Interview with Rowan Roodbaert
Interview by Demitri Levantis
Do you have any new material in the works?
Definitely, as a matter of fact, we are completing the recordings for our new studio album as we speak. It’s going to be an epic journey through the battlefields of Europe during the decay of the Roman empire. Musically we’re continuing our traditional sound and revisit 15 years of HEIDEVOLK history though with a more bombastic approach.
How does it feel playing the UK again after all these years away?
It feels really good to finally be finally here for some headline shows. Somehow our tour plans for the UK were always troubled but now it feels good. It feels like conquering new grounds even though we exist for 15 years and we intend to return every year.
What would you say are your biggest non-musical influences on your work?
Which festivals are you playing this year?
At the moment we have 10 festivals booked in Germany, France, Latvia and the Netherlands. This year marks our first time for festivals like “Castlefest” and “Huntenpop” which are not the usual metal festivals but merely mainstream events that can do with a nice metal show. We also had our DVD recording show in the LuxorLive in our hometown. So you can expect some cool footage of this soon.
Have you had any big lineup changes in recent years and if so how would you say that’s changed your musical output?
Yes, after our VELUA release we had a major lineup change. Mark (Vocals), Reamon and Kevin (guitars) decided to stop due to their busy lives which involve family and work. We played the VELUA shows in Europe and the US with session members Jacco, Kevin and Koen which are now part of the band as Heidevolk members. We already played over a hundred shows with this lineup and it feels comfortable. Our musical output changes slightly as everybody brings his own style of playing and filling their parts. Though I wrote the new album entirely which makes our sound consistent as I wrote most of the VELUA album too. So definitely some renewed energy but our sound is consistent and evolves the way HEIDEVOLK has planned.
What do you make of Folk Metal in general today? Has it become bigger and more popular or was it different when you began 15 years ago?
15 years ago Folk metal was the new kid on the block, a new genre of music that developed in the early 2000s and in which we played our part. Nowadays you see the genre consolidating as bands become bigger and more popular. The music has evolved and is here to stay so it is safe to say Folk metal is now a part of the metal scene and a staple in most of the metal festivals. The thing I notice with our shows is that a lot of the people that visit don’t always know our music (or metal in general) but are looking to have a good time. This is what makes this particular scene attractive.
Can you recall any particularly funny or notable anecdotes from the last 15 years you’d love to tell your fans about?
Gods, there are so many stories though I don’t know if we do want to tell them all publicly hahaha. Well, i was talking with someone the other day, he asked me if we did have any experience as a band with the strong arm of the law (the Police). So i told him this story: during the Heidenfest tour 2010 we had one headliner show which wasn’t part of the tour. So we we’re picked up off the tour and driven to the festival in Germany which we headlined. The day after we had to get back on the tour in the Czech Republic but our bus was stopped by the Police. Our driver had to step out of the car and do an alcohol test. After a few minutes he came back and told us to get out of the car on orders of the Police. So we stepped out of the vehicle not knowing what would happen or what we did wrong. Outside we saw some smiling Policemen that immediately asked us for a photo and autographs. Apparently the Police captain was a HEIDEVOLK fan and found a way to spend some time with us.
What do you make of the Dutch metal scene today, can you name any bands you think deserve to big recognition?
Sure. The Netherlands always had a rich metal scene. Of course, bands like Epica, Within Temptation, Legion of the Damned, Asphyx and Textures are well known and are often seen on festivals and club shows. There are however more bands that do deserve recognition. I’m a judge at the annual metal battle finals and I’ve seen some up and coming bands. This years winner for example “Inferum” and last years winner “Extremities” are young bands that dedicated their professional life to music. They study at a school called the metal factory on which they basically learn how to be in a metal band, and this shows: their music, as well as their shows, are tight and entertaining. Let them have a good 5 years on the road and they can compete with the bigger metal bands in the genre.
Do you have a favourite song you like to play live?
Personally, I think songs have a function within the total concept when we’re playing live. Every song is in the set for a reason and together it builds towards an experience. There are however songs that create a special atmosphere like “Urth” or “Hallen van mijn Vaderen” because they have a very personal concept behind it. When these songs are brought in the right way its magic. I also really love to do the special acoustic set we do during our headline shows, we play songs like “Hal der gevallenen” and “Het Geldersch Volkslied”.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about being in a band?
That we’re able to tell a story with music worldwide, meet lots of different people and give life to concepts that weren’t there before.