Belgian progressive metalband 23 Acez just released their new album Embracing The Madness. they also planned a release show at Jeugdhuis Asgaard on the 18th of March. so we thought it was the perfect timing to send these guys some questions about their new work and the upcoming show. the answers where delivered by singer/guitarist Benny Willaert and guitarist Tom Tas.
So guys, how is everything going?
Benny and Tom: We’re doing great guys, thank you!
First of all, congratulations on the new album “Embracing The Madness”. I think personally that this shows to the fans how far you’ve grown over the years. But what are your thoughts on the new album?
Tom: We couldn’t be happier with this new record! In honesty, we couldn’t believe our ears when we got the album back from the mixing and mastering — you record your parts, you do the editing and the rough-mixing and so on, and you think you have kind of an OK picture of what the record is gonna sound like. What we got back from the studio blew our minds…it was massive! Everything sounded so vast, so professional and so huge. Apart from the sound, we’re totally satisfied with how the album turned out in all other respects; I agree the record shows a “grown” band — it’s easily the most mature and most varied Acez record to date.
I know the band a bit and have the previous records as well. Was it an easy choice to make everything sound a bit heavier as seen towards the previous albums?
Tom: Truthfully, yeah, it pretty much was in a way. We all agreed we had to bring something more to the table than we’d done before. We can be totally open about this and say the previous albums didn’t quite do what we’d hoped. Looking back and analysing why that might’ve been the case, we could see why — apart from a few other things that could be improved, there was perhaps too little direction to the records. Variation is a good thing of course, as are dynamics, ‘softer’ moments to offset the heavy stuff and so forth, but in truth, the softer elements and sounds were often too poppy and the heavy moments could be improved upon in terms of tightness and complexity. We fell too much in between — not Metal enough to be a Metal band, too heavy to be a Rock band. Seeing as how we’re all Metal fans, making everything heavier and tighter actually came pretty naturally as we started writing and rehearsing the songs.
Lyrically, are there songs that deal with personal matters, or not at all?
Benny: Lyrically, this is the most personal record so far. I tried to write from my own experiences, the good and the bad. I went through a really dark period in my life and this reflected in the lyrics.
The title of the album is called “Embracing the Madness”. Does this refer to the state (politically) that the world is in right now, or what is the actual meaning of the title for you guys?
Benny: You’ve guessed it right; it’s open to more than one interpretation. When you watch the news and you realise that you can’t go outside with your kids without having to worry about being driven over by a religious bigot in a truck. It makes you wonder what kind of a mad world we’re living in. Does it drive you completely paranoid or do you try and live your own life? Same applies to personal problems, do you deal with them and move on or do your inner demons consume you. The choice is yours…
For the mix and mastering of this album you chose to work with none other than Simone Mularoni. Was this an easy choice? And why did you choose him?
Tom: I’ve been working on a number of albums of my own for a few years now, and was looking for a great Metal producer to take care of the re-amping, mixing and mastering of these records. Being a huge DGM fan (Simone‘s band), and knowing he had his own studio (Domination Studio in San Marino), I contacted him to hear whether he might be up for this. As fate would have it, another band I played in at the time (the Prog Rock/Metal band Neo Prophet) suddenly received an offer to open for DGM on a few dates on their European tour. It was a huge coincidence — one thing was totally unrelated to the other! In the end, it seemed only natural to also do the new 23 Acez album together with Simone. Knowing the sheer massiveness of his productions, we knew the sound he’d give us would fit the new album like a glove.
Your guitarist Tom is active in some other bands as well. Is this something that gives a lot of troubles in the matter of planning for writing and gigging?
Benny: So far it hasn’t caused any major problems, because we keep a tight schedule. Communication is crucial. I’m always writing new stuff and so do the others. Until now, the well hasn’t run dry.
For the near future, are their some big things coming? How is the planning so far?
Tom: We sincerely hope there’s some bright, big things on the horizon! Everything seems to be falling into place for this new record: we got a fantastic new label (Freya Records), Mike (De Coene) from HardLife Promotion is doing awesome things in terms of promo for us (including our release show at Asgaard this Sunday, of course!), great reviews are pouring in, and the new album’s garnering all sorts of interest from all kinds of directions. Let’s hope some cool opportunities are on the way!
Final question: what can the people who are coming to the release show at Jeugdhuis Asgaard expect from the show?
Tom: In line with the new album, something heavier and tighter than anything we’ve done before! We like to think everything’s been re-vamped and improved upon — including our sound and our playing. Our new drummer Louis‘ skills behind the kit, for example, are really something to behold!
Is there anything else you guys want to add to this?
Tom: Only a big thanks for this interview! Come on down to the show this weekend and we’ll have a few. Oh, and find us online @ www.23acez.be or on facebook: www.facebook.com/23Acez for more news on what we’re up to!
Thank you for the interview, and good luck!
Benny and Tom: Thanks, you guys! See you on Sunday!!