If you’re not familiar with The Charm The Fury yet, you will be in the next year! This metalcore band with a female vocalist/screamer from The Netherlands has been paving its way for a couple of years now and is really marking its place in the scene. So, with the sun shining on our heads and metal music on the background, we at RMP found a nice spot to sit down and have a nice chat with Caroline (Westendorp, vocals), Lucas (Arnoldussen, bass guitar) and Rolf (Perdok, guitar) to talk about their festival experiences, their first full album and how to stand your ground in the testosterone-filled world of metal.
1. You all hail from the Netherlands, can I assume that you all have been at Graspop before as fans? Do you have any fun memories to share with us?
Rolf: Well, to be honest, only our other guitar player, Mathijs (Parent, red.) has been here before. For the rest of us Graspop stood on top of our bucket list but it just never happened. But now to perform here, in front of such a crowd, that was really awesome.
Lucas: But we went to Groezrock!
Caroline: Yes, we went to Groezrock at least 10 years in a row.
Rolf: But to be honest, I like this more.
2. And how is it to perform here as a band?
Caroline: Awesome! You’re performing next to all of your heroes; you meet them in the backstage and have a chat with bands you have been looking up to for the last ten years. And all you can think is ‘Please, don’t say something stupid.’ [laughs]
3. You really delivered a great show today, I really enjoyed it and the crowd did too. But do you see any differences between a Dutch and a Belgian audience?
Rolf: Yes, sometimes we do. We always thought that Belgian people were less feral but we have never been so wrong.
Lucas: Yes, our thoughts were totally wrong!
Rolf: I honestly think that’s also the difference between a core festival and a metal festival. We’ve always been metal fans because it’s commonly known that every metal fan is very kind and the atmosphere is always friendly and when there is a mosh pit everyone helps each other. And that’s what we love. So for us, this is really mind-blowing.
4. A question for Caroline: what does it feel like to stand on a stage between all that ferocious testosterone?
It’s strange sometimes. You really quick get some sort of attention but I think that you can of course be a woman, but you have to be good in what you do too! You have to be able to compete with masculine colleagues so that gives some sort of extra pressure because you have to really prove that you’re worthy. It still is very amusing, but of course you have to work hard.
5. And how did you discover that you could both scream and sing?
I think no one can sing or scream by nature. You really have to practice day after day, year after year to master the right techniques. I’ve always been listening to metal bands and of course there are some frontwomen like Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy but you’ll find very few female-fronted bands in the metalcore genre. And those are the bands I listen to the most. So I was constantly screaming along in my bedroom with male vocalists, which was not at all charming to hear of course. At first I couldn’t scream longer than ten minutes but through lots of practice and persistence I could scream longer and longer.
6. Has it always been your intention as a band to become a female-fronted band?
Lucas: No, not really. I was actually looking for a vocalist together with our drummer, Mathijs (Tieken, red.) and we stumbled upon Caroline and at first she wasn’t that good [laughing] but we thought ‘She looks good and she has a lot of potential so let’s give it a shot.’ We really wanted a band and Caroline crossed our paths and yeah… like Caroline said before, by working our asses off, we all became who we are now and we are over the moon with that!
Rolf: I joined the band later on but I saw everything change too in just two or three years’ time. And then it’s just a delight to be in a band like The Charm The Fury with all of my closest friends.
7. What bands are your greatest influences? You already mentioned core bands, but are there other influences?
Rolf: I think that most of us didn’t get their biggest influence from the core bands but from metal bands like Metallica and Pantera.
Lucas: Indeed, the real old school metal. But in our tour bus we listen to black metal, viking metal, even nineties pop and Eurodance!
Rolf: Yes, we listen to everything, also eighties music for example and luckily we all like all styles of music. Of course we get our main influences from the bigger metal bands we like but we also have a hiphop playlist for example so it really varies. And I think that’s also one of the strengths of this band, that we are not limited to just one kind of music. We really listen to everything and we hope that we can mould all that in what we do. Of course we’re not going to release a hiphop track but…
Caroline: That’s a shame, don’t you think? We actually made a hiphop song a long time ago!
Rolf: Yeah, we made that song just for fun, so we have the liberty to do what we want to do.
8. In 2013 you released your first full album “A Shade Of My Former Self”. You recorded and mixed everything yourselves. How did that go by?
Rolf: I’ve been to Sweden together with our drummer to record the drum parts but that’s actually the only thing someone else did. Most of the rest we recorded at my place, a very large squat where we had the freedom to do what we wanted.
Caroline: Our drummer really has hands of gold. He’s a real studio man. He not only knows a lot about the basic structures of songs but very often he already has the sound for a killer song in his head. But then he has to mix it all because he only knows exactly what he wants and how he wants the sound to be. He records everything, mixes it and then we send the tracks to someone to be mastered.
Rolf: We recorded the pre-amps at his place but he still lives with his parents so we just came to his house, rang the doorbell and said to his parents ‘Hi, we’re here to record our guitars!’ and repeated that for a couple of days.
9. I can tell your drummer has a very clear vision on what he thinks the band should sound like. Is he the great mastermind behind The Charm The Fury or do you all contribute to the writing process?
Rolf: A little bit. Everyone plays his part in the band but Mathijs, our drummer, plays a huge part in the production process and in laying the foundation for the songs. And then mostly I listen to what he has and I try to give the songs my own touch so the songs change a little bit and after that everyone can have his or her say in it. So everyone really plays a big part in their own way. So it’s very difficult to replace someone because everyone contributes so much of themselves.
10. So you’re still playing in the original line-up?
Lucas: A long time before Rolf joined we had two other guitar players but they didn’t look at the band as seriously as we did. But since the band became a serious topic, we haven’t changed our line-up because we felt we could cause earthquakes like this.
11. You released the song “Carte Blanche” as your first single. Was this a conscious choice?
Lucas: It was the choice of our former manager.
Caroline: Yes, we wanted to pick another song.
12. Why did you want to pick another song?
Lucas: Well, it’s very difficult to reimagine the way I thought about things at that time. Our mind-set was completely different then in comparison to now.
Rolf: Yes, if we could choose now, we would have chosen “Carte Blanche” too.
Caroline: Yes, “Carte Blanche” is just easier to listen to than most of our songs and it can really loosen up an audience. At that time, I think we wanted more to show our musical creativity and “Carte Blanche” is far from our hardest song to play.
13. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Rolf: We really get our inspiration from other bands. For example Mathijs, our drummer listens to just one band for a whole week and then he comes to our rehearsal room with a song and says ‘I want to do something like this part of that song,’ and then we start jamming along to his drums.
Lucas: Sometimes it just comes naturally. Often I’m just plucking on my guitar and then Mathijs is jamming on his midi-board and something cool comes along and then we stop and try to work further on that cool riff. But of course we don’t want to just make some riffs or noise, we really want to make songs and that’s what we have to keep in mind all the time.
Rolf: For our last record we really threw away three hours’ worth of material. It just had to fit with another riff so that it became more than just a riff. With all the material we didn’t use, we could easily fill three other records.
14. You’ve been signed with Listenable Records. How does this deal come along?
Lucas: It comes along fine. Of course we’re not a really big band so we don’t talk a lot. It’s just a nice cooperation but we’re not best friends or something like that.
Caroline: They don’t meddle with our musical creativity and when we want to release something they give us advice on how and when to release. So it’s very informative actually.
Rolf: Yes, our contact person comes to as many shows as possible and he tries to be as involved as possible. It’s nice this way.
15. Are there any plans for a next album?
Lucas: We’re first trying to find which way we want to go to.
Caroline: Yes, we’re experimenting a lot and we are trying to reflect on what we really want for us and for the band at this very moment. We’re asking ourselves constantly whether this is what we want or not.
Rolf: We haven’t chosen a clear course yet.
16. So you don’t know where you’ll be in five years?
Rolf: Yes we do! In five years we’re standing on the main stage! No, no, it’s just difficult for now because we focused so hard on this show.
Caroline: And now, we can look further.
Rolf: Yes, we took a conscious choice now by not booking any more shows. We really want to focus on the next chapter.
Lucas: We have been gigging for the last three years and actually you’re supposed to release one album a year so we thought it was time to take a break and reflect on things and make new stuff together.
Rolf: Yes, of course we want to play together. The Charm The Fury is here to stay but we just don’t know yet in what direction were heading.
17. Do you have any tips for starting bands?
Rolf: It depends on what you want. If you just want to play and keep it as a hobby then you just have to enjoy it and you don’t really need tips. But if you want to take it seriously and play at Graspop, well… the way we did it, is that we didn’t release anything or even mentioned our existence until we had something to show. When we had that we made a Facebook page with professional band pictures and a video clip.
Lucas: And our EP!
Rolf: I thought we release that a short time after.
Lucas: Yes, a very short time after, you’re right.
Rolf: Anyway, we had an EP and a lot of people thought ‘This is really good, why didn’t I know this music yet?’. That was of course because we didn’t have anything yet before. And that’s actually a second tip: never release anything that you don’t fully like.
Lucas: Yes, the package has to be complete. That’s in this age really the way to achieve something. You just have to make sure you have to full package and then you just launch yourself into the world like a rocket. Of course that could lead to some negative response. Some people may ask themselves ‘Where the hell did they come from? They’re just an unknown band with a fancy photoshoot and an EP.’ But a lot of them don’t know or manage to forget that we’ve all been involved with music for the last thirteen or so years.
Rolf: Yes, Lucas and I graduated from a musical education as did our drummer so all of our little pieces of experience make a whole lot of experience when put together. But in the end when you can stay noticed in the music scene, you get the respect you deserve. And that’s something we try to do for each gig. We try to win the audience time after time. We’re very humble and we’re the last persons you’ll hear saying that they’re the best band in the world! We don’t even think that but we honestly try to give it our best during each show we do and we hope the crowd sees that.
– Jolien Krijnen & Frederik Geuvens