do it when you make it an overnight thing.
MD: Like now!
AVG: Exactly [laughs]
MD: Does it surprise you that you’ve managed to sustain a large following from the metal community over the years despite you not having made a really heavy record in a long time? The last time I saw The Gathering play in 2007 in Amstelveen, half the people there were wearing Cradle of Filth t-shirts and whatever. Does that surprise you?….not just The Gathering but Anneke has a big metal following.
AVG: Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t surprise me because I think the metal scene is very big and broad, and I think well, you have Napalm Death and you have The Gathering, but it all links to kind of a dark feeling. In The Gathering there’s more hope and melody, and bands like Napalm Death it’s more seriousness, but it all links to…maybe even classical music, or dark music, or romantics, or melancholics…and it links to Depeche Mode, and it links to…you know, it’s all the same, it’s all the same thing…but I like melody, but there’s a lot of people who really love Cradle of Filth and like the melody of The Gathering, so I thought it was always very cool that we, as The Gathering, had such a different, varied crowd with really like neat students and the biggest metalheads with the spikes…I liked it, and also the Gothic girls, they really liked it with the big dresses on and…it’s funny.
MD: On the subject of metal, you sung on a Napalm Death song, ‘In Deference’, a couple of years ago, one of the more unlikely collaborations ever in the metal world. Were you surprised when you were approached by Napalm Death to do that?
AVG: I’m surprised by all of the reactions because I thought it was very logical…and I talked to Barney about it and he said he could just hear it - the music, and the spoken words, and the female voice. And I thought yeah, when you asked me, yeah, why not. And then we did it, and then all the reaction was like this is such a weird combination but like I said, it’s just one metal, it’s just combined, you know. But I like it, the record’s been out two years and still people ask us about it, and it’s really great.
MD: Sorry!
MD: More recently you’ve sung a beautiful duet with Fernando from Moonspell on ‘Scorpion Flower’. Have you been a fan of Moonspell before, or is that something you just did…
AVG: No, no worries!
AVG: …for the money! [laughs] No, no, we’ve been long time friends also, and actually the first tour we did with The Gathering was with Moonspell. And we were in the same category, and they’ve been growing bigger. I think ten years ago we started touring or even longer and yeah, we know each other for all this time; we were label mates as well. Yeah, and they asked me, and it’s wonderful, I didn’t really think about it.
MD: The video for ‘Scorpion Flower’ looks really good, and you had a very spectacular costume as well. Was that a fun video to do with the green screen filming?
AVG: Yeah, yeah, I never did that before in my life - the green screen thing and making a video which was so much in post-production with a computer, so I thought it was very entertaining! [laughs] And it turned out really good - I really like it, yeah. And it’s great to have the big thing on my head.
MD: Of course, yeah. Finally, what are your aims and aspirations for both Agua de Annique and life in general?
AVG: Well, I’m doing really all that I wish for. Also, when I left The Gathering, I had some kind of goals, but they were more from my heart; I didn’t really have set times and dates and people, and I just thought I should do this. And it’s all now kind of crystallising, and that’s working out fine, I’m really happy. And of course I want to grow with the band, and I want to make new records, and do nice and bigger shows, and work with all these people, and I’m just doing all that. I wish that my son, and my family stays healthy, and I make my music until I drop, or until I want to do something else. Yeah, that’s it.
MD: Cool. Thank you very much indeed for your time…
AVG: Thank you, thank you.
MD: …and your words of wisdom!
MD: No problem, I hope you enjoy it.
AVG: [laughs]…oh well! And thank you for the album!
Official Agua de Annique Website:
Official Agua de Annique MySpace:
Official Anneke Van Giersbergen MySpace:
Anneke's band recommendation - Lawn:
Air (2007)
Day After Yesterday (2007)
(Download Single)
Thanks to my ever supportive girlfriend, Hannah, for recording the interview.
A huge thanks to Anneke Van Giersbergen for taking time out to be interviewed (and for adding me to the guestlist for the 'Power of Plots' evening, even though I'd already bought a ticket!)