Interview: Within Temptation
Wed, 26 Feb 2014 10:05:14
Within Temptation lift symphonic rock to new heights on their brand new album, Hydra. It's a beast of a record that sees the group invite everyone from Xzibit and Tarja to Howard Jones and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum into their world. Building on the band's inimitable sound, the boundaries expand once again and Within Temptation take flight like never before with their best and most brilliant work yet.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Within Temptation singer Sharon den Adel talks Hydra, her inspirations, and so much more.
What ties Hydra together for you?
I do feel there's a certain vibe from beginning to end. What binds it is we had a different kind of production that fits with every song. It's more organic. The strange thing about this album and the previous one has to do with the fact that we utilized a different way of writing. In the past, we had really big writing blocks. We would get stuck halfway while writing the songs. On the last two albums, we had a different approach. We could write anything we liked. We felt more freedom. While on the older albums, we always had a vision of how we should sound. Now, it was like, "We'll write the songs and see how they'll fit together or not". We might have to work a little bit longer on new songs or other music. Somehow, it all glued together. There weren't really any songs that didn't work on the album. So, we were very lucky. Apparently, this works for us very well.
What encouraged that for you?
Music is always something that's organic by itself. If you listen to music from ten years ago, that already sounds so different. You don't want to sound like that anymore. Music is always moving. That's something we're very aware of. It's a natural development to go organic. It's something that's happening and we like a lot. With The Heart of Everything, which was two albums back, we really felt we had completed vision of how we sound in the most epic way you could be pic, for us anyway [Laughs]. We didn't think we could add anything to that again. We wanted to take a different approach to find new sources of inspiration to continue writing songs. For us, the way to do that was to not give ourselves firm boundaries.
Did you find inspiration in other places?
It was more in different kinds of music styles. In the past, we never would've thought we could make a crossover with rap, which is quite a big step for us. It's a slightly new direction. It's those kinds of new things. They're a result of the fact that we have a different kind of writing process.
What's the story behind "Whole World Is Watching"?
Well, when we wrote it, it was this really acoustic song. We asked Dave Pirner to sing along because it reminded us of Soul Asylum somehow. It has a very positive vibe even though it has a lot of melancholy. It had a lot to do with Soul Asylum. It had a flavor of Within Temptation too. His characteristic voice with mine makes something really cool. There's the right balance, touch, and atmosphere. It's quite a heavy album, and it's good we put this song last. We ended with a good feeling. Lyrically, it's about empowerment.
Does that theme carry through?
The whole album is more or less about that because it comes back in different ways in the lyrics from separate perspectives and angles with every song. "Whole World Is Watching" is about the fact that you have setbacks in life but people around you who are your friends and family will know how hard you might've worked to reach your goals. When you reach this moment, you'll feel you're right where you wanted to be all the time. You feel like everyone is watching and they're supporting you in getting you where you wanted to go.
How did "And We Run" come together? What was the most gratifying thing about it?
We wanted to have rap on the song. It's fun to make songs where we keep our own identity but also add something totally different to our kind of music. We had a vision of how it could work. We tried several different things before we came up with "And We Run". When we had the right song, it was about finding the right personality and person to sing it with the right voice and characteristic. Robert Westerholt has a lot of friends who listen to hip-hop, and he has been since 20-years-old at least. He knows all of the names in the rap scene. I knew Xzibit from Pimp My Ride, and I always liked him as a personality on the show. He was a very respectful and positive guy. We looked up some things on YouTube and found out he's very open-minded and he likes crossovers. He does things with heavy guitars. We thought if he liked that, he might like us as well. Our label actually knew his management. We figured we'd try it. He liked the song, and two weeks later we were talking to him through Skype.
What appealed to you about the Lana Del Rey song "Summertime Sadness"?
That was actually a project we did in Belgium for a radio station. We did a cover song once a week for thirteen weeks. I liked her album a lot so I figured I'd do one of her songs.
What inspires you outside of music?
It's mostly books and movies. Though there was nothing that directly inspired us from a movie this time. We had several songs based on novels we had read in the past. This time, it was more about the big issues in life everybody has to deal with. We come back every time from a different age and angle. It's something that comes back into your life.
If you were to compare Hydra to a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
[Laughs] When you think of the artwork, it might be very cool to be say something like Game Of Thrones. It has that epic thing to it. The album is a little less orchestral than the previous. There's still a lot of adrenaline like the story of Game Of Thrones. They have so many characters in the series that it would fit well!
What's your favorite song from Within Temptation?