For starters, I want to congratulate you with your new album ‘Dead Sun’. I think it is your best piece until now.
Thank you very much! I also think the same; the new members bring something fresh that made this possible!
Are you as pleased with the album as I am?
Of course! I think we have reached new heights in terms of everything; musically, lyrically and in songwriting!
What about the other media? All praise or are there any negative reviews also?
To tell you the truth, I haven’t checked all reviews but most of them are very positive and it’s a really good start for this line-up.
Before we talk a bit about the new album I’d like you elaborate on the changes within the band. After your 2014 release ‘The Aftermath’ the Amore brothers (on vocals and drums) left the band. What happened?
I won’t go into the painful details and choose to keep most of that private. I’m not the kind to use the media to spit on the back of people with whom I shared more than 30 years of my career. If they were bad musicians or bad people I would have not spent 30 years with them. They simply left the band on July the 4th in 2015. The routine made this happen, I would say. Now they have to live with their choice. I was not happy when they left but with all the great things that have happened after, I can only thank them for quitting!!!!!!!
When Jo left, did you desperately want a girl/women on vocals, or would you have settled for a guy as well?
First of all, we thought about a man but after a while we thought in accordance with our label (AFM Records) that strategically to get a female singer could would be exciting and interesting, but not just any kind of female voice. For me it was Maggy or no one! We could have killed Nightmare if we had found a female singer in the Nightwish vain or more classical style. Maggy was the only one who could match Nightmare perfectly and luckily for us, she accepted the job!
You got Maggy Luyten in the band as your new singer. Should we know her from other bands? And how did she get the job?
I discovered her with Beautiful Sin at a time when lyrical female vocalists were popular (Nightwish and co…), she was like a UFO coming from space (LOL !!). I fell in love immediately with that voice! She is the female Jorn Lande or Russell Allen… Magical! We needed something fresh and kick ass, and she's got it! In 2012 we invited her to sing a duet on the song 'The Dominion Gate Part III' on our album 'The Burden Of God' She accepted the invitation and everything went very well. Everybody (I say everybody!!!) was so happy about her guest appearance! So it was obvious for me after what happened on July 4th 2015 to contact her! As simple as that: I called to offer her the job and she accepted! Awesome!
I was very surprised by the harsh and still beautiful vocals of Maggy. Was this a deliberate action of would you have settled with a more polished/sweet sound as well?
Nothing was planned. Maggy sings naturally as she knows how to sing with her talent on top of that! It just fits naturally with our new songs and even the older songs. We came up with a very thrashy album and some more polished parts from time to time, she fits in perfectly with all atmospheres, as she can sing with so many different voices.
How did the media react on de replacement of Jo by Maggy?
So far I haven’t seen anyone in the media saying anything negative about the change. Of course with such a big change it's impossible to not find someone who’s disappointed, who preferred the the old Nightmare. That’s normal but overall, if you look at the reviews and see the reactions of the audience, the feedback is awesome! Our first video clip with Maggy passed 50,000 views in a very short time. Our older (most viewed clip) 'Sunrise in Hell' got only around 15000 views in a few years. This is the response!
When you compare the first reactions to the change with the most recent… have some media changed their point of view?
That’s a question to ask them.
I think ‘Dead Sun’ is your heaviest album so far. The sound is also more gloomy and dark, compared to previous albums. Do you agree? And if so, can you explain how the writing process eventually took you into this direction? Is this something you look for, or does it come naturally?
The songwriting process was going in a heavier direction (and that was one of the reasons why Jo and David didn’t follow). Lets’ speak the truth. Franck who was supposedly 'a lazy musician' was among other reasons why Jo supposedly left the band. Franck had tons of riffs on a side that he didn’t want to give to the older line-up. When Maggy and Piv came in, he was really excited and came up even more, so many riffs that we had material for three albums! Our new drummer Olivier Piv Casula is a 'war machine', he makes everything possible in that sense. From there everything flowed naturally and we came up with new songs as if the band had just been started. Matt also brought nice ideas, the drumming really improved the songwriting (Olivier recorded all drums in less than six hours! ). From there a new band was born.
Regarding ‘Dead Sun’, is the result anywhere near you envisioned it to be?
I would say 'Reaching new boundaries and going beyond all expectations!'. Everything went so fast that it was hard to control everything. I would say that for the next album we’ll have a better view on things and then the task will be quite tough because we’ll have to top 'Dead Sun'.
To what extent did Maggy contribute to the songs?
She wrote most of the lyrics, very personal stuff which is always better when it comes to deeper songwriting. She brought her talent, ideas for vocal lines, her smile and was open to try out every possibility. Great results!
Do you expect things to change with Maggy on vocals? I mean…do you think you could attract a bigger audience, or a different (girls) audience?
Of course, this was a big challenge and a new strategy for the band. So far we are very happy about the feedback! No comparison possible with our previous singer and with Maggy's voice there was no chance of destroying the music of Nightmare because she sings with balls!
What can you tell me about the content of the lyrics? And if you compare the lyrics you write nowadays, is there a big difference with what you wrote when you were in the first stages of your career?
Big difference is the quality of the lyrics. We had the big, big chance to have Kelly Sundown Carpenter with us who coached Maggy in the studio and also appears as special guest on ‘Serpentine’. Kelly did fabulous work and acted like a sixth member. And of course when it comes to the lyrics, a very talented American singer/writer who is so much into details couldn’t allow mistakes appear in the lyrics or a French singing accent etc. A big difference from the past!
You have been around for quite a lot time now. However, you are still awaiting your big break. Do you have any explanation why Nightmare is still not as popular as many other, newer power metal acts?
Very hard question! Nobody can predict what an audience will choose. The older line-up was perhaps the reason why? Time will tell.
I am glad you never quit, because I love your music, but I sure would like to know what have kept you going all those years?
Thank you so much! Being happy in what you do is the key! Enjoy playing with musicians who are like your brothers and now a sister. If we had a salary of $5000 per month, I understand that you might continue to play with people you don’t want to see but when that’s not the case, the joy and pleasure you take in playing with people is the force! When you don’t have that anymore, it’s over! We always were in the process of building something with Nightmare and we come to a point where even if the band didn’t become Iron Maiden, we got recognition internationally, played many gigantic festivals and did numerous great tours. To quit would have wasted all this hard work over the years!
Because of your long existence you should be able to tell me something about the development of the metal scene. When you started out in 1979 there wasn’t Internet, no digital music, no home computers and there were just two kinds of loud music: hardrock and heavy metal. How did you experience all the changes in the scene through the years? What has changed positively over the years? And what do you see as negative developments?
I'm from the older generation, before the internet, Facebook and all those easy access platforms killed a little bit of the magic. In the eighties there was this magic in the air with some cult albums that I don’t find so much nowadays. The audience catches the information and then forgets it the next day. There’s too much information on the internet, all at once. How can you really find a band that is worth checking out? Maybe you will catch the one which is better marketed or promoted but not the best? That is the main problem I see today. In the eighties it was very hard to get a solid deal with a label. Recording an album was expensive, you had to go to a studio. Today you just need a computer, some software like Cubase and then you record at home. That is very good for some bands which are not rich but what about the quality? Where does the work of a talented producer come in? The quantity of good band is not increasing. Who will come after Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and Metallica? Who will fill the space when those monsters are gone? I don’t see any of the current bands being able to replace them. On top of that, the internet makes people lazy, it’s easier for them to watch a concert on YouTube than to go to the venue and see the bands live. Very bad.
And in what way has Nightmare developed in all those years?
We managed to not sound old school and to evolve in time without being 'trendy', that’s one of the biggest achievements we have managed over the years. If we would have sounded like the ‘Waiting for the Twilight’ or ‘Power of the Universe’ albums with our new releases, I doubt that we would have still been around.
You did a gig on the Female Voices Fest in Eindhoven. Your first time I guess on this festival. How was it playing such a festival?
Great! Maggy opens new doors and of course some festivals doing only female vocalists are now interested in Nightmare!
Is there any chance we can see you in The Netherlands or nearby next year?
Yves: We have two shows there on our next European tour in The Netherlands: Leiden and one more time in Eindhoven. It starts at the end of April 2017. And we have something great coming this fall, you will see!
With which band would you very much like to share the stage?
For my part, I would say Metallca or any huge band like that, in a stadium, would be a big achievement! Nevermore would have been a dream come true but now it looks like it won’t happen. One of my dreams was to play with Crimson Glory but this we already did in the Benelux!
This wraps it up for this time. Any last words for the Dutch audience?
A million thanks for the support! See you very soon on our tour with Civil War and later this year! Looking forward to meeting you all again!