On their new CD “Moments Of Truth”, MORNING dissociates themselves from the fairytale metal, that they once invented. The band shows a much rougher face and impressed me with a lot of loud riffs and instrumental parts. Also lead vocalist Saskia van Heugten has gained a lot of experience over the years and sounds more mature and powerful nowadays. All the more reason to get connected with a new MORNING and give you an update about what’s been happening with the band over the past few months.. Frontwoman Saskia kindly speaks out and reveals their future plans.....
First of all, congratulations on the new album. Are you satisfied with the final result, and how have the reactions been towards this new album so far?
Saskia: “Hi! Yes, we’re all satisfied with the results of “Moments Of Truth”. It’s been a real progression since “Hour Of Joy”, we think. The song writing and production of this album has been a big step forward. Of course our goal is to do better and better on each album, we’re making. The critics have been positive overall. Most people like the ‘switch’ that we’ve made to somewhat more heavier stuff!”
It took you three years to finalise this new album. Can you give us a short update of what happened during this period of time?
Saskia: “Well, Black Lotus, our former label, gave us the chance to record a second album with them. When we were almost ready to record the songs, the label went bankrupt. That was shitty. We all felt like we could start all over again, which is a real pity. We didn’t have the money to make an album on our own, so we had to wait and in the meantime played a lot of gigs. The songs we wrote could now become even better and when we felt like we we’re ready, we went to look for a producer, a studio and at last a new label.”
Why did drummer Mauro Pi leave the band? He was one of the founder members of MORNING! The well-known musical differences?
Saskia: “You got it at almost the right end, my friend! Musical differences, but not really about the music. It was about the production of the album, that he didn’t agree with. And he had a busy job, where he had to work a lot in the weekends. That doesn’t go together with playing in a band either. Too bad, because he was (and is) a real great friend of mine. Indeed, we started MORNING together in high school.”
And how did you get in touch with his replacement, Jim van de Kerkhof?
Saskia: “Bas and Jim met each other during the recording sessions of a project, called ‘Morton Black’. When Mauro decided to pursue other goals in life, we were in need of a new drummer. Bas mentioned Jim, knowing that he likes to do session work, so we contacted him and fortunately he said ‘yes’. The original idea was to perform live with Jim as a session drummer, until we found a replacement, that was ready to hit the stages with us. Things worked out really great between us... There was a positive chemistry between Jim and us on a musical and on a personal level. Therefore, we decided to announce Jim as our new drummer.”
What is Jim’s background? Did he play in other bands before he joined MORNING?
Saskia: “Jim’s a guy, who seriously loves playing the drums! He used to play different styles of music, such as pop-rock, punk, hardcore and metal. He played in quite some bands and he has been active as a live musician since 1997. Besides drumming in MORNING, he also beats the crap out of his drums in UPLIFTED, a dutch melodic hardcore band with metal and punky edges. Jim is a guy, who puts his heart and soul in the drums, intensively moving his body while he’s playing. I think that ‘energizing’ would be a good word to describe his drumming style. He’s one hell of a drummer and you should see us live!”
What’s for you the biggest difference between “Hour Of Joy” and “Moments Of Truth”?
Saskia: “I think the production in the first place. It’s a great step forward. But also the songs, the lyrics, it all got a little heavier and sounds more mature. It really was a way to write away my feelings and get a hold of myself. So that’s the meaning, it has to me.”
I don’t think, that you can call this album dream metal anymore, which was a very suitable description for “Hour Of Joy”, by the way. I think, that your sound has matured and I also believe, that you have found the style, that suits you best. Do you agree with this statement?
Saskia: “Yes, I think Hour of Joy, was really a ’dream metal’ album. But I think at this moment, we’re still looking for the style, that suits us best, and a style that keeps making music interesting to all of us. I think, it’s always changing, but this album is certainly a step in the right direction. This is also because of our new drummer. He can play lots of different things, from really tight rock to the worst black metal, you can imagine - haha! So I think the next album will be again different from this one.”
How would you describe the sound on the new album yourself?
Saskia: “Heavy, bombastic, in-your-face, yet atmospherical and progressive, too…”
Was there a particular reason, why you recorded the album at the Klank Studios or was this merely for logistic reasons, because it’s in the neighbourhood of Susteren, where the band is located?
Saskia: “We’ve already recorded a demo - two songs - in this studio and we were pretty happy about the corporation and sound. That’s why we recorded the drums over there.”
Saskia, you moved from the south of Holland (Limburg) to the capital of Amsterdam. Don’t you miss the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of the people in Limburg?
Saskia: “Well, that warmth, you are talking about… I didn’t notice much of it, when I lived there (people often think you’re strange, when you don’t look like everybody else does). It’s the tranquillity and rest, when I get back there, that attracts me to Limburg! But what I do miss are all my friends, who are still living in the south. I don’t see them as much as I would want to.”
Back to the new album now. Maybe you can tell us a bit what the lyrics are about on “Moments Of Truth”?
Saskia: “The lyrics are about what I’ve been going through the last couple of years. The sad, but also the happier moments – my personal ‘moments of truth’. So they’re autobiographic. For me, these moments were pretty important, kind of like a life lesson.”
And please explain the album title to us here? Does it have a double meaning or what? (does it refer to the importance of your second album in a way?)
Saskia: “No, it doesn’t refer to the importance of “Hour Of Joy” at all. It refers to my personal ‘moments of truth’ in life.”
Who provided the artwork for the new album? Maybe you can tell us a bit more about that as well?
Saskia: “The artwork is done by Japayork. He’s a friend of the band and a very talented young designer. He captured the atmosphere of our music really well in the artwork, I think. It’s both sensitive and aggressive – a rose that’s on fire. It also represents the passion of our music.”
What’s your personal fave song on this new album? Mine would be “My Shadows Meal” and “Disorder”, because of its power.
Saskia: “Hmm, it’s hard to choose! They all mean something special to me. For singing, “Black Roses” would be my favourite song to play live, but I also like “Killing Truth” and “My Gift” a lot.”
Are you also planning to release a single or a video from “Moments Of Truth”? And if yes, which song will you choose for that?
Saskia: “We’re not busy planning this at the moment, but it would be great, when a single would be released together with a video. I don’t know which song we would choose as a band, but my choice would be “Killing Truth”.”
The new album sounds much heavier than “Hour Of Joy”. Who or what inspired you to come up with this heavy sound?
Saskia: “We all listen a lot to bands like SOILWORK, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and other heavy stuff. This is what we always wanted to do… Maybe it’ll get even heavier with Jim on the drums.”
You signed with Snakebite Records for the album release in the BeNeLux. Why did you choose this particular label?
Saskia: “They had a nice offer for us, and we know these guys very well. So it was a pretty easy decision to make. Besides that, we already worked with Theo, the promo guy, when “Hour Of Joy” was released, and this collaboration was very good! Snakebite Records offered us the possibility to release the album on our own conditions and the guys are great to work with!”
You are also releasing the new album on Renaissance Records to reach the American market (North and South). Why did you decide to focus on the USA, instead of Germany or Scandinavia for example, where as this style of music is very popular there?
Saskia: “Well, sometimes you haven’t got a choice. We haven’t found a label yet, that we want to work with for these other countries. But we’re still looking for a label, that fits our wishes. Snakebite’s focus is on the BeNeLux. We were lucky to get in touch with the guy(s) from Renaissance Records, who saw our potential. We’re happy, that Renaissance distributes our album in America. We’re still looking for suitable labels in other parts of the worlds, but we’re taking it one step at a time.”
What’s the most memorable gig you played and why??
Saskia: “Well, the release party of “Moments of Truth” in Heerlen at the Nieuwe Nor was certainly one, that I’ll never forget - haha! There was a really good atmosphere and after the gig we had lots of fun…The gigs in the bigger venues that we’ve played in, like Tivoli (Utrecht), Effenaar (Eindhoven) and Nighttown (Rotterdam), were also great gigs with an audience, that was going crazy. To me, these are the most memorable gigs.”
Do you have any touring plans outside Holland yet?
Saskia: “Not yet, but we’re working on it! We’ve played shows in Belgium and Germany in the past. We would like to expand our live performances in and outside Holland in the future. We hope to do so as soon as possible, but right now there aren’t any touring plans abroad.”
Do you have any hobbies or special interests, besides playing music in a metal band?
Saskia: “Absolutely, but music is my greatest passion of them all! I’m interested in all kinds of art, I’m also an art teacher at a school in Amsterdam. I became a teacher, because I love working with people and get them enthusiastic about art. I’ve studied photography, that’s something I really enjoy doing. Next to that, I love cooking (I’m pretty creative at this) and enjoy reading thrillers and watching movies. Love Tim Burton’s and Tarantino’s work al lot.“
Stijn, do you still take care of the website yourself?
Stijn: “Yes! It takes more and more time, but that’s because I choose to stay up-to-date and use the latest web technologies, like PHP, SQL and lots of other too-technical-to-explain-here-things.”
Just one other thing, that appealed to us very much. Saskia, we reallydo like the colour of your hair (it’s VERY RED!!): a new album and a new image… In what way does the colour of your hair refer to Saskia as ‘the leading lady’ in the band?
Saskia: “Well, actually, the colour red has a special meaning to me. It’s passionate and represents love and pain at the same time. This is what MORNING and my lyrics are all about. The song “My Gift In Deep Red” makes this very clear, I think.”
The last words in this interview are for MORNING…..
Saskia: “We hope, that you’ve enjoyed reading this interview and hope to see you soon at one of our gigs!”
Thanks very much for this interview and we can’t wait to see you ‘live’ again in the near future! Good luck on the new album (which received 9/10 at www.metalmaidens.com) and we wish you ALL THE VERY BEST!!!!
Saskia: “THANK YOU!”
Visit their website at: www.morning.nl
or My Space: www.myspace.com/morningmetal
*Also read our 2005 interview with MORNING here: MORNING 2005 interview