Interview with Ron Tijssen
Interview By AsassinKiller
Callenish Circle is certainly a band that since the incredible Flesh_Power_Dominion gained a lot of attention from press and fans alike. These Dutch men carry high their countries flag by making top-notch Melodic Death Metal that crushes mediocrity within the genre.
Their latest opus is [Pitch.Black.Effects] and it showcases a new sound for the band. Electronics have started to play a bigger role in the compositions, but fortunately the band has not forgotten the CC sound that they developed throughout the years. I contacted Ron Tijssen and this is what he had to say on the new album, the current state of the band, Chuck “God” Schuldiner, and a Black Panther. Enjoy.
This is your fifth release. How do you feel about it now that it is finally out?
We were very excited before the recordings, because we were going to do things totally different than in previous records. When we heard the end result, we realized that we succeeded in what we had planned before the recording process. We are extremely proud and relieved that everything turned out to be exactly what we hoped for.
There seems to be interplay between the title – Pitch Black Effects – and the cover being the opposite color. What can you tell us about it?
One way to describe a pitch-black effect is when you walk from a dark place into bright light, where you get kind of blinded and see everything overexposed. Well, look at the artwork and you’ll understand.
Furthermore, we wanted to do something totally different than our last 2 covers, which were very saturated and colourful. So simple and not so colourful it is this time. There’s also a limited edition double pack with a DVD added. The DVD artwork is totally black. When you open the box you see the light coloured artwork, so this perfectly resembles the album title.
Why did you decide to record this one with Gail Liebling? It surely sounds different than previous efforts. PBE shows a warmer, groovier and meatier Callenish Circle than before.
After doing 2 albums together with Andy Classen in Stage One Studio, we wanted to do something different again. We wanted to get kind of our own sound. In order to do this, we decided to record the album together with Gail (our live sound engineer and front man of Gail of God) as the producer in a studio here in Holland. As we’re big fans of the Antfarm Studio, we wanted to do the mix there. Gail and I went to Denmark, and together with Tue Madsen, we were able to establish the heavy, aggressive, natural and clear sound we had in mind. Peter Neuber @ Mega Wimp does an excellent job in mastering (he also did our MP//YP album), so he again added the cream on the pie.
Also the compositions seem to have changed. They surely carry the CC torch way up high, but at the same time sound more modern and powerful. Did you feel like you needed to upgrade your sound? Also, tell us about the use of electronics and samples in this one. How did the idea come to mind?
Well, I’ll try to explain our little musical change of lane. We simply didn’t want to record the same album twice, that’s the main reason why we explored new fields and used more digital stuff on the new album. On our former album ‘My Passion//Your Pain’ we already experimented a bit with digital sounds, but they were more used as intro’s between the songs. This time we cooperated very closely with Gail (who also is responsible for the digital input on MP//YP), which resulted in the electronic samples being more integrated in the music itself. The electronic sounds are now part of the songs instead of just being the intro, outro or intermezzo.
We also used some different riffs and drum patterns in order to give a new dimension, more variation, groove and catchiness to our compositions. I think this way we definitely succeeded in creating a new sound for the band, without loosing the typical CC sound found in our last albums.
So in the end music-wise [Pitch.Black.Effects] is still in the vein of our 2 former albums, Flesh_Power_Dominion and My Passion // Your Pain. Our fans don’t need to be afraid about hearing a complete new band on [Pitch.Black.Effects]. It’s still Callenish Circle, no doubt about that!
We did discuss the use of digital effects extensively. And an important reason to do it like this, is that Gail is not familiar with Metal bands using electronics in their music, so he came up with some totally different electronic sounds than the ones used by bands in Metal.
What can you tell us about “Ignorant”? This one is surely the most talked song in the release. And also, can we expect more of this sound in future releases?
We experimented a lot to get this kinds of sounds. The heavy bass-synth is far from everything we did before, so it was cool figuring out how to integrate it into the song without loosing the essence of our sound. For me personally, it turned out to be a very successful result. We’re not thinking about what we’re going to do with our next album. When we start writing we’ll see what comes out. But as we’re all very happy with PBE, I think that the chances of digital effects staying on future releases are big.
What’s with the German lyrics spoken by a sexy girl in Schwarzes Licht. Who is she and what is she saying?
With “Schwarzes Licht” we wanted to create the atmosphere of the meaning of the album title, because this song is in fact what the album title is about. When writing this song, we were discussing about what we could add to reach this atmosphere. We came up with the female German voice. Gail’s wife Kaleen (also bass player of Gail of God) is responsible for both the lyrics and the voice and she is exactly what the song needed.
Also, which song would you say is the title track of PBE, Pitch Black or Schwarzes Licht?
The album title is based on the lyrics of Schwarzes Licht, so you got that right!!! Our drummer Gavin came up with the idea for the title and wrote Schwarzes Licht. A few years ago he visited the Jewish museum in Berlin. Besides the whole Jewish history, the most impressive part was (regrettably) everything concerning the holocaust. One room in the museum was created to give the visitor an impression of how it would feel to be locked in one of the camps. You must imagine being in a concrete building: pitch black, cold, humid, alone, feeling really tiny and desperate. The only light coming into the room was coming from a small window situated at an unreachable height. This made a huge impression on him and when he read a poem a few months after his visit, it immediately reminded him of that experience. The poem told a story of someone in a hopeless situation, who got his energy from really simple things, like this beam of light coming into the room every morning. The poem described this experience as coming from a completely dark environment (pitch black) into a light environment.
So, that’s basically the concept behind the album title and Schwarzes Licht.
What can you tell us about touring? Where will you be unleashing hell?
Of course we hope to do another tour in order to promote the album, but we’re still discussing touring possibilities. Check www.callenish-circle.com or http://myspace.com/callenishcircle regularly for dates to come!
If you had to pick one band to tour, which one would you choose? Any band, you name it.
If I had the choice of Chucky still being alive, for sure we would do a big tour with Death. Also touring with Slayer, Nevermore or Metallica (playing an old song set exclusively) would be nice!
After so many years in the music industry, what is your biggest memory/experience so far?
A few months ago we did a couple of shows in Mexico together with Paradise Lost. We thought it was going to be hard to win over the audience, but it turned out that a lot of people had gone to the shows because of us. Also, most of the people who didn’t know us were metal minded enough to give us a chance. So we took that chance with both hands and gave the best we got. It was definitely a great experience and one of the coolest things so far.
What do you remember about the old days? How was it then when you didn’t have an album out yet and you were struggling real hard to be heard?
I think most bands start their career playing covers and we were not the exception. This way you can find out the musical style everyone likes. So after playing covers for about a year, we started writing our own material. Throughout the years we grew as musicians and songwriters. Also our musical tastes changed and developed. These aspects made us find our own way of doing things within certain boundaries, and eventually creating our own kind of identical sound.
It always was fun and I don’t feel like we were struggling at all, because we simply did what we liked to do: playing the music we liked.
Callenish Circle is a band that has grown over the years. You know where you are standing today, but what can you tell us about the future?
Well, we have a 4 record deal with Metal Blade, so we hope to stay with them for a long time to come. We consider ourselves very lucky in being able to do all these cool things like making albums and touring, so we hope to continue doing this as long as possible.
If you had to describe your music with an animal, which one would you choose?
I think a black panther is pretty suitable. Mysterious, unpredictable, graceful and deadly.
What do you guys do for a living? Do you have jobs, live of the band or where do the greens come from?
We all have a fulltime job right now. I myself work for a company where I do different kinds of projects. Most of them are IT related, so I am mostly sitting behind my computer the whole day. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to live from our music. That’s also the reason why we have to choose tours and gigs carefully, because we can spend our free days only once.
Do you think that after bands like In Flames, Children of Bodom and Opeth have finally made it big pretty much everywhere, the opportunity for Callenish Circle to breakthrough is closer?
I think those bands certainly made the extreme vocals more of a mainstream thing in the overall music industry. That certainly opens doors for bands using these kind of vocals. Well, what can I say, we do our best in what we do. You have to be on the right place at the right time, and also you have to be able to get a lot of promotion and luck to get hyped by the press.
I would like to congratulate you guys for recording a great release that has all the elements a CC work of art should have. You managed to pull it off without sacrificing your sound (read Soilwork). If there is anything else you would like to say that you think I missed, now it’s your turn. Say it now or regret it forever. Stay Heavy!
First of all thanx to you for your interest in CC and the intie! It’s cool to hear you like our album that much. We appreciate it. For the readers: check out PBE if you’re into some heavy and modern xtreme metal and let us know what you think!!