Spoil Engine, “We don’t feel that music should be a competition”
Interwiev by Carmine Rubicco and Benedetta Lattanzi
Spoil Engine are a Belgian metal band known for their technical thrash and groove oriented material. The story of Spoil Engine’s recent singer switch is common knowledge by now. Less commonly known perhaps is the fact that Spoil Engine celebrated Iris Goessens’ arrival with a rock solid EP. ‘Stormsleeper’ was launched in December of last year and if there were any doubts as to the new material or the new frontwoman, they were quickly put to bed. The 2016 incarnation of Spoil engine sounds different than before: while the ghosts of Killswitch Engage and In Flames are still present, they have been complemented with more melodic parts and clean vocals. Surprisingly, this doesn’t detract from the overall aggressiveness of the music. Iris Goessens’ excellent clean vocals on ‘Singing Sirens’ and ‘Weightless’ also open up exciting new perspectives for the band and this is something the likes of Arch Enemy have been considering for years.
1 – Could you introduce the band to the who doesn’t know you yet?
We’re a Belgian/Dutch metal combo called Spoil Engine. We’ve been around for 12 years, but we’re breathing a second life into the band since we’ve chosen Iris as our new singer. We’ve also broadened our musical pallet from pure melodic thrash to – what we like to call – modern metal. We played “Graspop” – the biggest Belgian metal festival – 4 times now. We did Pukkelpop 2 times and we did support for some of the biggest bands out there, for example: Motörhead, Megadeth, Fear Factory, Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, etc…
2- Your album includes contemporary solid death metal with hardcore influences. What are the bands that inspired you?
The guitar players in Spoil Engine are the main songwriters in the band. Everybody in de the band leaves his or her mark. But i believe the main musical influences are coming from us. ‘Gaze’ is a huge fan of bands like Carcass, Arch Enemy, Soilwork and some oldschool thrash bands like Slayer and Exodus. He was also founder of the legendary Belgian hardcore band ‘Deformity’. So the fast thrash parts and dual guitar harmonies are definitely his cup of tea. Although i’m also a huge fan of the oldschool stuff, i was totally in the nu-metal scene when i was a teenager, loving bands like Slipknot en KoRn. I’m also very into new modern metal acts like Architects, BMTH, While She Sleeps… so there are definitely some influences coming from those formentioned bands.
3 – Aren’t you afraid that your music can get lost among many similar proposals?
We truly believe that this is our best production ever. So we hope to make a markable difference when people hear our music for the first time. This is really the first time we have this massive sound. We’ve put a hell lot of work in this album. Everything single chord, drum hit, bass note was turned upside down. We also have a lot of layers going on, mostly in the choruses. Sometimes they’re not really audible, but we’ve added a lot of synths and other soundscapes to create a ‘thick and broad’ sound. Everything was mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nördström and Henrik Udd at Studio Fredman in Sweden. A couple bandmembers flew to Göteborg during the process. So we were ‘hands on’ with every detail of the production. We truly believe we’re playing a different ballpark now with this production and result.
4 – Why should a listener choose your album and not the one of another band?
We don’t feel that music should be a competition. People can listen to whatever they want! It’s all about personal taste. Some people think we’re too poppy… other listeners say we’re too heavy. But the songs we’ve made now are really something we’ve made from our hearts and if people appreciate what we do, we’re extremely happy with that! It’s all about getting your music to the right people, so we’re hoping that our label Arising Empire/Nuclear Blast can push our album to a wide spectrum of people, so that our fanbase can grow in Europe. Everybody knows our band in Belgium, but in Europe, there’s a lot of work to do!
5 – In Italy we usually think that live performances overseas are easier because there are more possibilities. Do you agree?
I think there are a lot of possibilities over here, but you have to get the right team behind your band to get the job done. We arranged the main part of our gigs by ourselves up till now, but it’s always difficult to convince organizers and festivals all by yourself. A dedicated booker, who believes in you, is necessary to get you on the bill at places you couldn’t have fixed by yourself. We do see that there’s always less room for metalbands. It’s a shame. Young metalbands have to fight to get their asses on a small stage, probably for no money and maybe some warm beers. We’ve never played overseas, but i think the problem as a beginning band is the same over there.
6 – Is the audience in your country aware of the bands that produce original music?
Yeah, there’s a lot of sharing going on and with all those facebooks adds nowadays a lot of bands are getting exposure that way. And honestly, i think that real quality will always surface. People in the scene talk a lot about new music or upcoming bands. Some bands just hit the right spot and have the right ‘momentum’ . Oathbreaker for example is a really original, hardworking Belgian band with an unique mix of black metal and post-hardcore and they’re growing really fast now. So there you go… original stuff is still appreciated and supported!
7 – How is the metal scene in your country?
There have been better times, i think. I see a lot of frustration in our metal community. There’s not really a lot of ‘metal’ airplay on our national radio. There’s a ‘heaviest list’ every year on the biggest rock station ‘Studio Brussels’, and then you’ll see a huge tsunami of promotion going on from a shitload of bands to get their song played. Musicians are really desperate to get their music to the masses. If you’re playing Graspop, it’s so much easier to get other gigs booked. But places for Belgian metalbands on the Graspop bill are very very limited, so you have to be very lucky to get the spot. But we do appreciate the efforts they’re doing. The main bill is spread from friday till sunday, but now there’s a pre-festival-day at thursday where Belgian bands get a chance to play Graspop Metal Meeting. There are also some other heavy festivals in Belgium, but there you see the same trend. A lot of international bands, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a spot for some Belgian metalband. It’s a sad evolution.
8 – What is the country in which you had best remarks?
We haven’t played or released music in other countries besides Belgium and The Netherlands, so we’re looking forward to seeing reactions from Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, etc… when we’re on tour in the summer/autumn of 2017, or when we’re reading reviews in local magazines!
9 – Do you make a living with the work of musicians? If you can’t, would you like it to?
Of course we would want to, but we have to be realistic. Nobody is buying cd’s anymore. Vinyl is trending right now, but we have to be fair… there’s no big money involved when you’re bringing out your music. The biggest source of income is merch. But to get your merch to the people you have to tour. And when a relative new band like us has to tour, it costs a lot of money. So it’s a difficult trade-off in how much you want to invest without getting your band bankrupt.
10 – A band for which you would like to be guest?
Hmz, personally i’m a huge Machine Head fan. I would love to support them. In Flames or Gojira would be crazy too! And when it gets really utopian… how sick would it be to open up for Metallica. They had a support act contest for their run in Denmark. Local bands got the opportunity to play with hem. That’s awesome! Hatesphere got the gig. That must have been beyond imagination for them. Too bad we’re on tour when they’re playing Belgium! Hahaha!
11 – This one is a “Tempi-Dispari Question”: If you were to interview any artist or band, who would you like to interview and what would you ask?
I think that would be James Hetfield. I really have no clue if he knows something about musical theory. I’m a self-taught guitarplayer. Those guys really wrote some masterpieces. If they’ve done that without any knowledge of musical theory, my admiration for what they’ve done would be even bigger. And maybe i would ask him all the details about the backstage action back in the days. Nowadays, everything is within seconds on youtube or facebook. In that time, there were no cameras or other fly-on-the-wall go pro’s, so i’m sure they have a lot of tasty stories about their backstage time. Maybe we’ll be inspired to set some lifegoals for the upcoming tour!