Updated: 07/20/03

The Gathering have returned with a all new label and an even more adventurous sound they call ďtrip rock.Ē Their latest album Souvenirs is a collection of material showing the bands at the height of their musical powers. We recently spoke with vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen about the new CD, music video stardom, the Lacuna Coil rumors, and all that is The Gathering.

First off, how does the new album Souvenirs compare to your previous efforts. Itís a lot different than the last one If_Then_Else.
Itís quite a change. After How To Measure A Planet, which was a more difficult double album, it was very logical for us to go the other way and do some mainstream-ish kind of down-to-earth pop rock thing. We didnít really take the time for those songs to ripe like good wine Ė itís a good album but itís kind of a mish-mash of styles. It could have been better. For this album, we had finished a contract with our old record company, and we thought now thereís no pressure for a new album or from a business side. So letís just take the time and make some new songs, and just give them the time to fully develop into really good songs. And so we did. We took a ridiculous amount of time for this new album Ė like 2 Ĺ or 3 years. So we came up with this, and it has practically everything we have Ė blood, sweat and tears we put into this one. Itís a bigger, bigger effort.

What made you decide not to release Souvenirs on Century Media?
Well, we fulfilled our contract, and we also talked with other labels Ė majors, smaller, independents and so on. But we just kind of flirted with the idea of doing it ourselves, because we have the knowledge and experience, but itís a hell of a job. And when we finally decided, it was a very good decision because it gives you freedom creatively and business-wise. Now that weíre kind of rolling and the records out, weíre so proud because it feels so free.

What made you decide to go with The End on this one? For people here in the States who havenít heard the new Gathering album yet, could you describe this new sound Ė the trip rock?
I mean, how do you call it? We thought it had some trippy elements beat-wise, but itís not hiphop and itís not triphop Ė but itís rock still. But itís not that heavy Ė itís just melodic rock or pop rock. So trip rock would be a good term if you want to call it a name, and obviously thatís handy if you want to explain your music. And this album has some moody, darkish atmosphere. The whole is just breathing really one atmosphere Ė itís all unique songs but they have kind of a language of dark, gloomy sounds.

Where do you get some of the ideas for your lyrics?
It could be anything really. Just everyday life inspires me to write. Sometimes when we write the music, I listen to it and get ideas for subjects. But also music we listen to, or movies, or the people and things around you Ė anything, even The Discovery Channel. Silly moments can give me an idea. Plus the fact that Iím not very good in titles, so the guys kind of make it a sport to come up with great titles for the songs. Sometimes somebody comes up with a title and I have a good idea just with hearing the title Ė so it could be anything really.

The tour you are about to go on Ė what does it consist of and who are you going out with?
We start in one half weeks in Europe for a month. Then we do some festivals and we play Holland. Weíre going to Europe with a band called Pale Forest Ė they are a Norwegian band. They are quite nice.

Pale Forest would be a great bill with you.
Itís a great fix, yeah, a great collaboration! We played a few gigs before and it was so good. They are very nice people, so all in all it was quite good to repeat this. So weíre going to tour with them for a while. This whole year we plan to tour, so whoever wants us Ė weíll go there.

Well we want you, so come back and play in Los Angeles.
Thatís good. We loved our time in America. It was a very heavy tour, because we drove all the way from West to East in three weeks. It was great and weíd love to come back. But itís a bit of a difficult thing to get some good promoters and such. Few have any idea. Weíre just kind of looking for connections, and I know that Andreas from The End has some good connections. So Iíd really like to go across the ocean again.

I saw you guys when you performed out here at The Key Club. It was an awesome show. I just wish more people were there.
Oh cool! That was nice. We were nicely surprised at all the people really. We had a very bad booker who really didnít make a commercial for us, so the fact that there were people there was so nice. Itís a great country. People really have to come from afar to see a band, and we were nicely surprised. Maybe with some good promotion, we could do a little bit better anyway.

What did you think of Los Angeles when you came over here?
I liked it. We come from Holland so itís very small Ė itís a totally different world. In Holland, people are very sober minded. And in Hollywood and Los Angeles, everything is like big and huge and awesome. We were kind of looking around with our mouths open. Iíve been there a few times before and I liked it very much. I like, for instance, Mexico very much. When you get to the border, you have those Mexican places and Mexican people Ė this kind of mishmash of American people and Mexican people I really like. I do feel kind of at home for some weird reason, because itís totally different than here. And I like the weather.

Hammerheart released one of your earlier albums. What did you think about this?
Itís a small label from Holland and itís quite nice. He wanted to release all the issues of The Gathering. We just have that kind of contact, and thatís going really well. The people really like the older stuff to have in their collection, therefore we re-released it.

Whatever happened to the other vocalist?
The male vocalist? Well, The Gathering had two different vocalists for the first two albums. In 92 they released an album called Always with growling voices Ė Bart was a very good grunter. And then Neils came for Almost A Dance and he left the band. And then I came with Mandylions. Thatís kind of a mishmash of singers in the early days indeed, but the band wanted to do something else.

What do you think of singers like Angela from Arch Enemy?
I know the name, but Iím ashamed to say that I donít know the music.

Sheís got that more growling, death metal voice.
Oh yeah! Okay! I know what you mean, but I havenít heard it enough to get an opinion on that. Women with growling voices, to me, is a phenomenon. When I try it, it hurts! I have to say, you have to have really good technique to do it.

So we wonít be seeing Anneke doing any death metal vocals anytime soon?
(Laughs) Oh no! No please.

Iíve seen one video you guys have done called Liberty Bell. What were your impressions on that video?
Itís a funny video. Itís one of the more expensive ones weíve made. We donít really do a lot of singles. We always make singles and a video with every record, but we donít score many hits. Then it gets played every once in a while and then itís in the files. But it was a funny two days recording this. I got to play in this big suit and it was great fun. But I donít think it really works for us. But weíre going to try again of course with a single and some videos, but maybe we should put a more personal touch into the video. This was kind of nice and beautiful, but it didnít say a lot.

Did you find it difficult to lip sync at all?
No, that was okay. But they had me doing all sorts of acting things, which I wasnít really good at, because Iím just a singer. The lip-syncing went okay, but then they said ďNow think thatís thereís now danger in your space ship and you have to walk around and panic.Ē And I said, ďI canít do that! Iím not an actor!Ē And so I tried and it looked so stupid. (Much laughter). And I said, ďLet me just sing and it will be alright.Ē

So you wonít be starring in any movies any time soonÖ
Not any time soon. I would like to be able to do it, but I think it needs some kind of lessons. Itís another art form entirely.

Out of all the songs on Souvenirs, which song do you think would lend itself well to the video medium?
Weíre thinking about You Learn About It.

That sounds good. Are you going to end up going up in a space ship again for this one? Maybe The Gathering in Space Part Two! The sequel!
(Laughs) Nooooooo!!!! I have no idea what to do really with this one. Even having ideas with video, itís quite difficult to come up with a good idea to represent the band and be personal as well and have a nice story line. Everything has been done before.

Iíve heard rumors about you doing a single with Cristina of Lacuna Coil. Is that true?
Yeah, yeah! I heard these rumors. So many people are asking me about it, but itís not true. What we did once, we were touring together, and in two shows we sang a song together called Shrink from the Gathering because she liked the song. And then when we played it in Italy Ė their home base Ė weíd sing it together and when we played the last show of the tour, we did that together. And it was really nice. And some butthead just recorded it in the audience and put it on MP3 on the Internet. It was a very bad recording and we werenít singing all that good. And then people started to think that it was official and that there was something there but it wasnít.

How do you feel about people who record your stuff and perhaps make a bootleg of it or put it up on the Internet?
Well I said butthead, but itís not all that bad really. When itís a bad recording, people donít really want to have this instead of your release albums. So I think itís a good commercial, because thereís a lot of tape trading going on, also with videos and people who videotape the shows. Thereís a lot of American tapes going around I saw from the tour in 99. Itís kind of good, because itís a good commercial going around with the band Ė and people do it with all their heart because they like our band. So I think bootlegging is perhaps to a certain extent okay Ė if they will punch the music out of the PA and make a beautiful recording and then put it out and get some money with it, then itís bad of course Ėitís robbing. So thereís a fine line.

To you when you go on tour, what is the best and worst part about being on the road?
The best part is to have all this contact with all these people and to see beautiful places and not so beautiful places. To see everything and meet everybody Ė to play our music and make people happy and make yourself happy. Thatís the very best part. And the worst part I guess is that I miss my boyfriend Ė I mean husband because we got married! I like being home as well. We all do. We are all kind of house birds. We never do more than a month in a row and then we want to go home for a week or two Ė then we are okay to go again. But we need some base every once in a while. Weíre not the kind of band who tours for a year in a row, because your energy is gone and itís quite heavy. You need a breather and where better to breathe than at home where youíre kind of comfortable.

If Madonna was doing a tribute album and invited The Gathering to appear on it, would you do it and what song would you do by her?
Oh goodness! The guys donít really like Madonna, so I think I would have to do it by myself. But I would do it, yeah Ė if she asked me, oh yeah! What song Ė thatís difficult. Her music got better in the end, so I would probably to that Music song.

What CD or album do you have in your collection that someone might be surprised to find?
Well, Iím looking at my little CD rack now. Iím ashamed to say that I have the soundtrack of Flashdance. I bought it a few years ago because it was nostalgia. I donít really play it, but I have it. So yeah, there you go.

Thatís a scandalous one to find out about!
(Laughs) Yeah, donít print it!

You donít own any Britney Spears records, do you?
No no no! Thatís not far, but what I do own maybe if you go in that perspective Ė I do own some contemporary things Ė like I bought Alicia Keyesís new album. And Kelly I bought a few years back. I like those strong hip-hop women. I have to say I play these records once in a while, but they are not very deep. They are great music to do the dishes with and they are great fun, but itís not deep. And I like this Justin Timberlake guy and I would actually buy his record and then play it five times and itís okay.

What are the future plans for The Gathering after this European tour?
Anneke: Weíre going to tour for a year on and off, so thatís kind of the big plan for the future. After that, I think weíre gong to have a little vacation and then write for a new record.

When youíre not performing in The Gathering, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like visiting my friends. I donít really have much of a social life because we work so hard. I like really spending time with my friends and my boyfriend, I mean my husband in my home. And I like roller-skating and being outside when itís nice weather. So itís kind of the simple things that I really love. And going to the movies.

Do you have any messages for The Gathering fans here in the States?
Only that we hope to return this year to America and that we are very anxiously awaiting reactions on this new album. We hope that people give it a chance. It would be amazing! And then let us know what you feel.


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