1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
Sure! First of all, most of us took some well earned time off from the band to get some rest and spend time with family and friends. In some cases that was needed after our pretty hectic touring schedule from the past 2 years. We played over a 100 shows together in this line-up, doing tours, festivals and even acoustic shows, and also spend a lot of time creating ‘Vuur vanVerzet’. Now that it’s finally released, we’ve started rehearsing again and are preparing ourselves for a busy and very promising 2018!
2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
I would say it’s a good mix of old and new Heidevolk. There’s definitely a vibe in some of the songs that connect with the early Heidevolk sound like the one we had on for instance ‘de Strijdlust is Geboren’. If you compare ‘Vuur van Verzet’ to the previous 2 albums ‘Batavi’ and ‘Velua’, there’s also a significant increase in traditional elements that we deliberately weaved into the songs. More violins, more instruments like nyckelharpa, Irish bouzouki, and on top of that a 24-piece male choir. So the new album is definitely more ‘folky’, epic, and traditional than recent Heidevolk. Doesn’t mean that it is less ‘metal’ in any way, since some of the songs are heavier and more metal than ever. There’s simply more balance in the mixture between these styles. A different approach. You could call that ‘the new and improved’ Heidevolk ;)
3.Your lyrics cover the history and culture of Gelderland and Germanic Mythology, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?
Heidevolk is of course from the province of Gelderland, in the East of the Netherlands, close to the German border. When the band started out, the general idea was to combine metal music with a Viking choir. If you work with a choir, or at least with more than one voice, storytelling in the lyrics can be a natural thing. But the band also really wanted to tell these stories, the historic events in Gelderland, and the surrounding regions, and make those the center focus of the lyrics. And this of course comes from the basic interest in history and mythology that the founding members of Heidevolk already had back then, and it is this general interest in history that every single Heidevolk member has to this day, and also should have in my opinion, to be able to play in this band with the right attitude and mindset.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Heidevolk'?
Literally, it means ‘people of the heather’. The word ‘heide’ does not refer to ‘heathen’ as many people like to think. The Dutch word for that is ‘heiden’, with an extra ‘n’ at the end. When you visit the Veluwe, a ridge of hills filled with forests in the province of Gelderland, stretching out over more than 1000 km2, you will easily understand where the name Heidevolk comes from. The land in between the forests is largely covered by heath, or ‘heide’ as the Dutch call it. TheVeluwe is basically our backyard, the place where the band was formed, and where we draw inspiration from.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Oh, there have been many great shows, difficult to choose! Looking at recent years, I have to mention the gig we did at Hellfest in 2016. We played on one of the big tent stages, and when we were up, the place was absolutely packed with Heidevolk fans, from front to back. Outside the tent, all the way in the back, there were loads of people trying to watch the show from an impossible distance. But the atmosphere on that particular moment was magical. We felt it.The crowd felt it. It was one big party from start to finish, and one of the most memorable festival gigs we ever did. Another one to mention is a club show we did in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that same year in November. It was our first tour in South America, and instantly one to remember. The Sao Paulo show was crazy, somewhere around 1600 people in the venue, packed to the rim, singing along every single song. Really special, and they were really loud haha. But describing our live performances, I would say we all feel the same about this. It’s Rock and Roll, and that’s what we strive for on stage. A fun show to watch, with raw energy, lots of movement, emotion and passion, and loads of interaction with the crowd, as is usually tradition in the folk and pagan metal scene.
6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
You bet your ass we do haha! Next month we will start a 4-week European run under the moniker ‘FolkMetal Superstars’. Korpiklaani will headline, and support will come from us and our friends Arkona and Trollfest, together with a variety of local support acts. This will definitely be a big and fun tour, and we are really looking forward to it. Venues are already selling out as we speak! After this, we will most likely do a couple club shows, and then the whole festival season will start again. We’re already working on those dates, as well as another short tour halfway the year (location not yet determined), and nearing the end of 2018 we’ll schedule another long tour outside Europe. No specifics yet that I can tell you, unfortunately. But all in all, there’s going to be plenty of touring this year to support the new album.
7.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer music by fans of folk and viking metal?
Great! We still see an increase in fans and support with every new release that we put out there. We’re not complaining ;)
8.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Playing in a band such as Heidevolk demands a certain commitment. Of course, we are free to do whatever we feel like besides the band, but practically speaking there isn’t always enough time to do so. When there is, however, enough time to work on special projects and/or other bands, we do what we can or feel like. It varies with each individual member. For instance, I know that Rowan (Roodbaert) is focused on creating more music for himself whenever he has time on his hands, like he did in the past with ‘I shall move the Earth’. Lars (Nachtbreaker) also does vocals and bass in ‘Godenbloed’. Kevin (Storm) has a variety of projects and session jobs going on. As for me (Koen Vuurdichter), I still have my old band ‘Detonation’, in which I have been playing since 1997. I haven’t done much for that band these past years, but there are still plans to create another album whenever time permits it. We will see.
9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Hard to say, although I’m pretty convinced Heidevolk will never completely change its’ style. Because then it would no longer be Heidevolk. As simple as that. So I’m sure the metal and folk influences will always remain, as will our trademark 2-vocalists. I cannot see that being changed in the future. But what WILL change then? Maybe more traditional instruments? Time will tell. I do think the band still has many paths to explore within the boundaries of this subgenre. There’s plenty of stuff we can try out, and still remain true to the bands’ original sound.
10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Since Rowan (Roodbaert) wrote the majority of ‘Vuur van Verzet’, both musically and lyrically, it is whatever influenced him what ended up influencing us, haha. But of course, we all have our own influences. For me personally, looking at recent times, there have been a couple bands that inspired me, and that I really enjoyed listening to. ‘Leprous’, for instance. And more recently, ‘Soen’. These are not influences that directly influenced my guitar playing for Heidevolk, but more on a personal and psychological level it has done exactly that.
11.What are some of your non musical interests?
That’s easy. For all the band members combined; nature, history and mythology. For me personal, I also enjoy astronomy, writing books and stories (as a published author), and spending quality time with my wife and son.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me, and thanks to the fans for reading this and supporting us! The response towards the new album has been overwhelming so far, and we cannot wait to repay that positivity by giving you a kick ass show in return somewhere around the globe!
Proost, and keep the Pagan Metal Brotherhood alive!
- Koen ‘Vuurdichter’ Romeijn.