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Sculpture

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Since their 1998 Spiritual Matrix CD it's been quiet around the oldest Christian metalband in Holland. I expected Sculpture had planned a new record when I had the chance to speak with them at the PeaceDog Festival. However, I found them in the middle of a "midlife-crisis", if you can call it that way. They didn't loose their sense of humor though as the interview was interrupted with loud laughter frequently.

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Interview With: The whole band

Date: July 26th 2000

Where: At the Peacedog Festival, Ede, The Netherlands

Bandmembers: David Verkaik (vocalist), Robert Hus (guitarist), Gerben de Rooij (bassist) and Ardi Verkaik (drummer)

Band's Hometown: Bodegraven, The Netherlands

Discography: Spiritual Matrix (1998)

Available Through: Sculpture and Fear Dark

Official Website: Sculpture

Interview By: mpo

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How is it going with Sculpture?

David: Well, with Sculpture we're a bit awaiting things recently. We are looking how and if we should continue on and in which direction we should go on. Whether we should go on or not and how it all connects with each other. So, we are awaiting how things are going to be.

What are the chances you are looking for?

Uh, not really chances. That is all up to the amount of energy you put into it. Especially the question where we should put our energy into is important. Also the personal things, as we have enough on our hands. And with this we are wondering "should we go on or not". It's mainly a spiritual business: "Does God want to use us as a band or are we the ones who want to go on?" And that's what we are still looking for.

And, Ardi, how do you think about this?

The same. We stand shoulder to shoulder.

Last month you played at the Baroeg for example. That is of course an excellent chance to present the band in a secular club. The band's show was very well received. Also the organization was quite satisfied with the band. As you are considering the question whether to continue on or not, is that also something you've keep in mind?

David: Yeah, these are things we are looking at. When doors are opening you'll have to decide whether you'll go in or not. This concert came on our path. We didn't do much about it ourselves so we picked it up. And it's also to look if this is something for us. And for one third it was a confirmation, in a sense. These three concerts (Baroeg, Peacedog Festival and Freakstock, mpo) that we're doing are things for us to look for clarity.

A confirmation of what?

David: A confirmation whether we should go on or not.

Ardi (off-handedly joking): From?

Robert: From whom?

David: From the neighbor!

Ardi: Noooooope!

David (pretending to be angry): Well, if you think you know anything better why don't you do the talking!

Is there some interest from recordcompanies besides Fear Dark?

David: No. No, right, Gerben?

Gerben: No. And that's not what we are busy with.

Isn't it disappointing? You release a CD, try to get some attention.

David: It depends how much you expect from it! You can only get disappointed when you have high expectations. The higher the expectations the bigger the disappointment may be.

The band exists since 1991. You are married and besides that you all have busy jobs. How is it to continue on with the band? You do have certain responsibilities within your marriage and you have your jobs. Is it easy to go on with Sculpture. You are already wondering whether to go on or not.

David: That is not something linked with it directly. It's more like "Does God want to use you". Perhaps God wants us to go to Amsterdam and do some preaching there. Is that what we need to do? And how do you know it? That is the question of course. It is the question how you can be used. It can be at your work too. We all work. We practice as a band only once every week. Only half an hour perhaps and for the rest we are chatting all night (laughs loudly).

You are looking for answers in a spiritual direction...What are the questions you ask yourself?

David: Whether God wants to use us this way and wants to continue using us. Because after the Flevo Festival last year it all became quiet around us. And Flevo wasn't a good experience for us in fact. A very tiresome one. That was one of our worst concerts. And we had struggles with the organization. In the end we didn't feel like doing it. It was a bit disappointing. And then things slowed down until we began wondering and then we finally had three new gigs.

Does it have to do with the CD being quite old? Two years old. Do you get response about it or is it a dead thing?

Gerben: Reactions are still coming. The export is still going. In Holland the people who like it have the CD of course. Through the internet I still sell some CD's every week. And recently I sent a bunch to various organization in America like Rowe Productions, the new office of Rowe Productions in America. On those CD's you can find our message too and this way it will reach the people. So, that goes on of course.

Robert: Old is not really the case, I personally think. It only goes for the very great bands who bring out a CD now. In September they should have sold most of it and after three months it's old. For bands on a festival like this one it doesn't go like that. If you bring out a CD without a big company to back it up then it may take two to three years before you come with something new.

But it is true that the songs are old. There are songs on that CD from the second demo and in the meanwhile you wrote a whole bunch of new songs. So, in a sense they are old.

Robert: In that sense they are old but for someone who hears them for the first time it's all new.

But then the first CD of Larry Norman can be still new too.....

Robert: On the other side we as a band don't make music focused on the time we live in. We just make what we like and that's what we are playing. And if that's linked to this time, we don't consider, do we?

David: No.

Gerben: In fact, there are no ten other bands who play like Sculpture. There are four songs on the album which are like the old death metal. But a song like Spiritual Matrix isn't a song of which you can say: "this and that band sounds like that too." So, throughout the years we created a certain sound with which we began writing our other songs. In that perspective is this the Sculpture sound and then you don't have to expect all kinds of idiotic changes. This is what we play and we enjoy it and we are feeling happy with it. So, it just grew that way. We as a band don't have the intention to move on.

There's a sampler CD coming up through Laceration Productions with one of your songs on it. What do you expect from that?

Gerben: That CD will be released soon and it will feature quite some new bands. It will be promoted secularly really well. The cover of the CD is already on the internet. In principle  I expect a broader interest in the band. That people will say, "hey, great band, I buy their CD". The song No Respect will be on it. It should have been released last month but a couple of bands were late with sending in their material. I hope to have it before Flevo. I don't know. I did get an E-mail saying they are going to do the printing. But they didn't mention the releasedate for it.

You were featured on a couple of other compilation albums as well like the Fear Dark sampler and 2000 The Second Coming and....

Gerben: We were on 2000 The Second Coming of Dwell Records. We were on the HM Magazine Sampler. We were on the Fear Dark sampler Glory Hallelujah Amen and we were on the Cross Rhythms Music CD.

And how was the feedback? I can imagine that being on the HM Magazine Sampler had a lot of impact as many people will receive them. Did you get many reactions on that?

Gerben: To give an example: Cross Rhythms Music already did order some CD's from us. But I think they now have bought from us 200 CD's. And for us that's a lot as we only had a little more than a thousand copies made. So, for us it's quite a lot. So, that went well. The Fear Dark sampler is something else as we already had the CD released in The Netherlands. It was just fun because the Dutch scene that existed around that time is on that CD. Actually, we are almost the only band that still plays live. It was also important promotionally. When others send a copy to a youth center then they could see which bands were active. From that point of view it was a good thing, promotionally.

So it had a positive influence, that people said "hey, this band is still active". Coming back to what we discussed earlier, the question whether to go on or not, does this have an impact on the whole issue?

Gerben: You can always say "wow, I play in a band." But the band exists for ten years and then you can feel like, "I had enough." This is not for me as I'm in the band for a short while so I don't feel that way. But we could use our time differently. All four of us are part of the same church. And there we have our tasks too and we could make them priorities. So, it just depends on where God wants you to be. You can do a lot yourself, but is it blessed? Blessing is not something that comes forth automatically when you do something. If you are willing, then you'd like some guidance as to where you can be of meaning.

Do you feel like there's still a blessing on Sculpture?

Gerben: Well, we're in a position right now that we are looking for it. Not to take the steering wheel ourselves and move on to some place. But to expect it from God. And I have most contacts outside the band and then you receive E-mails from young people. And at the concert in Rotterdam at the Baroeg I spoke with a thirteen year old guy.  He was allowed to go to the concert with his father. Well, then I think this is really cool. This guy could have had all kinds of secular bands at home. He just liked Sculpture and then you can be important to this little guy by pointing him to the lyrics of the band which go further then this temporary life.

Do you think that the music you make can be a blessing to people? Not only for them to enjoy the music but even more than that?

Gerben: I think so. You mean if this music we play can bring over the message? Well, I attended a Sculpture show before I was part of the band. That was in Almelo at the Poort Van Kleef. And that night Decision D played and Sculpture. And while Sculpture was playing I was in the middle of the crowd. And someone gave me a push and this guy suddenly said: "Hey, they sing about Jesus!". So, the music is not really important. You can still bring over the message. And then it can be as hard as you like. It's the culture of those young people. And they understand as easily what Metallica sings about or Deicide. They all understand it. And then they cry out that it's not about the lyrics. But they do hear them. They don't play anything else. If you don't play anything else but Bach or a certain opera, then you know exactly what they are singing about. For them it's not gibberish. To me an Opera often is just gibberish but those people know exactly what it is about and they simply feel it. And that is the same with our music. So, you can make as much noise as you want but I still think the message will come across.

Do others in the band feel the same?

David: Well, what Gerben says is true indeed. But speaking about being a blessing, we have experienced in recent years that we more occupied with the bands we played with, also Christian bands and guys in organizations, trying to be encouraging to people, then to evangelize. And that's remarkable. That as soon as you arrive you start talking with other bands who are operating secular and who never go to churches. And that you talk with those people. And it's remarkable as in the first place we should evangelize to people who don't know God at all. We have seen a difference, as that was a big deal of our task in the last few years.

Robert: And also the mutual bond within the band. I personally see the band as 70% a strong mutual bond. I don't see the band playing big stages and lots of fans and blahblahblah. It doesn't interest me. What interested me and still interests me is the bond we have with each other. On one hand that's one of the biggest reasons for me not wanting to stop. You can do your best to organize a concert and I think that a concert like the one at the Baroeg is certainly blessed. And perhaps not directly the concert itself but everything that happened during the concert, before and afterwards. I belief that God blesses it but what I say is, at one point you'll have to put it down before God when you want to go on. Because it's a small effort to call a whole bunch of clubs to play there but if God wants you to be there, he will put you there. That's how we want to get out to play. We do play a very extreme kind of music. If you don't long for God's guidance then you won't go to the places where you have to play. And that's where you have to be, I think. So, something like the Baroeg or that festival in Germany (Freakstock, mpo)

And in case you decide to go on, is that what you want to do more? To play clubs like the Baroeg?

Ardi: Yeah, to go to secular clubs more. At Christian festivals you always meet the same people. You see the same faces and that's a pity when you want to bring the gospel. You need to be at places where people are who never heard of God before. That's one of the goals of the band. But besides that it's also good to be an encouragement for Christians. Sure enough!

David: You do indeed see a lot of folks who never go to a church. So, you get stuck in a Christian environment but to be really devoted, that's not what's happening. When they are at home they are surrounded by their troubles again. And every once in a while they can forget about them when they go to a concert. They like it and it does them well. But at home they fall back into their miseries. God can use us for this too.

It might be that the band has the function of a rolemodel. Like "hey, they're Christians and they dare to be frank about it and they make loud music". It can be encouraging too.

Robert: Oh, yeah, that's is true all the same. And it's generally accepted at the worldly places where we come. People simply don't understand it.

Gerben: We played in Veenendaal. And there was a secular band too and we talked with them. And they were surprised. "Are you going to church?" And "I used to go to church but I wore a leather jacket and was kicked out of it." That way you get a conversation and they see it can be different. And that's wonderful. And when you talk about it quite frankly then they don't reject you for nothing. Then they are really anxious to hear more. And they start asking more questions. And we answered their questions. It wasn't like us trying to convert them because that's a work of God. That's not what we are for. We only can be a tool in God's hand. And that you could see then. They just came to us and started asking questions. At other concerts we don't see it happen as clearly perhaps. And when we have a concert we just go to the place and see what happens. We don't have high expectations previously. Perhaps now we have as we want to be confirmed whether we are on the right track.

Ardi: It's simply important to get an answer. Not only for us to go on but also if we stop. I think you simply can't stop something you've done for so long while you believe that God put us together. And kept us together these ten years because that wasn't easy either. We had quite some rows (laughs loudly). So, when we stop we want to have the answer to that too.

The band is the oldest Christian metalband in Holland too.....

Ardi: Perhaps the only one....(laughs)

...So that the band is a binding force for the scene perhaps. Sculpture as a figure-head.

David: Then there should be a to-be-continued.

Robert: Sort of a Jerusalem.

David: Yes, that is my dream. To be used like them.

Ardi: Then you'll have to go on for another ten years! (laughs)

David: Then we have to go on for ten years indeed. I always said that, I don't know. After all these years, what has it been good for? We talk a lot with each other and we get along with each other very well. How can God use us when we don't back up each other. It's so easy to chat about each other. But if you really have a bond with each other, if you are there for the others, then the first thing you can testify of is: Jesus lives. That regardless of the problems you help each other get through. That you go on and make God the priority. I believe that that's the most important thing. And we don't necessarily have to go on. When you are twenty you like being in a band. But we do have different lives. We have our jobs and our children and plenty of things in our church to do. We are willing to lay these things down when God makes that clear to us. Look, when you want to be used by God then God is very glad with it. But in what way? Is it something I like or something he likes. And that's a search. If we get the assurance tonight to do something, perhaps even to.....Well, I don't want to mention something scary....but then we're willing to do so. But this guidance is the most difficult part. And that's what we experience as a band. But we have to keep faith and we will find a way through.

Gerben: You could see it with the apostle Paul. He went to some place and the Spirit drove him into the other direction. In the end he only could go that direction. And we are looking for our directions and God knows where we will go only we don't (laughs). So, we are willing to walk on just like Paul. He went away not knowing which way to go. And when it became clear he already had passed three boundaries. So, we are awaiting for guidance.

Ardi: But we make a lot more noise then Paul! (laughs loud).

And the music style....

Robert: We found out, and perhaps that's interesting to know, that we can't play anything else.

So, no Britney Spears type of music?

Robert: No, funky stuff, we can't play them!

Gerben: Honestly, we tried. At one point we were sick of it so we thought, "let's play some other music style."

Robert: Yes, softer. We tried Blues.

David: Only trying!

Robert: Yeah, messing it up. We can't get it out of us, eh?

Ardi: Nope!

Robert: So, we go back to the basics!

So, if you decide to go on with the band, are you gonna make a new CD?

Robert: If we go on......

Ardi: No, because he sold the mixing table! (David and Ardi laugh loudly)

Robert: No, but then I want to be honest. If you go on, then we go for it. Then you go for that too.

David: Yeah, because you can't live on that CD for another five years! So, how many new songs do we have? Four?

Gerben: Well, we have five new songs of which the last one we have to work on a little. And we put four of them on tape in the rehearsal studio just to hear how it sounds like on CD and to work on them a little more. When we have decided to go on we can write new songs in no time. That's never been difficult for Sculpture. So, we do have five songs at hand. My biggest wish is to record them. But, we'll see.

Perhaps it's an idea to record one of the new tracks and try to get it on a sampler and see if it opens doors.

Robert: Financially that ain't worth it. You always have the overheads. Overheads are the studio costs. You have to adjust everything. These are the costs you make and then you have to do the recordings. Then you'd better do some more. Then you have a complete album.

David: You can record four songs in one day too.

Robert: But on the other side, we've brought out a CD and we want to bring it to a higher level quality-wise the next time. That's the experience we have. The first demo was okay. The second one was a little better. The CD was much better. So, when we do another CD it has to be even better than the first one. We did everything ourselves so we have quite a lot of experience. So, I think that when we record a second CD it will be better. But one song is only to keep people warm.....

Gerben: I have been thinking about recording those five songs and perhaps do a CD with another band. That's been some thinking I did. But now we'll just see. If we go on, we will record them though.

Last question. The future of Sculpture one big question mark?

Robert: One big expectation!

David: Right!

Robert: We are expecting, not personally. I think I can speak for everyone. We are very anxious to see what God will do. And whatever it will be, we'll see. But it all may be beautiful. It's important that you'll do what God wants from you and that you don't do it yourself.

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