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Delain interview – November 2016

I spoke to Charlotte Wessels and Martijn Westerholt from Delain a few hours before they played their headline show at London’s Koko venue.

Your latest album, Moonbathers, came out in August.  How has the reaction been from the fans?

Martijn: Really bad, nobody liked it..
Charlotte: They said to go back and write another..
Martijn: Yeah so we dont know what to do.  No no, it went great so far and people like it very much.  We really notice it while we’re on tour and people sing along to the new stuff.  Yeah the response has been great so far.

Two of the songs on it were on the Lunar Prelude EP, so even before the album came out people knew those two songs.

Martijn: Yeah that’s true, absolutely.

It’s good that the fans are already singing along – you get a lot of bands that play some new stuff on tour and there’s a kind of stunned silence from the crowd as they don’t know the songs.

Martijn:  You shouldn’t tour too fast after releasing an album, so you can give people time to let it work on them.
Charlotte: I do think in general a lot of the tracks on this album work very well live.  Usually we start a tour and we’ll put three or four new ones in the set, but this time I think we started with seven or eight.
Martijn: Yeah we never did that before.

Last time you were in the UK was Download festival, doing two sets, a set on stage 2 and an acoustic set the day before on the small acoustic stage.

Charlotte: Just before it started raining

Yes, you were the one band that weekend that got to play in the dry. How did you enjoy playing Download?

Martijn: It’s very important for our development in the UK, and also outside the UK, Download is a festival with a great reputation, so for that reason it was good that we were there, but also at the festival itself, it’s important to see how the people receive it, and it was really good, despite the rain. So I consider myself very very fortunate and spoiled with that.  It was a good show, absolutely.

It was good that you were on the second stage rather than on one of the small stages, and you got a big crowd despite the rain.

Martijn: We saw like a migration of crowds coming towards the second stage.
Charlotte: Not to blow our own horn, but someone said they’d never seen so many people there at that time on a sunday morning.  It’s a tricky slot, because a lot of people might still be in their tents.  So we were very happy with the turnout.

You’re  on tour at the moment with Evergrey and Kobra and the lotus.  Has the tour been going well so far?

Martijn: Yes it’s been very good fun with the bands, so we’re really happy to have them with us. Also ticket sales are really good, we’re really happy with that, and it’s always a good measurement to see how it’s really going and how people perceive the album and the shows.  This has been kind of a breakthrough tour for us.

In the past you’ve played the Garage or Islington academy, so Koko is a step up in venue size.

The last few times we did Islington academy, we sold that out the last two times, so now it was time to move up again.  The same in Manchester, we started in the academy basement, then we moved up to the 900 capacity room, and yesterday we played the Ritz, so it’s moving up tremendously.

It’s the tenth anniversary of Delain this year, so a good opportunity to look back and see how you have progressed.

Charlotte: Definitely, yes.

You’ve got a big tenth anniversary show coming up in December at Paradiso in Amsterdam.

Martijn: It’s a special venue, an old church, it’s a legendary venue, legendary artists have played there – Nirvana, The Police, the gods of pop, and now we are allowed to play there as well.  It’s great, it’s sold out.

It sold out very quickly.

Martijn: Yes it’s sold out already a couple of months.

You’ve announced a few special guests – Liv Kristine, Burton C Bell and Alissa White-Gluz.  Are there any more to announce?  

Charlotte: Early next week there will be a new announcement.

Obviously there are a couple in particular the fans are hoping for.

Martijn: Marco, they might know that he’s not available because he’s doing shows in Finland then, so he’s not coming. In the end though I think it’s good that we show it’s about us and we are not carried by the guests, although it’s fantastic to have them with us, and special because we never have guests when we’re on tour.
Charlotte: Burton will be a first
Martijn: Yes, Burton will be an absolute first.  It’s going to be great.

I think with a show like that, the guests are a bonus – we know the show will be great without them, they’re just the icing on the cake.

Martijn: That’s also why it’s important that we sold out the venue before announcing any guests, so we did it on our own strength and the bonus is indeed the guests.

It’s also being filmed and recorded for release via a Pledgemusic campaign.

Charlotte: With the Pledge campaign we set ourselves a goal.  We were a bit naive in setting the goal because we weren’t completely informed about the workings of the system.  It was an ambitious goal and we were half way within a day, and reached the goal in around two weeks, so it was rather impressive and people are still pledging.  The nice thing is that because we’re over 100% of the goal, part of everything coming in goes to the Sophie Lancaster foundation, who we met up with again yesterday.  So I think thats a good experience all round, and the fact we can do this with our fans – they’re the reason why we’ve been around for ten years.  This is a project we could have done through a label, but we wanted something special for the ten year anniversary.

It must be interesting for you seeing where people are pledging from.

Martijn: It’s widespread.  I think that’s what we’re blessed with, having a widespread international fanbase.
Charlotte: That’s also why we went for the DVD – I remember when we were thinking about the fact we had the ten years coming up and couldnt let it just pass, and we should do  a special show or party, but that will always be based somewhere, and we have to do something that everyone can join in on and enjoy, so we have to record it for everyone who’s not going to be able to be there.

It’s great for people who can’t make it but also for the fans who do go – it’s a nice way to remember the show.

Charlotte: It’s a way for us to remember too.  We’re just doing this for ourselves really (laughing)
Martijn: We’re enjoying it together with our fans, and together we’ll make magical memories…I hope.  That the aim.

You’ll be able to watch the DVD and see what the show was like – I think often when you’re busy doing something you’re too focussed to actually take in eveything that is happening around you and enjoy it.

Martijn: That’s really funny, I hadn’t really thought about it like that.  We can indeed enjoy it again.

Charlotte: I do think on tours like this for example, when the set is not necesarily the same every night, but mostly, then you do get to a point where you start depending less on the adrenaline, and can be more in the moment.
I already know the for the ten year show, a special show and a nostalgic occasion, it will go by in a snap, so I do think it will be really nice to be able to look back on it
Martijn: See what actually happened

It’s got to be difficult to choose a setlist as you’ve got five albums now, so you can’t play everything and trying to decide what to play and what to leave out will be a hard choice.

Martijn: We started with the concept of the setlist several months ago, trying to have representatives of each album, and it’s also about you want to have a flow in the setlist, building up, but on the other hand there’s a reason why you don’t play some songs that often, because it’s difficult to fit it in for that flow, but you want to do something different for a special show, so there’s a tension there, but I think how it’s turning out now, we’ve got the best of both worlds.
Charlotte: Exactly.

The more albums you do, the harder it gets as you have more songs to try and choose from

Charlotte: It gets harder and easier too.
Martijn: Easier because you know what works well live and you can make a nice collection of songs to make a party together with the fans

After the UK tour ends you’ll presumably be busy preparing for the 10th anniversary show, then do you get a break for Christmas?

Charlotte: There’s lot’s that needs to happen before the show on the 10th, and there’s a Dutch national holiday as well.
Martijn: I think December will be busier than usual, but I hope after the 10th it will ease up and we can recharge a bit because this year has been crazy.
Charlotte (With a big smile on her face):  After the 12th, because we still have some whisky tastings (a perk offered as part of the bands Pledge campaign).
Martijn: In January we’ve got other things coming up, shows coming up, prepping for the new album, going to the US, etc etc.

That’s great, thanks for your time.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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