Beyond The Gates Of Heaven, there is NIGHTQUEEN!

Our first real introduction of this epic power metal band from Genk, Belgium was on their debut album “For Queen And Metal”, which received a very high score. Keely Larreina is the front lady of this very promising band, who transforms into a real night queen, when she hits the stage. Together with her musical companions, she cranks out a true musical “rEvolution”, on their second album, that took us by surprise again. We teamed up with night queen Keely Larreina and rhythm king Steve Steele (bass) to explore this musical “rEvolution”, that took recently place in their magic kingdom. The NIGHTQUEEN speaks to her servants. The time will come, that we will all bow to her majesty. Don’t say, that we didn’t warn you.

Before we start this interview, we’d like to thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to ask you some questions and we want to congratulate you on your new album. When did the band get together and how did you actually meet up with each other?
Steven: “The band was formed by Rex several years ago. It evolved from ‘just for fun’ into the semi-professional band it is today. This process involved several swaps of band members. Three years ago Keely and me joined the band and last fall, Ed and Neil signed up. All thanks to Rex and his extensive library of musicians.”

Can you introduce the band members to us and tell us which instrument(s) you play?
Steven: “Rex Zeco is the writer and first guitarist of the band. Keely Larreina handles the vocals and does this is in a truly sublime way. Ed Scarlatti plays the keyboards. Neil Gray is the second guitarist and I (Steven Steele) play the bass.”

Don’t we miss a drummer in the line-up and are you still searching for a suitable skin beater or have you already found one?
Steven: “We are in the process of signing up a new drummer, but it’s not that easy finding suitable musicians. The songs Rex writes are not for beginners.”

Who came up with the name NIGHTQUEEN and why did this become this your definite choice?
Steven: “The first song ever written by Rex was “Queen Of The Night” and he liked the sound of it, so he changed it into Nightqueen as a bandname. He also found out, that it was the name of a certain bat, so there was our band symbol.”

You released a maxi single in 2010, called “Inauguration”, which got fairly good reviews and was a good start for the band. In 2012, you released your first full-length album, called “For Queen And Metal” on Massacre Records. Despite all the good critics, it didn’t cause your breakthrough…. What happened?
Steven: “In that period, there was no stable line-up of the band. This in combination with a lack of decent management, is for me the reason. Plus, Belgium is not the best place to start, when you’re playing metal.”

You signed a new record deal with WildGame Music in 2013 and your second album “rEvolution” became a fact, which I hold in my hands right now. What’s the response been like of the press until now?
Steven: “Well, the title stands, among other things, for the evolution the band went trough in comparison with the first album and the people seem to really like it. The responses on the gigs are very good and the reviews, as you can see online, are also very positive.”

How would you describe your music yourself?
Steven: “This is difficult one. Rex would say it is ‘female-fronted power metal’. But next to the power metal, which is in there, there’s also plain and simple rock up to orchestral arrangements. I would say, that there is something for everybody on the album, as long as you’re into rock or metal.”

Can you name us the main musical influences of NIGHTQUEEN and maybe you can name some of the influences of each band member individually here as well?
Steven: “Rex is influenced by the great guitar players of the eighties and bands like QUEENSRYCHE, HELLOWEEN, etcetra. Keely is a huge fan of KAMELOT. Me on the other hand, I’m a rocker, a child of the nineties, a huge fan of NIRVANA, PEARL JAM and more recently the FOO FIGHTERS. Of course I also grew up with metal bands like MANOWAR, MOTORHEAD, METALLICA and older bands like PAVLOV’S DOG, DEEP PURPLE, so my taste is very broad.”

Who did the artwork for “rEvolution”?
Steven: “That would be Jan Yrlund from Darkgrove Designs Finland. He's also one of the members from IMPERIA.”

In which way does “For Queen And Metal” differ from “rEvolution” in your opinion?
Steven: “Like I mentioned before, it is an evolution. To me this album is clearly a step up. The songs vary more, without losing our own style.”

What’s your favorite track on “rEvolution” and why? Mine would be “Queen Of The Night”, by the way.
Steven: “For me personally, that would be “Rain Of Blood And Fear”. Not that it is the best song, but it is the most fun to play on bass.”

Who writes the lyrics for your songs and can you tell us what they are about?
Steven: “Rex does most of the writing, although sometimes, some other band members pitch in. The lyrics divide the album into three parts. First there are your typical love songs, like the single “Love After Live” or “Beyond The Gates Of Heaven”. Secondly, we have songs, like “Revolution” and “Demoncracy”, reflecting the album title “rEVOLUTION” and containing a message to the people to stand up and revolt against everything that’s going wrong in the system today. And finally there is the inevitable fantasy chapter, like “Queen Of The Night”.”

How does the song writing come about in general? Do you start with the lyrics or does the music come first or maybe you write while jamming? Perhaps you can explain a bit more here?
Steven: “Again I have to start with Rex. He writes the lyrics together with the lines for Keely and the guitars. He then explains to us which direction he wants to go with the song and we finish it together.”

Does NIGHTQUEEN play a lot of live shows? And what are the most important motives for you, when being on stage and playing a good show?
Steven: “The last year we did not play many gigs, because we were working on our album. Now we’re starting up promotion, to get as many gigs as possible. And our motive is very simple: have fun and entertain the crowd.”

Can you update us a bit with bands that you shared the stage with already?
Steven: “I think, our biggest show in that context is the Power Prog & Metal Festival two years ago. And we will be playing with SAXON this fall.”

Do you also play any covers during your live shows and if yes, which covers do you crank out then?
Steven: “Today, there’s one cover in our set, “Diamonds And Rust”. Not realy a cover, but more a new musical arrangement of this song. Most of you will know this song in the version of JUDAS PRIEST, but is originally from JOAN BAEZ.”

What has been your biggest gig so far?
Steven: “Again I would have to point to the Power Prog & Metal Festival in 2012.”

What do you think of the metal scene in our country and which other Belgian metal bands do you like a lot?
Steven: “The Belgian metal scene is not that big. Meaning that it is hard to get gigs or recognition. There are for example much more possibilities for other genres. On the other hand, there are a lot of metal bands out there, all facing the same problems. I personally am a radio man, meaning I listen mostly to Studio Brussel. I’m too lazy to go out and search new bands and new music myself. They play lots off rock and metal, also of local bands. Maybe not always the metal you are referring to, but to give you some bands that I do like, STEAK NUMBER EIGHT and DIABLO BOULEVARD are really good.”

Keely, do you take any singing lessons? If yes, for how long already and what’s the best lesson you’ve learned so far? If not, why not? (lol)
Keely: “I’m already singing from the age of nine. I come from a musical family. My granddad was a tenor, who sang until he was eighty years old. He had seven children and they all had their musical skills. My mom lives in Spain, where she’s still performing with her keyboard and she keeps the people happy there with her singing. So I can really say, that my family was my best teacher. But as I got older, I went to a professional vocal coach to learn some more skills and the best thing I learned there is that before I go on stage or start recording in the studio, I will always do my warm ups. They sound really funny, but they are very necessary.”

Did you already play outside of the Benelux and if yes, where/when was that?
Steven: “No, not yet.”

Are there any upcoming shows planned in the next few months?
Steven: “Rommelrock in Maasmechelen this August, Olensfest in September and Rebelrock in Genk in October.”

Last month, you released a video clip of the song “Love After Life”, taken from the new album “rEvolution”. What can you tell us about it? Where did you film and did it turn out the way you hoped it would be?
Steven: “The band shots were made at C-mine in Genk, which is a really cool location. The story line shots were made all over Genk with the occasional green screen. First time I saw the clip I was really impressed. Sebastiaan Spijker really knows his job.”

Which band would you like to support on a big tour and why? You can pick any great band that you like - the sky is the limit here, so don’t be shy (LOL).
Steven: “Well, I’m the wrong person to ask. I play metal and I got my share of metal CDs, but in truth I’m a rocker. So I would go for the FOO FIGHTERS. I grew up in the nineties, listening to NIRVANA, PEARL JAM, SOUNDGARDEN, METALLICA… Today I still like bands like QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and FOO FIGHTERS and Dave Grohl is a constant factor there. In all those years of music, he was or is in three of the bands, I mentioned. On top of all that, there are the other projects he does, such as THEM CROOKED VULRURES, SOUNDCITY, you name it, so if there was ever anybody I would like to share a stage with … Oh, if I have to take a metal band, I would say QUEENSRYCHE, SABATON, SAXON or TENACIOUS D (hey, again Dave Grohl!).”

What are your future plans?
Steven: “Work, work, work and hopefully get some result. We don’t need to be METALLICA, but I would like to play the big stages in Europe.”

We are a Dutch online ‘zine, that’s totally focused on the female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Do you think that women still need this special attention or do you feel that they already get all the respect, that they deserve?
Steven: “I don’t know. There are a lot of great of female singers out there, in rock, in metal and certainly in the mainstream music. They earned their respect, but do they get enough attention between al the guys out there? Again, I really don’t know.”

What makes NIGHTQUEEN outstanding from all the 795,373 other bands with a female singer?
Steven: “Did you count them yourself? No seriously, I advise you to listen to the album and decide for your own. There is something in there for everybody. We try not to place ourselves in a box, although we have our own sound.”

Keely, do you consider yourself a NIGHTQUEEN?
Keely: “That’s a big YES … The story of a real nightqueen is about a woman, who is tired of being the normal housewife and she wants to break free of her daily jobs . So she gets on stage and she totally gets loose in her metal music. I think, that says it all. When I go on stage I AM THE NIGHTQUEEN. Besides, my band members really treat me like a queen and they really look out for me and support me all the way. With them by my side, I really feel like a (metal) royalty (LOL).”

Do you have any personal messages to our readers?
Keely: “Yes, listen to our music and come to see us on one of our next gigs. You won't regret it .”

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Nick Rohm, Metal Maidens 'zine / June 2014.

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"Diamonds And Rust" video

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