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30th September 2010
Progressive symphonic metallers Stream of Passion burst onto the scene back in 2005 with their warmly received debut album 'Embrace the Storm'. Originally conceived by the prolific Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon fame as another side project in his ever expanding array of musical ventures, the band was also notable for showcasing the stunning vocal and violin talents of Mexican musician and Stream of Passion's co-founder Marcela Bovio. 2007 saw Lucassen quit the band to focus on other pursuits in his disparate canon of work and it was 2009 before the Dutch/Mexican ensemble returned to the public eye with new personnel and a deal with Napalm Records which saw the release of sophomore album, 'The Flame Within', an impressive collection of tunes rich with all the melodious grandeur for which they had become associated after their debut offering. Marcela and new keyboardist Jeffrey Revet spent a short while chatting to Metal Discovery before their "request the setlist" show in Amstelveen's P60 venue over in the Netherlands at the end of September...
METAL DISCOVERY: Tonight’s been billed as a “request the setlist” show…
(Marcela Bovio on being groomed by Arjen Lucassen in preparation for his anticipated departure from the band)
"Arjen gave me a lot of responsibility for the songwriting process for the first album...He always pushed me to the front; I did all the interviews and basically, also, made a few decisions here and there. He made it clear that he wanted to make it as much about me as possible so when the time came for him to leave…"
Jeffrey Revet & Marcela Bovio in the P60 Café, Amstelveen, 30th September 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: Have people requested the songs you thought they would do?
MB: Yeah. We came up with the idea and thought it would be nice to give them a chance to tell us what they wanted to hear. We got quite a few requests online. We haven’t got time to play them all because there were a lot of different songs!
MD: I looked on the forum and people seemed to be putting forward whole setlists. I thought that’s a bit greedy!
MB: Yeah! [laughs] It’s very nice, though, to get such input and we like to make fans participate.
MD: Doing a “request the setlist” show, do you have to rehearse all the songs in your repertoire or is it easy for you to slip into playing whatever whenever?
MB: Well, it wasn’t all that difficult because we know most of the songs already and have played them. There were just a couple of songs where we were like “heeeey, that we haven’t rehearsed in a while”, but then we just played them a couple of times and the guys are great so it’s not difficult at all.
MD: It must be difficult rehearsing if you all live in different parts of Holland.
MB: Yeah, that’s also quite a lot of driving. We don’t rehearse all that often so we make just a few appointments when we all get together, and everyone will rehearse at home and, again, they’re great musicians so it goes really well.
MD: You had the “Eat and Greet” competition running for the show tonight as well. Who came up with that idea, and the name “Eat and Greet”?
MB: Oh, that actually came first, I think, from P60, from the venue. But that was brilliant, you know. It’s also a very nice way to share a little moment with the fans.
MD: Yeah, and it’s a good play on words “Eat and Greet” but I thought I’d actually coined that phrase when I interviewed Rich Ward from Fozzy in March this year. They were thinking of doing some sort of “Dinner with Fozzy” at some UK dates and a “Meet and Greet” with the fans, so I said it’d be more like an “Eat and Greet”…
MB: [laughs]
MD: He said “ohhhh, I love that, I have to steal that”. Then I saw you had the “Eat and Greet” and thought – “they’ve stolen my idea!”
MB: [laughs] That’s funny!
MD: I Googled it after the interview and no-one’s done that before!
MB: You should interrogate a few people here! [laughs]
MD: Do you think it’s important to keep that sort of close contact with your fans rather than with some bands who like to maintain more of a distance?
MB: I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of the guys but I really like to have that feedback and close contact with people. You immediately know how the show went and how they’re feeling. If we have the opportunity to do it, we do it. It’s nice.
MD: [To Jeffrey] How about yourself?
JEFFREY REVET: Yeah, we also try to go into the venue after the show and have the meet and greet to talk to people.
MD: It seems to be more of a Dutch thing than an English thing actually.
MB: Really?
MD: Yeah, definitely, I’ve noticed more bands do that in Holland. Anneke van Giersbergen said to me a couple of years ago that there’s no superstars in Holland and no massive idolising of bands as such. Is that the same in your experience?
MB: Well, I couldn’t really say. I’ve been living here two years and, so far, I do have the idea that it’s a little bit more laid-back and because the contact’s a little bit more close, there’s not the idolising thing. I kind of like it. It always brings a really good atmosphere with the people and with the band.
MD: When you’ve played in other countries, do you find there’s more of an idolising culture than in Holland?
MB: Well, we had one really crazy experience in Belgium at the Metal Female Voices Festival last year, and that was just a place where people from all over Europe and even outside of Europe come to see bands of the genre. There was a full venue, like…
JR: ...four thousand people.
MB: Yeah, four thousand people and they were all screaming and going crazy, so we were like “wow!” Then we had the signing session and there was a line of…I don’t know how many people…but they were all so excited, so like “woah!”
MD: So a very different experience than playing in Holland.
MB: Yeah.
MD: You made a comeback of sorts last year with the new album, ‘The Flame Within’…is that a good word to use – “comeback”?
MB: Yeah, I think it qualifies as that! [laughs]
MD: Obviously you have new band members now too, but was there ever any talks that Arjen might do another album?
MB: In the beginning, it wasn’t even supposed to be a tour after the album. There was just the build up and build up and then we had the chance to play big festivals, and then we had the chance to tour again. So pretty much from the beginning we knew that Arjen would go on and do something else because of the kind of musical nomad that he is! We knew it was going to happen; we just didn’t know when it was going to happen. When, finally, it did we knew that we had such a great time exploring so many beautiful things that we just had to go on. That’s how the whole journey started.
MD: It’s kind of like his baby…he gave birth to Stream of Passion then kind of abandoned it and you adopted Stream of Passion!
MB: [laughs] Well, I would more put it like it was a child of us both! [laughs] Then I was left a single mum…no, I’m kidding! [laughs] Since the beginning, Arjen gave me a lot of responsibility for the songwriting process for the first album. We started with very basic ideas that he would write, then he gave me all the freedom to do whatever I wanted with the songs. He always pushed me to the front; I did all the interviews and basically, also, made a few decisions here and there. He made it clear that he wanted to make it as much about me as possible so when the time came for him to leave…
MD: He knew he was going to abandon his child!
MB: [laughs]
MD: I’ve read you describe the album as having a live band feel compared to the first album – were the songs composed with the live performance in mind?
MB: Yeah, definitely. On the first album we had a lot of ballads and a lot of soft pieces, and when we started playing live we figured that what we like is that energy, you know, the drive that we have when we go on stage. So that’s why we wrote the songs like that.
MD: I think with the production as well you seem to capture that because the drum sound particularly is very live sounding. Particularly the snare I noticed is a very live snare sound rather than an overproduced, kind of Pro Tools, manipulated drum sound.
MB: Yeah.
MD: ‘Embrace the Storm’ is perhaps more progressive that ‘The Flame Within’ which has a more prominent symphonic metal influence…is that something you’d agree with?
MB: I don’t know. I hear the same kind of progressive elements and symphonic elements in the two albums. Maybe what ‘Embrace the Storm’ had was a little bit more contrast between very soft parts and heavy parts. But yeah, I hear those two things in both albums.
MD: [To Jeffrey] What do you think?
JR: [laughs]…Well, I think ‘The Flame Within’ was written a little bit more as a band, with new band members, so there are some influences from all of us. We all have a very different background musically so, yeah, I think there are some more symphonic elements but, on the other hand, Marcela had a big part in the songwriting for the first album and that still makes it Stream of Passion. So I agree with Marcela that most of those elements are still there. It’s still Stream of Passion.
MD: So you mentioned there that all band members have different influences, what are the extremes of those?
MB: Well, I think the guys, when they take my iPod and they put it on shuffle for instance they get something like experimental jazz, and then some Slipknot, and then some New Age, and opera. Jeff is more into symphonic stuff and the classics, the 70s. Then you have Eric who is more into the dark, The Cult, Depeche Mode and that kind of stuff. Steve has got like a whole…
JR: Nu-metal…
MB: And Dillinger Escape Plan. Martijn used to be a lot into black metal. So it’s all different kind of things. We’re not gonna try to make a mix of everything because everything’s gonna go bananas! It’s nice to have those flavours.