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AXAMENTA – Interview with Tim & Fré

Fantasy Metal

AXAMENTA‘s Necrography: 1993 AXAMENTA was formed in Zwijndrecht, near Antwerp (Belgium). From the original line-up now only drummer Frederik remains. In the following years 2 demos are recorded with 2 different line-ups; Echoes (1995) and Into a Dream (1997). 1998: AXAMENTA‘s current line-up takes form. The band evolves to its current style they themselves start calling Fantasy Metal. Some important musical influences are BAL-SAGOTH, THERION and DIMMU BORGIR. Lyrically, inspiration is mainly drawn from fantasy literature, different mythologies and paganism. 1999: In august singer Ann joins the ranks of AXAMENTA and a few months later the Nox Draconis Argenti – cdemo is recorded.

Line-up: Peter Meynskens (vocals) – Wesley Heyndrickx (guitars) – Yves Huts (guitars, keyboards) – Tim Wilmots (bass) – Frederik Van Mieghem (drums) – Ann Kermans (vocals)

Echoes was Death Metal, Into a Dream Doom Death and now on Nox Draconis Argenti AXAMENTA treats us with atmospheric Black. Is this due to the line-up changes? Do you think AXAMENTA found its definitive line-up?

Yes, because of new people writing the music a change in style soon occurred. I think AXAMENTA has found its definitive line-up now, because all the members are more on one line now concerning their musical tastes. Although we still are good friends with former members, this was not always so in the past.

How did your demo-tapes sell?

Our 2 demo-tapes did not sell that well, because at that time we did not have that many contacts in the Metal underground. We sold about 150 copies each.

The logo on Echoes is replaced with a new one. Is this because of the change of style?

Yes, although, we still like the logo by Christophe Szpajdel, we felt it was too gory and Death Metal for us to keep using it. It might give people the wrong impression about the music we play nowadays.

You label your music Fantasy Metal because the lyrics deal with fantasy-literature, mythology and paganism. Tell us more about the lyrics. Why aren’t they all included?

Different people in AXAMENTA write the lyrics and everyone has his own point of view. For instance, Peter (vocals) is really into Fantasy, so his lyrics all are little stories woven into one big one. My lyrics, on the other hand, are more pagan. Everybody has his own thing. The reason they are not all included is the fact that we had to choose between the artwork and printing all the lyrics, so we opted for the artwork.

I think AXAMENTA has something in common with AVATAR: both play Belgian atmospheric Black Metal and released an album containing Draconis in the title. Any reaction?

I do not think anyone in AXAMENTA listens to AVATAR a lot, although …Memoriam Draconis is a good album. I myself did not realise the “Draconis”-link until the title was decided on and the lay-out was printed, so I would say it is a coincidence.

React to: Tolkien

Obviously Tolkien is very important for everyone who is into Fantasy literature. His works are not just invented but are firmly rooted in Norse mythology. From that he managed to create one of the most complex stories of all time. Really great!

INFERNAL BEAUTY

I do not have their Drakensquar-album, but people told me it is very good. Anyway, I have seen them live and they were pretty convincing!

SIGNS OF DARKNESS

We have played with them on a couple of occasions and they pretty much keep to themselves. Anyway, I like their music. Their demos are very good.

ECLIPTICA

This is a very good band! They have done a lot for us, like arranging gigs for us to play. Although I like the band a lot as a whole, I am particularly impressed with their rhythm section. It is one of the tightest I ever heard in an underground band.

LUGBÙRZ

Obviously a very good and important initiative! They really keep the underground alive! Deathknight from Lugbùrz made our website and it looks really cool! (Plus he always bangs like crazy whenever we play live, which is great!!!!)

Cool artwork! Swa & Stinus took care of it. Tell us more about these guys!

This is where we are very lucky. Swa is my father and listens to a lot of Metal too. Stinus is a colleague of his. They enjoyed doing it and they are (at least in our opinion) very good at it, so we let them do it!

How did AXAMENTA learn to play their instruments? Are you able to read music notes? Which makes of instruments do you use? Any particular reason for that?

We learned to play by playing together, basically. Except for our guitarist/keyboard-player and our drummer, none of us have had any musical training; so our guitarist/keyboard-player and our drummer can read notes, but the rest of us cannot.

We play Jackson, Gibson and BC Rich guitars, a Hohner bass, Tama drums, a Roland keyboard and Marshall and Lamey amplification. There is not really a reason for that, except for the fact that we try to sound as good as possible.

How do you compose a new song?

Mostly Yves or I come to the rehearsal with the guitar parts all worked out; then we rehearse and record it; Yves takes the recording home with him and writes the keyboard-parts to it. Then we adjust here and there, like arranging the vocals, putting in a solo,… and there you have it! A finished song.

Can you easily rehearse? I mean, don’t you have problems with the rehearsal place, complaints of neighbors, distance of living between the different members?

We rehearse in my backyard and a lot of time was put into insulating the rehearsal room, so the neighbors are not bothered with it. Frederik and I both live in Beveren and the other members need about half an hour to get here, so it is not that far.

Are you in touch with a label? Can we expect a cd in the near future?

There have been some contacts, so maybe. We will see. We do not really know yet.

Who made AXAMENTA‘s web-site?

Deathknight from LUGBÙRZ. We think he did a real good job, too! It looks great!

How many letters does Axamenta receive a day (on the average)?

We do not really receive that many letters. Most correspondence goes via e-mail these days; our drummer takes care of that.

How would you describe AXAMENTA‘s music?

Like we always do: FANTASY METAL! I.e. Black/Death Metal with a lot of melody, a lot of different vocal parts (male, female, choir,…), really over the top-keyboards and fantasy-inspired lyrics.

Do you use certain effects on your voice/guitars? (e.g. wah wah / reverb)

On our guitars, we do not use any effects (besides a distortion unit obviously!). Vocalwise, we do not use anything live but in the studio we used a pitch-shifter in one song (Elemental Dance) but just on four words.

How did you prepare before you went to the studios?

We put the finishing touches to the songs, for instance the choir vocals were arranged really last minute and we tried to rehearse as much as possible.

Can you tell us what happened during the recording of the cd? How long did you have to play each day?

It was hard work but we had a lot of fun too. Kjell from CAVERN STUDIOS was a real cool guy who liked our music too, which is always more inspiring than having to play to someone who sits there being bored. Every day we played and mixed from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. We ended up using about 4 our 5 days worth of recordings. It took this long because our music contains a lot of layers and we wanted each layer to be audible, which worked out pretty well, though here and there a guitar part had to be sacrificed.

Tell us something about your latest release?

What is to tell? It is called Nox Draconis Argenti and it is available on cd at our contact address: AXAMENTA – Notelarenhof 57 – 9120 BEVEREN-WAAS – BELGIUM for BEF 300 / NLG 15 / DEM 15 / US$ 10 (incl. postage). There are 6 songs on it (one of which is an instrumental) and it lasts 28 minutes. People who are interested to buy it or just want info, bookings,… write us! Please feel free to write for anything.

How many copies did you sell of the previous Axamenta-releases?

Both demos sold about 150 copies each.

What reactions do you get? What do you think of your latest release yourself?

We all feel, without wanting to pat our own backs, that it is way better than our demos. We master our instruments better and, in our humble opinion, we write better songs. The sound quality is a difference of night and day, thanks to Kjell and Steven of CAVERN STUDIOS. Reactions, so far have all been very positive!

How much do you ask for a gig?

I really could not say. It depends on who is organising it; how far we have to drive, etc. If it is really close by we will often play for gas expenses and free drinks.

How many gigs does Axamenta play a year?

We do not play live as much as most other bands in the underground. Last year we played about 9 or 10 times. Anyway, people who want to ask us to play anywhere; organisers can always write or send an e-mail.

Which bands you toured with did AXAMENTA get along with? Which band had a rockstar-attitude?

We played with GRIEF OF EMERALD in your home-town Ghent a few weeks ago and they were really cool. We exchanged CDs and drank with them until 5 in the morning. It was a real fun night (although the waking-up-in-the-morning part was not really).

Do you appreciate the average organisation before and during gigs? Could AXAMENTA count on sufficient advertisements? And do you ever have serious sound-technical problems during gigs due to bad organisation? Or does AXAMENTA take care of the sound themselves?

Most gigs are well organised. Sometimes something goes wrong, but usually it is solved quickly. That is one of the great things about the underground; people tend to help each other out. Still, it is important to us to try and sound as good as possible whenever we play live and because there are so many layers in our music often the P.A.-engineers do not know how to mix it. Sometimes, though, it is very good, but when the venue we play is small we play without P.A. rather than with, because we know better what we want to hear than someone who does not know our music.

Did AXAMENTA play covers? Which song(s)?

Live we often play Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH, which is a real crowd-pleaser. It is fun to play and it always brings a good atmosphere.

A string breaks… Remaining silent is no solution. How does AXAMENTA manage to fill up the gap?

When that happens, you can only hope it is one of the higher (less used) strings. Otherwise, you would have to remain silent, unplug, start tuning the spare guitar we always bring along like crazy and try to be ready in time for the next song.

Define Metal.

To me it is listening to a lot of bands rather than just the well-known ones. Most of these bands are very good, like EMPEROR, MORBID ANGEL,… but try to be more open-minded too. Go to gigs by underground-bands too and if you like them, buy a demo or whatever. The underground needs to flourish, we need more good bands, good ‘zines,…

Describe a day in your life (job, spare time, Metal-activities, etc.).

I still go to school, but when I am not doing that or studying, I spend most of my time to listening to music, rehearsing, playing music, writing letters,…

Compose the ultimate cd:
This is really difficult and it would vary from day to day. If you ask me tomorrow, this list might look very different.

the vocalist of the band is: David Vincent singing alongside King Diamond (would not that be strange?!)
the lead guitarist: Jon Nödtveidt (DISSECTION)
the rhythm guitarist: John Schaffer (ICED EARTH)
the bassist: Alex Webster (CANNIBAL CORPSE)
the drummer: Hellhammer (MAYHEM)
the keyboard-player: Johnny Mandling (BAL-SAGOTH)
the cd is recorded in the following studio: ACADEMY STUDIOS
the cd is released by the following label: any label with good promotion
the cover-art is drawn by: Necrolord
the logo is drawn by: Christophe Szpajdel (although we chose to omit his logo from our further releases, it still looks killer! Thanks Christophe!!)

Death Metal or Black Metal? Why?

I do not really think of them as 2 separated styles. Both have good bands and both have crap bands. Often to me the most interesting bands are those who cannot be put into 1 category completely, for instance DISSECTION or the latest CD by AETERNUS.

What was the last demo you bought? Tell me more about it.

The last demo I bought was a CD-demo by WALPURGIS, a band from Limburg (Belgium). We played with them a couple of weeks ago and Christophe Szpajdel was there selling their demo (that guy seems to always be there, it is incredible!) I liked their gig so I bought their demo. It is Black/Death Metal with 2 vocalists (grunts + screams). They play a fantastic cover of MAYHEM: Freezing Moon! Their own songs are very good too.

Prove me that God does not exist.

To me, that would be absurd because it is so obvious. It is like proving water will get you wet. I forgot who, but someone once said: God did not create Man after his own image, Man created god from his own imagination. I think that pretty much sums it up.

What do you think of all these CDs being released nowadays while formerly it already was a whole achievement to record a demo? What does this tell about quality? And about the importance of money?

Most people think it is bad because you cannot decide what to buy anymore. I do not think like that. You should select more carefully, but most of the time a band that is good live will also be good on cd. Obviously, whereas Metal-heads in the old days could buy practically everything, now they cannot anymore. The quantity has definitely gone up, but I do not think the quality has gone down. More activity (if it is good, of course) is always better.

How do you decide to buy a cd? What convinces you: a review, an advertisement, a gig, …?

That can be any of those; a review, a gig, a CD I hear from a friend,…

Which band are you listening to right now? What song do you want to be played on your funeral? What poem do you want to be read at your funeral?

At the moment I am writing this I am listening to Damned in Black by IMMORTAL (great cd, by the way!). I do not care too much about what will happen at my funeral. People should worry more about what happens during their lives.

What are your favourite bands/styles?

That would be too numerous a list to start writing. Let’s say I like bands in every style of Metal! (So none of the rapping, funky, spooky core-crap.) Furthermore soundtracks and classical music can be very relaxing to listen to.

What is your ultimate playlist?

Again this list might be very different tomorrow. In no order of preference

IMMORTAL – Damned in Black

EMPEROR – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

MORBID ANGEL – Covenant

CARCASS – Heartwork

BORKNAGAR – The Olden Domain

DISSECTION – Storm of the Light’s Bane

AETERNUS – Shadows of Old

Okay, I know it is more than 5, but I just cannot help myself!

What do you think when you hear the following tags?

Black Metal:

I think there is too much focus on the true-untrue thingie. Anyone who appreciates Metal as a whole will tell you some bands with keyboards rule and others do not. It is as simple as that. But most bands I know are very good, keyboards or not.

Death Metal

Death Metal is definitely back, which is great. As I said, for instance AETERNUS started using a lot more Death Metal influences and the mighty MORBID ANGEL is always still there to uphold the standards. And do you know NILE? I only have one CD by them, but that is really great too.

Heavy Metal

Yes, Heavy Metal!! Battle Hymns by MANOWAR is a record I probably should have put in my playlist too. And where would the Swedish Death Metal scene be without the influence of (old) IRON MAIDEN?

Hard Core

There are a few bands I like who call themselves Hard Core, but to me it is Thrash they play. For instance, DEFORMITY from West-Flanders is one of those bands. RAPTURE from Melsele is one too.

Progressive

I do not really know a lot of Progrock and Progressive Metal, so I cannot really say anything about that. The things I have heard I can say they are generally real good musicians, but to me it gets boring really quickly.

Thrash Metal

A portion of decent Thrash is always good. There are some real classics in this genre; Welcome to Hell (VENOM), The Legacy (TESTAMENT), Bonded by Blood (EXODUS), Reign in Blood (SLAYER),… A very good recent band is RITUAL CARNAGE. Their cd The Highest Law is really, really good!

Doom Metal

When I started playing with AXAMENTA they were just starting to play Doom/Death Metal. I really was into MY DYING BRIDE and (old) PARADISE LOST back then and I still am, I just do not listen a lot to that kind of music anymore, but when I hear it, I still like it a lot.

Gothic-influenced

As soon as people hear keyboards, they often think there is a Gothic influence in your music. It is not always true, you could hardly call a band like, for instance, EMPEROR Gothic, could you? But sometimes it is very good!

X Straight Edge X

If someone wants to live like that, fine by me, but do not preach to others. I think a lot of them are fooling themselves, though. They are 16 and want to be part of something but will they still do so in a couple of years? I do not think so.

Punk

Sometimes the music is okay (there is a lot of Punk in the early VENOM, MOTÖRHEAD and CELTIC FROST releases) but the messages are too political and I do not like politics in music.

magic

I do not believe in magic as a way to have something happen to someone, but I do believe that humans can be led to believe they have been bewitched and sometimes their own mind will start playing tricks on them. It is all a question of auto-suggestion. Think, for instance, of the voodoo spells. If you believe in it, you WILL feel it!

satanism

There are some good principles in it, but it is a religion too and I do not want to pin myself down to a religion. The individualism Satanists strive for is good, though; do not disappear into the masses.

What do you think of today’s Metal/underground scene? Which Belgian bands do you like? Any promising bands in ?

I think the Belgian underground is good but it could always be bigger. Some bands I like (just a few of them, I cannot mention them all) are: ECLIPTICA, WALPURGIS, DYSURIA (R.I.P.), LEGAL BUTCHERY (R.I.P.), POSEYDON,…

Are you involved in other Metal activities? Like a ‘zine, distro, compilation or a side-project? Do you have a job next to this? Or what are you studying?

I also play in COPROPHAGIA, it is; me (bass), Fré (guitar), Ruben (vocals) and a drum-computer. Sometimes it is really fast, sometimes more groovy. It is what you would get if you put MORTICIAN and SIX FEET UNDER in a blender. Plus, it has really, really gory lyrics!

Name the best:

Metal guitarist: Jon Nödtveidt, Trey Azagtoth
Metal drummer: Hellhammer
Metal vocalist: King Diamond, David Vincent, Garm (vocalist ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale and BORKNAGAR The Olden Domain)
movie: Braindead! Bad Taste!
book: Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) & anything by Edgar Allan Poe
graphic artist: Kristian Wahlin, Necrolord
logo drawer: Christophe Szpajdel
CD-cover: Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (EMPEROR)
demo: PANDEMIA – The Message from Death Metal Empire (Czech band, really good!)
philosopher: Friedrich NietzscheHe sure is. Check out this one-liner though:”God is dead” (Nietzsche) – “Nietzsche is dead” (God)
classical music: Wagner!
internet sites: I do not have a computer so I will let Fré (drums answer this one:
LUGBURZ & BMN
These sites have plenty of information, support the Belgian underground and are easy to use. Most other sites that I visit are moderate, most of the time people do not make any special efforts to attract people.
Favourite beer/wine/…?
Any Belgian beer! Especially JUPILER and DUVEL!

Vinyl or cd or tape? Why?

It does not really matter to me, as long as the music is good. Cds though, they have a better quality but should be less expensive.

Who/What is the most interesting person/time in history? Why?

Everything in this world up till now, be it persons, cultural developments, science,… have made this world into what it is now. So from that point of view the answer to this question would be too elaborate to bother.

At what age did you start listening to Metal? What was the first Metal album you bought?

I started listening to Metal when I was about 11, and the first album I got (from a friend) who was into Metal even earlier than me) was …and Justice for All by METALLICA.

Suppose you are the director of a horrormovie? How would your torture scene look like?

Again, I will let Fré answer this one:

I will quote the lyrics of the song Coprophagia from our side-project COPROPHAGIA: “sedate a woman, xxxxxx (No, this is no censorship, but I could not decipher Fré’s handwriting) her bowels with xxxxxx (again this word was not legible to me) to the point of ‘vomitus faecaloidis’ (Latin: to vomit sh!t). Then open the chest and abdomen and let the pervert cut her bowels and eat the sh!t.”

Which themes are suitable for Metal-lyrics? Which aren’t?

I suppose you could use everything in Metal lyrics, but within AXAMENTA they have to be Fantasy-inspired, philosophical (about nature, religion,…) and within COPROPHAGIA, above all, bloody!

Any question you would like to ask me?

Yes. Do you enjoy torturing people with these incredibly long question lists? Haha, just kidding, thanks a lot for doing the interview.

What are the plans for the future?

First of all, to play live a lot, and for the rest we will see.

Some last words to the readers? How can they get in touch?

Yes. Thanks for reading the interview and feel free to get in touch for anything. And thanks to you, Gerrit, for doing the interview and lots of luck with THE THRONE OF ABSENCE!!

Thanks, Tim, Fré & AXAMENTA!

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