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28th February 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Hi Ed. Hope all is well with you. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. ‘Lacrima Mortis’ is a great album. Are you happy with how it turned out?
ED: Absolutely! I am my own most savage critic so there’s always things I’d like to change but those are rather minimal this time. The reviews have been great as well so I can’t complain.
(Ed Warby on the personal and cathartic nature of The 11th Hour)
"...it feels very naked and almost exhibitionistic but it does help me to deal with some very painful things that I locked as far away in my mind as I possibly could."
Interview by Jason Guest
Official The 11th Hour MySpace:
Burden of Grief (2009)
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
Prolific Dutch drummer Ed Warby is well known within the metal scene for exercising his percussive talents in Gorefest, on just about every one of Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon albums and, in more recent years, Hail of Bullets. However, the man is something of a multi-instrumentalist as evidenced back in 2009 when Napalm Records released his autonomously crafted doom effort under The 11th Hour moniker, titled 'Burden Of Grief'. Three years on and Ed has just unleashed a second album under said name, 'Lacrima Mortis', so Metal Discovery posed some questions to the talented Dutchman to find out more about this personal project of his...
The 11th Hour/Ed Warby - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2011 Hannah Anthonysz
Official The 11th Hour Facebook:
Lacrima Mortis (2012)
MD: When did you start writing for the album? Is it all new material or are their parts that were left over from ‘Burden Of Grief’?
ED: It’s all new material. I started, or rather kept writing, after ‘Burden Of Grief’ was released so the songs were composed over the course of a year and a half. Because I never really stopped writing the style hasn’t changed drastically yet there’s a very natural evolvement.
MD: Having already made a powerful and very moving album with ‘Burden Of Grief’, what was it that you wanted to achieve with ‘Lacrima Mortis’? Did you find it a challenge to push beyond what you’d already accomplished?
ED: Every new album is a challenge, I’m constantly striving to better myself and this is even more the case with The 11th Hour since it’s all “me”. I’m still very pleased with ‘Burden Of Grief’ but there were certain areas I felt it could be improved upon. When I work on an album the only relevant criterion is my own taste/opinion, the goal I set myself was to make a better album than the debut and because I had a very clear idea what I wanted to improve upon (vocals, arrangements, guitar solos) I think I did a pretty decent job.
MD: As you’re in control of the band’s direction and writing, is it more of a challenge to make all of the creative decisions yourself or do you prefer it compared to working as part of a collective?
ED: It’s a huge responsibility to make every decision on your own but I must say I like it a lot. I’m not very good at compromise so I can be quite dominant in a band situation. Fortunately I work with people that trust my judgment but it’s very liberating to be as antisocial and stubborn as I want without worrying whether I’m hurting someone’s feelings. Obviously being in a band it’s always a team effort, even if one player does more than the rest. Having said that I enjoy collective efforts tremendously as well, it’s just 2 different ways of approaching a project.
MD: As with ‘Burden Of Grief’, you’ve captured the essence of sorrow and grief remarkably well and because of the performance, the album feels very personal. Is the album inspired by personal experience?
ED: Both albums are partly inspired by the death of my parents. This happened during the 90s so the grief is not fresh but it’s something that always stays with me and The 11th Hour is a way for me to do something creative with these feelings. The stories in the lyrics are mostly fiction, but the details in them are straight from my own recollections. It’s funny how this seems to resonate strongly with those who have also lost someone while others don’t connect with the lyrics at all, finding them lacking in emotional weight (obviously unaware of their origin), the reviews in this area range from “devastating” to “uninvolving” so a lot is in the eye of the beholder, or rather the ear of the listener.
MD: Because you play all of the instruments, do you find it helps with the writing, knowing what you want each instrument to do?
ED: Very much, I’ve always been involved in the arrangements even when I wasn’t yet writing but it helps to have a complete mental picture of a part and knowing how to achieve the desired effect. The guitar arrangements are very layered, sometimes 12 tracks or more playing different stuff, and then there’s the orchestral arrangements as well. Multiply this by 1000 and you’ll be composing a symphony I guess, haha!
MD: On ‘Burden of Grief’, Roger "Rogga" Johansson performed vocals and guitar – and did an excellent job – but due to illness, he couldn’t perform on this album. Had you written the songs with him in mind?
ED: Rogga didn’t actually play guitar on the first album, so it was “just” a changing of the guard behind the microphone. This happened late in the recording process so everything was indeed written with Rogga in mind, but since the vocal arrangements were largely in place already the switch wasn’t as dramatic as I feared. Rogga is a tough act to follow obviously but in the end it turned out fine.
MD: Pim Blankenstein’s performance on ‘Lacrima Mortis’ is exceptional. Why did you choose to work with him?
ED: Pim has been a member of the live band for over 2 years so he was an obvious choice. I knew he could pull it off but I was blown away by the quality of his performance, he sounds like a force of nature, bellowing forth from the bowels of the earth. It works really well with the music and in combination with my own voice, so the album really benefitted from his contribution.
MD: Given that his style is different to Johansson’s, did you have to make any significant changes to the songs to accommodate him?
ED: Not too much, I let him go through the songs a few times and he was thoroughly prepared. Sometimes we changed a bit of phrasing to fit his style better but overall he was able to follow and complement my vision as well as I could hope. Rogga records his vocals in his own studio, so having Pim in the same room was quite an advantage as far as coaching goes.
MD: What did Frank Harthoorn (guitar) and Daniel Huijben (bass) bring to the album? What were your reasons for choosing to work with them?
ED: I’m not sure where this misunderstanding comes from (I’ve read it elsewhere too), Frank and Daniel are members of the live band but on the album every single note was played by yours truly. Maybe it’s because they’re the 2 latest additions to the live line-up? Anyway, they’re great musicians and I’m glad to have them on board (being reunited with my favourite Gorefest member is a definite bonus) but they didn’t play on the album.
MD: Did you consider any other vocalists or musicians for ‘Lacrima Mortis’?
ED: No, the plan was always to do it the same way as ‘Burden Of Grief’, even if Rogga dropped out in the end. For this album I wasn’t ready to do it any other way, although by the end I promised myself this was to be my last DIY project. It’s just too much work and 8-9 months of social isolation isn’t much fun either, so next time we’ll get the whole band involved.
MD: Do you allow the performers to make any contributions to the writing or do you give them specific directions as to what you want?
ED: Maybe in the future there’s room for that, but I’m fiercely protective of the style and very critical so it has to be top notch material or it won’t make it.
MD: Do you have any plans to play the album live? Is touring a possibility for The 11th Hour?
ED: We’ve done quite a few shows already promoting ‘Burden Of Grief’ and we’ll keep doing so for this album, starting on March 9th supporting the mighty Asphyx. We’re not touring for several reasons, but we try to do as many shows as our combined schedules allow.
MD: If so, who will be in the live line-up? Will it be the musicians from the album?
ED: The live band consists of: Ed Warby – vocals & guitar; Pim Blankenstein – vocals; Bram Bijlhout – guitar; Frank Harthoorn – guitar; Daniel Huijben – bass; Dirk Bruinenberg – drums. When we started doing shows the line-up was slightly different but with the addition of Daniel and Frank we’ve arrived at a solid band situation.
MD: When playing live, which role do you prefer, as the drummer or as the vocalist/guitarist?
ED: For this band there’s only one role I wanted to take, namely vocalist/guitarist. It’s a lot of fun for me to make music in a completely different way from what I’ve done for most of my career and at the moment I’d say I enjoy playing guitar the most. Then again, I love getting behind the kit with Hail Of Bullets and leading them into battle so I’m gonna have to say “both”.
MD: Is there anything that you pick up or learn from your other bands that has an impact on The 11th Hour or you as musician/performer?
ED: I think The 11th Hour is a melting pot of all my experience as a musician and as a person, you always learn and keep learning from what you do with other bands. And on top of that I learn a lot from the other guys in the band, tech stuff (I’ve only dealt with drums and cymbals and now all of a sudden I have to deal with stuff like amps and speakers, cables and pedals) but also little tips on playing.
MD: ‘Burden Of Grief’ contained some very personal issues for you and as mentioned above, ‘Lacrima Mortis’ feels very personal. How do approach playing the songs live without becoming emotional? Is it difficult to maintain a certain distance from the songs and their themes?
ED: The first show (Dutch Doom Days 2009 in my hometown) was extremely emotional, my sister was in the audience and she was very ill at the time, suffering from the same lung disease that killed both our parents. I tried not to look but every time I caught her eye I could see she was crying because the lyrics were so recognizable to her, and inevitably I’d choke up as well. But at other times I can disconnect enough to be able to perform without going all blubbery. The only other gig that was difficult was the most recent edition of the Dutch Doom Days as my sister was in attendance again but this time with brand new lungs, able to breathe (and cry) on her own. A very different experience!
MD: Do you find writing and performing songs that take their inspiration from personal issues in any way a cathartic or healing process?
ED: In a way yes, it feels very naked and almost exhibitionistic but it does help me to deal with some very painful things that I locked as far away in my mind as I possibly could. I’ve accepted that the hurt isn’t going away anymore, it’s been there for too long, but sharing it like this does make it easier.
MD: It’s early days I know, but do you have any plans for the future of The 11th Hour? Do you have any ideas or any material in readiness for another album?
ED: None, my musical treasure chest is completely empty. I haven’t even switched on my workstation since finishing the album, the batteries really need to be recharged so to speak. But I’m sure ideas will start coming in a while, they always do. I’m not in a hurry to make another album soon, times have changed and releasing an album has almost become a self-indulgent luxury. I’d love to make a 3rd one though, and I’m sure we will.
MD: Will The 11th Hour ever be a “band” in the sense that all members contribute, or do you prefer to keep it as an outlet for your own musical expression?
ED: I’ve learned to never say never, but The 11th Hour is so personal and I have such a strong vision of what the band should sound like that I’d be surprised if one of the other members was able to tap into that. Then again it would be a pleasant surprise so we’ll see…
MD: Again, thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?
ED: Thanks for reading and I hope it inspires you guys to check out ‘Lacrima Mortis’!