We are very honored to present you the interview that Martin Van Drunen, the singer from Asphyx, gave to Rock Overdose and to Konstantinos Sotirelis. Martin talked about the band's upcoming album, which is called "Incoming Death", about their ex-drummer and founding member, Bob Bagchus, who left the band and their reunion back in 2007 and many more! Enjoy!
Rock Overdose: Hello Martin, welcome to Rock Overdose. How are you?
Martin: Hello, thank you! I’m very good! How are you?
Rock Overdose: Very good! How it’s going on the band’s side these days?
Martin: Very well! We ‘ve just finished the album, we see the first reaction and it seems that everybody likes it! So, I’m very happy about that! We are focusing on promoting it and to our first shows. So, yes, we are very excited and relieved about that!
Rock Overdose: Do you have any release shows for the album?
Martin: We are planning two release shows in the beginning of October and we’ll play as many songs we can from the new album because if we’ll have different shows like festivals, we don’t have much time to play all the songs we want to. In festivals we have to mix the songs, but on our shows we can play as long as we want to. So, we’ll do the release shows and it will be something special. We also have some other shows
Rock Overdose: Your upcoming album, which is called “Incoming Death”, is going to be released on September. How do you feel?
Martin: Very very happy. I’m pleased that it finally comes out! Things were weird when four years ago Bob Bagchus, who’s a founding member, decided to leave the band. First we were thinking that everything is over and we can’t continue without Bob. But he wanted us to continue. So, the only one who could do this job and could fit with us was Stefan Huskens from Desaster. So, first we had to work with him with the material that we play live. It took a while and one-two years ago we were finally able to write new material. That’s why it took four years after “Deathhammer”. And then we had no idea what it would lead it and how it would go with Huskens. But it the end the album turned out the way it is now and I’m very happy and proud of it and happily surprised as well. Because it was very difficult at the beginning.
Rock Overdose : How did you manage to write this album without a founding member and to get through all these difficulties?
Martin: First of all, Bob really wanted us to continue. He didn’t want to let the fans down
Rock Overdose: So, he supported you…
Martin: Yes, absolutely. He had to stop because he couldn’t spend enough time with his family anymore and he said my family is more important than the band which is normal. He has two boys and he couldn’t spend enough time with them because of the work and the band. We respect that, it was normal. But he said that we should continue. The “Deathhammer” was very good and the fans like it so he said please find someone to replace me. And he told us to ask Huskens. We knew that he is a fan and he could fit with us. We wanted someone to fit with us, we didn’t looking for the best drummer in the world. And then, of course, Bob agreed with that and Huskens was on it. So we had to work on it. He knew all the songs but we had to practice a lot with the old material first. When all the practice was done, we were able to start practicing the new material. But the procedure was just the same because Bob and Huskens work with the same way. The only difficulty was that we couldn’t practice that often, because Stefan had to drive 3 hours. But it the end everything was good. Huskens did exactly what Bob so it was easy for us.
Rock Overdose: Why did you choose this title? Does it mean something specific?
Martin: No, there isn’t a big philosophy behind it (laughs). I came up with this title because, it’s like a phrase that soldiers say on situations when a grenade is coming. Usually the American or the English soldiers who say “incoming”. It means an “incoming grenade”. So I came up with the “Incoming Death”, like Asphyx is coming. It’s basically a phrase that doesn’t exist in English (laughs).
Rock Overdose: Cool, that’s awesome, I like it (laughs)
Martin: Yeah, I mean that “Deathhammer” was exactly the same. It doesn’t exist in English. The boys liked so we decide to choose this title. There isn’t any philosophy.
Rock Overdose: What should the fans expect to hear from this album? Are there any differences from the previous one?
Martin: Well, there are maybe a few differences but you know, it’s still Asphyx. I mean we are a band like we don’t have technical experiments. But, compared to “Deathhammer” it’s a bit slower. On “Deathhammer” there were 4-5 fast songs but on this one there are less. But the songs have more variety. Also, the songs are more outstanding. The melodies and all these stuff are more melancholic and apocalyptic maybe. But there are not a lot of changes.
Rock Overdose: You know, some years ago, when you did some interviews for the Deathhammer album, you said that you like all the songs but there is a strange song, the Deathhammer, which sticks in your head. Is there any new song like Deathhammer?
Martin: Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe the title track is something like that, but it’s not the same with “Deathhammer”. It’s a little similar, but not exactly. There are a few others like the “Forerunners of Apocalypse” which has a really headbanging base like dan-da-da-da-da-dan. It’s one of the songs that if you are a metalhead, you just follow your instinct and start to headbang (laughs).
Rock Overdose: Well, we’ll see in a few days (laughs).
Martin: Oh, yeah (laughs). Exaclty. We’ll find out when we play live. Like Deathhammer, we didn’t know what will happen but when we started to play this song live the crowd was going crazy and we said cool, they like it.
Rock Overdose: Many bands reunite these days. Of course, Asphyx did it about a decade ago. Why do you believe that those bands reunite and why Asphyx decide to reunite back then?
Martin: I can’t speak to other bands, but for us it was basically because of a death metal festival with 10,000 people. There is a festival with extreme metal bands only, not with any commercial bands like Volbeat or something and no hardcore. They were pushing and kept on asking us every year to play there. They had a question for the visitors like is there any band you’d like to see live on this festival? And every year was Asphyx number one. So, after a few years of asking, Bob asked me if it’s possible to do it. And I said we can’t do it without Eric but he had other jobs and wasn’t into it so without Eric we said it can’t happen. So, I met Paul and we were drinking one night and we were a little drunk so he said maybe I can do it. I said are you sure? And the next day he woke up and said oh my god what did I say. So I called Bob but he said, no without Eric. And then, he called me back and said, let’s give it a try. And we said maybe we can do it. So, we did the show and it was an incredible experience with 10,000 people. We ‘ve got offers from other festivals so, we said let’s do an album. And there we go. Some bands that I like do these reunions and they are not as good as I expected but other bands are very good but I can’t speak for them.
Rock Overdose: I believe that the extreme metal sound is quite popular these days and maybe this word is not the appropriate, but it isn’t so underground as it was a few decades ago. Why do you think that this happens?
Asphyx: It’s difficult to tell. Underground scene always grows out of the underground. When I started with Pestilence for example, we were still doing tape trading, everything knew its other, everything was very small and we were friends. So, the scene started to grow up and more and more bands started to come out. Certain bands became very popular and other bands who worked really hard, didn’t make it and stopped. So, yes, death metal became really popular. Bands are playing for a few thousand of people now. It’s logical development. It’s like hip hop. A few decades ago it was just at the streets of United States but now it’s the number one on charts. The same became with extreme metal. I mean, not as big as that, of course. Let’s be honest, I’m not a big fan of these bands but, let’s name a band, Amon Amarth for example, 20 years ago, it was unimaginable that a band could be this big with this sound.
Rock Overdose: I think that there is no doubt you are the masters of doom death metal, especially for me. But you also have some fast songs. Really, which of these do you prefer?
Martin: Oh, it’s really hard to tell. I have no preference of that. I really like to play all these songs. I like all the songs on stage, there is no specific preference. Every song has a specific meaning for you when you are on stage, so I like all them.
Rock Overdose: So, thank you very much for this interview. Would you like to close this interview with a message to the Greek fans?
Martin: Yes, of course, thank you very much for this interview. Thank you very much for your support all these years. It’s always a pleasure to come to Greece. Let’s hope will come back again next year. The Greek fans are very outstanding. Thank you for the interview, thanks to Rock Overdose and stay metal!
For Rock Overdose,
Interview and transcription: Sotirelis Konstantinos