Hi David, how is life?
We are finally here, so it is a lot better than it was.
Indeed, as it took you two cancellations.
Yeah, in March (2006) and in October (2005). That has been a real pain in the ass for us. God has a sick sense of humour, finally bringing us here! Haha!
You recently underwent surgery to fix a deviated septum which was making breathing difficult and affecting your vocal abilities on stage. How are things for you now?
I had my nose broken, like three times in my life. And there was all kind of debris, broken pieces. And it gave me a lot of trouble when I slept, I had to breathe through my mouth and it would dry out my throat. It just made life really difficult. And it contributed to the problems with the signing. I had the surgery about one and a half month ago now. So I am doing much better now.
Like you said, you have had vocal complaints in the past. What are you doing to prevent them happening again?
There were a number of different factors. The very first thing that occurred on the record cycle was a bleed. It basically was a capillary rupture on the vocal chord. It happened maybe the second or third day of the touring cycle in Southern California, in Bakersfield; a tiny, little room which was supposed to be a banquet hall that hey decided to turn into a concert venue and that could maybe fit a thousand people in it and they shoved just like 1500, 1600 into there. There was no room to breath and it was crazy hot. I just pushed to hard and … pop … there it went. So that was item number one.
I have really bad acid reflux. I am on medication for it for about five, six years, but I guess the medication stopped being effective. Sometimes your body builds up a resistance to it, just like with antibiotics. And basically when I came out here the first time in September, October, between London and Dublin, there were two pretty heavy nights of back to back drinking. There is not a lot of anything else to do in Dublin you know … haha! I drank heavily and little did I know that the medicine was not working anymore and my acid was acting up pretty violently. In the Dublin show we had some monitor issues and I pushed a little harder than I should have. And when I woke up the next morning in Glasgow I could not even speak. So I went to a doctor, he took a look and he said 'There is no way! You have got to stop now.'. So that was the second issue.
The third issue happened after the Jägermeister run in the States. It was a pretty rigorous schedule, like five shows a week. And we are playing for one and a half hour every night so it was taxing. So the same spot where I had a bleed, there developed a note over the course of the tour giving me real problems. There was supposed to be not even a week in between the tour in the US and going to Europe, but my doctor said 'When you do not want this note to be permanent you have to stop now for at least a month!'. So we had to postpone it then. It is a constant battle for singers; some have more luck than others. I just do everything I can. I hydrate myself, make sure I have adequate sleep, I have not drunk since that European run in October, change your diet a little bit, and make sure you do not eat before you go to bed . So you do what you have to do, but there is no guarantee of anything! A human body is not a machine and even machines break down.
You are now playing Europe for just over a week. How has the tour been until now? How has the response been of the Europeans towards the new songs?
Amazing! People here are nuts!!
There is a difference from what you experience in the US?
Huge, that difference is huge! There is no comparison; it is like comparising apples with oranges. Just the exuberance, the excitement and the commitment … the whole crowd is singing louder than I can with a microphone. And they know every single word from every single song; imagine just the level of energy that you get from them. US crowds are almost sedated compared to European crowds. Our most energetic, craziest crowd in the States equals maybe half of one of the average shows here! It is just unbelievable!
Your shows in the Netherlands and most of the tour have already been sold out for weeks and tickets are sold for idiotic prizes on eBay-like sites. Was it what you expected or could you only have hoped it would be like this?
It is interesting how the cancellations kind of worked into our advantage. Initially we were supposed to play 500 to 600 seats venues and now we are anywhere from 1500 tot 4000. That is a nice little jump. It is kind of like the Axl Rose factor; you never know if they are ever going to play again, so you might as well catch them.
The support band on the tour is Nevermore. How did the two of you come together? Is it you as band who makes the decision to go on tour with these bands or is it management who takes care of it?
When we were going to do this tour our agent put out the word that we were going to do this run. Basically they send out the word to other agents and they get back to you to see who is interested in supporting. So they gave us a list and we picked Nevermore.
How do you spend the enormous amounts of hours in between travel and a concert?
Yesterday we went to a soccer game in Germany! Damn, I cannot recall where it was. Where the hell was it … I just can not remember the name of the team. I can show you pictures though, but a name … The goalkeeper is our buddy s he fixed us really good seats. And even there … when you compare a US baseball or football game to what it is here, there is also no comparison. People here are so passionate, so into it! I was blown away by it. The rest of is not bad either; we try to find a nice little place to eat (laughs while he points at his shoarma), find a nice club to go to, to hang out to so I can have a watch everybody drinking. And there are some gorgeous women over here. It is ridiculous … in between Germany and Holland I got a whiplash of looking over my shoulder. I got to start learning the language. Haha!
Is there time to relax during a tour?
I like walking around in a city, taking in the architecture, a little bit of the culture and see what is around. We always try to find out what is going on. Here (Tilburg) is a smaller town so there is not that much to walk around. Haha! It depends on the city; some have more to offer than others. Obviously when we are in Amsterdam we will do several things to pass the time … a number of things! Haha!
Haha, I can not imagine what that will be.
Yeah, right! But actually we are playing a lot of this (David picks up his PSP); this thing is a saver. When you are on a plain or whatever, a PSP is the shit! I play a lot of poker, believe it or not. Sometimes the whole band joins in. We all have our PSP's and we link together and we play. It is easy because we forget the chips and we keep forgetting the sense to bring these along.
The art of '10.000 Fists' has been done by Todd MacFarlane, who is also the creator of the comic 'Spawn'. He also did the video for 'Land Of Confusion'. Who of you is a Spawn/Todd MacFarlane fan?
Really me I guess, I have been a fan of his work since the early Spiderman when he started to draw the Venom character before Spawn. The other guys too but I feel I am a little more of a comic book guy. We wanted to bring that two dimensional face from the first record. We wanted to bring him to three dimensional live. And we could not think of anyone better to make a menacing, grinning, toothy face than Todd McFarlane! So we send him some music. This was before the video; this was just for a design of the cover art. So we send him some music, asked him if he was interested, he was very excited about it, loved the music, got into it ... it was just not really that hard. We contacted his people and then he and I started to work together, I relate to him the idea of the cover and he started to put of versions of things. And we get back and forth and little by little it came together. So when the cover came together we straight away thought it could make a great animated video. We did not know it was going to be for land of confusion, but it worked out that way.
Was it not strange to release a video without being actually in it?
It is wonderful! You do not need to go through all that shit, all that productional stuff … it is beautiful! Easiest video we have ever made. You don't have to sit for twenty hours or so, take after take after take ,,, making videos are a bitch! I don't care what anybody tells you; they are pain in the fucking ass! The repetition is dreadful … again and again and again and again. The long hours … every time they set up a different look, a different scene it takes time. And by the end of the day you are so sick of the goddamn song that you don't want to play it anymore! And they put you in all kind of strange situations and do crazy shit with you. And you still have to look cool and keep your face. So when they were cool with doing this animated one, I was like hallelujah!
Could it be a returning thing, an animated video with 'the guy' as main character?
I think it will be just a one time thing,. We are going to use a lot more of the character, 'the guy'. I think that you definitely are going to see him more often. How? I do not know exactly, but time will tell.
Many magazines and e-zines put labels onto the musical content of a band. For some misty reason you are categorised as a nu-metal bands. You are one of the few bands which seem to have survived the nu-metal era. While the music seems to attract less interest (at least here in Europe) and bands as P.O.D. and others are fading more and more your star is still shining bright. How do you explain your success?
That to me is a very good example. I would call a band like P.O.D. nu-metal because they have rap infused with metal, they have hip hop elements. That to me that is what nu-metal is! We don't have any of that shit going on. All we did was come to fruition during that time when that trend existed. We were not a part of it, we had nothing to do with it! We are just a hard rock band. We don't have any ties to nu-metal what so ever; we are not Linkin Park, we are not P.O.D.! That is all nu-metal. I never understood why, except for obviously the time frame, that people put us into that category. Or maybe it is because we had a little more electronics going on in our music. But so do a lot of other bands. Tool has a lot of electronics going on, but they are not seen as nu-metal. But at the end of the day it does not matter; we still or going to write what we write and play what we play and people will either like it or they won't, despite what you call it. Don't you think?
Hey, I listen to music and like what I like, no matter what kind of name has been given to the music. I don't mind but for some reason people seem to feel that labelling is important.
Then it is easy to dismiss. Give bands a listen and do not go out and buy your records by category; give it your own judgement!
How do you feel about people using the internet for downloading songs? What is your opinion about that?
I have no problem with it, what so ever. It is not their fault. People who are higher up the ranks have not figured out a way to make it lucrative and still available. It is very simple, it is not rocket science. Everyone who has internet service subscribes to an ISP (internet service provider), no matter what they are. All that the labels, people who are actually licensed to market the music, would have to do is negotiate something with each individual ISP ... a rate or whatever. And where ever you get your internet service through, they say 'for five dollars a month unlimited downloads, unlimited file sharing, as much as you want'. Nothing illegal about it, just pay a fee like five dollars. Just like if you are ordering cable TV or satellite service! If you want to get a special program you have to buy the channel. There are at least seventy million people that subscribed to ISP worldwide and there are more than one billion people worldwide using the internet. There is software ready, it exists, that monitors internet downloads. Every one uses it, every single record label know how much is being downloaded, even on the pirate sites. You set up a system just like publishing royalties by percentage of downloads. And all of a sudden, with seventy million people paying five dollars a month, it creates a different avenue where no one is taking advantage of. Record labels let it just slip by their fingers. And we are so focussed on making the fan base, who you want to be friends, your enemy because they are downloading for free! When all it would take would be this little system in place where everyone is making money and there are no taboos. It has nothing to do with people downloading; that what it is for. The more familiar you are with the music, the more people who get exposed to it, the more people are going to come to the shows. We have not sold as many records as the indicative of the size of these audiences and the amount of the material they know. It is very clear that downloading, out here specially, is much more significant even than it is in the States. The issue is not the fact that it is happening, the issue is that it is happening and no one is actually being smart about it.
It is a power play game by the labels and record companies?
I have no issues what so ever with downloading itself. I have issues with record labels trying to keep their power, trying not to let the internet open up. And in doing so, trying to keep to an old, antiquated system of buying a hard copy of cd's and records as supposed to going completely digital on everything they fight it. Going digital is, let's face it, the way of the future, there is no stopping progress! So why are they fighting it? They expend resources, legal expenditures, tons, millions of dollars. Why? What the fuck for? None of it makes any sense. They are beating a dead horse. It infuriates me. It is the dumbest, fucking thing ever!
A lot of your colleagues do not agree with you on this.
That is because people don't understand it. People don't know how it works. You always fear that what you do not understand. All you know is that everybody around you is telling you that they are stealing from you. Bullshit. The people, who go ahead and download, come to your shows, they spend thirty-five dollars on a ticket, they buy a t-shirt for twenty-five up to thirty dollars who ran after you to get your signature and they should be stealing from you? They are not stealing anything from you! It is a bunch of nonsense. You create music, you put it out there for a reason … you want people to hear it. Of course you put it out there as a product that you want to sell because you need to make a living. But the problem is not with the fans, it is in the infrastructure.
So it is time for you to have a talk with your record company?
Oh, they don't like talking to me about it! They don't like hearing the truth because they have such a narrow point of view when it comes to that. 'No, we must stick to record sales exclusively or maybe we will go ahead by licensing it to I-tunes or the new Napster and to the accepted sites and we are going to prosecute the hell out of all these kids, that we want on our site buying our records, for illegal downloading.' What the hell are you doing? You are cutting of your nose, despite the face! You want to bring them in, give them different ways of getting the music. Make it easier for them not more difficult! I do not want to shoot myself in the foot so I'd better be quiet to the guy from Warner about it. Haha!
Is there anything you would like to add to this interview? Any words for your fans that are already waiting in line to get in?
We are just very happy to be finally here. The crowds are blowing us away. We are trying to figure out if there is a way to come back here yet one more time before the album cycle closes. And we hope that we really started something, something that we can continue to develop! Why we do what we do and why we do it has everything to do with the kids, with the fans. It has everything to do with looking down into the crowd and seeing that two to three thousand people are screaming every single fucking word that you wrote that came from your heart right back in your face, on the verge of tears in their eyes. That is what it is all about! We come here for one reason and one reason only and that is for the kids! No matter what anybody else says!
Thank you for your time David! Enjoy the evening, the rest of the tour and take care!
Thank you brother, it was nice meeting and talking to you!