Hello Mina. For me it’s an honour to speak with one of my favourite vocalists. So how are you doing?
Thank you for the compliment. So you are calling from the Netherlands. Your name looks very Dutch. I lived in Amsterdam for a while. So for six or seven years, I went on and off from the States to Amsterdam. I’m doing great but I’m have to do also a lot of press. I’m just back from Europe. I was in Paris, Berlin and London. I got home a few days ago and I started with the press and the calls again this week. Yesterday there was a big blizzard so I’m snowed for the moment. But I feel great and I’m excited about the album. A lot of people are digging it, are loving it. I’m great, I’m healthy. I’m good.
It took twelve years to write a new album. Did you still manage to do it?
Off course. You know I have written five solo albums in that time. So I hope that you are a little familiar with my solo work. Well I don’t stop making records. I did three records in 2016. So whether I’m making an album with Life Of Agony or not. I’m always recording and will stay a recording artist.
So you didn’t made this album because there was a pressure from a label or fans?
For a long time, the time wasn’t right and you know when the time isn’t right, you better don’t do things because you are supposed to. When there is a true source of inspiration and a reason of getting it together, you have to record. I could only speak personal but this album was for me an apology to the band for my behaviour all those years and for lying to them so many years. The only reason we have signed with the label is because they agreed for getting not involved in the creative process. If they did, we did not had made this album at all. We were not fishing for deals because we don’t gave a fuck. But since we were playing last years, and the band always did a good business last years by playing live. We got a bunch of deals to make a record with a few different labels. But Napalm Records gave the band a complete creative control. We didn’t even send a demo. We have not those label people stepping at our toes. That happened with the ‘Broken Valley’ process. That was a weird experience. To many people and record-executives that talked to much shit and didn’t know anything about music. We got to fight too much with them and that is something we wanted not to happen this time. We weren’t fishing for a deal. We didn’t care for making another record again. We had a good time playing out there. But then we were looking for some ideas for the album. It became this effortless beautiful process and so we give birth to ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain’. That’s Life Of Agony’s most magical album today.
/b]Is this also a concept album? [/b]
This is not a concept like ‘River Runs Red’. I really don’t know if such a place exists. It’s really much more a metaphor but as far as that place is existing. That’s the journey of life. There is not really a destination of life. It’s much more a journey. People mostly live their life like there is a destination. But you have to live your life in the moment of the journey. The destination don’t really exist. It’s an illusion on this planet.
How long did it take to write the album?
We wrote it, record it and mixed it within a year and a half. So what did you expect? You wanted us to do this album in a week. Then you got a piece of shit. We got to make it right. There were no deadlines. That’s the reaction we want. We want people to say: Goddamn, this record is a wonderful piece of work. Holy shit. How the fuck did this band put this album out of their ass. That is the reaction we wanted to hear. And I haven’t heard one bad review yet. Every journalist got it, understand it and love it. I have heard last weeks a lot of journalists with really good taste. Normally journalists don’t have such a good taste. So Koen, I hope you have also a good taste.
1993 was one of the best years of metal. There were some of the greatest highlights of history with bands such as Biohazard, Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Sepultura, Life Of Agony, Pantera and Roadrunner Records. Don’t you miss those days?
Not really you known. We lived it and had a great time living in it. I don’t live my life like that. How was your name again? Koen, we don’t live like that. Yes it was a great time of music. Even on the West Coast. Some of my favourite bands were from the nineties from Radiohead to Mother Love Bone to Pearl Jam to Alice In Chains, to Stone Temple Pilots. And of course I love the greats like Led Zeppelin and Queen. Miles Davies, David Bowie. The nineties were musically one of the greatest times of the planet. And sometimes I miss those days but I’m grateful that we had our musical moment in our lives. The music that I heard over these days is so overplayed. I feel so bad for the kids that grow up now with artists like Nicki Menaj or these kinds of Justin Bieber. These internet bullshit sensations. The fourteen year old girls obvious rules the music industry by buying their music. But I don’t really live my life in the past. I live here and now. I don’t believe tomorrow exists and I don’t believe that yesterday exists. I was just all some kind of dream to be honest. How could tomorrow exists when all we are is right now? That is my philosophy of life. There is no tomorrow. He hasn’t come and I might never come.
The band has formed a steady occupation with you, Joey Z, Alan Robert en Sal Abruscato since the beginning. Do you see them as a close family? In an interview long ago about you leaving ways with Life Of Agony, you talked that the band become too successful with all the things you do when you are a rock star.
The band is definitely friendlier to each other and its more family orientated that is was earlier.
In 2011 you became Mina after a gender operation. So you were trapped for years in a men’s body. How free did you felt yourself after the operation?
Well, I’m still not free. The only freedom that the soul experiences is when the soul is not entirely in the body and in the flesh. So I am much happier but there is still… I still feel that there is so much more room for growth. I don’t really, it’s hard to say. It’s a hard question to answer, it’s a bit difficult.
On your solo album ‘Died Laughing’ you had the song ‘Brandy Duvall’ which handles about heroin. The last years we suffered the loss from music heroes like Lemmy, David Bowie, Lou Reed, and many others which had not such a healthy lifestyle. Do you take more care of your health now you have passed the forty years?
Yes I made it (laughing). And yes, I live a very healthy lifestyle for the last twenty years. Lots of meditations and I’m practicing yoga. I eat pretty much just organic food and so does my dog. I don’t really party or take alcohol of drugs at all. The only thing I do is smoking weed. But that’s not a drug, that’s nature. To my opinion, marihuana and mushrooms and everything that comes from the earth should not be called drugs. That’s a great problem. In society people wants to misuse some words. When you call marihuana a drug, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. So I’m only smoking weed; I haven’t done mushrooms in a long time. But I will do it again. That’s the only mind cauldron thing I do.
So that was the good part of living in Amsterdam?
Yes totally. You know what is so funny. When I was living in Amsterdam I hardly smoked and didn’t do any mushrooms at all. Cause I was working a lot. But it was so easily available I didn’t feel like I need to have it. That is the trick that pharmaceutical companies do at people. That’s why people are addicted. Because they let them think that they need it. It was funny. It was the exact opposite. That was pretty amazing. That is the whole point. The Dutch made the weed and the drugs tolerable. Because that makes what it does to people. When you are going to take something away from people. They will I do anyway. So you better do it under a smart way. If you want to fuck with mushrooms and heroin they give you a safe way to do it. You have to work it out for yourself. Everybody is responsible for themselves. But that is how you have less addicts.
Last years the world is becoming much harder. You have now some despots like the Turkish Erdogan and the Russian Poetin. ISIS has proven that they could hit hard every were. So what frightens you the most these days?
I know politically the climate has changed drastically. But I’m not afraid of anything. I’m afraid of not living. I’m not afraid of dying but of not living. You understand what I’m trying to say? If I’m not living with the highest experience of my abilities, that’s scares me. If I’m not taking risks of going after what I want in my life. That scares me. But things that would kill my, I’m not really afraid. Maybe a little way but not enough to let me not stop things. Our troubles didn’t began with Donald Trump. They already begin fifty years ago with Nixon and all these other assholes. So the political paradigm has been a fucking joke. It’s very anti human like a lot of institutions they set in place for women and mankind. They’re not in for humanity. It’s the exact opposite. Politics are not designed for helping humanity. It’s more the opposite. From the drug companies to the food companies to the science and to the governments. You have to be an asshole to think that these institutions are designed to really help people. They are not. So I don’t care. Politically I have to tend to my own vibration and I make a better place of the world at my own way. I have to make my place to all the people all around mine. There are seven billion different realities out there. I don’t really think the world is any more difficult than it was fifty years ago. You have to create your own reality. Everybody creates a reality that isn’t theirs. Only a few individuals find this out during their lifetime. Because your reality is completely different than my reality. Each person had their own unique reality. Not one person shares their own reality. That’s how I view my life and my world. I don’t exercise the reality what they are giving to my. I’m a creator and a destroyer. I have creating many worlds for myself. I don’t live based on all these binary laws. I have my own rhythm. I beat my own drum in my life. So I don’t let no asshole, no desert dwelling motherfucker scare my from coming to Paris or somewhere else. Because that’s what they want. They want you to be afraid. You don’t think the government is assigned with all these conspiracies. Who do you think hires all those people? Who do you thing provides them with guns and ammo and warfare. They just brought their war to the civilized streets and we are just feeling percussions of their power hungering wars on our streets. And that’s the way they wanted. And that scares people more. And that’s part of the political innuendo unfortunately. So they really destroy the dreams of people and you can’t let that fear dictating your life. So I’m not feeling anymore. I’m more fearless in my life now.
Is there still the need for a solo project or do you have your hands full with Life Of Agony these days?
My hands are full at the moment with Life Of Agony. But that doesn’t mean that I will stop with making my music. I’m already busy with writing a new record. I have already made more solo records then with Life Of Agony.
So how busy will it become for the band?
That depends how you manage busy. I am pretty much busy now with all the interviews. I’m doing them all in February. From Monday till Wednesday since the birth of February. They just send my and Alan to Europe to do a press tour for a week. Most of the people just want to talk to me. I have no problem to do that for the band and myself. The other band members want that anyway. Sal don’t want to do interview or talk to others. They do other things for the band. We do pretty much everything ourselves now. We fired everyone else in our circle. Because we are now at a point with the band that we keep it healthy and fun. We are happy to spend time with each other and catch up all the lost times we missed. So we have time for just one more question because the next interview is already waiting.
So to end this interview. Is there a message or some words you want to share with our readers?
Tell Belgium and the Netherlands I love them. To all my Belgian and Dutch fans, Life of Agony loves you for all the love and support over the years. We love playing in Belgium and Netherlands. So check all the dates and visit us.