[Important note: If you think you're having a deja-vu, you're right. We already published this before. However, Joris has agreed to answer an additional batch of questions, following on his earlier answers. We've just updated the interview with this additional content, in which we talked about Batavi, the band's upcoming album. So, if you've already read it, read it again! And yes, what Joris says about trains going to 'the Achterhoek' is true. As a native 'Achterhoeker' I know this from experience.]
You may remember from a while ago that we discussed Heidevolk, a Folk Metal band from my homeland. Specifically we introduced you to the song Nehalennia, found on Uit Oude Grond, the band’s March 2010 released album and their latest to date.
Smart fucker that I am it gave me the idea to contact the band and shoot them some questions. One of two vocalists, Joris Boghtdrincker (Joris “Drinker of Plunk”) replied with some mighty elaborate and interesting answers. We spoke about their roots and motivation, why they sing in Dutch and as a thick juicy cherry on top Joris mentioned the recording stage of their upcoming record, Batavi, is coming to a close.
Before we start however, let’s first give you something to listen to while you read. It’s good for you! We picked Ostara, the second song on Heidevolk’s latest accomplishment, Uit Oude Grond. Play it and you’ll know why.
DMB: First off, thanks for the interview! How are you guys doing?
Joris: You’re very welcome, thanks for your interest in Heidevolk! We’re doing fine, survived the summer festival season and we’re in the final stages of recording our new album ‘Batavi’.
DMB: Cool, you throw out the most important issue straight away! Batavi, as a Dutchman that rings some bells, but perhaps you can best explain the meaning to our foreign readers yourself. What is the background behind Batavi?
Joris: The Batavi were a tribe that came to our country around 50 BCE, and settled the area close to where we live. They encountered the mighty Roman Empire on its northernmost fringes on the mainland. By allying with them they effectively created a buffer between Rome and the Germanic tribes. They paid their taxes by supplying the Roman army with warriors, that were sent to various parts of the empire. The fighting and horse riding skills of the Batavians were famed, and they even served as bodyguards to Nero and Tiberius. Eventually they revolted against the empire. Needless to say, their story is very inspiring to us so we decided to do a concept album based on their early history.
DMB: What can we expect of the album and more importantly when about can we expect it?
Joris: Rest assured, all the typical Heidevolk elements are abundantly present, but it’s safe to say Batavi will be more ‘Metal’ than we’ve ever sounded. We hope it will see the light of day in spring 2012!
DMB: As a band from the Eastern Dutch region of Gelderland, you take inspiration primarily from Geldern history and Germanic mythology. What is it that makes this so appealing for you to write about?
Joris: Our ancestry, cultural heritage, and our environment all shaped our backgrounds and are therefore huge sources of inspirations for people that feel connected to their roots, like us. All these things continue to influence who we are today, and through our music we shape the inspiration into sounds and words. To me personally, writing lyrics is a great way to express what the things you mentioned mean to me, and it’s phenomenal to hear people singing along or just getting into a certain mood when our music is played. Writing and performing the music, letting the inspiration flow through us to our audience, and seeing them enjoying it is extremely gratifying.
DMB: You sing in Dutch, yet you’re definitely making a name for yourselves abroad. What do you think makes you so appealing to people on the other side of the border?
Joris: I think a number of factors contribute to that. I would say our music is quite recognizable, not in the least because of the clean-dual-male-Dutch vocals. In addition we work hard both on and off the stage. We always try our utmost to put on a good show for the crowd and give it 110%. We like getting in touch with our audience, so we often mingle with the crowd and find out more about the local culture.
DMB: Do you think you could be even bigger if you switch to English, or is Dutch like a unique selling point to you?
Joris: Singing in Dutch is probably part of the appeal to some, giving it an ‘exotic’ touch maybe. I’m not sure if singing in English would add to our success or if it would reduce us to just another band that sings in that language, but it’s really not an issue as I have no desire to express myself in any other language than my own at this point.
DMB: I would think of it as a choice that, initially, could have limited your market quite a lot. I mean, I don’t think you could have expected, when you started out, that fans abroad would pick up on your stuff. I take it this was a conscious decision or was it never part of the consideration?
Joris: We never ‘opted’ to write Dutch lyrics for Heidevolk, we just did it. To have people appreciate our music both in the Netherlands and abroad is a tremendous honor to us, we never considered intelligibility of our lyrics to non-Dutch to be paramount. Our appreciation for those who make an effort to understand what we’re trying to express is profound.
DMB: Uit Oude Grond is your latest released effort. Different from your earlier releases – and ignoring the split you did with Týr and Alestorm – this title has no direct reference to Nordic mythology or battle. Title-wise it’s almost as if this is a moment of pause in which you reflect on the past. Is this album actually a point of reflection for you guys?
Joris: Yes, in fact it is. A third album is almost always a crucial or pivotal one in a band’s existence, and we were quite aware of that. Even though we elaborated on our style, in a lot of respects we included elements from our early days and we basically dug for our roots some more. The songs in general have more references to the old soil, the “oude grond”, than the songs on Walhalla Wacht.
DMB: So how does Batavi compare in this respect as a follow-up to Uit Oude Grond?
Joris: Musically, I think this record combines the aggression of Walhalla Wacht with the songwriting, production and nostalgia of Uit oude grond, and takes it to a higher level. Batavi in many ways represents a new beginning.
DMB: Where in the moorland of the Veluwe national park do y’all live?
Joris: With the exception of Mark we all live on the southern fringes, in a town called Arnhem.
DMB: Because he lives in a remote cabin in the middle of the moorland?
Joris: One could be forgiven for thinking that. However, he resides in the Achterhoek. This means he has to go to the toilet before taking the train, because trains that go to the Achterhoek are not equipped with toilets for some reason. This is all completely beside the point, and probably not really interesting to your readers.
DMB: Suppose you could run The Baboon for a day. Which band would you give attention and why?
Joris: Most definitely Hades from Norway. They’re a second wave of Black Metal band who never got the praise they deserved. I feel their first two CDs (“…Again Shall Be” and “Dawn of the Dying Sun”) are very underestimated and deserve more attention. Heaviness, pride, insane vocals, and a folkloristic touch to it.
So, we close off by thanking Joris and promising we’ll soon be checking out Hades!