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For I Am King

Dat er in Nederland heel wat talentvolle bands rondlopen kan niemand ontkennen. Eentje die er nu toch echt wel bovenuit schiet is For I Am King. Hun nieuwste album ‘I’ is ronduit uitstekend te noemen. Deathcore heeft normaal gesproken een fanatieke maar kleine doelgroep, maar met het melodieuze aspect erbij kan For I Am King probleemloos mikken naar een veel breder publiek. We praten erover met bandleden Wouter Cammelbeeck (gitaar) en Jurgen Van Straaten (bas).

Door: Koen W. | Archiveer onder metalcore

Hey guys, how are you doing? Congratulations with your third album ‘I’. Was it that famous difficult album to make that every band is afraid of?
Jurgen: To be honest, it is our second album. The first one was an EP. But the writing was the easiest of the three. It was lots of labour in total for sure. But it felt like it was easy. We already knew what we wanted to sound like. So, the contours were pretty much clear.

Wouter: I totally agree with that. This time we got a lot of inspiration.

‘I’ is the shortest album title that I know. The biography refers to a lot of different things. As the ninth letter in the alphabet, as a mathematical phenomenon, as an indication for Iodine, as a roman number one and so much more. How long did it take to come up with that concept?
Jurgen: I was one of the persons who thought about the title and it was already in my mind for a long time. Even when we were still writing. There was a bit of doubt because it sounded so short. It was difficult, but it sounds very strong. There maybe are some people who could refer to it as the cipher one. But that is not bad at all either.

Wouter: But it’s very easy to remember.

Jurgen: It was a big operation. We started about a year after the release of the previous album ‘Daemons’. I think the writing took about one year and a half before we started recording. But when we started with the artwork, the concept and lyrics were almost ready, I was becoming more and more secure about the album title.

How do you work on an album? Is every bandmember doing his individual work and send it afterwards to the rest of the band or do you still work the old-fashioned way by rehearsals?
Jurgen: It’s the modern way but old-fashioned. We did this all together. The ideas were formed at home with demo’s and recording software. The arrangements we did together so all the songs become a coherent part of the bigger picture. And that is a big change when you compare it with our previous work.

Wouter: I can confirm that. We wrote a lot at home. Like whole songs or almost finished songs. But we spend also a lot of days together. We call that a ‘writing evening’. But that also could take part on a Saturday or Sunday. Then we started to puzzle until the songs were growing stronger and stronger. But now I am only talking about the musical part and not the singing.

Jurgen: Here’s a nice story about the album. During our tour last summer we played Metal Days and at the Free&Easy festival in Munich. There were also two shows planned with an English band. But their singer got sick, which left us with three days without a show to play only one after that. So, we could choose to cancel that last show in Munich or not. We don’t prefer to cancel shows. So we didn’t and we took some time off to spend a few days in a house in Austria and enjoy the nature. We wrote a lot there. The song ‘Forever Blind’ was almost completely made there. And also a part of the song ‘Home’. Isn’t it, Wouter?

Wouter: Yes, the structure was almost completely written over there.

Jurgen: So, it was the old-fashioned way but we did also write individually at home.

To be honest, this was my first acquaintance with For I Am King. And I was immediately very enthusiastic about the album. How have you grown as a band when you compare it with your debut EP ‘Revengeance’ which is four years old already?
Jurgen: You get to know each other better as a person. You learn a lot of things when you are on the road. You get to know how everything works. And I think that we have grown a lot. Like song writing and musically for example.

Wouter: We had some line-up changes. Former members have had their input and now they are replaced by new members who have a different opinion about music and who have their input. But our knowledge has grown. And you see how the public is reacting. You also become more aware of arrangements and every instruments task. You mature in a way.

On this album, you show a very own sound and identity. It is complex, furious, sometimes dreamy and with plenty of catchy choruses and lead guitarwork. Was it difficult to make it so?
Jurgen: It pretty much goes automatically. We do what we think is best.

I suspect that Alma Alizadeh is the main contributor of the lyrics. Where does she gets her inspiration?
Jurgen: Not really. I wrote almost all the lyrics together with Alma (Alizadeh - vocals). I think that from the ten songs, in fact nine because one is instrumental, I wrote five lyrics and she wrote four. But together we changed and added some things. Alma and I recorded the lyrics here downtown in a rehearsal room. First some demo’s and then some editing and improvements. It is in the title ‘I’ that we founded more personal lyrics. With predecessor ‘Daemons’ we went more with a mythical theme. We wanted to tell stories to distract people from their daily life. With ‘I’ we tried to write about things we see around us and things we have experienced. Things we have an opinion about and why people do some things.

You are known as a metalcore band. But there are so many other influences. Metalcore but also deathcore. And the whole album is filled with melodic guitar parts. What is your main inspiration?
Wouter: About the bands, It’s what you listen to yourself. Before For I Am King Jurgen and I were in a metalcore band, which is where we met. I am also a fan of bands like At The Gates and stuff like that. Those are my roots. I’m a metalhead. Koen (Scheepens – guitar) is a real shredder. He likes the lead guitar parts. He also loves more progressive bands. Like Tesseract or Animals As Leaders.
We all have our own luggage. As for the song writing: Jurgen, Koen and I wrote the most. But the whole band was involved.

band image

I also want to mention the artwork. For me The Persian style makes it one of the most beautiful albums covers I have seen last years. I think the Iranian roots of Alma have something to do with it.
Jurgen: In the beginning I was a bit sceptic about it. It is not so easy to find the perfect art style. But Alma mentioned it because she liked it so much. I think it is a bit to do with her background. We worked with the same designer who did our album ‘Daemons’. We talked about it and he made us a first sketch. Once we saw that we knew that was what we wanted. We did some small changes and wanted to avoid that typical metalcore and death metal style. And I think that turned out great.

In all artwork you use the colour gold. It seems not to be so cheap. Did the label agree with the choice?
Jurgen: We talked about it. But it was not like a must-have but more a nice to have for us. Also, for the photoshoot and the video for ‘Forever Blind’ the hands of Alma were painted with gold. So, the label agreed with us. At least for the first edition.

Jurgen, till 2017 you played guitar in the band. When former bass player Jasper van den Broek left the band, you changed the guitar for the bas and Koen Scheepens started as guitar player. Why those changes?
Jurgen: At first it felt weird but not anymore. We knew Koen very well. In those days, he played some shows with us as a stand-in guitarist. Sometimes for me and sometimes for Wouter. There was a personal connection and he was doing very well as our stand-in. When Jasper told us he was going to leave the band, I started to think who was going to replace him. Koen felt like the right guy. I didn’t find it a problem to offer my place to him. He plays the guitar much better than I do. So, I started to play the bass. Of course, under a few conditions.

Are you as a band stronger now?
Wouter: Musically we are much stronger now.

There is a European tour with Decapitated coming up. How did you meet them?
Jurgen: That’s thanks to our bookings agency Loud Noise. Decapitated EU tour is booked by them and we are also booked by them. We think this is a great chance for us!

In Holland you even have three release shows planned. Melkweg Amsterdam (07/12/2018), Lola Groningen (08/12/2018) and Volt, Sittard (09/12/2018). Will there be something special?
Jurgen: Isn’t that enough (laughs)? The Melkweg is the exclusive one. It is on the day of the release. We don’t know for sure what it will be, but we want to do something special. It is already in our mind.

On the fifth of October, the video for the song ‘Forever Blind’ was released. The reactions on it were unanimously praising. Are you still curious on how people will react to the new show?
Jurgen: Of course.
Wouter: Definitely. The most fun part always is when people say that is sounds great. Also when people start to compare us with bands we don’t even know.

Jurgen: It’s always nice to read the reactions. And it is always very exciting.

Does the band spend a lot of time on the social media?
Wouter: There is a lot of time spend on it.

Jurgen: Koen is doing that. He also does our content. Sometimes it is hard to reach people through Facebook. In the early days with the magazine Rock Sound for example, there came a sampler cd with it. You would look at the bands from that cd and if they played any shows near you. You would go to the show and but a shirt or an album. That was much easier.

It is strange, but it took up until now for you to have an interview with Lords Of Metal. Do you feel that with Redfield Records and Ron Van Hal from Aces High promotion your promotion goes much better than before?
Jurgen: Yes, I like working with Ron. I think it was around October with the release of ‘Forever Blind’ that we started working together. There was a mutual sympathy and you see the result. It is also our second album with Redfield Records and they did some good promotion in Holland and Belgium. That went great and it seems to work.

This week the news reached us that your countrymen from ‘The Charm The Fury’ are quitting. Did you also had some rough times with For I Am King?
Jurgen: Daily hahaha.

Wouter: Not really. It is a lot of hard work and it’s not easy. We have our day jobs and then we also have our personal lives. But we have each other and it’s always fun to go out with each other. This feeling also had to be there with our new member. You can be such a good musician, but if he is an ass or an irritating person, the long bus drives will be very annoying. How do you feel about that Jurgen?

Jurgen: There is this period before a release that you play less shows and do a lot of work behind the screens. I always find that to be a very stressful time. You miss the playing because there is no more adrenaline and no more reactions of people visiting the show. It’s about time that we start playing shows again.

Of course, a lot more time needs to be spent on the band. What sacrifices do you want to make for For I Am King?
Jurgen: You have to spend a lot of time on it. Wouter and I have full time jobs. Koen is still studying. Alma and Jaap (Relou – drums) are very flexible with their jobs. You only have a restriction on going on holidays. I have two children and a wife. It is always a struggle.

So I thank you both for your time. It was a very nice conversation. To end, you can spread a last message to our readers. So be our guest.
Jurgen: Thanks, and the same goes for us. I hope that some of the readers will be at our shows and come over to have a nice chat and enjoy our music.

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