In a few weeks Herfst will be releasing a new album, called Towards Haunted Shores. We were able to grab fouding member Bram Van Cauter and his newest addition Collin Boone for a little preview about what we can expect.
So, of course we want to know all about the new album. What can we expect from this release?
Bram: Well, this one will be a lot darker. Herfst had some more obvious melodic moments in the music in the past but this time you’ll hear none of it.
Collin: We also mixed up our influences a bit…
Collin: Like punk, funk, disco, ska,… (laughs)
Bram: It’s more of a hybrid, you should write that down, hybrid is a cool world. (laughs)
It would be wrong to simply call it Melodic Death Metal.
If you wouldn’t call it melodic death metal anymore, than what label would you put on it if you really had to.
Bram: I think nekromantic metal summaries it nicely. Dark and brooding, uneasy listening with the right amount of melody thrown in. That hybrid between those blast beats and all that anger that flows over into these more harmonic parts. For me, Herfst always meant to question everything style-wise and it often leads to quite diverse results. It’s quite hard to pigeonhole us into the black or death scene. We’re too black for death metal and too death for the average Darkthrone fan, I guess.
What about the general theme of your release? Is there some kind of link between songs?
Bram: Actually, yes but I didn’t mean to. (laughs)
Collin: Like so many things in his life, it’s a happy accident!
Bram: It’s funny because it’s true! In any case for those who know us, they’ll notice our lyrics have become more morbid and amorphous. Everything has to do with water and dark brooding oceans. A little nod to vast horrific creatures in the sea, possession, etc… Like She Dwells The Moors for instance, it’s a song that talks about a girl who is possessed in 19th century Russia, who drowns herself and starts haunting nearby villages. Just like that there is some link with water in every song but this general theme wasn’t planned, it just came to be by itself.
How did this musical evolution to came to be?
Bram: Well, first of all, we got a new line-up which opened a lot of possibilities. Things aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. Every new release has been something else. People can bash on Herfst as much as they want, but we never made a similar release. We went from humble beginnings to what we are now. This time we wanted something more organic and I think that word is key in this release.
Collin: Like Bram was saying, whereas we used to be more organised like chorus, verse, chorus, verse, … This time I think Bram went more with his gut feeling.
Bram: Yeah, and with the changes within the band, it was more of a possibility. No limitations, just pedal to the fucking metal!
What changes are we talking about exactly?
Collin: Well first of all there’s me of course! I replace Christophe who was a member since forever.
Bram: Christophe was really good in rhythm and structure within our songs and always had great input within our writing process. But due to personal reasons he felt no longer being into Herfst the whole nine yards. He understood it takes a lot of dedication to play our genre and decided it was time for something else. That’s where Collin came into the picture.
Collin: I think it was the day after Christophe left you called me. Anyway, of course I jumped on board. But no worries, Powerstroke and Asatru will still be enjoying the delightful gift of my presence.
Bram: And of course we have Steve.
Tell me about your drummer, Steve, he has been in the band since…?
Collin: About two years?
Bram: Around easter 2013. Steve simply lives and breathes music. He is innovating and just by his influences alone we already progressed so much further.
Collin: Just to give you an idea, Steve drums Dream Theater just for warming up a bit.
Bram: The guy is insane and inspires us in fact to go the extra mile in trying new things with the band. Everything is just more mature and less obvious partially thanks to him.
And then we have you and the others.
Bram: Well I just started the band in 1999 but that’s about it.
Collin: Except writing the music of course.
Bram: Oh yeah I suppose. Well basically, with me, Kurt (bass) and Mathieu (vocals) and the other two, we have a fresh and exciting line-up where everything is possible. Especially me, Kurt and Steve stepped up our game. Call it a rebirth of Herfst if you like but our upcoming release is just scratching the surface of our newfound potential. None of us have any idea what we’ll do next year or the year after that.
Back to your new album. How went recording?
Bram: Painfully slow and frustrating. I think I have some stomach ulcers left from the whole ordeal. Amps blowing up DURING the recording process, members leaving, computer crashes: you name it. Jari Mäenpää: I feel your pain! We also collaborated with two seasoned professionals who helped make the whole thing come to fruition.
One of them is an incredibly cool guy named Frank Rotthier, who is an engineer at the Trix (music venue in Antwerp). He was able to create a warm tube sound by reamping almost everything with top of the line microphones and amps. He’s an extraordinary producer who didn’t go overboard by editing everything over the top. It is technical yeah, but still very human.
At some point, while recording the drums -which Steve did in one take only using a click track and his memory- he just walked around in the room with a floor tom, hitting it from time to time. This guy simply has a great set of ears, he found the acoustic sweet spot without any fancy devices or apps or whatever, just his ears when he simply said “Stop! This is where we’ll be recording!” and that was it.
Then we have Dan Swanö from Unisound who produced stellar releases from Opeth, Dissection, Bloodbath and so on. He mixed and mastered our release and gave the release and old-school and warm vibe in combination with something more modern and tight.
What can you tell me about the artwork, anything we can see already?
Bram: No but soon! Desaturated oceans, dark and eerie will be a recurring theme throughout. We are also collaborating with Alixe Deleuze from Paris who is creating something fresh for our new merch. She is very talented and I think best known for her medieval style etching. Her work will also allow us to screenprint it on T-shirts so we can go full-on commercial and take all your money etcetera… (laughs)
Sounds like a good deal. Thank you guys for coming and we’re looking forward to hear your release!