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Powerized

Met ‘The Mirrors Eye’ is de Nederlandse power metal formatie Powerized klaar voor een vliegende start. Die start liep hier en daar wat vertraging op omdat zanger Nick Holleman ineens gewild was door een paar van de groten in onze wereld, Vicious Rumors bijvoorbeeld. Nu is het dan zover, het debuutalbum is uit en de album release shows zijn gespeeld. Voorafgaand aan een van die releaseshows, in een kapel te Uden, had ik een uitgebreid onderhoud met Nick, de zanger, toetsenist, muziekschrijver en niet in de laatste plaats de spraakwaterval van het vijftal. We bespraken niet alleen Powerized, maar ook Nick’s avonturen elders in de metalscene. Lees vooral verder!

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

So two Dutchies talking music in English. A little odd maybe but what can you do, orders from the big boss! Well, the answer to the first question kind of shows on your face, but that is kind of hard to see when reading the interview. So, excited for this show?
Yeah very much. Finally we have the chance to show the world what we had in mind the whole time. We’ve been working on this concept for about three years now. We really want to make this big first impression, for you only have one chance for a first impression. Even with the album recordings, we had these songs ready and we were already like how can we do certain stuff? Finally we decided that we were going to do everything just the way we wanted, no concessions. Concessions will lead to regrets for stuff we missed out on. The same thing counts for the live show tonight. You are going to be with Powerized tonight, you will be in the new enlightenment. You will see a show, not just a live performance. The live performance is of course still there, but in kind of an ambiance. To get everyone’s heads in the same direction we chose this venue, because then they will live what we have in mind. We’re very excited to let the world know what we have been up to for the last five years.

And this chapel, does it have any relation with your album?
Not necessarily. The concept takes place in an old theatre, so we also booked a couple of theatres built they were either too new and modern looking, or they did not have too many options for hosting our show. That’s when this venue crossed our path, and it had all those elements we were looking for. The vibe, the ambiance, the impression, and you saw those big gates. The reverb is going to be a problem tonight, but that’s the only thing. It is really about this whole setting and that’s why we chose this venue tonight.

So about your new record, it has been out for about two weeks now. How has the reception of the debut record been so far?
Great, incredible actually! You know I played with Vicious Rumors and some other bands and these were all these old school heavy metal bands and this is nothing like that. It is way more conceptual, we call it symphonic prog ourselves, but it’s really hard to put a label on something. In the show we are even going to play a couple of blues songs. I like all kinds of music and I really like working with atmospheres a lot, so creating a certain vibe that fits the song. When you work from there you get many different types of songs, some are fast, some slower, some are more broken down to a couple of layers and some have this huge orchestral arrangement. The biggest compliment we had with these reviews is that they were not blaming us for being not metal or too metal or something, they kind of avoided the genre and that was really impressive to read. Reviewers said that this album really has it’s own sound, of course some influences here and there but in the end it is something new and different. That was the biggest compliment for me. The result of not making compromises I think. Of course there are some people who do not like certain songs, but that always happens. So in general, the reception has been amazing.

’The Mirrors Eye’ is a concept album. Can you tell us something about the story featured?
I can, but only a little bit because hopefully tonight is going to show what the story is about! If I have to put it down to a few lines… As I told you we work a lot with atmospheres and stories, and those stories actually are the concept. People come into our space, our home. From that moment on we take them through the stories we tell and we try to strengthen this on stage. We call it the new enlightenment, so people come in there. Our goal is people not saying afterwards like “they played this and that song”, but “I’ve been to a Powerized show”, we want to captivate from start to finish. So it is a concept, but the concept comes from us so that’s a bit of a difference. It is not too theatrical in that sense, a bit strengthened by theatrical elements. But it is not an act, it is our thing and us being proud of what we do right now. We love to entertain and we love to make music and that’s our number one reason to do this. We like to give energy and we like for people to give energy back and we decided to make a concept out of that. In that concept, people come to us and listen to us telling our stories, or our creed as how we call it. That is what they see and get and are going to experience. Hence the slogan, “no hope, just me”. No empty promises, just me, enter. In the concept there is a different concept, but that will reveal too much about album two and three so I will not tell more about that.

Are you going to play the entire record from start to finish?
Sort of. We will play all the songs, but our single ‘For The Fallen’ is doing well on YouTube so we decided to put that at the end. And we have a break in the middle tonight because the venue requested that. So we had to have two endings because we have our fifteen minute break, so that’s why we chose to swap two songs, not too much of a difference.

If someone was to put one song and one song only from your new record to his or her playlist. Which one should it be and why?
Pfff that’s actually a difficult one but I think it has to be ‘For The Fallen’. The video as you might have seen introduces the concept, the new enlightenment. You come with us and you get involved with that. Everything is in there. We have a fast guitar solo, an acoustic part, some orchestrations, some softer and heavier parts. So I guess that is the most versatile one and especially to step in with. My personal favourite in fact is ‘Behind The Gates’, but that’s also the hardest song on the record. So starting with that might freak a few out, you have to hear that one a couple of more times. So let’s go with ‘For The Fallen’!

A personal favourite for me is ‘God Of This World’, rarely have I heard a song that had so much musical diversity in it and was able to grasp attention from start to finish with such a song duration. This puts the song on contest with legendary power metal epics such as Blind Guardians ‘And Then There Was Silence’, Helloweens ‘Keeper Of The Seven Keys’ or Iced Earths ‘Dantes Inferno’. Any comments on this one?
Well thanks! Especially at the end of the album and then keeping your attention up that is a big compliment. I can actually tell you something funny about that one. When I started writing the song I started with an atmosphere in my head as usual. When I start recording and finalizing, that usually takes me one day for a whole song. I have to be able to play it in my head completely before I can start recording it. So I started out with this song for at the end of the album which was about five or six minutes long, but the story was not over in my head, so the song more than doubled in length haha. It is about people always wanting to change the world to the exact way they would like to see it and in the process fucking it up for someone else. The person in the song was trying to make the world revolve around him, but he realised that if he pacified, things would all even out. That’s also a bit of our view on it, just relax, drink something, sit back, don’t worry too much. It’s an interesting one to read the lyrics for! It has a few elements in there that you can put eeh… well in Dutch, on “tegeltjes” haha!

Tile wisdom haha! So, about the music. Did you compose everything yourself from scratch or were ideas by other band members used as well?
The solos were written by the guitar players but the rest is all me, I deliver what they play. Also for the next albums I have all the music for all instruments and also the lyrics. I actually grew like that, because I had those concepts and atmospheres ready. Sometimes we tried tweaks by the others but it never really worked, because it disturbed the flow in the songs and the concepts. So everyone was like okay Nick you can do it if you like, and everyone agreed. I don’t remember at which point we decided to keep it that way, I don’t know exactly how it grew, but I remember they said like okay just are going to do it, because it works.

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The band is now signed under the Dutch label Painted Bass records. Another band in that roster is Shadowrise, who live a stone’s throw away and released their debut album only days apart from yours. Happy coincidence?
Yes, because they were actually gong to release their album way earlier. We were actually going to play with them as support for a try-out for us in November because then their album would be released. So it was quite a surprise for us that that also happened now all of a sudden haha. We had no idea about that.

Well, you can still play together…
Absolutely, and maybe that will happen in the future. For these release shows we decided not to because there is a lot of stuff going to be put on the stage and in the venue itself so that would have been impossible. But yeah, we are from the same area and the music could fit together, so why not? I’m happy to play with everyone!

So you have shown in the past! So now that your tour with Trance has ended and Martin Beck seems to be taking the time he needs for Induction, it would appear that your hands are free for the coming time. I figure that you are going to put your next efforts in taking Powerized to the next level? Any plans afoot on that level?
Yes definitely. It has all been planned actually, I knew all these things in advance of course. I actually quit Vicious Rumors because of Powerized. “The War Of The Worlds” musical we are going to do also came exactly after our album release. Trance asked me to step in because their singer could not make it or something. I was like I don’t know, I have to do a lot of promotion for Powerized and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that. I have to have a lot of people know, interviews, arranging stuff, rehearsing. I’m also going to play the piano on stage, I’ve never done that before and I think it’s scary as hell. So for Trance I really was not sure. They convinced me by promising I had two hours free every day to spend on Powerized promotion, and Trance also had interviews in which they could mention Powerized. So that sounded good to me. As far as Induction goes, I am going to do recordings by the end of June. Oh I’m not sure if I actually was allowed to mention that haha.

Oh I’m sure you can kick Martin’s ass if necessary haha. So, Trance, Vicious Rumours, Sinbreed… by the age of 26 already you have definitely left your mark around the global metal scene as a stand-in vocalist for not the least of all bands. Any bands you would still like to do some work for if you had free choice?
Aside from Powerized you mean? So as stand-in? Well not any band in particular. Are you trying to find out what bands I really like very much? In that case I want to see the original thing and I don’t want to replace that. There’s two artists that I really love very much, first there’s Beth Hart, the blues singer. She’s amazing, I can’t do what she does. I use a lot of her songs for vocal warm-ups. And another band I really like, and I might have a better chance of stepping in, is Meat Loaf. He’s too old haha. But really, for bands that I really like I do not want to step in, I want to see the original thing. I’m hoping that maybe someday I might be asked by Ayreon or Avantasia for a guest appearance, that would be really cool. And one thing that I really wanted always is to sing a song on a Flaming Row record, because that is one of my favourites. But that is going to happen, I asked him! Flaming Row is not a well-known band but they have such great music. I just sent them a message like “Hey I’m Nick and if you ever need a singer I really love your music” or something. They wrote me back like “you don’t have to explain who you are, we know you and we would love to have you on our records” so I was incredibly excited. You should check them out, they are very underrated! It’s very progressive so you have to be into that.

You already mentioned “War Of The Worlds” briefly earlier on. Tell us a bit more about that.
Well it was a lot of trouble in the beginning but it’s finally going to happen! We are going on tour for three months in the theatres. Well what is there to tell… The shows still have to start and it’s new for me as well. The original “War Of The Worlds” is a couple of movies about some Martian stuff, there’s also a book and a radio show I believe, and a musical piece. And we are going to execute the musical piece exactly as it was in 1976. I will play the role of the artillery man and I’m playing the guitar in the band. It’s organised tightly, they don’t have much rehearsals, they expect you to practice at home. It’s a very fun and open team and they are very professional, it is nice working with them. It was about to happen in October but there were still some copyright things, Jeff Wayne was protesting. But now it is going to happen and I’m happy that it is!

Your career in music has been rocketing up for the past years. When you first founded Powerized back in 2012, what were your expectations back then? When did you first realise that the teenage boy from Breda might become a well-known musician?
Well how can I answer that without sounding like a complete ass..? I never thought about it. If I want something, I will do everything to make it happen. From day one of Powerized, I did what I love to do must and that is making music. I did that twenty-four-seven. Actually there is a song about that which we will play after the break tonight. From that founding moment on I decided to do everything for it and from that it grew. I kept working, keeping busy and the people started noticing me doing what I love to do most. I am really grateful to all those people who made that possible, those people that invited me to play here and there. I did not realise that anything was going to happen in 2012 because I was just like okay, let’s do this. I never look ahead too much, I do what I love to do now, and it brought us to where we are now. It could still get bigger, I have connections now that can really help make stuff happen. Now that stuff is getting more serious for Powerized we might have to start looking ahead a bit more. The famous “where do we see ourselves in five years” sentence. I do what I love to do, it’s not an act and I hope people notice that. If I did not like it anymore I would stop.

At the moment, are you at a point where you can live off music?
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say so. It’s not big cash but I can do what I love most each and every day so I don’t need much. I need a roof over my head and that’s it. When you are on the road, stuff like food is taken care off. I try to make enough so I can pay a couple of months rent again. I have a small place and a car that gets me to places, but I’m never at home anyways. I don’t watch TV or play games or something. I’ve got my instruments of course. It’s how you look at it. Can I live from it? Yes, because I don’t need much, that’s the fair answer. I don’t have another job next to music. I have a couple of students who I give singing lessons, but that’s also in music and I like to do that.

The first time for me I saw Powerized live was in rockcafé Backstage in Nijmegen in autumn 2012, do you remember this gig?
Yeah was that with the Sabaton cover band? On a Saturday? I do remember it vaguely, it’s been a while haha. Oh wait, with the toilets next to the stage! That’s a different place to play than this one, although the toilets are still next to the stage hahaha! Not sure if we’ll play there again though. Not that we don’t want to. But we don’t want to make concessions that we might have to make in smaller venues where we might not be able to put our backdrop up, or where we can’t put anything on stage because the drum kit just fits. For us it might be a bit unfair to the people because they see a different show each time. We are aiming for venues where we can do as much as possible of our show, we are willing to cut a little bit of something now and then, but as little as possible. This is what you get if you see a Powerized show, and that is what you can expect. That is the mindset we have for booking venues.

Well I believe that was all I could ask you. Unless of course if you think I forgot something very important or you just want to add a few words?
Well you really asked a lot yeah haha. I think you should just enjoy the show and perhaps from that more questions will arise. I can tell you that the story continues on an album two and an album three, our doors are open and we would like to invite everyone to the new enlightenment. Come see us live! No hope, just me. Welcome.

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