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Sculpture

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Sculpture is the oldest Christian metalband in Holland that still exists. Started in 1991 they released two excellent demos which enabled them to do concerts in Holland and a tour through Germany. Last year, 1998, they finally released their first CD, Spiritual Matrix. It's an independent release, available through the band and in the US through CrossRhythms, in the Benelux through Fear Dark and in Norway through Nordic Mission. The band gave a CD-presentation in the Nighttown club in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as a support-act of Saviour Machine in September 1998.

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Interview with: Gerben de Rooy, bassplayer & Robert Hus, guitarist

Date: Robert Hus interview during the Sky High show of the 22nd of October 1998; Gerben de Rooy on   the 16th of   December 1998, originally for the magazine Solar System; the article isn't published so far.

Where: Over the telephone

Other bandmembers: David Verkaik (vocalist),   and Ardi Verkaik (drummer)

Band's hometown: Bodegraven, the Netherlands

Discography: Spiritual Matrix (1998)

Contact Address: see Links section

Interview by MPO

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How was the experience of playing as a support-act for Saviour Machine, while presenting your new CD?

Gerben: That was great of course! We met these guys (of the organization) at the Flevo festival where they were selling the Saviour Machine CD and these guys were busy with Saviour Machine and they had to take several secular bands in the program. So I asked them if they had enough bands for the night. Though they had enough bands they wanted one more band but the budget wasn't sufficient. So I said that we wanted to do our CD-presentation and he liked that idea. So, we did our presentation. And it's of course awesome when you have lots of people gathered. Sculpture is in fact quite an old band. We exist for seven years now. And the real metal die-hards all have children and are no longer into metal. So, you end up with a whole new generation of people who start listening to your music

Robert: Well, previously to the concert we were all pretty nervous. More than usual. Nighttown is quite a well known club of course. But we had an extremely great time. There were, I guess, two or three hundred people gathered, mostly for the headliner, Saviour Machine, but they enjoyed it.

But is the kind of people who show up at a Saviour Machine concert interested in your music?

Gerben: We had some good feedback, really. Before us Tefilla played so that was also a metalband. You could feel that people were there for Saviour Machine. But the feedback we got during our show was cool. The public was appreciative.

As a support-act, did you have a soundcheck?

Gerben: Well, that was hard. That's because Saviour Machine came in late. There were some troubles and also due to the fact that these guys of the organization did this for the first time. A band like Saviour Machine has high demands so they took quite some time for their soundcheck. Fortunately enough we could arrange the sound a bit during the Tefilla show which helped them too. We just plugged in and played and it went well after all.

Your debut-CD should have been released by the new label Low Roof of former Sculpture vocalist Arjan Nihot. Their logo is on the CD too but I'm told it's not an official Low Roof Release. Why?

Gerben: Indeed, it's not an official Low Roof release. We did two demos independently and of the first one we sold a 400 copies and of the other one 600. So, that went well and we had that as a basis. Low Roof was something very new still. They helped us get the CD done. Their graphic designer helped us. We do the distribution ourselves.

Low Roof didn't want to do that?

Gerben: Well, there were negotiations but at that time it was just too soon for Low Roof. They were nothing yet. And Sculpture had some experience already. The CD was ready to go to be pressed and then the negotiations were still going on. We simply wanted the CD to be out at the Flevo festival. We kept their logo on the CD as a token of goodwill and the distribution we handle ourselves.

You joined the band in early 1998 as a guitarist. Before this band you played in Beneficial. Now you're doing the bassguitar. How is that going?

Well, I'm a guitarist since my eighth birthday. Then I got my first guitar and I started playing the guitar. But I went through the music classes and there I also did bass and drums as part of my musical education. So, I knew the basic principles of playing the bassguitar. I joined the band in January as a guitarist. They were also looking for a bassplayer and because I borrowed a bassguitar from a guy in our church I started playing bass. And that fitted the band so well. It was of course quite a switch for a guitarist to do the bassguitar. Then I said I would do it with all of my heart. So I sold my Jackson and my Marshall is gone now. It was a quite a change to get used to but I wanted to go for the bass one hundred percent. It takes some time, you know. In the beginning I played guitarriffs over the bass, the groundtones. And now I'm more working with funk, concerning the bassrhythms, to get the real basswork. I have a bassguitar on which you can slam really easy and you don't do that with a guitarpick. So, I'm working on that. I will play with a pick for a while because there are some difficult and fast parts. Meanwhile I will practice hard.

With you doing bass, the band's only got one guitarist, Robert. How do you pull that off live because most of the songs on the CD are written for two guitars. How do you pull that off live?

Gerben: Yeah, there are several songs that were written for two guitars. "Grinding Sacrifice" for example and some parts of "Twilight Traps". But we are rather greedy when it comes to writing new material. There we do things differently. There we do it more with rhythmstructures common in hardcore. And that you can pull off live very well with just one guitar. And when we record a CD we do overdubs of course to make the sound more full. Bands like Living Sacrifice and Mortification do that too. But you have to be abled to pull that off live. Right now with the songs we play at the moment there are parts in which it's almost like it becomes quiet, especially during the solos. Then it's up to Ardi and me to fill that gap up with drums and bass.

Don't you prefer to play with two guitars for the extra power?

Gerben: It will certainly give more power. But the band as it is now we just like it so we keep it this way. Unless we meet someone we like and who fits in.

After the personnel change the sound of the band must have changed. The CD was recorded with second guitarist Walter Rietveld and bassplayer Stefan Rietveld who both left the band shortly after the studio sessions. Is the Spiritual Matrix CD representative for the current line-up?

Gerben: Well, we were sort of lucky that every single part was recorded apart. So, at the end of the day we could mix it with the four of us. Then the band was complete. And during the mixing process you can work on the sound and how you want things to be. That would have been different with the old line-up. That was not the case. We mixed it with the current line-up and we are satisfied with the result. In the studio I wrote one of the song "A Contemplation Of David". Vocally we changed our direction a bit in the song "No Respect".

On the CD there are four songs that were on the Death To Death demo of 1993. These songs sound quite differently compared to the newer songs. Why were these included?

Gerben: Well, that was what we choose at that time. It's all newly recorded and arranged. At that time the guys of the old line-up didn't have enough songs to make a full album also because the band had a few sabbatical years. So, they choose to record these too.  For us it doesn't matter because most people didn't know these songs.

Robert: For the real fans it's great to have these old songs on CD and for the new ones it's a something new.

According to your biography the CD is about the spiritual warfare. How is that worked out?

Gerben: Yeah, we added that to our biography because we didn't necessarily want to be promoted as a Christian band. You can read that in Aardschok (one of Holland's leading secular Hard Music mags, mpo). They never receive it warmheartedly. So, we want to be promoted because of our music. Our lyrics are about the spiritual warfare that you can have. We have an old song about Sodom and Gomorrah which summons not to fall for it. And "Spiritual Matrix is a song about our creator and then about Jesus Christ and finally about the holy Spirit. And "No Respect". Our guitarist heard a song from Pantera from the album Disrespect or something. On that he heard a song against God. Because of that track we wrote the song. If you don't have a personal relationship with God you can't judge. Later on they wrote that there can't be a God because people die of Aids. It has to do with the spirit of the age.

The review of your album in Aardschok was rather striking, I thought. It was quite positive. But your lyrics were left out of it. I got the impression that if the reviewer had taken your lyrics into consideration, the endresult would have been less positive. Is that a kind of feedback you hear more?

Gerben: Normally non-Christians say that don't listen to the lyrics. But I think that's bullcrap. You listen to it whether you hear something you can sing along too if you like it. And in the case of Aardschok it was written by a Black Metal specialist and then you know from what background he comes from. They are against Biblical principles of course and they want to show that. Still, I think he set aside his own musical preferences. That makes it a good review.

But, as he doesn't do anything with the lyrics, don't you think you'd better wrap it up differently?

Gerben: I do think he read the lyrics but he didn't agree with them. You can see that in Aardschok more oftenly. If it's a Christian band they burn it to the ground and it gets 35 out of 100 points. And bands from the Tooth & Nail label get bad feedback from that Onno Cro-mag. Then I think, are we dealing with music?

I don't agree on that. The guy you mentioned writes positive reviews of Tooth & Nail releases too.

Gerben: Well, you're right, you're right. But you see that frequently when a Christian band is concerned it gets bad reviews because they don't like the lyrics though the music is sometimes way better than from secular bands.

But take for example a band like Veni Domine. They have very plain lyrics but they get positive reviews and they were interviewed.

Gerben: Yeah, I don't know where exactly it's going wrong. Veni Domine is of course more in the rockscene and we are metal. If we read the lyrics of other bands they deal about sex, drugs and rock & roll. Or they have politically tinged lyrics. You don't have bands like Prong nowadays that write political focused songs. Most bands write against God or about parties. If a band writes about Christian values you are dumped. But that doesn't scare us off. We chose to put these lyrics on the album. We let most people just know about what we sing.

Last question. How do you look at the future of the band. All of you are married.

Gerben: Well, all of us are married and we all have children. Some of our children are about three or four years old. We found out that doesn't necessarily have to disable us to play. We will keep on playing. But you do have an extra responsibility. I don't see that as a handicap. Just because you have children, you see the values of live better. And then you see youths that are on drugs or alcohol, ruining their lives and then you see your own little boy and you think, "what if he ends up that way when he is old". I mean, you can't manage that. You can be an example for them but that doesn't have to mean that they follow your example. I would love to see that there are young people who are going to these places then too,  to preach the gospel. We all married quite young so we're not that old. So we can go on for a few years still.

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