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Within Temptation: Sweet Emotion with Sharon den Adel

September 20, 2007

It's not every day that you get to interview one of metal's leading frontwomen. And to think that Live-Metal.net has now had the chance to interview Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel twice is simply amazing. Her beauty is unmatched and her voice is one of the most powerful and emotional in the music world. The band has had great success overseas, and now they have set their sites on America. The fans are making a strong statement, as the release of their latest album, The Heart of Everything, saw a No. 1 debut on the Billboard Heatseekers.

In May 2007, Live-Metal.net conducted its first interview with Sharon. At that time, Within Temptation was opening for Lacuna Coil on the Hottest Chicks in Metal tour and giving the headliners a run for their money every night. Now, in September  2007, Within Temptation has returned to the United States for their first headlining tour here. During the tour's stop at the Recher Theatre in Towson Md, Jeff Maki and Jason Price sat down with the "ice queen" of Within Temptation before the show for a lengthy and insightful interview. Sharon discussed the headlining tour, the widespread appeal of Within Temptation's music, the range of emotions she goes through onstage and gave us some early information on future releases. Read on.

Live-Metal.net: I have a 6-year-old daughter and I played your music for her when I had her over the summer and now you're like her favorite band ever. She worships you and even named one of her little dolls “Sharon.” What do you think about this and what does this say about the appeal of Within Temptation's music?

Sharon den Adel: I'm always surprised to see we have many different people coming to our shows. It starts from a very early age until pretty old—you know, over 60, we have fans coming to our shows. The people who liked Deep Purple in the past, that kind of music, they come and see our show and they also find the same kind of symphonic kind of things like in the past, the ‘70s. Also, young girls and boys, so you see how universal music is and also from different countries. It's not just like one certain part of the world just likes your music. The reason why, I think, is probably because we use so many different things and we are very melodic and, of course, it is very easy to listen to than if it's only death metal. Which is cool, too, but it's just what you like making and the kind of music we like, and I think we're very fortunate that so many people like it, as well.

As far as I know, she doesn't have any other favorite band, so when I played your music for her she was like,“Play it again daddy! Play it again daddy!” And of course I was like, “Sure!”

[laughter]

I want my daughter to grow up listening to this kind of stuff. Not to delve into your personal life or anything, but you have a young daughter of your own. How much are you looking forward to this same sort of experience? Do you want her to have a career in music?

No, not especially. She can be whatever she wants to be. I think that's the best way and of course. I like making music, but the first thing I think you hope for your children is that they find something that they're passionate about and if they can make it work for them, that's even better. I was never pressured into anything by my parents. My father pressured me a little bit. He said, “I don't care what you're going to do as long as your going to be the best at doing it.”

That's good advice. Makes sense.

Thanks, Dad. [laughter]

So how is your first U.S. headlining tour going?

Very well. Good response and so far it's been going great, so I hope that a lot of people will come tonight, as well. It's always difficult to see or calculate how many people are coming to a show because some places we've never been, but I think it's a good promotion every time we come to a new town. New York was great, the venue was almost sold out, like 90 tickets left. It's like the venue [The Fillmore] was 1,250 or something. And it was almost sold out, so I think that's pretty cool for our first headlining tour.

I thought it was pretty interesting last time we saw you. We're used to seeing American bands and what they do but you guys bring a really—pack a big stage show into a small venue. You know, I've seen you on the Internet performing huge festivals, but you really condense it down and it's really impressive.

It's just something we like doing. It adds to the music, I think. Of course, the music is like 99 percent, that's what we like doing. And if you are able to do something extra with bands but also to make it more involved, then I like visual aspects of other bands—Marilyn Manson, Iron Maiden. It's cool to do something extra. I came to see something visual, as well. That's why we try to do something. Of course, it's varied. It's what we can do in America to opposite what we do in Europe. We are building here. So it's like when we come back next time, we will do even more. It depends a little bit.

Obviously you're not going to have any big “Eddie” walking around onstage like Iron Maiden

[laughter]

Not yet, no. No, we do it in our own way, of course. We have our own things that we like and it's not like you want to do the same thing like all the bands—it's more like you want to give your audience interpretation with all the visuals so that you have to see it!

Are there any surprises in store for your set?

Of course, we are going to play a lot of songs that we haven't played here before. I think that's already something that's been an improvement. We can play a lot longer, but I don't know what people will find a surprise because for everybody it's something different, of course. People have their own preferences for certain songs, and we'll just have to wait and see if they get surprised.

This is something I thought about before. I think with your strong voice and obviously strong band, you guys could perform some great cover songs--

Only one. “Running up That Hill” by Kate Bush.

Yeah, but are there any other songs you'd like to try or that you have done before?

Well, we tried another song of Kate Bush because we had two songs that we were just playing around with because people were comparing me always with her as a similar kind of voice, and we were just fooling around in the studio and “Running up That Hill” came by. And it was like, “We really sound like this,” you know, and it turned out so well that we made a single out of it because we were between albums. And because it worked so well and also because we liked it so much. We tried other stuff, but we never recorded it. And we're never gonna record because we like to write our own stuff. That’s more interesting, I think. But you never know because I like so much music and so many songs are so amazing. Some songs are totally different. I love Nirvana. I love Alice in Chains. But a cover of them—I'm not sure it would fit our kind of music, so that's also difficult, of course. I like reggae, but making a reggae song to me—

Reggae? That would be interesting. That would be really cool actually.

Oh yeah? [laughter]

Has the fans reaction been better to the older or newer material?

It's all in one actually. They react to certain songs very good from the new album and also from the Mother Earth album. They're really like, “Yeah!” for “Ice Queen” and “Mother Earth” when they start. But with every song it's different.

How does a U.S. audience differ from a European audience?

I think there are really a lot of differences. Like in Europe, northern Europe is very different from southern Europe. And I think southern Europe is more expressive than northern Europe and I think it's more comparable to America. Unless you're playing in big cities. Big cities in the whole world like in Holland and Amsterdam. They are more used to big bands, seeing a lot of bands, so they're not easily impressed so you have to kick some ass a little harder. But most of the times probably when you play in a town like this people will be more surprised because you don't get to see everything from Europe or from America.

When you are performing songs on stage does it take you back to when and where you wrote the lyrics? Or at this point in time, having played them repeatedly, is it merely performing the songs?

Well, eventually it becomes more performing the songs, but you have certain times when it's better not to always know when to go back to the time you were writing it. Sometimes it's very emotional and if you have that emotional kind of thing, it's sometimes good. It will always be emotional because you will always have emotions attached to it. You have emotions and emotion, of course—heavy emotion. Certain painful memories or beautiful memories. It's like through time, like scars they fade a little bit. So I think on stage sometimes when you are having a certain day, it might come back very heavily. It might be better not to play the song. But most of the times it's just playing the songs and enjoying it. It's also releasing and getting rid of certain negative emotions.

Your lyrics seem pretty personal to me. Are there any songs you just don't want to play live because it does bring you back to those emotions?

Yeah, of course, but it's ... “Forgiven” is maybe one of those songs, but I could play them and keep my tears inside. You can restrain it, of course. It depends on the day. Sometimes it's the day when “it” happened like four years ago, so it's better not to play the song because you're gonna be reminded and not be too happy, so yeah, sometimes it's like that.

In our first interview, you had said you really had no expectations for The Heart of Everything's U.S. release. So what can you say about the album reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart?

Well, it's very cool and when it broke I was really impressed and in other countries, as well. But it's cool it became that and entered at No. 1. But we still need to see what kind of effect it will have. We are really down to earth kind of people, so what does it say? I'm not sure yet. [laughter] It's all about radio picking it up or people just getting more into the band because of it. That's hopefully what will happen and get more plays and play more in America. It's nice to tour here. It's much better weather. That's one thing that's for sure. We have no summer in Europe at all, so I'm really really glad that we have this great weather. [whispers] Get a sun tan ... [laughter]

Do you guys come up with the concept for your videos or does the director?

Well, most of them all come from us. And sometimes they work out pretty well and sometimes they work out a little less than we wanted to. It's very difficult to bring, when you have an idea what the video is about and to bring it across to a certain director. Sometimes it works with a certain director because you're not always working with the same guy or girl. Then it's difficult to bring across your ideas. You think you're on the same wavelength, but sometimes when you see the end result, you're like, “Oh my god ... He forgot this ... He forgot this ...” I don't understand the story at all. And sometimes it's amazing, but I must say throughout the years they have become better and better. It's something that I'm really glad about. It should be something that expresses the song.

You had said before that your songs were inspired by Braveheart and other songs. What other movies have inspired the lyrics and songs?

When you have written songs and are ready to demo with lyrics, it already gives an atmosphere of what the song should be about. And most of the time those demos lyrics result into the end result. Sometimes they can also totally change because you're stuck with the words and you have to find something different ‘cause it doesn't always work out that way. In that case, I'm turning to inspiration from books and movies. We had, like, for instance, The Da Vinci Code. “The Truth Beneath the Rose” plays on that. It wasn't the first idea to get lyrics to a song. The song is about the fact that we sometimes lose ourselves in religion and we tend to believe what people tell us instead of what is really in the book. And sometimes it doesn't even matter what other people think or believe. It's more that you want to believe yourself. Sometimes when you are in a group, society or community, people are telling you what you should believe. We've seen it in Iraq, of course, but you can also see it in any other country. We will always have communities that will always have more extremes in religion and that's a little bit dangerous sometimes. I think you have to make up your own mind and find your own search of what to believe and that's what the song is about: losing yourself in religion.

What's next for you after this tour?

Well, we got a lot of shows in Europe. We are going to play on England in the academies, which are lots of nice venues to play in. So we're gonna play there like four or five shows and then we go to Germany. We do a tour in Germany and we have a few big shows, as well. Then in Holland, we do an arena with a real orchestra in February, a classical orchestra. And we're gonna play all our songs with a classical orchestra. Also in November, we're gonna play for 8,000 people in Eindoven, which is also in Holland and we're gonna play this java kind of big show with all kinds of things happening. So they're will be a lot of things, then come back here again.
 
So you're coming back here soon?

I hope so because we just met our booking agency yesterday and they were like, “Please come back soon again.” And we were like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but when?” So we're gonna see. So hopefully we will again. It will be on short notice—that's how it works probably in America, I don't know. It goes differently in Europe. They have ticket sales in Europe and it's like six months ahead of when you're really going to play. And America it's like—we announced this tour a month ago. And we're like, “Nobody's gonna come. Nobody's gonna know. How can I do this?” But there like that's normal in America —”OK, right.”

You mentioned playing with the orchestra. How will that transition? How will that work?

It's gonna be different but not that much different because we have an orchestra on tape, because we can't bring the orchestra to events and stuff like that. They're gonna play more or less the real thing, but of course it will be more organic. The sounds are gonna be different, but it's gonna be live. And we'll probably make a little bit different arrangements here and there. It's not the same orchestra we recorded with and we're gonna do some different things also to make it more special, try some things out. Also to give them some more space for their own interpretation.

Could that be released as a live album like what the Scorpions or Metallica did?

I'm not sure. It depends on how it works out. And like I said, we're gonna give them some freedom for their own interpretation and if some songs don't work out then we're gonna skip the song probably. [laughter] But we're not sure how things will work out. But it's not the first time working with a real orchestra. We have done it before in Europe. But to do a whole show with a real orchestra, it is our first time, so it depends on how it's going to look and how it is recorded. We're gonna film everything, of course.

Is there anything else you'd like to add in?

Well, we start writing again in December probably. That's the first time we have days off again, so we'll probably start writing new songs again. We'll see where we are and how fast we can write a new album. I want to write a new album very quickly. But sometimes when you're touring there is no time or no space to sit down and relax and try some things.

It's gonna be really hard to top The Heart of Everything, but you guys have it in you, I think.

Yeah they said that with the first album too. “It's very difficult to top Enter,” but then came Mother Earth and it was better. [laughter] It will be different for everybody. Some people attach themselves to a certain album and they say, “You can't top this,” but of course it will be difficult when you're used to the new album, but we have that every time. So we lose some, we gain some. For us, we try our best and that's all we can do.

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