What happened with Sacramental Sachem that you decided to change the line-up?
Michiel: The line-up changes just happened because some bandmembers decided to call it quits after years of being in the band actually. Our previous singer Mark has a very busy family-life and couldn't motivate himself for the full 100% anymore. Luciano, our old drummer wanted to concentrate on just one band. Unfortunately for us, his choice left us searching for a new drummer. He now still plays with Scavenger. It's a fact however that after the recordings of the Sacramental Sachem MCD “Anxiety” we wanted to do some more aggressive stuff. This route that we choose, which already can be heard on the Fuelblooded promo, was really already started with the old line-up. With the new line-up however, it got shaped faster. I think that the new guys fit better in this more aggressive approach.
How did people respond to Sacramental Sachem's MCD Anxiety?
Michiel: We definitely got very positive reactions on the MCD. Of course we were (and still are) very positive about how that MCD turned out, especially because of the very good production. There were some labels that were very positive about it, but when they decide not to work with you in the end, you can of course wonder how serious they were to begin with haha. Anyway, we got enough positive sounds about it to know that we are on the right track and that's the most important thing about it.
Why did you change your name anyway?
Michiel: Well, in the current line-up there's noone from the original Sacramental Sachem line-up anymore. I myself joined the band in 1990, a year after the band was founded. The rest of the guys joined the band much later on. After me came Luciano and Mark. When they left the band, the band sort of ended to exist together with the name. You know, if the name would have an enormous impact we maybe could have decided to keep it anyway, but the name Sacramental Sachem wasn't even a big name in the underground-scene. Oh yeah, a lot of people knew us, but only as the band with the long name that was hard to pronounce hahaha! We also were put into scenes we don' t belong to at all. For some reason we were always considered a blackmetalband with this name and that's not our thing at all. Well, a long time ago we had a singer that had some blackmetal influences in his voice, but we never had the lyrics, or the additional concept of a blackmetalband. With the recent line-up changes we thought that this would be a good time to change the name of the band. We thought about a new name for a long time, but in the end I could convince the rest of the band that Fuelblooded is the perfect name for us. It's a mixture between Fuelblooded which stands for the thoroughbred metal that we play, and Fuel, the gasoline that keeps the engine running! I think it's an explosive name that suits our music perfectly!
How did you guys come up with the new bandmembers (Vital & Norbert)?
Michiel: Luciano was the first one to leave Sachem. We just put adds all over town and asked some people to come over. Then Norbert visited us, who at first didn't want to because he already had another band. He was the best one that we tried however. In the end it turned out that Norbert just quit his other band. It was a bit of checking each other out in the beginning, but he was adjusting very quickly. He plays a bit more in the mood and atmosphere of the song and I think that's a good thing. Now he doesn't have to learn to play old Sachem songs (we still play a few, but he knows these songs in the mean time) he's getting more room to do his own thing. He plays a lot more relaxed right now and demonstrates his own style.
Vital responded to an add that we placed in the Dutch metalmag “Aardschok” after Mark left the band. We tried a few singers before him but we weren't very enthusiastic about them at all. When Vital joined us there were still some doubts about this being the man for the job, but we heard a lot of potential in his voice. Luckily it all came out the way we hoped.
Vital: I really had a hard time with doing Mark's vocal-lines. Mark had a quit unique style when it comes to singing. Even more important is that you don't get the feeling you're doing your own songs at all. He's a great singer, but his style wasn't my thing. The first song in which I could really put my own vocals was “Poisonous”. I even think that the vocals on this song were the final push for the rest of the band to work with me as their new vocalist. The fist step was made. In the end I think I really convinced the guys in the studio.
Have the new bandmembers caused a musical change of plan?
Michiel: No. In my opinion the musical changes weren't caused by the line-up changes. We kind of looked for different kind of people for the empty spots that were caused by Luciano and Mark's departure. We wanted a drummer that was a bit more speed-orientated, so we can put more variation in the tempo of the songs. We also wanted a singer that can not only sing, but also scream and grunt, so we can give the songs a more aggressive approach vocalwise as well. Mark arrived at a point that he didn't want to do grunts anymore. He did it a lot in the past though. Luckily Vital doesn't mind doing these kind of vocals at all. No, we sometimes even have to tell him to shut the fuck up! He keeps doing it man! I really don't mind that we sound different from the old days, musically. It all just became even more melodic I guess, and a bit faster and more aggressive. Most important thing though is that the new songs have a better balance. The approach is still the same. It just comes out differently now because people add their own influences to it.
Vital: I don't think you've got to see it as a change, but as a different approach indeed. The foundation that was there before we joined the band still remains. Maybe the others use our way of playing and singing. This must have some influence on the endresult. The same song with the old line-up would have sounded differently, would have another touch, because now the approach differs.
Were the new members involved in writing the new songs?
Michiel: No, not in the writing process. Like I said, they add their own thing to the songs. The foundation was already there however. Vital wrote the lyrics for the song “The Silence”. You see, everybody has an influence on the sound. Everybody can say what they think about the music, but that influence is mostly found in the way they do their own thing. For example, I say to Vital how a part of the song is in my head and he can do with that whatever he wants. We just keep on doing that until everybody is satisfied. The same goes for Norbert and Michel. When we start writing a song I tell them what I would like to hear, how I 'see' the song. It's like a story line. A bunch of guitar-riffs isn't enough to show them the picture. The song gets alive when everybody can colour it. It's just that when I say what I kind of expect, it's more easy to start with it.
How do you come up with ideas for your songs?
Vital: Michiel comes up with the skeleton of a song. Everybody can give his opinion about it, after which adjustments can be made. The song will change here and there and will be examined to the smallest detail. Everybody comes up with ideas to make it sound as good as possible. These changes have to add something to the song of course. We don't come up with parts for some personal ego-thing. We demand a lot of ourselves, but also from each other. It's good that we can work like this.
Michiel: I record the foundation of a song with a guideline drum-pattern, or better call it a clicktrack. Everyone can listen to it then and tell what they think about it, and what they want to do with it. Then we start to work on it with the band. So, a lot of things can change in arrangements (happens all the time). In the past, well actually from the moment Michiel Stekelenburg joined the band, me and Michiel S. would often sit down together to work on the guitarparts. Now he's really busy with his study and unfortunately he doesn't have the time for that anymore. Now I do it myself, like in the beginning. His parts and ideas come later on in the process. We don't write songs fast, and that's not because of lack of time, or the way we do it. It just gets harder and harder to write good songs because our goals are big.
What's the idea behind your music and what do you want to achieve with it?
Michiel: Man, making music is just the best thing there is! You know that yourself of course! Look, I know it's a cliché, but it's true: we all make music for ourselves to begin with. Everything's in there: the euphoria that you feel when you just did a really cool gig, or when you just recorded a great song on tape in the studio; the frustration about a constantly failing break; the Goosebumps you can get from a great twinsolo or great vocal line; the aggression of a sudden change of speed in a song; you name it man! You can do that forever! Without music (making it in this case) life would be totally different, I'm so sure about that. This goes for all the Fuelblooded members. We just want to do our thing, as good as possible. Get better in what we do, intense rehearsing, try to play live as much as possible. Of course we would like to be with a nice record-company, so we can release a CD now and then, or maybe even do some touring. But those are not really goals to begin with, because if you can't live up to their expectations they will waste you. You see this happen all the time. I get enough kicks out of music in the situation we're in right now to go on for lots of years! Of course this doesn't mean we don't want to get to a higher level, let's not make mistakes about that. It's just that we want to do as much as possible without losing reality out of sight. I'm doing this for a long time now and I know that not everybody will get a good record-deal. I play in this band for 12 years now, well, in Sachem then of course hehehe. I'm still in this band you see, and we still have no record-deal hahaha!
Vital: For me personally this band is all I want. My greatest passion. When there's are rehearsal cancelled, which doesn't happen too often, it will ruin my day. I go crazy, can't do anything with my energy. It says enough that during rehearsals I go just as crazy as live on stage. Well, you know how that looks then… We all work as hard as possible to make this band work, and get somewhere.
How far would you go?
Vital: Very very far!!! I would do everything in my power, as long as we can do what WE want to do.
Michiel: I'm willing to put lots of energy in the band. Better even, I'm already doing that for 12 years. I'm not spending less time with my band. The problem however is that I have less time to spend on the band. But hey, who needs a social life when you just need a fucking guitar man!! Hahaha! Come on, you know how it works and what it costs: rehearsing, writing songs, update the website, keep contact with the press, make phonecalls with venue's, doing live-gigs. It's more then a day's work. There's so much to do, but it's no big deal because you get much in return. But I think you were referring to something else with that question right? Well, that's very hard to say. I think I'm pretty hard for my fellow bandmembers, but not extreme or something. I just demand a lot of myself and I think I can ask the same devotion from the others. I'm doing so much for the band. The others really can't be missed to bring our music the way we intend to. It's a band process. Together you build something up, or you tear something down. I'm not going to kick bandmembers when something goes wrong, or send money to reviewers for a better score. It's all on our own power, or it won't happen at all. I have to be able to enjoy it all. I have enough trouble already with my work hahaha! By the way Peter, how much was that for the LoM review from last month hahahah!!!
What's the lyrics about nowadays (compared to in the past) and who's writing them?
Michiel: Hmmzz, well, when it comes to writing the lyrics I'm also very happy with Vital joining the band. Mark didn't write that much lyrics anymore for the band, so the lyrics were also coming my way. I don't mind writing lyrics but it costs me so fucking much time, unbelievable! I can work on the lyrics for one song for weeks! It takes me so long before I'm finally satisfied. Mark mostly wrote social-critic lyrics, and I think I'm pretty much doing the same thing really. Take “Constructive Destruction” for instance. Three of the lyrics of the four-song promo are mine. “Poisonous” is about so called friends that you can't trust and will stab you in the back when the going gets tough. “Constructive Destruction” is more of displaying how things are going in the world, according to me that is hahaha. We humans create everything, genius inventions, but most things always lead to more downfall and destruction. “Dissector Of Souls” is a fantasy-story about a mad shrink, who tries to cure crazy people by cutting away rotten parts of their brains. Sounds good huh? Vital wrote the lyrics for “The Silence” and also for a new song (“The Art Of Life”). I expect Vital to do almost all the lyrics in the future. I definitely hope so any way hahaha! He writes totally different kind of lyrics than I do anyway.
Vital: When I joined the band all the songs were already finished, most of the lyrics included. I only wrote lyrics on two songs as we speak. The lyrics for the song "The Silence" can be heard on our new promo 2002. It's about a person with a split-personality that is really fucked up with himself. He searches for many ways to get out of his misery, and finally he calls in God's help. He soon finds out that God can't offer him all the things he promised. Where's a heaven, there's a hell. The lyrics don't reveal how the story ends, but the epic ending of the song does give us a hint about the solution he finds. It's a tragic end, but instead of telling the end of the story, the music starts to speak about his escape from his suffering. My other lyrics are on a new song which we are still working on. It's about people who glorify wars. On one hand you see the soldier who's going to fight another man's war, without really knowing what he's fighting for. On the other side you a person that displays the opposite side, who asks himself why the other goes from war to war... just to kill for fun.
What are your plans, on short, but also long terms?
Michiel: Well, we have to play live as much as possible in the near future to promote our new name. We have a few nice things to look out to, like a mini-tour with Darkane and Outburst in the beginning of November (see the concertguide for dates) and a gig with Arch Enemy (together with Pleurisy) in the end of November. This will surely help us to get some exposure. Next to this our promo has just been sent out to lots of labels. We hope to get some good responses on that. With Sachem it was always the same story. On the moment we were getting somewhere, something drastic happened so things went totally wrong. Line-up changes for most of the time. If we can keep this band together like it is today, I can't see anything happening that could go wrong right now. We could have some serious fun with Fuelblooded when everything keeps going this well!
Vital: We want to get the name Fuelblooded out to the people. We have a new website (www.fuelblooded.com), made stickers and new T-shirts are being made. We're very busy contacting venues and label for gigs and a possible record-deal. We are going to record a new full-length CD anyway. We've got to see how fast we can score a deal or save the money for it ourselves to see when we're going to record it! We will have take another paper-round hahahah!
Michiel: Oh Vital? You already have on then?
What do you guys think of the Dutch underground scene?
Michiel: Well, there are some really good bands in Holland I have to say. It's just so goddamn difficult to catch the eye because of all the good bands! There are hardly bad bands left. In the past we had a lot of crappy bands, because just everybody started a band, if they could play or not. Those times are history man! You really got to be good to get somewhere, even a simple gig outside of your own region. Another thing is that the scene is so full and I don't know if that's good or wrong. There aren't that much good venues left to play, so you really have to be motivated and have a lot of fun with your band to just carry on! You know, I'm laughing my ass of for years, so that's all going well! haha!
Vital: There are a few really cool bands that top all the others. However, the scene is populated with a lot of bands that bring nothing new. It's always been like that. That's the underground. Everybody thinks the underground is cool, is true, but at the same time we all try to get out of it, into the 'big' world isn't it? Our time will come!
What did I forget, and what do you really really want to say to people who read this?
Michiel: Come watch the Fuelblooded gigs with Darkane in the beginning of November! Darkane is a fucking great band and you'll get two cool Dutch bands extra! It will be fun!
Peter, thanks for doing this interview with us. Lots of success with Aura and Lords of Metal and we'll see each other soon!
Fuelblooded - Fuelled & ready to start the bleeding!