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Interview with Jan-Chris de Koeijer of Gorefest

J: For those who are unfamiliar with the band and for those who may just need a refresher, tell a little history of the band.

JC: Well we first started out in late ‘88 first demo in ‘89. We released our first album in ‘91 we did 5 albums. The last being ‘Chapter 13’. In ‘98 we split up and got back together last year. Did some summer festivals in summer 2005. Then we recorded ‘La Muerte’ which is being released in America in two weeks time.

J: Can’t give a totally honest answer yet seeing as I have listened to it only once so far, but I do like what I hear.

JC: Well thank you very much.

J: So after six plus years, how was it that you guys decided to get back together?

JC: Well we had never planed on ever getting back together due to the large amount of bullshit that was going on. In ‘98 we had split up and we had almost put it out of it’s misery. It really happened by accident. Which I’m very glad it did. I think it was Jan 2004 we had interest from a Dutch label called Transmission, who wanted to buy our back catalog. We are tape owners who always had license deals. So we thought it was a good idea. I mean, the old albums weren’t available in the shops anymore. And we wanted to leave our so called musical legacy behind in a boxed set. And it was also some nice money for nothing. That, everybody likes. Me and Ed the drummer were doing the initial negotiations and it put Gorefest back in my life. Into my system. Something that I won’t say I banned, but I never wanted to become one of those frustrated musicians that can only talk about the early days. Me and Boudewijn had not spoken or saw each other for like six years and with the band being back in my system, I started thinking about him as well. With a “where did we go wrong” vibe. It was May 2004, I believe it was a Tuesday, the phone rang and I picked it up and it was Boudewijn. I instantly started talking telling him that I had thought a lot about him lately, which really broke the ice. After about three months and many, many, many long, long talks of getting rid of the bullshit, we sat together with the four of us. We knew right away that we were a band again. Even without talking about it. That’s when we decided that we wanted to do some live shows first. But after a month or so, we knew that we were going to do a live album. And here we are.

gorefest 2J: So how does it feel?

JC: Great. I mean I’m so glad that we split up at that time. We were done musically and personally. And now it almost feels like the ’92-’93 era when Boudewijn and Eddy just joined the band. We were four people against the world thing. We were young and naive then .Of course now we’re not young and naïve anymore. But it’s four people with the love of the music again. We all have very nice jobs and this is always just going to be a hobby. None of us want to quit our jobs. When we’re together, we love being around each other. We love picking up our guitars.

J: So what brought about the split in ’98?

JC: It was like ten years. We were just frustrated with each other. And , I’m still proud or glad that we did it but we took some rather big leaps musical wise that people couldn’t cope with. And we were frustrated with each other and the label at that time. Just done. That was it. I guess it just happens. Well it happened to us and I feel we made the right decision.

J: It is something that happens to a lot of musicians. Though these days most of them will just play it out for some media exposure. Name calling or what not to various media outlets in interviews.

JC: Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re talking about. And we still had a contract for a lot of money. And if we had done it, then we would have been really selling ourselves. Just for the big buck. And no, I’m still proud of every album that we released. But if we never would have split up then, we never would have made this album. And, it it took six years. It was not a forced thing. If we would have tried this in 2001 or 2002, it would have failed miserably.

J: So what was it like playing together for the first time after regrouping?

JC: Weird. I mean, I sold all my stuff, Boudewijn sold all his gear. Not his guitars of course. So we had to go to people and ask if we could borrow their guitars and stuff. I think we tried to play ’Unsung’, off the ’Chapter 13’ album, and I say tried because we all went into this completely unprepared. Deciding over a beer that you’re actually a band again is something different than seeing if it would really work. We couldn’t even finish that song. A little less than half way, everybody went completely different. Totally different chords. And even though we couldn’t even finish a song, everybody looked at each other as if wow. It felt kind of magical. We instantly wrote what has become the opening track of the new album. We wrote that that same afternoon and the next day. We couldn’t play any of the old songs so we thought why not just do something new. That’s when we knew that it felt good.

J: Could you tell us a little bit about the new release, ’La Muerte’?

JC: Well it’s been out in Europe for about two and a half months now. Wow, it’s been a long time since somebody has asked me. I think style wise it’s a mixture of ‘False’ and ‘Erase’ with quite a big dose, although on first hearings people do not discover it but there is a lot of ‘Chapter 13 and Soul Survivor’ in there as well. But with such a mix in there, I think it sounds really, really good. Tue Madsen did one hell of a job. It ,I think we went back to the roots. To the essence of the band. More of the death metal release than the later releases. We produced it ourselves, and we tried to capture it as lively as possible. We always try to have like the second or third take as the take on tape. We didn’t care about little mistakes and stuff like that. Half of the album was written as a real band with the four of us in a rehearsal room and the other half , I couldn’t rehearse anymore because I work as a production manager for a big company here in Holland and it was like April and my summer festival season was here , so half of the songs were written at home. And when we entered the studio we had like six songs that were more or less finished, and seven that were like skeletons that we wrote a lot of the stuff in the studio. Which was great. It was a lot of work but we could do it because we were focused and willing to work together again. I’m happy with it. But every musician will say that about his latest release, but I think by looking at the reviews we have received so far that maybe we released a very good album.

J: So the European response is very positive?

JC: Yes, yes. I mean there’s always the hater that says this “album sucks”. Well fire at will. But if you can’t even explain why you don’t like it. But I reckon 9 out of 10 are from good to raving. So we’re really happy. Last summer we did some big festival shows that were fine, but it was in December that we did 5 headlining shows in Holland, no support band. Just a very good metal DJ and a two hour live set. And the response to that was really good as well. Good mixture between the old stuff and the new stuff.

J: What does the tour schedule look for 2006?

JC: We’re starting February 16th, that’s a 40 day, 38 shows in 40 days. We were offered a great opportunity to tour the U.S., I think the second spot on the Morbid Angel tour in April, but we had to let that one go because especially Eddy our drummer would lose his job, plus my summer festival season starts mid-April. But there’s plan and talks of getting us over for mid September. It’s definitely high on the wish list because we haven’t toured there since ‘93 when we supported Death. I think there is good enough interest for it.

J: So you’ve got a rejuvenated band, a new album and tour lined up. Everything seems to be going well…..

JC: Funny is not the word, but the weird thing is we don’t have to do anything for it. It just happens. That’s because the vibe is good and the album is good. It plans itself. And the offers just come in. You know instead of us trying to call people. It’s a great feeling. ‘93,’94, everything was happening then. And we were on a rush and we’re almost reliving that era. When everything sort of just fell into place. Doing the big Dynamo shows the U.S. tour. Something that every European musician dreams of doing. We’re definitely on a high.

J: So how does the future look? You made mention of this as more of a hobby?

JC: Yeah I did, but we are definitely going to be here for a long time. A hobby doesn’t mean that it not a priority, but we will never find ourselves in a situation where we have to release an album. Or that we have to tour and have to make money to pay the bills. And that’s something that we don’t want to find ourselves in anymore. We only want to release an album if we think we’re ready to do it. And we only want to go on tour, if we want to go on tour. I think that if we can plan it like we’re planning it now, that we’re having a blast. We’ve been talking about the new album, the next one now for a couple of months and, no, I do think we have like 3 albums in us right now.