Tuesday, March 7, 2017

interview: Saille

What a cool surprise this Belgian black metal band has turned out to be. They are new to this publication, but they are by no means a beginner’s band. As you will read in a second, they have been around for years. Not only that, they have a brand new album of their trademark epic black metal. It’s also very pleasing to publish an interview with a band that has taken the questions in a serious way. Find out more about the band, who they are, their music and the life as a band in the nation of Belgium. Go to their YouTube channel below to hear new songs from the 2017 album Gnosis. Dennie (vocals) answered the questions.
Hello, Saille! This is Metal Bulletin, a zine in the Seattle area, U.S.
Metal Archives says that you are in Ghent, East Flanders, Belgium. Saille began in 2008, correct? So, what is the situation for your metal band in Ghent in 2017? Ghent is a large city, the biggest in Flanders, right? Saille used to be a studio project years ago, but that’s not true anymore, is it?
Dennie: Picking Ghent as our home town was more a matter of convenience than actual geographical accuracy. Saille members are, and have always been, living all over the Dutch/Flemish-speaking part of Belgium and Ghent just happens to be the most central city to us all. It actually wasn’t until last year, when we got Collin to join our ranks, that we got a member living in Ghent, hehe. But I think that, because of Belgium’s size (you can drive from east to west in 2.5 hours), there isn’t an awful lot of ‘scene per city’ mentality, save for an exception here or there (like in my hometown, Antwerp, the actual biggest city in Belgium), but even those exception have to leave the city walls now and again, because the scale is just too small on that level. We have a flourishing underground scene when we regard the entire country, so in the end it works out perfectly, I guess.
And indeed, Saille was started by Dries Gaerdelen as a studio band, without any intention of playing live. It wasn’t until 2011 that Reinier Schenk, our guitar player, convinced Dries to bring the songs to the stage. Since then, things have been a wild ride.
For the record, can you tell us who is in your band in 2017? Do you have any original members that started the band years ago?
Dennie: For starters, there’s Reinier Schenk on guitars. He’s been playing in heavy/speed/death metal bands since the 80s and has a s##load of experience. He’s also the only original member left. Secondly, there’s drummer Kevin De Leener, who is sometimes nicknamed the Belgian Hellhammer, because of the amount of bands he worked with and the insanity he brings onstage. Then we have Kristof van Iseghem, he joined us in 2014 and has more of a funk background (which also means we have to tell him bass slapping is not ok). Next there’s Collin Boone, who replaced our previous guitar player last year. He’s the youngest of the group, but also one of the most gifted and motivated guitarists I know. He’s also still active in another band named Powerstroke. And there’s me, Dennie. I joined the band in 2011, replacing the original singer Jonathan after just a couple of shows. I’ve also been doing this kind of thing for almost 15 years now.
I have noticed that you have concert footage of Saille at the Bloodstock Open Air metal music festival in the U.K. That has to be a good thing, right? Does mean that your band regularly tours Europe, then? I hope that you are not offended, but I have never heard your music before. I have no idea what level of success Saille has reached! Are you professional musicians now?
Dennie: No offense taken! There’s such a large amount of bands these days that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. When it comes to our success, I find it pretty hard to judge from a distance. I think it’s fair to say we might be one of Belgium’s top 5 metal export products and we’re doing tons of crazy shows all over Europe, but it’s almost impossible to live from our music and we certainly haven’t reached that point yet. The harsh reality of band life anno 2017, if you want to get rich, get a cover band.
Saille - 'Benei ha'Elohim' - Official Lyric Video 2017
Your new album is called Gnosis and it is a concept album. Is there a theme that holds the album together? The word means to know or knowledge, so what type of knowledge are you concerned with on the new album? Is there a story that keeps the pieces together?
Dennie: Gnosis delves into the realm of the Promethean ideal and its Luciferian counterpart. Two closely connected philosophies that hold the concept of knowledge in high regard, especially knowledge that’s withheld from men because it makes it easier to keep him/her in line, and believe we should seek it out as much as possible, so we can reach the highest level of enlightenment possible. This can be interpreted in a theist, atheistic, philosophical way, we don’t care. We’re just putting it out there, let people do the thinking for themselves and hope we inspire others, since that is the entire point of the whole concept.
There’s no actual story keeping things together, but there’s a lot of connections between the songs: several references to floods throughout different cultures, for instance; or the Frankenstein-‘Modern Prometheus’ link; or ‘Magnum Opus’, which translate as ‘The Great Work’, a key concept in Crowley’s teachings, which we discover in ‘1904 Era Vulgaris’.
Tell us about the recording experience of the new album. Is it correct that you recorded in Poland? Or, do you record in Belgium? Do you work with a producer or do you prefer to work by yourselves? What is better to have a producer present or is it better not having someone else there expressing an opinion about your music?
Dennie: All recordings were done in our home studios, but mixing and mastering was done at Hertz studio (of Behemoth fame) in Poland. We’ve more or less always recorded like this and it works really well. Of course, it’s nice to have someone external at some point, since there always is a blind spot when you’re recording your own music, some small errors that you miss while recording or a riff that would sound better if you changed a certain note. It would be great if we could have someone like that in the future, as long as it doesn’t mean that we have to rewrite our songs per his instructions to increase the catchiness factor.
You now have four albums. Are they all concept albums? I have noticed that on the album Ritu (2013) you have a song called “Blood Libel.” What motivated a song about anti-Semitism? Your song “Upon the Idol of Crona” has an anti-Christian direction. What inspired those songs and concept albums?
Dennie: They are indeed all concept albums. Irreversible Decay is about apocalyptic events, Eldritch is about (Lovecraftian) cosmic horror and Ritu is about death rites. “Blood Libel” is actually from that album and its message is as anti-Semitic as a coffee stain on a rock. It’s purely based on the history of William from Norwich who was ritually murdered, something the Jewish community was blamed for. No politics, no hidden meanings, just a 900-year-old tale. With Ritu we looked all over the world for inspiration and this one stuck, so we used it. We also have a song about the Sati ritual, but that doesn’t mean we support the burning of women when their husbands die.
Sometimes I have read articles that say that Belgium is a politically and culturally divided country, a country of two main cultures, Flemish and French-speaking cultures. Is there talk of separation into two different countries? How do you feel about that?
Dennie: Not much use in denying that Belgium has got a huge problem that probably won’t be fixed any time soon. It’s inefficient, it’s expensive, it’s ruled by corrupt/misguided politicians and it’s still a monarchy. All objective facts, by the way. And this is a sad thing, the Walloon people can be really kind, their woods and nature are simply amazing and they’re just as much a victim of the situation as the Flemish people are. How this will end is hard to foresee. Populist parties on both sides are getting a lot of support these days, and elections are coming up, so hell is about to be unleashed again, resulting in more conflicts between north and south. I’m not going deeper into personal views, since this is completely irrelevant. Saille is not a political band and even if we tried to be, it simply wouldn’t work since we all have a different opinion on about everything.
As you know very well, recently Belgium has been in the international news a lot due to Islamist terrorism. As Belgians, what do you think what’s happening in your country when people talk about terrorism, Islamism and jihadists. Do you, as a Belgian, feel like your country’s values (liberty, equal rights, freedom of expression, separation of church and state, so on and so forth) are in danger? Do you observe that immigrants in Belgium want to be Belgian? How do you feel about the future of your country?
Dennie: This is a really hard question to answer in just a couple of lines, so I’ll try to be as complete as possible. Belgium is one of those countries that has the biggest percentage of foreign fighters in Iraq/Syria and we still won’t let it guide our lives. Whether this is just apathy or some sort of rebellion against fearmongering I honestly have no idea. You do have a good point about our values, though. The system has been under ‘attack’ for a while now by religious nuts and PC-folks. The result being that some discussions are being set back decennia. We’ve had the discussions about equal rights between the sexes, about freedom of sexual preference between consenting adults and about animal rights. And while they’re not yet completely finished or perfect, they are well on their way and considered part of this country. Today I feel we have to renegotiate a lot of those things because of ‘religious freedom’, something I find completely unacceptable. And it’s our politicians who allow this kind of things to happen.
Have you seen these videos about Belgium and the problem of homegrown, domestic terrorists growing up in Belgium? What do you think? Molenbeek: Life Inside the So-Called 'Jihadi Capital of Europe https://youtu.be/ag8Vn_Dffmk Terrorists in Belgium: Former Altar Boy Turned ISIS Supporter Shares His Story https://youtu.be/Yz8jpGmhHZ4
Dennie: Yes, I’ve seen the videos and once again, it’s a tough subject that can’t be reduced to a couple of lines of text. For starters, I don’t believe Molenbeek is hell on earth and I don’t believe in ‘the evil Muslim’. I believe there’s a problem with immigration, integration and gangster rap infused macho mentalities and that accepting this is the first step towards solving those problems, but ‘all Muslims are evil’ is bulls##. Most of them are simply normal people, trying to live normal lives in the ways they prefer. Sometimes this means integrating fully, other times this clashes with ‘our’ ways, but in general it doesn’t make them evil per se. And honestly, can you blame them for trying? I would try to do things my way and so would you. Which doesn’t make it alright and doesn’t mean we should accept everything, as I’ve explained in the previous question.
That being said, there’s a bunch of rotten apples in our cities that should be removed from society permanently. They’re a danger to each and all of us because they’re nothing more than lunatics convince themselves that their way is the right way. And there’s a lot worse to come once IS is defeated and their soldiers start returning to Europe.
Finally, do you have any news that you would to share about your new album? Do you have any plans to tour in 2017? What else would you like to tell us?
Dennie: Gnosis’ release date is March 13th! We’re currently busy with booking shows all over Europe and hope that we’ll some day be able to visit the States, since that would be a dream come true! Subscribe to our Facebook and Instagram.

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