Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview with Bassist Jeroen Smit

Interview by Lord of the Wasteland

As It Burns latest CD, MORTAL DUSK, is a killer slab of black and thrash metal. The band is from The Netherlands and is comprised of vocalist Arend Doornhein, Joost Brouwer and Rocco Rundervoort on guitars, bassist Jeroen Smit, Jacco Veenstra on drums and Gert Plas rounding out the band on keyboards. Over the Christmas holidays, bassist Jeroen Smit answered my questions on the new album, the band's history and the Dutch metal scene.

MORTAL DUSK is an excellent CD. How long did it take you to record it?

Thanks for the compliment, dude! I think we spent 13 days in the studio, altogether. That was in August 2002.



What is the significance of the CD title, MORTAL DUSK?

The album is titled after the first track. Mortal Dusk can be seen as a void. A void of anger, aggression and no hope. A lot of people seem to be in such a void. They don't care about others or the environment they live in; they just care about themselves.



How has the response been so far to MORTAL DUSK?

The reactions are pretty positive so far. We've had some great reviews. We guess that the average rate is about 7.5 out of 10. We're content so far.



My favorite songs on the new CD are the title track and "God Is A Souvenir." What are your favorite tracks from MORTAL DUSK?

My favourites are also "Mortal Dusk," "Holy Waste" (for the kick-ass first riff), "Suicide Prophet (for the diversity and the black part with hyperspeed drumming in the middle)" and "The Skintrade (because it contains lots of riffs and is therefore great to play live)."



MORTAL DUSK is the band's first release through Cold Blood Industries. So far, how does Cold Blood compare with other labels you have been on in the past? How many albums do you have with Cold Blood?

We haven't had labels in the past. This is our first album that is released through a label. The deal is for this album and an option for a second one.



What type of music would you say As It Burns plays?

We call it "atmospheric blackened thrash-death metal," ha ha! There is really no way to describe our type of music. Some say it's melodic death-trash, others call it black. We don't really care, although we understand that it's difficult for people to label us!



Who writes the music and lyrics?

Arend writes the lyrics. The songs are written by me and Joost, or by Rocco.



As It Burns' lyrics seem to be very anti-religion. Why is the band so against religion?

As it Burns is not an anti-Christian band in the way some black-metal bands are. Arend won't sing "Satan my master, come to me, I worship thee" or something like that, hehe. We're just not very fond of religion, because it has brought lots of trouble and anger into the world. Besides, Arend likes to shock people with his lyrics, and the Christian world is easily shocked. But we don't hate Christians and we surely won't burn churches (although it would fit to our band-name, wouldn't it?).



Where was the new CD recorded and who produced it?

The album was recorded at Franky's Recording Kitchen with producers Berthus Westerhuys and Jens van der Valk (God Dethroned, Autumn). Jens did all of the recording and Berthus was responsible for the drum sound. We had a great time working with those guys and learned a lot about creating a cool sound what also will benefit our live performances.



Will there be any music videos done for MORTAL DUSK?

No, first of all we have to sell more albums. Besides at the moment we and the label lack the money needed.



The cover of the new CD is really cool. Who designed it?

The cover was designed by Jacek Wisniewski. He is a Polish artist who has done more cover work for Cold Blood Industries bands (for instance I.N.R.I.).



You have formed a great band. Explain how you all came together as a band.

It has been a process of years. Joost and me are the only AiB-members who were there at the beginning. After a while Rocco, Arend and Gert joined the band, because we needed a new bass player (at that time Rocco played bass and I played the drums), and a new vocalist and were eager to try out some keyboards in our music. Jacco joined the band after the album OBSOLETE PROPHECIES. We not only fit as a band, but also as friends, because this line-up has remained steady for about 4 years now.



Where did you come up with the band's name?

There is no real story to the name. One of the band-members just came up with this name; it sounds cool. He says it came from the Slayer song, "Reign in Blood": "See your death as it burns deep inside of you!"



Why did you leave the band as a drummer and return as the bass player?

I left because I was fed up with playing drums. Besides I lived in a small apartment at the time and had no space for a drum kit. I also play guitar and I wanted to play guitar in AiB, but there were no vacancies, so I left the band (but still remaining close friends). After about 2 years I replaced the bass player for a few months because he was in Italy. I never really intended to start playing the bass guitar, but it went very well and the band decided that I was to be the new bass-player.



With 2 guitarists, how do you split up leads, rhythms, etc.?

Well, that kind of happens naturally. Sometimes Joost comes up with a lead and Rocco does the rhythm, sometimes it's the other way around. There is no real pattern in that.



Are anyone in the band involved in any side projects?

Yeah, Gert is involved in a black metal band called Winter of Sin, and Jacco is involved in a band called Voleg. They play a weird mix of heavy and doom metal.



Are there a lot of other metal bands in The Netherlands?

There is a great scene at the moment. Now the gothic scene is very popular, but the extreme scene is also in an uprise! Maybe you've heard from bands like God Dethroned, Severe Torture or Sinister. Here in Groningen there are a lot of really fine bands like Katafalk, Seizure or Obtuse.



What are your touring plans for 2004? Will you tour in North America at all?

One of our band members has some health problems, so at the moment we can't plan lots of gigs. First we hope to do more shows in Holland and maybe in Europe with some labelmates or so. It would be a dream coming true to play in North America. At the moment I don't think it's realistic to expect that, but who knows...



asitburns.nl is a great website. How much involvement do you have personally in design, content, etc.?

The site is made by a friend of ours. He plays the drums in an awesome death-metal band called Seizure and is also an artist. He designed the site and we're very happy with it.



When did you first begin playing together?

Phew, that must have been somewhere in 1997. Our first recording we did in June 1998.



What other bands do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of stuff. Maiden, Slayer, Nile, At the Gates, Emperor, you name it. I think one of my favourite bands is Diabolical Masquerade. The latest album I bought is one from Luciferion, a death-metal band who also use keyboards.



Who are the band's musical influences?

We're influenced by the Swedish death and thrash scene, by technical metal like Death, by Nordic black metal, by Iron Maiden and by Slayer. Furthermore I can tell you that keyboard-player, Gert, also gets his inspiration out of pop-music and bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor.



File sharing/mp3s is a controversial issue in the music industry. What is the band's position on this?

It's an easy way to search for and listen to new music, without having to buy the album first. But if you like the music, we think you should buy the record and not use a copy.



Anything you'd like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Yeah! Hi there! I hope you liked reading this interview. Check out our album, there are some samples on our site. Hopefully you'll like 'em! Greetings from AiB to all of you metal-heads!

As It Burns Official Site