Progressive dream metal from The Netherlands

The Dutch atmospheric prog 'dream metal' band MORNING was formed in 2000 by Saskia van Heugten (vocals), Mauro Pi (drums) and the brothers Pol (bass) and Stijn Bannier (synths). After two years of struggling with different guitarists, they found Martijn Brauwers and Bas Rensen in 2002. This line up has remained ever since. In the meantime, the band has released several demo-EPs and also establised a good live reputation in the national scene. Highlights being an appearance at the Summer Darkness festival, November Rain, Bevrijdingsfestival and Jamrock. In 2005, MORNING got signed to the Greek label Black Lotus Records and their debut album “Hour Of Joy” (see review in our CD section) is in the stores right now. Metal Maidens caught up with synth player Stijn Bannier and he gladly answered our questions....

Congratualtions with the release of “Hour Of Joy”. How are the reactions of the press so far?
Stijn: "Thank you very much! The reactions by our friends, fans and the press are very positive."

Are you completely satisfied with the final result, and what would you like to change, if you had the chance to record it again?
Stijn: "Satisfied? On one hand: Yes, we are satisfied with the album, considering our experience, budget and this is our first album. It’s great to have a real release in your hands: cool artwork, printed cds, etc. It’s a dream of every musician, I think! On the other hand: compared to other bands and albums, we know this is not the best sound you would get, but we learned a lot of it and hope to prove it with our next album."

In my review of “Hour Of Joy”, I tipped the first two songs “Hour Of Joy” and “Inside” as the highlights of the album. What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
Stijn: "It’s hard to choose, but for me it will be "Kill The Silence" and "This Unreachable Mess", since there are lots of proggy parts in it."

“Hour Of Joy” is a perfect title for an album that lasts for about an hour. Is there more to the meaning of the title, or is this the only explanation that you can give to it?
Stijn: "Hour Of Joy" is about the fun we’re having, when we perform! Our hour of joy, fun and pleasure on stage."

The cover art of the album is beautiful, but it is a bit darker and more sober than the title of the album suggests. Who came up with the artwork for “Hour Of Joy”?
Stijn: "The record company came with the idea to ask Seth Design. We decided to choose this album cover out of several propositions. The album cover was made and adapted by Nathalie Shau. Seth from Seth Design designed the booklet."

How did you get Arjen Lucassen (AYREON, STAR ONE, STREAM OF PASSION, etc.) to do the spoken intro for you on the album?
Stijn: "Since long time I have contact with him through the internet and also met him a few times already. We’re very proud he wanted to record a small part for our intro."

Arjen must have been impressed by the female vocals of Saskia van Heugten. Wouldn’t it be nice of Saskia to appear on one of the releases of Arjen’s future projects?
Stijn: "Hehe! I think it would be great! Saskia will love it, too… Let’s hope for the best."

How did the CD presentation in Landgraaf go, a couple of weeks ago?
Stijn: "That was very cool! We invited lots of friends. Some of them also performed with their band. The other bands were CIRCLE OF SILENCE, JEDI MINDTRICK (with Pol and my brother Stan on drums) and BEROERDE BROEDERS (with Bas’ brother Otto on guitars and vocals), so it wasn’t just a party also a sort of family meeting. We had a great time."

Are there any interesting live shows planned in the near future?
Stijn: "On November 6th, we will do a small acoustic performance in the afternoon at the Mindview Metal Convention and that night we will perform in Paard van Troje in Den Haag together with CIRRHA NIVA. For more shows, please check our website;"

What are the future plans, now the first album is out?
Stijn: "Having a lot of fun, cool gigs and work on the songs for our new album."

How did you get in touch with Black Lotus Records, who released your first full-length album?
Stijn: "After we finished the mixing process of the album we decided not to release the album ourselves, but to look for a label. We’ve sent several packages and got some positive reactions. Some labels offered us a deal and we chose Black Lotus as the best. They had a good promotion and distribution worldwide and for the Netherlands and Belgium, they worked with Theo The Rock, a good friend of us. Second to that, they also have some great other artists on the label, like ANGEL, Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE) and Eddie Ojeda (TWISTED SISTER)."

Saskia easily launches herself amongst the names of many female collegues like Anneke van Giersbergen, Simone Simons, Sharon den Adel and Floor Janssen. Which of these female collegues does she like the most (singing style or personality) and why?
Stijn: "I’m almost sure she will answer Anneke van Giersbergen for her singing style here. But since she is in Kenya now (study trip), that’s all I can say about it."

Your music however is a lot more progressive than the music of bands like EPICA, THE GATHERING, WITHIN TEMPTATION and AFTER FOREVER. I’d like to compare MORNING more with DELPHIAN for example, because of this more progressive approach. What’s your opinion?
Stijn: "Indeed, there are some other influences compared to the rest of the scene. We want to rock a bit more than other bands: just give it a live feel and not too much samples of choirs, orchestras, etc. Also the classic synth sounds and vintage keyboard sounds like Hammond, mellotron and Rhodes give a progressive feel to the music."

In what way will the sound of MORNING develop on the next album? Have you 'set' a direction yet, and will it change a lot from what you are doing now?
Stijn: "We don’t “set” a direction, but comparing the new songs to the old ones, you can hear some different metal influences from bands like SOILWORK and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. It’s going to be a bit more groovier, but we still want to maintain some aspects of the MORNING sound, like progressive and atmospheric parts."

Are you planning to play another cover again on your next album, and if yes do you have any song in mind already?
Stijn: "Not at this moment. But about covers: it’s almost sure that we will record a NIGHTWISH song for a NIGHTWISH tribute album… More news about that soon on our website."

Isn’t it frustrating for the guys in the band, that a lot of people see Saskia as ‘the face of the band’, while they are an equal and essential part of the sound of MORNING of course?
Stijn: "No problems at all. Since her face is much prettier compared to that from the rest of the band, I only can agree with those people."

Your last words....
Stijn: "Thanks as well for the interview! Take a look at our website or see you at one of our gigs! Greetings and all the best to you!"

Interview by: Toine van Poorten/courtesy of Metal Maidens, October 2005.

Discography MORNING:

*Little Moves (indie; March 2001)
*Circle Of Power (indie; April 2002)
*Inside (indie; August 2003)

*Hour Of Joy (Black Lotus Records; 2005)