Whenever I listen to Herfst (which is quite often), I always find myself wondering why they aren’t signed. They’re amazing. So, it is my hope that someone from Nuclear Blast, Century Media or soem other label will stumble upon this interview and snap them up. Fingers crossed!
The following interview is with Bram – Herfst’s master of the seven strings.
Lou: Greetings and salutations! Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions – it’s very much appreciated. How are you today?
Bram: Hi Louise! Besides the usual existential woe all is relatively okay here in Belgium. Just don’t mention the weather.
Lou: I understand that the history of Herfst starts back in 1999. Have there been many line up changes in that time? Who is in the band now?
Bram: We have never felt more confident with this line up, consisting of Matthieu on extreme vocals, Christophe on rhythm 7 strings, Kurt on bass, Ruben on drums and me on lead guitars & drama.
We also have 3 dudes who are becoming quite invaluable additions to our core: Lauren’s on clean vocals, Toon on orchestration and Dan ‘the Man’ Sanö behind the knobs (pun intended).
Lou: How would you describe your music? Has your style evolved much since you started in 1999?
Bram: We chose to label it ‘nekromantic metal’. Both as a little tribute to the obscure german Nekromantik movie (1987) & as a new term for the mix of styles we play. Bands that always get mentioned in reviews & we sound similar to are Septicflesh, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Carcass, The Vision Bleak and a bunch of others. It’s a -sometimes complex- concoction of all the styles of metal we adore and love. We’re not your typical straightforward german thrash metal band, for example. This mix of the brute and the melodic is our signature sound, I guess. It is most definitively something that comes to us organically and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Lou: Where does the name Herfst come from? What does it mean? And, how do you write it? I’ve seen it written as Herfst, H E R S T and Herfs† – as you know, this baffles me…
Bram: Herfst is a name I came up with during my lonely years in high school, when I laid the foundations of the band. It’s dutch for Autumn, a season which reflects the atmosphere I wanted to portray in the music. We started out more as doom/black metal and were just learning how to play the instruments. Frankly, we still are!
All jokes aside, it’s a blessing and a curse, having a name like that. It’s often subject of really tacky jokes, but also difficult to pronounce abroad. But we’re still happy with the meaning, it’s close to our hearts. As for the spelling: we still have to reach consensus about that, haha. Meanwhile just settle for Herfst.
Lou: “Necrotica” is the album that brought you to my attention (well, you sent it to me, I listened to it and loved it and then took an age to review it!) – what kind of feedback have you received about it?
Bram: The feedback was quite amazing. Usually people scored the record 90% or more. Those numbers seem to be even higher regarding our new EP, so let’s hope this trend continues!
Lou: What was the writing process for the album like? Do you have one key songwriter, or is it more of a group effort?
Bram: Usually I write a bunch of riffs/ideas and record them in a quite rudimentary form at home. The rest of the band is very talented in finding appropriate structures (I’m often too chaotic in my songwriting) so that vastly influences the outcome. Recently Christophe is coming up with a lot of really tasty riffs too, so it’s definitively an interesting mix. I also wrote all lyrics, most vocal lines/phrasing and drum ideas, but the outcome is always -more or less- democratic. We simply choose the best ideas, no matter who wrote them. After Necro†ica we decided to incorporate more orchestration. We have found an amazing partner in Toon, who is classically trained and totally complements our music. In the future we aim to further exploit this collaboration. As well as use more clean vocals. We are also going to continue abusing the amazing talent that is Dan Swanö. I guess you can say we have found our penultimate line up, which is about time!
Lou: What inspires you? Both in terms of other bands and just stuff generally. I get a really fantastic dark vibe whenever I listen to the album. It’s the perfect soundtrack for when I’m reading a horror novel.
Bram: I have been fascinated by old school gothic horror stories since I was a kid. I stayed up watching The Hound of the Baskervilles, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. Same goes for literature. It’s always amazing to read we seem to express a Lovecraftian vibe. He’s one of my favorite writers (alongside Hesse, Poe, Shelley, Peake, Danielewski, etc), but we never set out to make the soundtrack to his books. It’s an immense compliment for which we are very grateful!
So regarding the question: definitively a mix between art, literature & horror movies. Also a penchant for the macabre ànd melancholic. Suffering for art is a huge cliché but I tend to write my best leads when down, which is most of the time, hehe. Hopefully I won’t turn happy anytime soon or there’s no more riffs!
Lou: I know I said that “Necrotica” provides a great soundtrack for when I’m reading, but I’m sure it could also be a perfect accompaniment for a film as well. If your music was to be used in a film, which film would you like it to be used in?
Bram: Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
Lou: What kind of themes have you written about in the EP’s lyrics?
Bram: The concept of the EP is twofold. I’d like to leave it to the listener to uncover, but what I can say it’s a baroque concept set against a fin de siècle Paris. It’s a story told by several characters, who have been condemned to death by the state. They reside in their dungeon awaiting the gallows and tell their stories. To be continued in the second EP.
Lou: How does the album compare to your other material? I know you have another album available in your webshop… (which I do want to buy come pay day, so please put one by for me… with a t-shirt… thanks!)
Bram: The EP is a natural progression. More mature but also more in your face and direct. Perhaps a tad less layered than Necrotica as far as the metal instrumentarium goes, but definitively enriched by complex orchestration with a vibe that is often quite filmic. The next EP will once again be different, we don’t like to repeat ourselves. A lot of ideas have already been written and I think you can expect a bit less brutality, more melody and progressive stuff, mixed with really haunting melodies.
The second demo Life’s Enddesign is still available (a few dozen copies) so act fast! Necrotica is available as well as the EP. We have some interesting package deals, we for instance offer Necrotica and the EP together free of postage. For now we have sold out all merch, the more people order our records, the sooner we can make a kickass design and offer it to our fans! All releases have elaborate artwork & are really worthwhile, according to the press.
Ordering is easy as peas, and quick too. You just need a Paypal account. Even if that doesn’t work we can arrange alternate methods of payment. You can visit our webshop at: herfstmerchstore.bigcartel.com
Lou: Where do you stand on the whole MP3 vs CD vs vinyl debate?
Bram: Our EP and Necrotica are available as a LEGAL mp3 download at Bandcamp & cdbaby. Needless to say we resent the current “all art for free” culture.
Having our records coming out on vinyl however would be a dream come true. It would be amazing to have both EP’s available as beautiful 12″ records with extensive artwork. Hopefully one day we can realise this dream!
Lou: What was the first album you ever bought? Do you still have it?
Bram: As for metal, in my case that would be Cradle of Filth ‘Vempire…’ EP and Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina, somewhere in 1996. Time sure flies.
Lou: Do you have any gigs coming up?
Bram: A few, you can see the dates on our official facebook page at facebook.com/herfstofficial. We’re also talking about a tour in Finland, let’s hope we can make that happen!
Lou: How would you describe a Herfst show?
Bram: Blood, sweat and Beers. We love performing and put a lot of passion in our work!
Lou: What can fans do to get you to play in their hometowns? Aside from kidnapping you… I’m told that’s wrong. I fully plan to implement any legitimate methods to get you over to the UK. (Although kidnapping would have been more fun.)
Bram: Fans are very important to us. They can support us by spreading the STD that is Herfst like a wildfire! Spread our name, our websites, our videos… Let’s go viral! We appreciate all the support! Also buying merch and records helps us vastly since this day and age it has become rather hard to find a label. We have a DIY ethic but never compromise! We aim to write and record something worthwhile and hope it reflects in the music & packaging!
Lou: If all else fails, which kidnapping method would you prefer?
Bram: Something involving several Eastern European top models in catsuits forcing us in all sorts of (painful) positions.
Lou: OK, back to being serious now, what’s going on with Herfst at the moment? Are you working on anything new?
Bram: Yeah! We are working on the new material (initially we were planning to release a full CD). We have the perfect team with motivated people supplementing each other so we have quite a clear direction to go. The new stuff will be even more epic, and will definitively appeal to the old fans, as well as hopefully a whole bunch of new ones!
Lou: Do you have any messages for the readers of Loucifer Speaks?
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