De Nederlandse old school heavy metal band Burn bracht onlangs in eigen beheer haar debuut full-length uit getiteld 'Universal Justice'. Om de release enige kracht bij te zetten trad ik in contact met gitarist Leon Hermans en begon het interview met de meest uitgekauwde vraag die ik kon bedenken: waar, wanneer, hoe en waarom is het allemaal begonnen met de band?

Door: Koen B. | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

Hi Koen, not so dull! It started all in May 2003, when I quit the band where I was playing drums in. Waldo (Kloor, bass guitar) and Ruben (Van Wiggen, lead guitars) were also in that band and Waldo joined me directly to start a new band: Burn. Ruben joined us some years later, in September 2006. After some rehearsals and shows with a female singer, Bjorn (Ciggaar) replaced her and joined the band in June 2003. We always wanted to have a male vocalist, because it would fit better the music we wanted to make: hard rock and later on heavy metal. I started with Burn in the first place because I wanted to play loud music and second I preferred to play guitar. The main goal with that first line-up was to play covers and later on we started to write and play our own songs, which was much more cool of course!

What charmed me most is the “do it yourself” mentality of the band. Burn self-released a handful of EP's / singles so far and the full-length that just came out is a self-release as well. Tell me more about your DIY approach.
Since our very first demo, called 'Burn I', which came out in 2004 and included our first three songs, we always wrote, produced and released our CD's ourselves. It was not really that we didn't have a choice, the reason was that we didn't have a contract with a label. That doesn't mean that we don't like to do it ourselves, because we like it! We like to have complete control of the process to make a CD and every time we use all our experience and knowledge for the next release. Of course we had good help from experienced people, which is a good thing and especially for our last album 'Universal Justice' it worked out very well.

On this album Burn managed to add some guest performances from Joost Van Den Broek (ex-After Forever, Ayreon), Jan Somers (Vengeance) and Menno Gootjes (ex-Focus). How did they end up on the album?
Since we started to work on the album, we know we wanted to have some guest performances on the album. The first we came up with was Joost. We wanted to have a bombastic intro, which was not too long and which could representate the album. We knew that Joost could do that. We all like the work that Joost did with other bands, like Ayreon and After Forever. He mixes the classic metal and modern metal very well. The synth-solo in 'The Worst Of Times' was a little extra and it rocks like hell! Next to that, we wanted to have some guest guitarists on the record. Jan Somers was the first one I could think of, because of his work with Vengeance and the big inspiration he is for me. He agreed directly and we recorded his solo for 'Digital Bitch' in one afternoon at my house. It was awesome! When we got the intro from Joost, it was clear that there should be some guitars in it. For that job I asked my guitar teacher at the Rock Academy in Tilburg, Menno Gootjes. Also that part we recorded at my house in Tilburg. It was a great experience, for the guest musicians and us, because it's so many inspirations, shredding and metal together!

Can you tell me more about the recording process and can you also point out the difference between the demo's / EP's and the actual album?
We recorded drums and bass guitar at Excess Studio's in Rotterdam. After that, we recorded all the guitars (including the guest solo's) at my little home studio and re-amped them with Hans Pieters in Excess again. After that we recorded the vocals at the studio of Bram Dewachter. Joost did his part at his own studio. The album was mixed at Excess by Hans and Bram. It was the first time that we arranged everything of the recording process ourselves and like that we had a good control of everything, how we wanted to create the sounds and the detailed parts. I think you can hear that difference very good if you compare the older recordings to the new album. We are very satisfied with the result!

band image

The CD is out for a few weeks now. How are reactions of press and fans so far?
We received good reactions! Fans are very enthusiastic and find it very cool to finally have a real album of Burn! The press wrote some good reviews of it, for example MusicFrom and Lords Of Metal. We have to give a bit more time I guess, to get a good impression of what everybody thinks about in general... But till so far, it's good!

Aardschok and Rock Tribune didn't have good reviews of the album. According to them your singer Bjorn Ciggaar is the weakest link in Burn. Does this bother you?
It doesn't bother us too much. The singer is always under fire, it's how it goes with reviews. And like Zappa said once: "Rock journalists: People who can't write, writing for people who can't read".

Of course I would like to find out about the bands future plans. Will you be doing a somewhat extensive tour to promote the new CD (and will you be coming to the city of The Hague at all)?
At the moment we are trying to get new shows to promote the album. The only confirmed show is 8 of May at Trashing Metals Festival in Assen. We would like very much to come to the City of The Hague as well! Maybe we could make some arrangements? To all the people who wants to see us live: check our website for the newest tourdates!

The beautiful artwork was designed and created by Dimitar Nikolov from Bulgaria. Where do we know him from and where did you dig him up?
Thank you for the compliments! Yes, he did a great job. Bjorn found him on the net, because of his work for other metal bands and we knew he was the perfect man for the job!

Burn is one of those bands that lives, eats and breathes heavy metal on stage and off and you are fucking proud of that. Who and what are your main influences?
There are a lot of different influences, every bandmember has his own. The most important for me are Dio, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, the classic stuff! Of course there are much more influences for me, but especially those were the most important when we wrote most of our songs. I'm not the only one who wrote songs, so there's of course the influences of Waldo (especially thrash metal nowadays), Bjorn (Judas Priest, Saxon), Sjoerd (Dream Theater) and Ruben (a lot of progressive stuff, but also fusion!). All those different influences are the core of Burn!

Well Leon, it seems that I'm out of questions for the moment. Thank you for your kind answers. Did I forget anything? The space below is yours!
Thanks for the interview, Koen! You rock! If we play in Den Haag, we will dedicate our song 'Lords Of Metal' to you and your website!

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