Back in March, we got to talk with Delain vocalist Charlotte Wessels about the group’s new album, The Human Contradiction, and the band’s plans for the future. Now, almost six months later, The Human Contradiction has been the band’s greatest triumph, and Delain is getting more attention than ever before. They’re currently on tour with Sonata Arctica and Xandria, and they’re been able to play some off-date headlining shows during the tour as well. Wessels sat down with us during the tour’s stop in New York to discuss the reaction to The Human Contradiction and how the road has been treating her this year.
First, thank you for coming back to talk to us a second time. It’s always a pleasure!
Thank you very much! Pleasure indeed!
So this is your second tour back in the States, another big tour with another big power metal band. How’s it going so far?
Well, today is our second day. On the first day, we had the usual startup hiccups. But it was a pretty cool gig today in New York. It was crazy, it was amazing. We had memories of our last gig that we played here last time, and I’m happy that it kind of repeated itself. It was a very good response!
It seemed like there was even more of a response from the crowd, with people singing along and getting invested in the music. It definitely shows that the band has made an impact.
It was so nice to see so many people in their Delain shirts. It was just really nice to see, as it’s our second time being here. It’s a very nice confirmation.
This is your first official tour since Sander Zoer left the band. What has the change in drummers been like so far, especially adjusting after such a long period of time?
Well, it’s very good for us to know that Sander is still very much in touch with us, and very proud! On our previous tour through America, we already had Ruben [Israel, the band’s current drummer] with us, because it had been difficult for Sander to tour for some time. It kind of makes it easier that it was a gradual change, and nobody was really out of sight, and it feels more like somebody gets included. So it was very positive. Of course, I would have liked to just bring two drummers, but that would have posed some problems! (laughs) But of course, when you’re in a band, you have to work as a team all the time, even if it’s just because you share the same square meters in a bus with way too many people for six weeks. Everybody gets to see everyone’s morning face! It’s always a bit difficult when the team changes, but we’ve got the best possible group. It all feels so natural, and he’s doing a great job. I don’t like change, but as far as change goes, this is the best possible one.
So, when we talked back in March, you told me a little bit about The Human Contradiction and what was put into the album musically and lyrically. What has the response been from the fans since its release?
It has been very positive! It’s something that we’re obviously very happy about, and we have been touring like crazy! Normally, I’m so into checking out the reviews. That was something I always used to do – Google how it’s going, check for sales numbers, and everything else. I must admit that actually, this time, we’ve been so busy, and we’re actually already kind of setting our minds on when we start our new record. We already have some ideas there. There is hardly any time to stand still and think about how the record is doing. But the things that we hear are all very positive. When we play the songs live, people respond very well. It’s always very funny, because in the time leading up to the release of an album, we are really holding onto it and working with it, investing in it, and it’s really our baby. And then, at one point, you let it go into the world. But then, for all the other people, of course, it only starts there! But for us, it’s like, “Ah, complete!” (laughs) So for us, it’s a very different perspective on the record. I think that everything we’ve heard so far is really positive, and I’m really happy about that.
It’s the fulfillment of a lot of hard work.
How did your spring and summer touring in Europe go? You had a long run of shows with Within Temptation.
That was a really cool tour! We played such immense venues, some stuff that’s been on my bucket list for a very long time! Considering the ties between the bands, with Martijn’s history of being the keyboard player of Within Temptation, and of course, the family ties that still run there, it’s nice to be on tour with them because it feels so familiar. I really enjoyed watching their shows, and our own gig. But mainly, it was just a great opportunity for us as a band to be able to perform to such amazing crowds and venues like Wembley Arena.
There were some big venues that, nine years ago when the band began, you probably never would have even imagined playing.
No, not at all.
That’s actually something I’ve been curious about. Delain has been going for nine years. When the band first started, the vision that you and Martijn had was that it was just going to be a studio band with guest musicians. Now it’s evolved into a full touring band with consistent members composing the music.
Basically, Martijn was already working on the “project” Delain long before I was involved. I remember that, in 2004 and 2005, we met, and he asked me to work on the lyrics and the vocal lines. It was our intention that it would just be a studio record because, well, the very reason Martijn left Within Temptation was because his health didn’t allow him to be in a touring band. But when the record was released, he was already feeling a lot better, and we were so enthusiastic about what we had worked on. We wanted to bring it to the stage, and not just one time. So basically, from there, it evolved into the idea of having a steady live band, and then, after that, also recording a second album with that band. It just got crazy out of hand, and I’m very happy that it did!
When you first started working with Martijn, did you have an idea that you wanted to be part of a touring band in the future? Or did you intend to just have Delain as a project?
What was I, 16 or 17 when this started? I didn’t even think about the future at that time. It was just, “Yeah, I want to be in a band!” What that means for your life, touring, public relations – I didn’t think about that. I knew that I wanted to make music more than anything.
So what’s on the schedule after this tour with Sonata Arctica and Xandria is done?
First we’re going to sleep! (laughs) Actually, we have shows and tours scheduled until way into 2015. Some of them are already announced, like the tour with Sabaton, which we’ll be doing in Europe.
I’m jealous of that, because Sabaton is an amazing live band, and your live show plus theirs would be an awesome performance.
I’ve also recently gotten to see the other band that’s joining us, Battle Beast. I was blown away, because I didn’t know them at all, and I didn’t know what to expect. We played on the same festival as them, and we all thought, “Okay, we’re going to have fun!” It was really cool.
Will Delain be playing Metal Female Voices Festival again this year?
I don’t think we are this year. We’re there almost every year. I’m pretty sure that I will be there, but just to watch this time and hang out. And of course, in between everything, we are already planning writing days for the new record! That’s always a continuous process.
Do you have any ideas for lyrics yet?
I always carry a little notebook with me, and there is a lot of stuff in it. But I have no idea yet where it’s going, what will make it, and what will be the red thread going through.
You’ve had two consecutive albums that have had fairly similar themes of otherness, and I’m interested to see if that will continue.
It’s a subject that definitely affects me. If you want to talk about otherness and the way that people respond to it, you would have enough material to write six thousand records! I’m sure that it will be there, one way or another. I’m not sure if it will be a main theme on the album. Even on this record, there are a lot of songs about other subjects as well, but I just feel like, if people ask me about the lyrics, then this is the thing that I feel most passionate to talk about. But I often write when I feel down, so sometimes you just write when you feel bad, and the words pour out, and it’s a really intense feeling that is really gratifying. It actually cheers me up a little bit, if you feel really shitty and you make something nice out of it. So for me, those songs are very intense. With the social issues, when you talk to people about that, everyone agrees that feeling shitty is shitty, but not everybody agrees about the more critical topics. So that’s not always the stuff that gets highlighted. Everybody agrees that certain things like breakups suck, so the more universal themes that are definitely in the music – they are in everyone’s lives, and it’s inevitable to have them. There are things that inevitably happen to you. But with the otherness lyrics, it definitely felt good highlighting them on We Are the Others, and then direct people to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and all the great work that they do. That was really rewarding. On The Human Contradiction, it was really a red thread with all the lyrics that came from different angles. (pauses) That was really a long story! But yeah, I don’t know how it’s going to be yet on the next record. Those are just some thoughts about it.
In our interview back in March, we talked about your offstage relaxation and your reading. What did you bring with you this time?
I have two books with me, two small paperbacks. One is To Kill a Mockingbird, because I’ve never read it. I’ve heard that it’s a classic, so I’m starting to read that. Also, I went to Nepal a few weeks ago. When I was in university, I studied Hinduism and Buddhism for awhile, and going to Nepal and seeing the birthplace of Buddha got me really intrigued. So I’ve got another book about Buddhism with me as well, just to learn more about it.
I hope they are good reads for you! Thank you again for joining us, and hopefully we’ll have you back here again soon!
Thanks so much!