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Interview with Hans Rutten – The Gathering

Interview with Hans Rutten – The Gathering
BANDS : The Gathering

Two years after our conversation at the Sziget Festival, we came back for more, especially since we know that you have a lot to say that could be interesting for our readers. After your 2004 tour, you had a year of almost total absence from the stages, except for the Amsterdam concert, when you recorded the DVD  A Sound Relief. What have you been doing all this time?
-Anneke got a little baby, called Finn. So we didn’t do that much touring in 2005. But we did a lot! We wrote new songs for the ‘Home’  album, the DVD (which we did by ourselves through our own imprint Psychonaut Records) costed an enormous amount of time, and we had some holidays, as we toured every year, so a touring break was a welcome change in the career of The Gathering.

What can you tell us about the DVD? In Motion, the previous DVD, didn’t quite satisfy you. How about A Sound Relief?
-A Sound Relief is a beautiful document of The Gathering playing semi-acoustic. It is very intimate, warm, and the colours, the atmosphere, well, it is a great unity! We are very happy and satisfied with the outcome.

I understood that A Sound Relief will be followed by a DVD named A Noise Severe, after a track from the new album.  Does this means that after showing your sensitive side you intend to bring out the energy?
-Exactly, though the release of A Noise Severe will be somewhere in 2007. We are busy now with ‘Home’ , we will take our time for this ‘energy’  release.

Your music is all about atmosphere and it seem to me that it lends itself perfectly for a visual interpretation. Have you ever thought to accompany it with images?
-As you could see on our DVD A Sound Relief we are working with several VJ-artists who accompany our music with little movies. It looks really great.

You wrote the soundtrack for a Japanese movie, The Quiet One. How did you do it? Did you see the movie first and find inspiration there or were you explained what sensations it should create and just unleashed your imagination?
-We saw some parts from the movie, and Rene started writing and recording music for this piece. The movie was very inspiring, so it wasn’t a problem.

I know that you’re all movie fans. What kind of movies do you like and what movie did you enjoyed the most lately?  
-I saw Sideways lately, loved it. Have to see King Kong, but unfortunately I didn’t see movies the last 2 months.

Do you have any song that was inspired by a movie?
-Eleanor was more or less inspired by Schindler’s List.

Speaking of inspiration, three years have passed between Souvenirs and your recent album, Home.  Is this a lot or a little to gather ideas and emotions to distill into your music?
-It’s a big gap. But! We did the Sleepy Buildings record, we had the DVD, we toured a lot, and we had the change of bassplayers. We are always busy. The songwriting took some time too.

Some of the old Gathering fans may have thought that the album title could have meant a return to the band’s roots, but they were wrong. Where is “home” for you?
-Our roots are punk/crusty doom as you can hear on our rehearsals. The roots of this band is experiment, dare to evolve, not to be afraid. That’s Home for me. We expected a more heavier album too, but the material wasn’t suitable for heavy riffs. It turned out more in the veins of Souvenirs.

We were surprised to hear that you recorded in a church, La Divina Commedia. How did you come to that decision? Was it a spiritual choice, concerning inspiration, or a practical one, related to the acoustics, silence and isolation?
-that church made the album as it is. It was a huge inspiration to build up a studio from scratch in such a daring environment as a church! We didn’t work that much with the acoustic, but the atmosphere and isolation was very important for the overall result.

Did the unusual recording location stimulate you? Would you like to repeat the experience, not necessarily in the same place, but in a cave, for instance, or other unconventional musical space?
-No, Gathering is a continue process to do something else for the next album. We will do different kind of things. This could be another unconventional atmosphere. Maybe we will record on a boat.

The cover artwork is atypical for The Gathering. Who created it and what does it represent?
-It is a picture taken in Berlin where they were tearing down the old houses. It was a graffiti found on a wall, the artist is unknown. It gives some hope in a very dark world, that’s my view of it. It fits very well with the music.

Speaking now about the music, the sound is again surprising. While we had started to become accustomed with your acoustic sound, Home is more electric-oriented. How that?
-Well, it just happened. We were expecting a more acoustic record too, with heavy guitars, but more conventional. Well, we started working and recording, and the ideas went the opposite way.  We flirted again with some electronica, but not that much as on Souvenirs. It just happened.

You said somewhere that initially the songs are conceived using acoustic instruments. Why is that?
-We arranged the songs totally stripped, totally acoustic, simplistic, so we knew the song itself was strong with working arrangements. Very ‘song-wise’.


The Gathering

(picture from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


How are your songs created? Does the general song line inspire the vocal part or can it happen the other way around, with Anneke coming up with a melody and the others building around it?
-It is always different, every song has it’s own different approach. The song Alone was mainly written by Anneke, whether a song like Home and In Between were long distilled band processes. Most of the time the music is there, and Anneke is writing vocal melodies on top of it.

The Gathering music is like a diamond, getting new facets with every cutting opening new perspectives with each new album. Is it hard to reinvent yourself each time?
-Thanks! No, it isn’t really hard. It needs guts, that’s it. Just do it. Push your own reset button and start again. That’s why it is always interesting to start writing and recording, because the settings are different! It’s like Lego, the toy. Same blocks and colours, but a different shape.

You’re always looking for new means of expression and new approaches to songwriting. What did you find with Home?
-Song structured arrangements. Writing short songs. Redefined electronics. Pureness and honesty is what we found.

Listening to the album, I thought I heard a voice that wasn’t Anneke’s. Who is she? 
-Kristin from Pale Forest doing spoken word in Norwegian, and Gema, girlfriend of Rene doing spoken words in French and Spanish. Far away you can hear Frank speaking Dutch.

For the second time, after How to Measure a Planet, you worked with the producer Attie Bauw. I will not ask if you worked fine together, which is obvious since you chose him again, but rather how: did he bring his own input? 
-Yes he did. He’s is constantly in search, like us, daring to try out new things, and most important, he is not afraid of ‘killing your own darlings’ . He helped us out what we wanted to do, giving some input himself, because there are a lot of decisions to make, he helps us out making things transparent. For example, he came up with the idea to work with simplistic, stripped kind of rhythm section. It was quite difficult to throw away drumpatterns which you worked out for days, but in the end it benefits the song and the album. He is the guy with the helicopter view.

Would you be so kind to tell us a few words about each song on Home, hoping to clarify, for exemple, a few points about Alone (which you had played before in another version) and  Solace, this Tower of Babel of the album. 
-We were not that satisfied with the DVD version of Alone. It lacked a groove, which we found during the Home sessions. It became quite industrial and the electronics go hand-in-hand with the acoustic drums quite satisfying and interesting. We knew this song had more in it, and it shows on Home. Solace, it’s the song you love or hate. Damn catchy with some great melody lines. We needed a song to break up the album. It’s a turning point in our story. It wakes you up, pleasant or unpleasant. The voices are very disturbing and maybe out of place, but this was ment to be. 

A few concerts have been cancelled lately, due to Anneke’s health problems. Is she better now?
-Yes, she is very well and gaining strength! :o)

What are you preparing for the Home promotion tour besides the songs from the album? Your back catalogue is so rich and diverse that you must have an increasing difficult time choosing your set list.
-Not at all difficult. We will play songs from every album. We have a good club-set, and if we do festivals we play a bit heavier.

This year you’ll be back at the Sziget Festival, in Hungary, on August 15th. Will you play on the metal stage again?
-No, we will play on another stage.

Although The Gathering has not been a metal band for a long time and nobody really expects another Mandylion or Always, fans of heavier music are still fond of your music, unlike other bands, who changed their fans when they changed their music. How would you explain that?
Honesty? We didn’t change because of the commercial aspect. People are not stupid. You can hear this if you listen carefully.

Before closing, please answer our traditional short quiz: 
Red or black?
Jan de Bont or Jean-Pierre Jeunet? -Jeunet
Sand and palm trees or rocks and snow?  -Rocks and lots of snow
Heavy metal or trip hop? –Heavy Metal
Alone or in a crowd? -Alone
Little Mermaid or Nemo? -Nemo
Inspiration or perspiration? –Inspiration comes first
Tulips or roses? -Tulips
Studio or stage? -Stage
Dark or light? -Light
Lisa Gerard or Beth Gibbons? -Lisa!
Reality or utopia? -Reality
Rembrandt or Van Gogh? –Van Gogh or Romania rulezz!!

Hoping that many of our readers will have the opportunity to see you, I would like to thank your for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and I leave you the ending words for The Gathering fans in Romania.

Thanks again! Still a country we never played! We will come, in the end!! Thanks for listening to The Gathering!

Cheers Hans Rutten

Autor: Gabi D.
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   May 30, 2006  | 0 Comments  | 10312 Views « BACK

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