When attending the yearly Culemborg Blues Festival in August 2009, a friend of ours introduced us to the Dutch agent of the all-female band SYREN. We didn’t have a clue who they were, until she told us that the band consisted of former ROCKBITCH and MT-TV members. And after hearing their CD “Dehumanized”, the idea popped up to do an interview with these ladies as well. So we proudly present you this new all-female pop/rock band and give you an update about MT-TV and ROCKBITCH. If this isn’t an interesting read for all the readers of Metal Maidens, then I’ll eat my hat!
When did you decide to form SYREN?
Erin: “We formed in 2006, when I asked Amanda, if she wanted to jam. We started playing on some of the songs I had written, when Jo came in and started drumming. It was just obvious, with the way we all gelled, that something had to be done with it.”
Who came up with the band name and why did you choose the name SYREN?
Erin: “After we had been gigging for a while, we realized that we didn’t have a name. I think, it was Amanda that said: “Gah, it’s a shame, that MUSE is already taken”. With that thought, I started thinking Greek mythology...and the sirens just popped into my head.”
Who sets out the musical direction for SYREN or is this a group decision?
Erin: “I think, it’s kind of natural. The songs evolve and mature at their own pace. In terms of musicianship though, Amanda and Jo are very driving and inspirational. They’re always encouraging everyone to do their absolute best, so that definitely pushes us forward.”
Who are the biggest musical influences for the band and maybe you can also tell us about the personal musical influences of each bandmember individually?
Erin: “KATE BUSH, HEART, PINK FLOYD, JANIS JOPLIN and any kind of ambient music.”
Amanda: “PINK FLOYD, KING CRIMSON, LEONARD COHEN, JONI MITCHELL and Mozart.”
Jo: “RUSH, KING CRIMSON, UNDERWORLD, RAVI SHANKAR and KATE BUSH.”
Who writes the lyrics for SYREN and what are they about?
Erin: “I write the lyrics. Usually, the songs are about love, heartache or experiences I’ve had, that I think will be useful to someone else... To be honest, I never really know what the songs are actually about, until they’re written and we’ve played them in a lot. Sometimes though, I’ll be annoyed with the state of the world and humanity and will write a song to rant about it.”
Can you tell us a bit more about the writing process of the band? How do you get to work, when you are writing new material together?
Erin: “Usually, it starts with me. I’ll write a song and then play it for Amanda and Jo. At that point, we go into the studio and play the song over and over, until it develops itself. We write and rehearse new material with just the song in mind. So there are no egos and everyone is always 100% honest with each other.”
Maybe you can explain us why you used the picture of a capsized ship for your album “Dehumanized”?
Erin: “The concept is based on the Greek myth of the sirens, that would lure passing ships to crash on the rocks of their island by enticing them with their beautiful songs. This picture was particularly potent to all three of us, so it was a unanimous decision to use it on the album, that would introduce us to the world.”
What’s your favorite song on the album?
Erin: “Take To The Stars”.
Amanda: “Either “Virginia” or “Take To The Stars”.
How did the press react towards “Dehumanized” so far?
All: “Very well. We’ve had loads of reviews and all of them have been positive.”
You produced the album yourself. Was this a difficult task for you, or are you experienced with the role as producer already?
All: “We let the songs produce themselves. Everything came naturally.”
Did you also get any negative reactions on the album and if yes, how do you deal with those negative critics in general? Do you try to learn from it or do you rather want to forget about it as quickly as possible?
Erin: “We haven’t received any negative reviews, that we know of. But it is important to look at both the good and the bad. If we were to get a negative reaction, we would learn from it, if what the critic says is accurate and fair and not just his/her personal taste.”
Do you have any fond memories about a particular gig so far?
Amanda: “Michigan Gay Pride 2007, as it was the first big show for SYREN, playing for 4,000 people.”
Erin: “Getting to play at Manchester Academy, UK in a sold out house... Thousands of people watching you and moving to your music. Then when the show is done, getting to come off stage and watch HAWKWIND do their magic.”
Jo: “The Academica Big Rivers Festival in Dordrecht, NL in 2009. The crowd were perfect and it was a beautiful day to play outdoors.”
Do you also play any cover songs during your live shows or do you just stick to your own written material?
All: “Strictly original.”
Erin: “It is important to say, that in our experience Europeans have reacted so well to our original material, that there was no need to do covers. And that within itself is the most rewarding thing, you could ask for as a musician. The one time we did play a cover, people later said they prefer our originals.”
Do you use any show elements during your shows?
All: “If by show elements you mean props or pre-meditated performances, then no. We are three women playing dynamic and passionate music. We’re obviously having fun and are into what we’re doing, so that within itself sets a mood that gets the audience moving and really into what we do. Anything else is unnecessary.”
What can people expect, when they come to see a SYREN live show?
Amanda: “They can expect to see SYREN blossoming and flourishing, as both a band with songs as well as individual musicians. The show is a journey through emotions using different genres to accent them.”
Erin: “Expect original music. No covers or tributes here.”
You recently did a tour through the UK and Holland… How did that go and can you name some highlights here of those shows?
Erin: “Tours always seem to go well. We have a lot of fun on the road. Some of the recent highlights would be supporting HAWKWIND on their ’08 winter tour (Nottingham Rock City and Manchester Academy, UK). Also shows like Big Rivers (Dordrecht, NL), Buspop Festival at Poppodium Romein (Leeuwarden, NL) and Bibelot (Dordrecht, NL). We’ve played everywhere from Edinburgh, Scotland to Margate in the south of England. From Delfzijl to Vaals in The Netherlands. Everywhere we go, we enjoy what we do and also enjoy the chance to go sight seeing, when we can.”
Is it difficult to get any new gigs or are you asked frequently to play live somewhere?
Erin: “We have a Dutch agency, that books our Netherlands shows. In England, Amanda did our bookings. But outside of that, we do get offers, such as with HAWKWIND, who saw us last year and offered us a spot on their tour.”
Where do you rehearse or are you still looking for a decent space? I read somewhere, that you are planning on getting settled over here in Holland?
Amanda: “We rehearse at a studio nearby to our home.”
Erin: “We are now based in The Netherlands and are still getting settled.”
What’s so special about Holland, that you want to stay permanent in this rainy country, that is getting less interesting because of the strict rules that are being introduced each week? Holland has been some kind of a valhalla for foreign people during the eighties and maybe in the early nineties, but life in Holland has become pretty boring during the years in our opinion…
Erin: “The general open-mindedness and appreciation of the Dutch people. As compared to other places we’ve lived, you’re very willing to understand other cultures and other personalities. But then again, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, isn’t it?”
Amanda: “Appreciative audiences, who aren’t afraid to listen and think for themselves. The fact that original music is still alive.”
Erin: “It’s also very peaceful here. It’s not a violent place.... Hooray, Holland!”
What will you miss the most from England and/or the US?
Amanda: “English Tea.”
Erin: “Cheddar Cheese and stone circles. In America the land is also very beautiful.”
Jo: “English Forests.”
What are the future plans (short and long term) for SYREN?
Erin: “We set reasonable goals for ourselves, that we know we can reach; as opposed to just aiming to be the next best thing. We are currently writing and hope to start touring again soon. Also we’re aiming for a second album in 2010.”
Did you already write any material for an upcoming album and if yes, how does it sound comparing to your music on “Dehumanized”?
Erin: “Yes, we have a lot of new material. Compared to the songs on “Dehumanized”, these new ones are more mature. We’ve really honed our ‘Syren’ sound, so it will be more ‘us’.”
Amanda: “Most of the songs on “Dehumanized, Erin wrote before SYREN ever existed. The new songs come from a place, which is more recent and more relevant to who SYREN is now.”
Metal Maidens is based in the Netherlands and we are dedicated to all the female musicians in the rock and metal scene, since 1995. Ladies, do you feel that female ‘rockers’ still need our attention or do you think that you get all the recognition that you deserve so much?
Amanda: “It is still harder for women to be recognized and taken seriously than it is for men.”
Erin: “It’s also harder for women to be regarded as musicians or songwriters. People always assume, there’s a man behind every woman. The majority of women in music, that you see these days hit all the cliches. It’s all mostly product created by businesses out to make money. However, nowadays you are seeing more women, who began as pop stars starting to take control of their careers. I believe, the women’s position in the music industry is changing, but very slowly.”
Jo: “We like to stress our independence. There are no managers, no image consultants and no directors or producers telling us how we should be. SYREN are three women in complete control of themselves playing great music, that they wrote themselves in hopes to empower other women and encourage them to do the same with their passions.”
Jo and Amanda, can you please tell us more about the status of ROCKBITCH and MT-TV nowadays? Are they still alive or have they died in silence, after you both left? We can imagine, that you can tell us some nice stories about being in these bands for years.
Amanda: “MT-TV was coming to an end around the same time, that SYREN started. I believe ROCKBITCH’s website is back online, so you can check that out to see what they’re up to (http://www.rockbitch.com). Being in both of these bands was an amazing experience for all sorts of reasons. I learned a lot about life, love and music. Sadly, ROCKBITCH was hugely misunderstood.”
How did you evolve musically throughout these years?
Amanda: “Having played in loads of different bands with different line-ups, I learned the musical trade by working with lots of musicians.”
Are you still in contact with the other ROCKBITCH ladies and are they still involved in the music scene somehow?
Amanda: “Yes, we’re still in contact with each other. We’re all very close family and friends. I’m sure you can find out what RB is up to on their website.”
What are your best memories about the ROCKBITCH years?
Amanda: (laugh) “So many, I can’t list ‘em all!”
Maybe any worst memories too maybe?
Amanda: “Ditto.” (laugh)
Do you have any hobbies or interests besides playing music in a rock band?
Amanda: “Fishing, photography and sailing.”
Jo: “Motorcycles, exercise.”
Erin: “Painting, writing, photography.”
Are you all professional musicians or do you also have a (nine to five) job next to being a musician?
Erin: “We are fulltime professional musicians and have been as SYREN for four years. Music is our 9 to 5.”
Amanda: “More like 11:15 to 4pm.” (laugh)
Where can people buy the album? Please feel free to advertise here for free….
All: “You can purchase a copy of the album at live shows or by going to our website: http:// www.syrenband.com. You can also download the album or individual tracks through Itunes, Rhapsody, Napster, Emusic, Amazon Mp3, Groupie Tunes.”
Where can people find SYREN on the internet, and how important is this source for a band like SYREN?
You can find us on: http://www.syrenband.com; www.YouTube.com/syrenband; www.Myspace.com/syrenbandmusic; www.Syren-Band.hyves.nl; www.Twitter.com/syrenband; www.Facebook.com/pages/Syren/49875507066.” Erin: It is very important for bands to be involved with these various social networks, in my opinion. I think, it makes you more available to everyone on a global level.”
Do you want to add something to this interview? Maybe there is something we forgot to talk about here, which is very essential for the story of SYREN.
All: “We really wouldn’t be here, if it weren’t for Hartke Amplification and Rain Song Graphite Guitars. They offered us endorsements and their support, when we were relatively unknown and we would really like to thank them. Also, Elixir Strings, Attack Drum Heads, In Tune Picks and Motherload.”
Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
All: “As cliche as it sounds, it really is true: follow your heart and don’t be afraid to do something different. Find your passion and go for it! Don’t let anyone stand in your way. It’s so easy; all you have to do is believe in yourself.”
The last words in this interview are for Erin, Amanda and Joanne (SYREN)……
All: “Thanks, Toine for the interview! Also thanks to all the fans for their love and support. We hope to see you at a show soon! Erin, Jo and Amanda.”
Visit their official website at: www.syrenband.com/
or go to their My Space site at: www.myspace.com/syrenbandmusic