DATE OF INTERVIEW:
THE GENTLE STORM
12th March 2015
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN
METAL DISCOVERY: You had the recent acoustic shows with Arjen, and he’s quoted in press materials as saying: “If anyone else had asked I would have turned them down flat, but to share the stage with Anneke is something I simply couldn’t refuse.”… so that must be the biggest of compliments?
ANNEKE: Yeah, totally, because you know him and he is a total recluse. And although he is very charismatic and, of course, very good in his craft and what he does, and he does enjoy it, but the stage is just not his thing. Before this tour it was eight years and, before that, ten years, since he toured, so he was really nervous. Also, a big thing for him is the travelling because he’s two metres and he has a bad back, so the travelling, the sitting, the waiting is, for him, killing. But he did it and it was just so, so cool. And, like you said, it’s a huge compliment if somebody says that about you. When I called him, because I wanted to do some acoustic gigs, and I said: “Let’s do them together.” And he said: “Ahhh, you’re crazy, of course not, what are you thinking?! I will never go on tour!” And, then, a day later he calls… “Well, maybe, you know, maybe it’ll be cool.” And then he did it. But I think we will have to wait another eight years to see him tour again! Although he will join us for the album presentation in Amsterdam at the end of the month but, touring-wise, he will not go on the road.
(Anneke van Giersbergen on her forthcoming shows for The Gentle Storm)
"Actually, for me, it’s also cool because this is gonna be the heaviest show I’ve done solo ever since, I think, I left The Gathering."
PART 3 BELOW
The Gentle Storm - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2014 Tim Tronckoe
PART 3 ABOVE
Official Anneke van Giersbergen Website:
Official The Gentle Storm Twitter:
Official The Gentle Storm Facebook:
THE GENTLE STORM DISCOGRAPHY
The Diary (2015)
Thanks to Freddy Palmer for arranging the interview.
Official Anneke van Giersbergen Twitter:
Official Anneke van Giersbergen Facebook:
MD: Will it be weird taking the album out on the road without him? I mean, you’ll have some great Dutch musicians with you, but will it be weird without Arjen?
ANNEKE: The thing is, I never thought he actually would… if you know Arjen, you know he doesn’t tour, so I knew from the start. Actually, I said: “Do you mind if I take The Gentle Storm on tour?” And he said: “Are you kidding? I would love to see you tour with it.”...because no Ayreon album ever goes on tour because he doesn’t play live. So he really likes it and he likes following us around on YouTube…
MD: So he’ll be sat there watching YouTube clips that people have filmed on their phones…
ANNEKE: Exactly, it’s the perfect way. Me, on the contrary, I love touring; I love playing live. Actually, for me, it’s also cool because this is gonna be the heaviest show I’ve done solo ever since, I think, I left The Gathering. I do lots of rock music but not the really bombastic stuff.
MD: Will you be playing some of the ‘Gentle’ stuff as well or will it just be the ‘Storm’ versions?
ANNEKE: We’ll focus on the ‘Storm’ so it’s gonna be a rock show, a heavy show, and we’ll also do some Gathering songs, some Ayreon classics, and some Devin Townsend songs. It’s gonna be a bit of everything but, mostly, The Gentle Storm songs. And then we’ll have a little acoustic bit in the middle where we do some acoustic songs. But, in general, it’s gonna be a heavy show with the emphasis on The Gentle Storm songs.
MD: It’s a shame you’ve not been booked to perform the album on one of those festival cruises for The Gentle Storm, that’d be the perfect place to perform the album… with gentle seas and not stormy seas, of course!
ANNEKE: [Laughs] Exactly! I would rather go The Bahamas and do that! That would be great!
MD: [Laughs] If you’re not guaranteed a storm then, yeah, that’d be the best place!
ANNEKE: No! [Laughs]
MD: I gather you’ve both recorded some acoustic songs for a special tour CD… what kind of stuff is on there and will that be made available after the tour too, or is it just exclusive to the tour?
ANNEKE: Yeah, it is an exclusive tour CD but, when we are good and well on tour, we’ll probably put it online because I know there are people who won’t see us live, in certain countries or whatever, and they would like to have it. So, probably after a few months, it will go online. But it’s doing well on tour because it’s like some nice memory and a little souvenir you can take from the show. It’s kind of an EP thing with a few Gentle Storm songs, and some Ayreon songs, and we have two covers – one of The Beatles. So we have a little bit of everything, and it’s all acoustically done by me and Arjen. There are a bit of drums on there and some little things but it’s a very mellow CD.
MD: When we did that interview in 2008, you said about The Gathering: “I believe it will come together again, but we need some time to be apart.” Obviously that was seven years ago but you were part of their 25th anniversary shows last year, so I guess it did indeed come together again! So how was that experience and was it quite surreal to be back on stage with them?
ANNEKE: You know, the weird thing is, when we talked about that I’d just left The Gathering, and that was such a strange feeling to do everything on your own. And we were really apart because we didn’t really speak a lot because we went our own way. And, even though there was no big fights, we really needed some time apart, you know. Like a married couple in the divorce! And, so, that lasted for seven years but, I have to say, in the end, we started talking and I think it was alright and cool because we kind of found our ways and everything was relaxed.
Then, quite soon after we met – everybody met again and so on – we started talking about we should celebrate the whole Gathering thing when we exist for twenty five years, and I would’ve been twenty years in The Gathering, so it was all good round numbers. So we said: “Let’s make one big celebration with two shows in one day and do that”… and we did. And it was really, truly magical because, like you said, it’s just strange to join them on stage because I was with them for a big part of my young, adult life. I learned so much there and I saw, and learned, and did so much, and then you’re seven years doing something else, and then you’re back and it seemed like yesterday. You know, you look left and right and you know these people so well – that didn’t go away, apparently. And it was a great, strange and cool feeling at the same time. Yeah, so we had lots and lots of fun, so it was really great to do.
MD: Ah, good. I have to ask, before my final question, will you be part of Devin’s Royal Albert Hall ‘Z2’ show?
ANNEKE: I will be totally touring with The Gentle Storm so that’s not gonna happen.
MD: I did look at your tour schedule and there seems to be a gap either side of the Devin show, so thought that was maybe planned so you could be part of it.
ANNEKE: The thing is, that’s true, there is a little gap there, but with a big show like that, you need to rehearse and I will be away before that so that’s not possible. And Devin told us that it’s gonna be even more massive than ‘The Retinal Circus’ show.
MD: Yeah, and it sold out extremely quickly, and the Royal Albert Hall is massive so that’s phenomenal. I spoke to Devin last year when he was over here and he said it’s scary just how big it’s getting… but he’s still as humble as ever, which is really nice, I think.
ANNEKE: Yeah, isn’t it. And, also, the thing is that he was already pretty big when he was with Strapping, and there have been so many phases in his career and, even then, in the last few years, he’s been growing like crazy, and that’s so cool.
MD: The final thing then – when can we expect a new Anneke solo record?
ANNEKE: Well, I’m working on something, that’s for sure.
ANNEKE: But, in 2014, there were so many projects, so many different things going on at the same time. When we were also writing and recording The Gentle Storm, I said: “This is gonna be so massive and I’m gonna be so proud of this, I have to put my focus on The Gentle Storm throughout 2015.” But I always have ideas and I’m working on something for 2016, but then it’s too preliminary to talk about. But I have ideas and am working on something.
MD: It depends if you get another phone call from Devin, saying: “Come and do this album, and that album.”
ANNEKE: Yeah, well, I can’t say no to him! [Laughs]
MD: Exactly, I’m sure nobody would want you to either as everything’s amazing you do with him.
ANNEKE: Awww, thank you.
MD: Well, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a real pleasure speaking to you again.
ANNEKE: Thank you, Mark, likewise.
MD: And best of luck for all the shows with The Gentle Storm.
ANNEKE: Thanks so much. Will we see you in the UK?
MD: Do you know what, I was going to come to the Manchester show on the Saturday but I got booked to shoot somebody’s wedding, but I’m now hoping to make the London show. It sounds like it’ll be a great show.
ANNEKE: I would say so!
MD: Okay, thanks then, and hopefully see you in London.
ANNEKE: Me too!