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Askara

Midden september start Sleeping Romance haar eerste headliner tour door een deel van Europa. De openingsband is het grotendeels onbekende Askara. Askara? Nog nooit van gehoord zegt u wellicht? Dat kan kloppen, want de band is afgaand op het aantal streams een grote onbekende. Op het moment van uitwerken (begin september 2018) staan alle nummers van de band op Spotify op een vermaledijde ‘<1000 plays’. Ondanks dat, en een niet op alle fronten overtuigend debuut, toch tijd voor een nadere kennismaking met de band. De band was voltallig aanwezig bij de uiterst vermakelijke Skype-sessie. Ter bevordering van de leesbaarheid is slecht bij uitzondering aangegeven wie het precieze antwoord gaf aangezien men elkaar, gelukkig, continu aanvulde.

Door: Hendrik Attema | Archiveer onder gothic metal

So let’s start on a bit of a low: The album got a 6 out of 10 review from us, what does that mean to you?
Well…. 6 out of 10 shows that there is potential. In the live setting we will give our best shot to convince the attendees of our music. And in the end a rating of an album is always subjective. But we will give it our everything to win over the fans in the Netherlands.

In some songs there is more than slight reference to the likes Evanescence. Is that a correct observation?
For me Evanescence is certainly a big influence. But we are a rather progressive band and maybe we get listeners out of their comfort zone as they cannot directly attach a label to our music as to where to put the music. So, my advice would be to check us out in a live setting to get convinced!
We have had lengthy discussion about the way we should name our style and in the end we settled for ‘Progressive Gothic Metal’. And yes, even that style name might be hard to grasp.

When people cannot stick a label to a band it might take some time to win an audience over.
That is exactly the challenge in winning over people. When you try to be original you have to find an audience that is willing to try something new…and hopefully in ten years’ time they will talk about us the same as they did after getting the message of Tom and Celtic Frost. Dream Theater were also stretching it too far for a lot of people in their early days and now almost everybody knows them. What strengthens us in our determination that we get a lot of positive feedback from people, especially in a live setting.

What are you’re experiences touring wise outside Switzerland?
So far we did one show in Sweden and one in Germany just next to Basel. But now we got on the tour through Desert Rose Agency. We now their founder and the first tour he tried didn’t work out for us, but this one was a good match.

What do you expect from the tour?
“It will be an absolute experience for us to tour eight days in a row in Europe. It will give us a chance to meet new people, get a bit of a network, like today with you and hear feedback after the show. We take pride in taking tome after the show to discuss with the fans about our music and show. And yes: it might be a slot of only 30 or so minutes. We might bring something new to the shows. At the moment we try some new stuff as we found each other during the warm ups for this tour. At practice we try the new ideas as the new songs are a bit faster, although we don’t play really fast! The new stuff is more challenging I would say as we gained a lot of experience from our time in the studio for the debut album and practice and shows. Currently we are able to put more ideas in a shorter timeframe. We also took notice of things that didn’t work on an album, we keep learning on that part from our debut.

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Is there a generic lyrical theme and are there any ideas on a second album?
The lyrical themes still are focussed on our personal experiences and challenges and hardships we face. We put these to words and music, but so far it is all based on things we encountered. Fans can in a way relate to this or at least get the feelings we are describing. Ideas? Yes…we only lack a sponsor [laughs]. No, in all honesty: we do have ideas but it’s too early yet to book a studio etc.. There are not enough songs yet for a full album, so we have to write and finish the new material first before we go to the next stage.

Do you listen to your debut yourselves?
We play it over and over again [laughs]. Benjamin and I (Elia) recently played along with the record to get into the vibe again. No…we won’t need a tablature to play live. We just our imagining how that would look… thanks for the mental picture! As far as we’re concerned we play from our mind as we think than you can add more emotion that way than playing from sheet music. You’re right in stating that classical music has emotions as well, but their type of music is a bit (sic) more complex than ours. Classical musicians for sure know the hardest parts in their concerts.

What is the state of the current Swiss scene?
The Swiss scene is hard…it’s not as open minded as we would like it to see. There are not many Swiss bands that make it internationally, except for DJ Bobo maybe [laughs]. Not only is it hard to make it outside Switzerland, even within our country it’s very difficult. Look at a band like Eluveitie, the most popular Swiss metal band at the moment, even they have a hard time making it. They toured other territories and got a name before they were booked on Swiss festivals. Another thing is that the Swiss fans are more internationally oriented and they also rather go to big festivals for four-five fold the price of a club show instead of going to a clubshow. We have had some exposure in Switzerland. But we had exposure worldwide from online platforms in video and writing, which resulted in interest from South America, Japan etc.. We even got orders from there to ship our album. And online? We made a deal with a distributor in Switzerland and they took care for an acceptable sum to spread out music on over 200 different apps like Spotify, Deezer, Amazon iTunes and the likes. That saved a lot of time but then again, we don’t make money from those platforms. So, music remains a pass time which takes a lot of time but gives a lot of reward. The main reward is when people have enjoyed our show and give us a compliment as they are the ones that pay money. We are our own worst critics and we try to keep improving. But as said before, the personal interaction is the main driving force for us. Like with that one show in Sweden we got to know someone who later visited us here. Things like that are worth any effort.

Any special expectations of the shows in the Netherlands as bands tend to go for that one thing here?
We have been to the Netherlands before and there are a lot of good things for us. An invention like ‘hagelslag’ or ‘stroopwafels’ is something we will buy for sure. Oh they come from Gouda? Cool. But the Netherlands is way more than just cannabis, that’s more an American approach as they might even mistake Sweden for Switzerland.

So, thanks for your time and giving a bit more insight into your band. Is there anything to add to our readers from your side?
“We really love to see you at the shows as we heard that the Dutch fans are really fond of Symphonic Metal. Within Silence and Sleeping Romance are a great combination, so we are looking forward to a packed crowd. Thanks for your effort and doing it in German!

Dates in The Netherlands plus Belgium:
18-09: Jan Hertog Live Club - Maasmechelen (BE)
19-09: StudioGonz - Gouda (NL)
20-09: Metropool - Hengelo (NL)
21-09: De Verlichte Geest - Roeselare (BE)

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