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Impure Wilhelmina

Impure Wilhelmina is een band die ik al jaren volg, vanaf hun vroege post-metal dagen. Na enkele langdurige hiaten in hun discografie, ben ik de band een beetje uit het oog verloren, maar de Zwitsers zijn ijzersterk teruggekomen met 'Radiation', een album dat met een meer melodieuze, melancholieke aanpak mijn aandacht weer heeft gegrepen. Kortom, de mogelijkheid om bandleider Michael Schindl te interviewen was een prima kans om meer te leren over hoe Impure Wilhelmina er nu voor staat en enkele vragen te stellen die al jaren op antwoord wachten.

Door: Lykle | Archiveer onder gothic metal

First of all, my compliments on your new album 'Radiation'. I’ve been playing it almost daily ever since I received the promo and it’s a strong candidate for my album of the year. How have other reactions to the album been so far?
Thank you! The reactions so far are good, people who have listened to it seems to like it. But more important, we are really satisfied with this album, I still can listen to it after the whole process of recording and mixing, that's a good sign.

I’ve had the promo for quite a while now, but the release of 'Radiation' is more than three months later. How come there is such a gap between finishing the album and actually releasing it?
We recorded the album last summer, so for us, the gap is not three months but a whole year. The mixing and mastering process took a very long time, and we delivered the album to Season of Mist in January. At this time they prepared the production process and then started the promotional work. All this takes a lot of time, which seems rather usual for this label.

I’ve been following Impure Wilhelmina for a long time already, from the days when post-metal was still called post-core over here. You have made a huge musical journey since then, moving from the post-genre to something more melodic and melancholic that could appeal to fans of Katatonia, for example. How did this major change in sound come to be?
It came very naturally. It was never like 'ok, let's do something different'. But I think this evolution began after 'L'amour, la mort, l'enfance perdue', with a major line-up change, the first of many. Each musician who played in the band brought his own influences, pop, stoner, progressive, punk-rock…and mixed it with my own vision. And there was probably an evolution in my inspiration too, the wish to do something more melodic. That's why the clear vocals took a major place in the music, because two guitars aren't enough for the melodies I wanted.

Another thing that’s clearly noticeable, is the progress in the vocal delivery. Have you done anything special to improve in that aspect?
Essentially just practice, but I took some advices from some singers around me. For the vocals harmonies, Serge Morattel, the guy who recorded our albums, and Matthieu Hardouin, our former guitarist and great singer, gave me some ideas. This helped me to feel more and more confident with my voice. I discover that I love to sing, probably because it is a good antidepressant. When we play live, we are still performing some old songs where I'm growling (I love it too!), but the alternation between clear voice and growls tires my vocal cords quite a lot. So I have to be careful about this on tour.

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Looking at the lyrical content of 'Radiation', it’s clear that it’s not the happiest album ever made. What inspires you to such melancholy?
I always loved melancholic music. I think it's impossible for me to compose something that sounds happy. Being the main composer in Impure Wilhelmina, there will always be this melancholic touch. And I must say that the last three years where not the easiest of my life, and I think that this can be read in the lyrics. In a more general way, the blackness of the human soul is an inexhaustible subject which interests me a lot.

While you were quite productive in the earlier years of Impure Wilhelmina, there is a six-year gap 'Prayers and Arson' and 'Black Honey' and now again a three year gap. What is causing these long gaps and how do you think it’s going to be in the future?
Many reasons. Line-up changes, less time for writing and rehearsals, side-project, families. I’m not sure that we will manage to reduce these gaps in the future but we obviously found a new motivation after the signing on Season of Mist. For this reason the gap between 'Black Honey' and 'Radiation' is only three years, and not longer.

After hearing the new album, people will probably be interested in seeing Impure Wilhelmina live. I’ve noticed that you have some festival gigs coming up and a small tour in October as well. Are there also plans for touring with a popular band as support act, for example, to impress a different kind of audience than before?
No, actually no plan like this. We have this tour in October and some gigs in September in Switzerland for the release party. But we always look for shows and it's not so easy for us because it seems that people have some difficulties assigning us to a scene. On the other hand, we evolve somewhere between metal, cold wave and alternative rock, which means that we can potentially play with a large variety of bands, for different audiences. So we are working on it, and we hope that this new album is going to draw attention, what will open us opportunities.

We’ve seen quite some good rock & metal releases coming from Switzerland this year, including yours, but also When Icarus Falls and Neo Noire for example. Are you guys eating or drinking anything special this year or is there something in the air to make this happen?
We are eating tons of fondue and drinking a lot of absinth.

I’ve always wondered what your band name was about. Could you please enlighten me?
The name is inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula. No connection with the royal family of the Netherlands! To be very honest, if I would start a band today, I would probably not choose this name, but something more simple. Most people are too lazy or too stupid to remember such a band name. So I would call my band 'Anus' or something like that. That's an advice for young musicians.

What kind of music are you listening to yourselves these days? Any nice tips for our readers?
While I'm answering to these interview, I listen to Xasthur 'Telepathic with the Deceased'. I love the melancholy (what a surprise) and I love the name of the songs, for instance 'Slaughtered Useless Beings in a Nihilistic Dream'. Otherwise, here are bands that I'm listening to regularly : Death, Morbid Angel, Coroner, Iron Maiden, Today is the Day, Extra Life, Blut Aus Nord, and many others. I just realize that I'm listening almost exclusively to metal...

Thank you so much for 'Radiation' and this interview. Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
Thanks for your interest, we will plan to play in the Netherlands soon.

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