The Gathering: The End Of An Era

At Finnish Ankkarock festival it was time to say good-bye: Anneke van Giersbergen, the voice of The Gathering for 13 years, played her last concert with the band to have more time for her family and her new project Agua de Annique. It was a melancholic moment. Before the gig keyboarder Frank Boeijen answered questions about past, present and future of The Gathering.

How are you feeling?
I`m ok, thank you. We had a nice dinner last night in the city of Helsinki.

Where did you go?
In a place called, I don`t know, but it was, something, I think with a sign with a devil. The kitchen was open until 4 o`clock in the morning. (Must have been Manala, near the Government building, the ed.)

There`s also a night club next to it, were you dancing there?
No, we weren`t dancing. We had dinner there at least until 2 o`clock in the morning. Had some beers, it was very nice.

Was it a time to celebrate or a rather sad moment?
No, we were actually very neutral with it. We know it`s the last gig with Anneke but … We didn`t do that many gigs anyway in the last 2 months. I think 3 or 4 in total and…you know, this is the way it goes. It`s not just a gig but it`s a gig. We have to do that. We try to do our best for it, make a good show.

Did you talk about music and your future?
Yeah, of course. Actually with the 2 other boys, Hans and Rene, the two brothers who started the band and me. I was there from almost the beginning and Marjolein, our bass player, we are really tied together now. We also did some rehearsals to write some new songs already, so we are very eager to go on. And we talked a lot and we did a lot of things already music-wise.

Are you already looking for a new singer?
Yeah, yeah, we opened a gmail account where people can upload their own demo. We try to find maybe some interesting stuff from there. And also a lot of people who want to try to help us so we will see. First we have to write some new songs and then we can see what kind of direction the vocals will be.

Are you rather looking for another female singer or a male singer?
Maybe we`re looking for even more singers, you know. Maybe it will be an album with more singers than just one. I think it can be very interesting. There are some more examples of bands who do that these days and it`s a very interesting thing. Especially for The Gathering, it could be very interesting.

Are you planning to go into a different direction music-wise then?
Not that much actually. It will be atmospheric music but we always try new stuff as well. I`m sure it will be recognizable as music from The Gathering.

Is there any chance you`d include more Metal elements like in the early days?
I don`t think so but I think the dark elements will be there for sure. Cause we all like dark, gloomy music very much and of course Metal is that kind of music that has it in it, you know. We like it a lot but I don`t think that we will be searching for that particular sound which we made 15 or 20 years ago. It`s gone now and we always try to do something new.

In the Metal scene today, the whole thing has become a lot more crossover. So today it`s no longer a problem to include other elements in your music. What`s your opinion about that?
Yeah, I think you`re right. It`s a very diverse world we live in now and very fast and people pick up lots of different styles. We`re not afraid of that but we are just going to do what we feel, what we have to do. Trying not to stick to one genre. We always try to search for crossover elements from other music as well, like Hip Hop, ambient music, classical music or more like Progressive Rock things. Lots of interesting stuff is happening, so why just stick to one genre?

Do you feel you have been very courageous back then when you changed your style?
I don`t know. Those are things that just happen, you know. We didn`t think about it that much and I think that`s also the best thing to do. You shouldn`t think too much with music just play it. It`s the feeling, you know. It`s the best thing, for me at least.

When you made your last album “Home”, did you already know back then that it would be the last one with Anneke?
No, no, we didn`t know. The plan was just that we try another one and she will go. ´Cause everyone knows that music sales are decreasing very much for everyone in the music business. So for us it will be a difficult time. It`s difficult because you really depend on shows and not album sales cause album sales for us is not really interesting. We`re not like a hit machine, we don`t make hit singles and we don`t want to either. We just had a plan to see how this will work but we were also eager to go on, also with Anneke but she chose another way of direction.

Were you surprised by her decision?
No, no, no, not really because it`s a thing you will see coming. We`re not a band who is talking a lot, we`re not really the talking types but you see those things coming, of course. But she made her decision of course earlier than we went to the press. So we were really used to the whole thing already that`s why we maybe are a little bit detached from it already. It was not a very big surprise.

Did it also have something to do her family, taking care of her child?
I think so, yeah. She has a child now, she`s a mother, she has a husband. So it`s totally understandable.

The last concert with her is in Finland, was that somehow planned or was it a coincidence?
This is just how things go. Cause we just agreed all we do is the last festivals which are booked and this one was booked very early. We set a date, in August we stop and there weren`t any festivals coming in August so this is the last one. Yeah, it`s funny cause we had a guitar player from the first two albums – his last show was also in Finland.

Looking back into your career, is there anything you would think was a big mistake?
Frank: Not really, no. It`s all pros and cons, all the decisions we made. A lot of decisions had a lot of cons, choosing a very good record company, for example but on the other hand, what other options did we have anyway? There`s a lot of things you can put into perspective. It`s not that simple, of course when you look back it`s always simple. And most things are quite complicated.

Was there something you felt was really, really bad but turned out to be good in the end?
Hmm, have to think a little bit…That`s a bit hard to think of…Sometimes when you`re working with a new producer and back in 1998 some of us were really in doubt of him [Attie Bauw, the ed.] but in the end it was really, really good. We recorded “How to measure a planet?” with him but it was not like we thought that it was bad but we were like: hm, that`s a really strange atmosphere but it turned out to be really, really good. But that was just because we didn`t know what will happen. That was the reason.

What`s the most absurd thing that happened to you?
(thinking a long time) Yeah, there were absurd situations like for example in Mexico where the people are really, really crazy. We did an opening for a record store and we had a police escort to go to there and then back to the hotel. Really with 4 or 5 police men walking in the street cause people are so fanatic there. It was really nice cause they all have good means. In Europe we don`t have that anymore, it was in the time of The Beatles but in Mexico and South America things like that happen. Of course, we don`t know what to do with it. That`s quite absurd.

Do you prefer the big shows or more the medium sized festivals?
We like the medium-sized festivals cause they have good equipment, good stage, we have space, you can build all your setup. It`s not too massive, you`re still attached a bit to the audience, I like that.

Do you have a favourite festival?
Not particular no. I like a lot of festivals everywhere. I like it more when it`s more blended, metal and pop music. I don`t know about this one but I think this one`s pretty blended. More rock-orientated but lots of other things.

Last words?
I hope it will be a great show. I think so.

(You can find out about this Anneke farewell show in our Ankkarock report! The ed.)

Photos: Klaudia Weber

Kathleen Gransalke

Editor for Reviews - translations, reports, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Punk, Rock, Death Metal, Mathcore - - - Favorite bands? - Coheed & Cambria, Black Dahlia Murder, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon