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When Plagues Collide

Met ‘Tutor Of The Dying’ kreeg ik toch wel een heel straf album om te bespreken. Ik sta nog steeds paf dat dit een debuut is en dan nog van een Belgische band die het geheel in eigen beheer heeft uitgebracht. Hiermee wordt zwart op wit bewezen dat in eigen beheer kwaliteit brengen wel degelijk lukt. Met drie leden: Wouter, Santy en Bastiaan hadden we dan ook een leuk Skype videogesprek over de band en het album.

Door: Koen W. | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

This interview is about your debut: 'Tutor Of The Dying'. I can hardly believe that this is your debut album. Every detail has been thought of. How long have you worked on this piece?
Wouter: We actually started writing after our EP ‘Shrine of Hatred’ that came out in April 2017. 'Fertilization With The Body Of Men' and 'Tutor Of The Dying' are songs which have seen daylight since the first couple of months WPC exists. We started writing further to complete an entire album. And that has taken about one year, including the recordings etc..’

Your debut sounds really good. It is actually hard to imagine that you are beginning musicians. Do you already have a background in music?
Santy: ‘We all have. I personally almost live in my basement – which is a studio nowadays - and play the guitar day and night while writing and programming new songs.’

Wouter: ‘My former band was Falanx, a deathcore band with lyrics in Flemish. Since I’m very critical about lyrics I prefer writing them myself and find the right notes to paste them on our music. Of course we all look at When Plagues Collide as ‘our’ project and give each other the necessary feedback.’

Bastiaan: 'I am the bass player and just follow the others, but have a back ground as guitar player at Source of Anguish.’

Wouter, you write the lyrics. They are true pearls and very long stories that you sing. The subjects are rather dark but everything remains civilized. Have you ever studied Germanic languages or philosophy?
Wouter: 'No relevant studies were followed but I do take my lyrics very seriously. I’m an active musician for about thirteen years. In all this years I have heard people say several times that the music sounds great until the singing begins. This is obviously a matter of taste, but also a huge reason why the lyrics have to be thought through. Also, if I can’t find myself in the words I am singing, how can I expect the crowd will? Personally I see them as part of the whole. The purity of feelings that must come forward and so must be shown. The reason why everything has to remain civilized is simple: the message is to remain positive, no matter what. And that’s why I always finish with a positive note. Although sometimes you really have to read them a couple of times before this positive thinking becomes clear. The album will be released on November the first, the memorial day of the dead. In my eyes, everyone who doesn’t do whatever makes him happy is considered ‘dying’ a bit every day. Do what you have to but think for yourself, do not blindly walk the line but dare to stand up for yourself, for your family and everyone who means something to you. If you do so, true happiness will be found and you can actually start living. Therefore we called this album ‘Tutor of the Dying’. Lots of different approaches were taken and lots of metaphors were used. Important so I believe, to give every listener the freedom to interpret our songs their way and reflect on their own life. Happiness is found in several ways and will be different for me and you. If you listen to Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, you’ll hear the story of a prisoner of war which is watching at the preparation of his gallows. Thing is that he looks his death right into the eyes but that’s fine because he will be reunited with his long lost family.’

Is ‘Imperatieve Grootmacht’ a text written by our own?
Wouter: 'Yes sir! That was completely written and recorded by myself. Even the samples, with which we had a great laugh. "

It is unbelievable that a human voice can sound like that. From more or less normal deathcore and grunt to the end of 'Fleshmound' an inhuman pigcore scream.
Wouter: 'I think I should share the honor there. We have been given the pleasure to work with some great artists for the guest vocals. Ben Duerr of Shadows Of Intent (and Hollow Prophet) did a great job on ‘Dictating Violence’. He is such a person, a major power within the genre! And it is Luke Griffin from Acrania (and Human Error) does those lovely piggies at the end of ‘Fleshmould’. Besides those international artists we also contacted a local with the vocal chords of Satan himself. Tim De Ridder helped us to improve ‘Marked for Destruction’, for which we are very grateful. I’ll sure pass the compliments!

With a lot of bands in your genre, every song actually sounds the same. A lot of variation has been put into this. Was this a must for you? The songs and the album are sounding a lot stronger.
Santy: 'It's just a way of writing. I'm not trying to focus entirely on deathcore. Some metalcore was also inserted. I wanted to use several genres to walk along some side streets. The whole had to remain fascinating. '

Are you a Do It Yourself band or have you asked for help from other artists for certain things?
Santy: 'Only with the guest vocals. The rest we have done ourselves. Although Project Zero Studio wasn’t afraid to give us feedback while recording the album. Depending on the ideas we agreed to change the songs and vocal lines but in general we’re quite stubborn.. A big thanks to Yarne for his advice and pleasant way of working.’

In your biography, when the band was established, it was agreed that no limits should exist. What do you mean by this?
Wouter: 'This counts for everything. Santy has just given a great example about not limiting ourselves to a specific genre. The creative mind may not be stagnated at any costs. Every song is story by itself so it is too important maintain different approaches. It sounds only logical to us that different songs and lyrics cause different feelings and therefore beg for different melodies and ways to bring those stories. When Plagues Collide stands for humanity in general. Think about our multicultural society, a wide variation of religions and views on how things have to be done and lived by in a political way. When those aspects, those plagues, come together, so when they collide, you obviously have a problem. And that is our muse, our inspiration. To spread our meaning on how to live in such a world. Not always easy to end with a positive note, as you can imagine. Although I have to say that also (and maybe even ‘especially’) humor cannot know any boundaries. Keep on laughing and you’ll be just fine. More or less that is then…’

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The album was self-released. Yet it seems to come straight from the stable of a reputable label that has put a lot of money into it. The sound, the artwork, the cover, you name it. Were risks taken?
Santy 'Risks are always there. But until now, we have only received positive feedback. The album is not released yet so the number of people who listened to it is still small. However, if this trend continuous, future is looking bright so the risk will only pay off.’

Wouter: ‘We play a lot of shows and hope people buy our merchandise so we can save some more money. There has also been invested in a lyric video by figure of marketing. Next to this, a lot of time is spend in comparing prices for the different services, so we are always sure to work with the best dealers.’

Wouter and Joris (Dergez - Guitar) are brothers. Do you also get a kind of Cavalera domination in which the family bond is stronger than the group feeling or is each member considered as being at the same level?
Wouter: A classic example of ‘family is much more than blood’. Don’t get me wrong, Joris will always be my brother but these lads are true friends who help each other at any time. We stand as one!’

You almost play at an extraterrestrial speed. How intensively do you think you can play as much as possible on a stage?
Santy: ‘This is a matter of practice. And with the necessary samples in between songs we can have the time to catch our breath. When playing a shorter set of about 30 minutes, we also feel like the set is just too short. Therefore we try to choose our songs wisely and play as intense as possible. Again, practice makes perfect.’

There are a lot of symphonic elements incorporated. I suspect that a real choir was a too expensive cost. Who has taken care of these elements?
Santy: ‘We are 2018 so it’s not that difficult to write down such elements with a computer and the right programs. ‘Vows’ however, was written by Joris. He actually played this song at his wedding while speaking out his vows to his wife. We were all present and decided unanimously that this was the closure the album needed. In this specific context, this song lifts you up and takes you down at the same time.’

How are you going to bring all those epic choral sounds and piano on stage?
Santy: ‘We’re using a computer at live shows for those elements. Also, Siebe, our drummer (and metronome), uses in ears and guides us through the set. It is absolutely necessary to play as tight as possible because of the programmed piano, choir etc.. For the smallest mistake will be heard. Some improvisation is possible but never with the rhythm.’

Today's youth has an almost impossible choice of different bands and access is also easy with YouTube and Spotify. That in comparison with years back. What do you listen to most.
Santy: I am a big deathcore fanatic. Actually, I do not listen to anything else. Our drummer was only sixteen years old when he joined us. He is still at music school and plays jazz, blues and pop on daily base. Joris also regularly listens to jazz. The rest mainly listen to metal.

Wouter: Metal, hip hop (the good bands like ABN for example), but also old rock and everything in between. My wife appreciates ‘my’ music but when we are cruising together, we mainly sing classics out of every genre.

What follows now? A lot of sacrifice and time to bring the band to a certain level or do you remain skeptical and do studies or work still have priority?
Wouter: ‘At this moment I do not think anyone will quit school or work. Nobody knows what will happen. Time is sacrificed but as long as we love what we are doing, it is time well spent. Further we try to work as efficient as possible by digitally recording new material at home. The next rehearsal everyone knows what to expect and especially what to do. We can fully focus.

Santy: I think that we should not start to float now because we made a good record. You can also be quickly written off as a band. But to make our job out of it? Another life has to be financed. So we stay with both feet on the ground. We look at what we invest in and how we are going to handle it. Getting a well-paid show nowadays is already difficult.’

In the future there are already some shows planned for you. The release is during Masters Of Grind in Sint Niklaas on 03/11/2018 and that is even completely sold out. Is something special done?
Santy: The first hundred visitors, get the album for free. Also playing with such names (Aborted, Pig Destroyer, Cryptopsy, Gutalax, Cytotoxin, …) does its work.’

And on 18/11/2018 you will even be at the Metal Gates Festival in Bucharest.
Santy: ‘That has happened through our promoter. He had seen us play last year at a venue in Ninove (Belgium). We were offered to go to Romania and off course we could not refuse.’

Then there is the Fleddy Melculy Chlistmas show on 29/12/2018 in Leopoldsburg. I assume that Jeroen Camerlynck does not live so far away from you?
Bastiaan: ‘I am friends with three members of the band including Jeroen himself. But it is not that way we went to play there. When 'Fertilization with the Body of Men' was finished, Jeroen heard this song and he must have liked it. He got in touch with the request to complete the lineup for their show in Leopoldsburg. That's how we got involved.’

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