Holland doesn't only have the most well-talented female-fronted metal bands in the world, but they all seem to be very successful. Next to EPICA and WITHIN TEMPTATION, we can enjoy bands like REVAMP, DELAIN, THE GATHERING, AUTUMN, ASRAI, STREAM OF PASSION….. Need I go on? And still they keep coming. SEVENTH SIN is a band, that directly pushed forward to the premier league of these bands. No wonder with such a great front lady like Monique Joosten. We got in touch with the band recently and gave them the opportunity to tell everything (and more) about themselves. Let’s introduce you to these new Dutch talents, who most recently toured in England with EDENBRIDGE. Their name is SEVENTH SIN, the new born album is called “When Reality Ends” and here is what they have to say in the interview below. Mind you, this is where reality starts and the following words are all for real, believe me.
Before we start this interview, I’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 marvelous new album. When did the band get together and how did you actually meet up with each other?
Roy: “Bart, Monique and I met in a bar. A classmate of mine, Wiro, heard that we were looking for a drummer. Vincent and Ruben both replaced two members, who left the band for different reasons.”
Can you introduce the band to us and tell us which instrument(s) you play?
Monique: “Well, there’s me, Monique Joosten (lead vocals), Roy Geelen (backing vocals and guitar), Ruben Smeets (lead guitar), Vincent Reuling (keys), Bart Joosten (bass) and Wiro Geerlings (drums)."
Did any of the band members play in other bands before they joined SEVENTH SIN, and if yes did they record anything with this outfit?
Roy: “Ruben recorded a demo called “Inner Fear” and an album called “The World Is Our Playground” with his previous band THIRD DYNASTY. Currently, several members play in a few other bands as well.”
Who came up with the name SEVENTH SIN and why did this become this your definite choice? There are also bands called SIN 7 SINS or SISTER SIN, people might get confused because of this.
All: “It gets even better. There is a Canadian band, which is called SEVENTH SIN. But as long as each of us stays on their respective side of the ocean, I don’t see a problem. Besides, their music is quite different from ours. Monique came up with the name, although nobody seems to remember exactly how that idea came to be. It does have a catchy ring to it though.”
Monique: “As a cover band we had a terrible name. No one could remember it and if they did, all kinds of different names were made out of it by people in the audience. We were sure that we needed a band name, that would stick to mind and would match our kind of music, so people can look at the band name/logo/artwork and know where to put the band. SEVENTH SIN checks those boxes, I think.”
How come that there is so much time between the EP and the full-length. There is six years in between the both of them. How did you fill these six years?
Monique: “After the release of “Darkest Of All Dreams”, we’ve had some great years, where we got to support bands like KAMELOT, LEAVES’ EYES, AUTUMN, EPICA, DELAIN and STREAM OF PASSION (among others). Then we had some difficult years. A few band members ended up having a burn out at almost the same time and we really had to take a few steps back and take the time for those band members to get well again. Next to that, we had two changes in our line-up, a few children were born and houses were build or rebuild. In this rough period where there just wasn’t much time to get together and write music, we did stick together. I think, most other bands would have fallen apart. We didn’t. We stuck together and decided we had to give it a shot again, so we started writing new songs and recorded them.”
There were two line-up changes during these six years.. Sjors Hendriks (lead guitar) left the band and your synth player Roel van Heel also left. Why did they leave SEVENTH SIN and are they still active in the music scene, as far as you know of?
Roy: “They both had to leave, because of their personal life. Living some distance away from the rest of us and having to invest more and more time in his family made Roel decide to leave us. As far as I know, he’s not active in music anymore. Sjors had to make a similar decision. He’s also not active as far as I know.”
Monique: “We’ve always been friends within the band and fortunately we didn’t get into a fight with Roel or Sjors. They both had their own reasons for leaving SEVENTH SIN and to be honest, it didn’t come as a surprise to us, when they decided to leave the band.”
Where did you find the two newcomers Ruben Smeets on guitar and Vincent Reuling? And how did the auditions go for these new members. Did they need to play some songs with you or did they only audition and show their skills?
Roy: “Through advertisements. We put up an add on a few internet sites and in a few shops and they responded. Especially for the guitar position, there were a lot of reactions. So yes, we had a x-factor-like audition. First some general things (technique, style, personality and everything else that lets you fit or not fit in a band), later the candidates played some of our songs with their own input (solos for examples), etc.”
Monique: “Ruben and his competitors had to write a song for SEVENTH SIN and they had to get the rest of the band to involve in the song, too. So they had to be a bandleader for a while. This was a very useful exercise to see what their songwriting skills are like, to see how they communicate, how they bring their ideas across, to see how they respond to feedback and so on. Of course we didn’t use the songs of the guitarists that didn’t make it into SEVENTH SIN. Ruben’s audition song “The Choice” did make it onto the new album though.”
Monique, you also changed names, you got married along the way?
Monique: “Yes, there was a marriage proposal on stage in 2006 after at our last show with AUTUMN and Bart, the bass guitarist and myself got married in 2007. Now we’ve got two beautiful children. They both like to play with their toy-musical instruments a lot, so I think in a few years we will probably have to share our rehearsal room with our kids (lol).”
What’s the response been like of the press towards the new album “When Reality Ends”? And do you also get much negative criticism and how do you deal with that in general? Do you try to forget about it as soon as quickly as possible or do you rather try to learn from it?
Roy: “They love it! Of course there are a few points of criticism, but that’s only good. Now we know what we can improve the next time. It would also raise some high expectations for our next album, if we only would score 10/10 without any criticism. We like to think realistic. We have a long way to go to the top. One step at a time.”
Monique: “The responses to “When Reality Ends” is very positive. We’re getting a lot of attention and actually I didn’t expect this CD to be this well-received. Of course I hoped it would be. As a musician you write the music you like yourself. Now we get a lot of awesome responses from people from all over the world, that seem to love our music at least as much as we do. That’s very special. After the release of “Darkest Of All Dreams”, I took the criticism in some of the reviews very personally. As if I had done something wrong. I don’t do that anymore. That’s how I can see that I’ve grown as a person. I’m not that insecure anymore. But when people are taking the time and effort to let us know what they would like to be different next time, I try to look at that with an open mind. We will use it in our songwriting, but most of all we do what feels right, because that for me is my best compass.”
How would you describe your music yourself?
Roy: “Female-fronted metal covers it quite good. I really wouldn’t know if our music is more gothic metal, symphonic metal, power metal or any other kind of metal. Female-fronted just says something about the line-up, not specifically about the style.”
Monique: “Yes, female-fronted metal describes our style best, because we tend to use influences from all kinds of metal into our SEVENTH SIN sound. If you just hear one song, you’ll put us in one corner and when you hear the next one, you’ll probably have to put us in another corner. So as Roy just said, when you just describe the line-up, you can’t be wrong.”
Can you name us the main musical influences of SEVENTH SIN and maybe you can name some of the influences of each band member individually here as well?
Roy: “Every band member has his/her own influences. There is no real common area in that, besides female-fronted metal of course. Vincent is a progressive-metal fan (DREAM THEATER, KAMELOT), Bart likes power/heavy metal (BLIND GUARDIAN), Ruben is more of a thrash guy (ICED EARTH), Monique especially likes THE GATHERING / ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN, Wiro has been a NIGHTWISH fan since a very long time and I am more into the darker / melancholic music (THE SINS OF THY BELOVED, MY DYING BRIDE, OPETH).”
Is there a deeper meaning behind this tree, that is halfway covered with green leaves while the other half has no leaves?
Roy: “The tree is a symbolic recreation of the lyrics on the album. In the songs there is always a thin (or blurred) line between right and wrong, sane and insane, real or unreal, etc.”
Monique: “The cover represents that there is always a dark side to everything. Just read our lyrics and you’ll see what I mean.”
In which way does “When Reality Ends” differ from “Darkest Of All Dreams” in your opinion?
Roy: “We’re much more mature in our way of writing music, profiling ourselves on stage and expressing ourselves towards the audience now, than we were in the time of “Darkest Of All Dreams”. We evolved from just-another-gothic-band to SEVENTH SIN. A band with its own identity and growing horde of fans. The songs on both albums reflect that same idea. “Darkest Of All Dreams” wasn’t a bad album, it’s just outdated by “When Reality Ends”.”
Monique: “I have to agree with Roy. We’ve found our own style, our own sound and we’re grown a lot as a band and also in the confidence-department.”
Why did you release your album independently instead of a record company? Wasn't there any record company good enough for you to release this album or didn't they find SEVENTH SIN interesting enough? Or do you prefer to keep your music in your own hands?
Roy: “Hahaha. Of course there are more than enough good companies. But before we released “When Reality Ends”, no one heard of us. Or at least not enough to offer us a record deal. We’re still unsure, if and where we will of will not sign. There’s an advantage in both choices. Either you get a lot of extra manpower helping you spreading your music, or you can control everything the way you want it yourself. Still under construction ……”
Monique: “We’ve been talking about trying to get a record label’s attention, but then we got the chance to tour the UK as a support act for the Austrian symphonic metal band EDENBRIDGE last February. We just didn’t have the time to look for a label. If we wanted to take this opportunity, we had to make sure that we had our new CD with us. So that became the main focus instead of looking for a record label. Now, we’ve got the attention of a few labels. Maybe we will sign somewhere this year…..”
What’s your favorite track on “When Reality Ends” and why? Mine would be the very innovative sounding “Silent Tears”, by the way.
Roy: “Really ? Hmm… you are the first to like that song most. Of course everybody has their own opinion, but most of the time “Wings Of Despair”, “The Bitter Taste…. “, and “The Well” are marked as favorite. I myself think “Wings Of Despair” has the most potential and power in it. To play and go wild on stage “Alone Again “ and “The Screams” are my favorites, but that’s a personal opinion.”
Monique: “It depends on my mood. I’ve always had that, also with music from other bands. I love “Wings Of Despair”, “Alone Again” and “Like A Blazing Flame”. These are all songs that I just love to sing. There’s a lot of energy in them.”
Who writes the lyrics for the different songs and can you tell us what the songs are about?
Roy & Monique: “The Choice” was written by Ruben. In fact, that was a part of his audition. For the other songs the lyrics were written by the both of us (Roy and Monique). All the lyrics are about people finding themselves at the crossroad in their life, where just one bad decision or being at the wrong place at the wrong time changes the rest of their lives. First of all, we have to state that the songs are not autobiographical. They are about things that occupy our minds. When I hear something on the news, a lot of the time I question myself “What would I do”?
“Hysteria” is about a woman in a mental hospital. She doesn’t know why she’s there. She’s going crazy.
“Alone Again” is about adultery. It’s about what could happen when a husband is coming home after a long day at work, finding his wife and his best friend together in his bed. It’s not about right or wrong, but about what the persons in the story feel.
“Wings Of Despair” should be a really happy song, if you just listen to the music. The lyrics tell a different story. It’s actually about committing suicide.
“The Well” is a bit melancholic. It’s about wrestling with feelings, analyzing ones thoughts. It’s a song about finding the love of your life……or not…….
“Bitter Taste Of Victory” is about a few soldiers in a war (doesn’t really matter which one), who think they’re shooting at the enemy, but actually are in a firefight with some of their own. Friendly fire …. As far as friendly is the correct expression…
“The Choice”, in a way, is a love song or what happens afterwards.
“Silent Tears” is about someone, who is schizophrenic. She has three voices in her head. One of the best lines in the lyrics: “Are You Me or is You I”
“Like A Blazing Flame” is about a racing accident. Illegal street racing, to be exact. It’s just one of these situations, where you just have to think “What would I do?”. Two friends get into a big crash. One of them can get out of the car, the other one can’t. The car starts to burn and the one that got out in time, has to decide in a split second whether to save himself or save his friend.
“My Honor” is a little bit political. Not to judge anyone or anything, but it’s about honor killings.
“Just An Ordinary Day” is based on a true story, although in the story it was a father, who was bringing his children to school. Without a real cause, he was shot (and died) in front of the school. Hearing about the insanity of this act was inspiration enough to write the song.
Finally, “The Screams” is about a fictional house in a fictional reality, where a woman is haunted by her dead relatives. Although in the beginning of the songs is isn’t that clear that she knows the ghosts.”
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?
Monique & Roy: “Jamming with the whole band and starting at scratch usually doesn’t work for us. Most of the time there’s an idea, that has been worked on on keyboards, guitars and a bit of vocals (mostly just the melody side of it). Then the rest of the band joins the party to build the song based on this idea. When the music is far enough along that the actual structure is clear, the lyrics are fitted in. Sometimes they’re written on the spot (the text of “Like A Blazing Flame” was written on the same night as the music), sometimes the lyrics are written separately and fitted into the music (“Wings Of Despair”, “The Well”, “Just An Ordinary Day”). Sometimes the lyrics are written much earlier than the music. “Wings Of Despair” for example had been laying on a shelf for quite some time before the music was written.” Monique: “The music and the lyrics have to blend together, they have to fit. I know, that I have a good vocal melody when I remember it after a week or so, when I hear the music again. If I have to search for it for too long, it wasn’t good enough and I have to start improvising again, until the melody starts following me around wherever I go (lol).”
Do you also play any covers during your live shows, and if yes, which covers do you crank out then?
Roy: “No, we stopped playing covers, when SEVENTH SIN came to be.”
Monique: “Four of us started together in a cover band. So we’ve had our share of covering. We have been talking about adding a cover to our setlist before we went to the UK with EDENBRIDGE, but then decided we wanted the audience to hear as much of SEVENTH SIN as possible since our playing time was limited. I think, we might add a cover to our setlist at some point. I haven’t got a clue which song it will be.”
Any interesting stories you want to share about the SEVENTH SIN live shows? I bet that there have been some funny or nice stories to tell, that you want to share with our readers about life on the road with SEVENTH SIN? Some hilarious things must have happened over the years, I guess?
Roy: “Well, the most odd thing, that has happened so far (or twice actually) is that every time we play more than one gig in a row (mini tour “Darkest Of All Dreams”, UK tour “When Reality Ends”) someone’s brain goes haywire and asks someone else to marry her (lol). During our “Darkest Of All Dreams” tour with AUTUMN it was Monique, who asked Bart to get married and in the UK our merch girl Tasmara asked Vincent to marry her. Almost makes you wonder who’s next…..”
Monique: “We’ve shared stage with a number of big names in metal. Our very first support show was a show with KAMELOT. Roy and I were at a gig of ELIS in one of the bigger venues in the Netherlands and I said to Roy that I would like to be on that stage with SEVENTH SIN someday. Roy said, that I had to talk to the promotor/manager of the venue. So we went to look for him and had a little chat. I got a bit overconfident, I get that sometimes (lol). After about ten minutes of talking we had arranged a support show for KAMELOT and a mini tour for the promotion of “Darkest Of All Dreams” with AUTUMN. My jaw dropped to the floor. We hadn’t done that many gigs yet. When the day had come and we got to support KAMELOT we were so nervous, that we didn’t even dare to talk to the band members. I don’t think I’ve looked anyone of them into their eyes. Sorry guys!! Can I make up for that someday???”
What has been your biggest gig so far?
Roy: “Biggest how? Biggest venue? Band? Let’s see…. Biggest venue would be Bosuil in Weert (NL), Robin 2 in Bilston (UK), Perron 55 in Venlo (NL) or 013 in Tilburg (NL). I’m not sure. They’re all about 600 max. Biggest band? KAMELOT? LEAVES’ EYES? EPICA? EDENBRIDGE? Most fun on stage? I really can’t tell you. Every gig has its own charm.”
Monique: “For me, the most memorable gig was the last one of the tour with EDENBRIDGE. We ended up in Bilston. We had one of the best weeks of our lives and our new CD was being received very well by the Brits. In this last show we had the chance to rock the UK once more and we played our best gig ever (I think). Wolfgang Rothbauer (EDENBRIDGE) joined us on stage to add some more growls to “Alone Again” and after the show the audience went absolutely ballistic. I even get butterflies in my stomach telling you about this now.”
What do you think of the metal scene in our country and which other Dutch metal bands do you like a lot?
Roy: “The metal scene in Holland is very different than in the countries surrounding us. Even Belgium is a completely other world. To compare the different countries is almost impossible, but what really stands out is the enthusiasm of the English crowd, how laid back it is in Belgium and in Holland the typical “normal is weird enough” mentality. Personally, I haven’t been to a concert in quite some time, but it’s safe to say that ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN always has a good show. On CD she’s good, but on stage is always a little extra.”
Monique: “I have to agree with Roy again (what’s up with me?? lol). The Dutch metal scene is very different. At our CD release party, we’ve invited the German female-fronted metal band ARVEN as a special guest. It was their first show in the Netherlands. They thought no one liked their music and they even started to feel a bit insecure. When I told them that they had done a great job, because people talked a little less loud during the songs, they knotted their heads to the pace of the music and some of them were cheering in between songs. They didn’t know what they were hearing. Now we expect a lot from the German audience. We are preparing for some shows in Germany later this year.”
Where do you rehearse and how did you find this space?
Roy: “We used to rehearse at De Bosuil in Weert, but since Bart and Monique finished their house, we rehearse there. Very practical with the kids and it’s also very nice to have a place, where you can just drop your gear, leave it, and pick up where you left next time.”
Monique, 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)
Monique: “I did take some lessons, but that’s years ago. I’m mostly autodidact. I took lessons for about two years to make sure, that I am using the right techniques and that I’m not destroying my voice. Now I sure I’m not doing anything wrong, I really don’t take the time to take lessons anymore. Actually, I should take lessons again to make sure I keep progressing. There’s always something to learn or to improve. The most valuable are the techniques I’ve learned to warm up my voice. I use them every time before going on stage.”
Are there any plans to play abroad in the next few months? We heard, that you will do a show in Germany with XANDRIA this May?
“Hahaha. News travels fast (lol). Yes, Germany will be meeting SEVENTH SIN this year. Hopefully more than just this once with XANDRIA. And because of the overwhelming success, we are almost obliged to go back to the UK. But that’s not a bad thing.”
Are there any plans of shooting a video for one of the tracks on “When Reality Ends” and if yes, which song will that be?
Monique: “We are starting the preparations for a video. We’ve selected three songs of “When Reality Ends” and we’ve asked our fans to vote for the song they would like us to use in the video. One of the disadvantages of not having a label is the small budget. We’ll be doing a lot of things ourselves and try to minimize the costs. We will be working with a filming company but do the rest ourselves like making all arrangement, hair, make up, clothing, all attributes, getting the right actors, locations, lighting and so on. The song has been chosen by our fans, but we’re keeping it a secret for a little while.”
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).
Roy: “The sky is the limit? Why support? Let them support us! (lol)”
Monique: “In that case, here’s my list: ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN (best singer and stage performer ever), WITHIN TEMPTATION (they are doing so well, it would be awesome to be able to let their audience to get to know us), NIGHTWISHi (best band in the world, now joined by the best female metal front woman Floor Jansen), KAMELOT (to make up with them -lol ), LACUNA VOIL (because I’ve liked them, since I started listing to metal), THERION (I love the big choirs) and of course our new friends of EDENBRIDGE and the bands we’ve already shared stage with like EPICA, REVAMP, DELAIN, STREAM OF PASSION, LEAVES’ EYES, etc. In short: I don’t mind, as long as we get to play in front of an audience that might like what we’re doing.”
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 kind of attention or do you feel that they already get all the respect, that they need?
Roy: “I’m not sure how it works in other parts of metal land, but in the female-fronted metal area the women are already in the lead of the attention area. Everyone knows who’s singing in WITHIN TEMPTATION, DELAIN or EPICA, but almost nobody knows who plays drums or bass in those bands.”
Monique: “I think this focus on female musicians by you and many others has helped a lot of female musicians to be taken serious. Maybe you’ve reached your goal in the Netherlands by now, but still the metal scene is dominated by men. These men have become more open to female input in metal. I don’t know how this is in other countries. Even if you have already reached your goal, please stay put for a much longer. It’s great having you around!”
Do you have any other hobbies or interests (besides playing music in a band) that are worth mentioning here?
Monique: “Actually, the band is now taking up a lot of time. That’s not a problem, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for other hobbies. We all have regular day jobs, some of us have kids, etc. I go for a run at least three times a week, just to stay/get in shape. It helps me to manage my (far to) busy days. That’s it.”
What makes SEVENTH SIN outstanding from all the 795,373 other bands with female members?
Roy: “We have Monique, they don’t (lol).”
Monique: “Hahaha…. I’ve got nothing to add to that!"
Do you have any personal messages to our readers?
“Thank you all for engaging in the SEVENTH SIN buzz, that’s going on right now. You are the reason we want to be on stage, whenever we can. If you haven’t heard of us, please look us up on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ‘@seventhsinmetal’. Our CD “When Reality Ends” can be bought through our website http:// www.seventhsin.nl. Thank you all for supporting us!”
The famous last words of this interview are for SEVENTH SIN…
“Come see our show (or book us) and find out why everyone is so excited about us. When you know why, spread the word and let others enjoy it, too.”
Visit SEVENTH SIN's official website at: www.seventhsin.nl/
or go to their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/seventhsinmetal