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ILL FARES THE LAND – Interview with Jan B.

ILL FARES THE LAND, to hast’ning ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay

Oliver Goldsmith

ILL FARES THE LAND is Bart V. on drums, Bart P. on guitars, Roel U. on vocals and Jan on guitars. For the moment, Jurgen H. helps them out with the bass. He is also active in CRAWLSPACE (a Death Metal band from the neighbourhood). Roel is learning how to play the bass, so normally he will be doing vocals and bass in a few months.

The band started out as a Metal Core band. But due to a lot of line-up changes and technical / musical progression they evolved towards a Death Metal sound. Jan joined the band in May 1999. He could play the guitar, but had never been part of a band. He got a tape with a few songs on and studied them, went to a rehearsal and since then he was in the band. They started writing songs and at the moment they were about to enter the studio their bassist quit due to personal problems. So they recorded the demo as a quartet. They never found a new bassist and then Jurgen proposed to help them out. The demo came out and they had the chance to play some shows and they got some nice reactions, both on the demo and on shows. They play the music they want to play, but they think it is always nice when to get positive reactions.

The demo Souls Aground on the Reefs of Sin is already out for a while now. Tell us more about this interesting release. How are sales going? How were the reactions? And abroad?

Yes, the demo is out for almost 2 years now. We never expected it, but the reactions were very good! Even AARDSCHOK liked the tape. We were very surprised about all that. We got more shows than before and people actually showed interest in our band. But fact is that at this moment we think that the tape is only quite average. We are trying to work on better songs…The first pressing (200 copies) is sold out and the second pressing (100 tapes) is almost sold out. We received some reactions from the Netherlands, Germany and France. We have got no idea how those people got our tape, but it is cool as hell to know that people like the things we do.

ILL FARES THE LAND played live in the FRONTLINE with a.o. VADER. How do you look back on this experience? Was it an honour to open before VADER? What do you think of their music? How did you get along with these guys? What does the FRONTLINE mean to you?

The FRONTLINE is a f*cking cool place to play. I just received an e-mail from them: they are quitting! That is really sad. I want to thank them for the fun we had there and we hope that they will find a new place to organise shows soon.

We played a gig for BMU at the beginning of the summer of 2000 (with GRINNING GHOUL). The people of the FRONTLINE liked our show and told us that they were interested to book us as a support act for the mighty VADER. Of course we were honoured to play with them. We never got to talk to them, I do not know why. But I must say that the last time I saw VADER (together with CRYPTOPSY, DYING FETUS, ABORTED…) I did not like the show that much. It looked like they were just doing their job and nothing more. I liked CRYPTOPSY and ABORTED a lot more that night.

ILL FARES THE LAND is also participating in the Belgian Metal Underground Death Metal concours, together with a.o. PANCHRYSIA. What do you think of the other bands? Which band do you expect to win the concours? Where would you like to end up with ILL FARES THE LAND? What do you think of the BMU-site?

Indeed, we will play with PANCHRYSIA and KELTGAR. The three bands have a very different sound. KELTGAR plays Doom Death with female vocals and grunts. I do not know their music very well. Just a couple of songs. But what I heard were very well-composed and good songs. PANCHRYSIA has a lot of Black Metal influences at the moment. I saw them a few weeks ago in Itegem and I liked their show very very much. Personally, I think that they will win the concours, but I hope that the jury consists of a few people who like their Metal a bit more brutal, he he. But we are not in it to win. We just like playing live and we take every chance to play a show. It would be nice to win though, because then we would play the finals together with our friends from CULPABLE HOMICIDE (check them out!!!) and NO-LOKOST (a nice band from Wallonia). That would be fun.

BMU is a nice organisation! They help bands to get shows and they promote the bands. Also LUGBURZ, THE GR!NDK!LLER and METAL.BE are doing their best for the Belgian Underground. Cheers to all of them.

There is no ILL FARES THE LAND logo yet. How come? Did Szpajdel already come up with some drafts? How should the ideal ILL FARES THE LAND logo look like? Who drew the coverart for Souls Aground on the Reefs of Sin?

Actually, Szpajdel sent us a logo. We all think it is very nice and it probably will be used. The reason why we have not had a logo for a long time is that we did not care about it and tried to focus on the musical aspect of ILL FARES THE LAND… Also our site is not updated at all. But that will change soon because we will take control over the ILL FARES THE LAND-site soon! Check it out if you are interested.

The cover used for the demo is a drawing we got from a book. It is called The Forest of Suicides or something like that. If you look close you can see that the people are turning into trees. It is just a nice and dark drawing.

ILL FARES THE LAND appeared on the second BONE BOX compilation. The track featured is a rehearsal and is really great, both sound-technically as musically! What do you think of the other bands on the BONE BOX compilation? What do you think of this brilliant underground-initiative? How did you manage to come up with such a clear sound for this song? Is it due to the acoustics of the rehearsal place or…? How did you get in touch with Thomas ‘Necropoulle’ Lepouttre (UG to the ‘bone’!) of BONE BOX/REET RECORDS (ex-MAJESTY OF FOOLS (R.I.P.))?

Compilations such as BONE BOX and your tapes are good for beginning bands like us. Also underground zines are very important to let the people know what you are about and stuff. All promotion is welcome and thanks to guys like you bands have something more than just their demo, site… . If a band gets good comments in ‘zines, people get interested I think. Thanks to all the people who mentioned us in their ‘zine, reviewed our demo and the few who wanted to interview us. We appreciate it!

For the other bands on the compilation, I like ANAEMICA, BLACK BLEEDING, THE QUIESCENT (ugly bastards!), WALPURGIS, REQUIEM.

Thanks for the nice words about Insufferable Insolence. It is a new song we recorded in MOD. That was our rehearsal space at that moment. MOD is sponsored by the Province of Limburg. They charge BEF 600 for only four hours. That is quite expensive for something sponsored by the Province, so now we have our rehearsal place at Bart V.’s home. It is also a lot easier because we can leave our things there after the rehearsal instead of always having to move them. But back to the song now, the rehearsal places in MOD all have a small PA. So we brought as many microphones as we could find. Then we connected our instruments with a mic to the PA (guitars, voice and the bass were recorded with one mic, the drums were recorded with 4 mics I think). Then we adjusted the PA until we got an acceptable sound-quality and we recorded our rehearsal on minidisc. A little remark on the vocals: Roel could not hear himself because else we had too much feedback. That is the reason the vocals are so harsh. Normally, he has a lot more variation and aggression in his voice. We will do this again sometime and then we hope to do something about Roel’s vocals. Maybe record them afterwards on PC or something like that.

I got in touch with Necropoulle through Bart Goffings of THE QUIESCENT. He mailed me to say that Thomas was looking for bands for his compilation and that I had to mail him. It was as simple as that.

In an interview on the ILL FARES THE LAND website, I read ILL FARES THE LAND evolved from Hard Core to Death Metal due to line up changes. Can we expect another evolution (maybe Black Metal influences?) from Souls Aground on the Reefs of Sin to the next release? When can we expect a new release? What can you tell us about the new songs?

I am not familiar with the really old songs because they were never recorded and I joined the band only in 1999. But the songs I know were more technical Metal Core. All the riffs were written by Bart Put at that time. With Bart getting better with his guitar and me joining the band as a second guitarist, we had a lot more possibilities for the new songs. Not that I am saying that I am that great, but two guitarists just broaden the possibilities. We could for example experiment with melody (but in an aggressive way!!!). Also Bart V who was getting better at his drums influenced the new songs very much.

The new songs are a bit more complex. We continue to develop our style we were already playing on the demo. We still try to find a good mix between brutal parts and more melodical Death / Black Metal. Bands like DISSECTION, AT THE GATES are responsible for the more melodic parts, but we try not to be so poppy as for example IN FLAMES. We all like the aggressive component in Metal. As for the Black Metal influences, there is always a possibility. The newer songs also have some thrashy influences.

The next release? I really do not know. We are glad to announce that a small Belgian label has shown interest in our band. Last weekend we have negotiated with them. If we decide to sign, the release of our first full-length album would be in the fall of 2002. The negotiations are going in the right direction but nothing is sure at this moment.

The band name ILL FARES THE LAND is taken from the poem Deserted Village (1770) by OLIVER GOLDSMITH. Quote: “ILL FARES THE LAND, to hast’ning ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay”. Is there some language student in ILL FARES THE LAND perhaps? Tell us more about OLIVER GOLDSMITH and his works. Are there any other poets you like? Due to problems with the lay-out the lyrics were not printed in the booklet. Who writes them? What are the main topics? Where does the inspiration come from?

ILL FARES THE LAND means something like ‘Disease Reigns the Nation’ or something like that. Bart Put came up with that name. He is no language student but he just finished his education ‘musicology’, which comes in very handy when we are writing songs. I do not know where he got it from and I do not know much about OLIVER GOLDSMITH’s work actually. I am not really interested in poetry. If people would like to read the poem, I suggest that they search it on the net (I found it with YAHOO). There are many philosophers and other people who have interpreted it in a political way, but we just like the dark feel it has to it.

We asked a printing-office to do the booklets of the demo, but after almost two months, when they finally finished it, we were not satisfied with the result. All the details were lost because of the bad printing quality. We wanted to release the tape as fast as possible so we decided to print them ourselves. Roel writes all the lyrics. They mostly deal with the darker sides of mankind and the world. Also some anti-religious ones. Some titles: Heaven Denied, Insufferable Insolence, Signs Proclaiming Apocalyps. He gets inspiration from books and the internet I guess.

The demo was recorded in DYPRINS studios. Are you glad with the result and the co-operation? How do you look back on the 8 days you spent in the studio? Describe one day. MORTIFER recorded their CD in DYPRINS as well. What do you think of their music? What do you prefer, studio or stage? Can I be so impolite to ask
how much a studio like DYPRINS charges?

For our first release we are very satisfied with the result. Jeff is a cool and funny guy and we had a lot of fun working with him. He has a lot of experience and knows what he is doing. He also has the best coffee I have ever tasted! The days we spent in the studio were quite stressy because there were some problems with one of the recording devices. The tape was stuck in to it and Jeff could not get it out. He drove to the store where he bought his equipment to get the tape out. If that was not possible, all the work we had done would have to be redone. Luckily, the tape got out without damage. Jeff did not charge the extra costs and the loss of time due to the technical problems.

Usually, we went to the studio around 10 a.m. and we started playing after a couple of coffees (around 11 a.m.). Then we played some tunes for an hour or two. Around 1 p.m. we got some French fries from the local snack bar. The fridge in the studio was filled with beer so after lunch we drank a beer and continued. The demo is recorded practically live, so there were no moments that no one had nothing to do. Only the vocals were added afterwards. And Bart Put also played the bass afterwards, because we did not have a bassist. The day usually ended around 8 p.m.

I do not know how much Jeff charges, actually. But I think that he is a reasonable man concerning prices. Give him a call if you are interested.

Marketing. How would a slogan for ILL FARES THE LAND sound like? If you had to shoot a commercial for ILL FARES THE LAND, how would it look like? Suppose you had some kind of job application to sign to a big label, (how would your letter and curriculum vitae look like and) how would you convince them of the capacities of ILL FARES THE LAND? Promote yourselves for gigs! How much do you charge?

Filip from THE QUIESCENT described it this way ‘Brutal US sounding Death Metal’. I think that covers it quite well. Hmmmm, a commercial for a small Belgian Death Metal band, I do not have a clue what it would look like. But I think that the best marketing for bands is a good live reputation. One of the best ways to get your band known is to make people talk to each other about a show they have seen.

A job application to a big label??? As a band, you mean? I do not think you fill in a job application to get a band signed. Just send your demo a long with some infos and photos of the band and hope for the best. My curriculum vitae? Well, maybe if you ask me this question in 20 years I would have a longer one, but for now it is just ILL FARES THE LAND.

To promote ourselves for gigs, I would say that no matter what we always go for it.

We charge about BEF 3,000, but because we all really like to play shows there is always a possibility to negotiate on that price.

React to:

SCELDELANT

A nice underground ‘zine who reviewed our show with VADER. I found it when I was surfing on the internet and I think I ordered the last copy available trough LUGBURZ.

FIXXXER

THE FIXXXER is a Metal pub in the centre of Hasselt. It is located behind the city hall. It is the place where we hang out when we have nothing special to do. The owner (he is called Puke) is a young man who has his Metal heart in the right place. He plays all styles of Metal, including Death and Black Metal. The atmosphere is great there. For instance, if you are there on a Saturday night and there are just a few people in, he increases the volume and all the favorite songs of the visitors are played. You can imagine that when you wake up the next day your head is aching and your neck is stiff as hell. Puke also sells demo-tapes of beginning bands from the neighbourhood. He has sold a lot of our tapes and this is another chance we have to thank him. Last weekend he has organised a gig (FIXXXER FEST) in Hasselt. We had the chance to play there, a long with DESPERATION, CRAWLSPACE and CLENCHED FIST L.B. As you can see a very diverse bill. All bands that played are visitors of the FIXXXER. So we knew all of them and it was nice to be on stage with all of them. Headliner was ANCIENT RITES. After the fest there was a big after-party in the pub. I had a great time! If you should be near Hasselt some time, you really should pay him a visit.

THE QUIESCENT

Ugly people. They even have a female bassist! Just kidding. THE QUIESCENT is a great band from Diepenbeek (Limburg). Sublime melodic and fast Death Metal is their trademark. Great guys and good friends with a good sense of humor, so it is always a laugh when they are around.

Compose the ultimate album:

vocals: Mikaël Akerfeldt (OPETH rules!)

lead guitars: Chuck Schuldiner (best soli ever!)

rhythm guitars: Erik Rutan (Mr. Death Metal!)

bass: the guy from CRYTOPSY (f*cking nuts what he does with his bass!)

drums: the one and only Pete Sandoval

logo: something original like ZYKL*N

coverart: just a somber picture

label: LISTENABLE

medium (tape/CD/vinyl): CD (better sound) / vinyl (nice big lay-out)

What is your opinion on the fact that demos are released on CDs nowadays instead of on tape?

Every band can do what they like, but when we put our music on tape, it was because we thought that there is too much bad music coming out on CD. We thought that our music was not good enough to put on CD so we released it on tape. A tape has got that old-time feeling to it, but a CD has got a lot of advantages over a tape. So I am not sure if we will release our next demo on tape or on CD.

Is internet a good or a bad thing for the underground?

Internet is good for the underground I think. It is very easy to spread news through mail and things like that. Also nice to have an updated site (not like ours, but as I said before that is going to change!).

Anything else you want to say?

Thanks for the interview Gerrit, glad I survived your awfully long questions! This is a nice opportunity to thank everybody who has helped us during the past couple of years organising shows, buying/selling our demo, visiting our shows etc. We do not have merchandise yet. We do not even know if anyone would be interested. Maybe in the future…

Thanks, Jan & ILL FARES THE LAND!

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