Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with singer Sharon Den Adel of Dutch symphonic rockers WITHIN TEMPTATION. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: The music on "Hydra" sounds so much more organic. The sound is so much more rawer than on earlier albums. Has it matured in a certain way by letting go?
Sharon: Well, the case is more is the fact we let go of a certain way of songwriting how we used it in the past. Like, in the past, we had a certain idea about how we wanted to sound and what we were allowed to be within our genre. Nowadays we feel like with "The Heart Of Everything", we felt like we finalized this symphonic kind of sound we were searching for all those years.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: "The Heart Of Everything" was as far as you wanted to take that symphonic rock style?
Sharon: We couldn't add anything to that anymore. So we just let all boundaries go, musically, where we were not allowed to go. We are allowed to go now and we can write whatever we want. In the end, we'll see what will fit on the album and what doesn't.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Now you're just writing and seeing where the music takes you?
Sharon: Before, we'd start there would already be boundaries and that would limit you in your freedom to explore different things. It's like being in a box where you can only sound this way or that way. You really have real boundaries. Now it's like anything can come out.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: How would you characterize the "Hydra" album?
Sharon: With this album, it was more like letting that go. A lot of bands were inspired by the '80s at the time we were writing "The Unforgiving" album. There was a lot of music based on the '80s coming out and it had a lot of '80s flavors. With this new album, even though we're only a few years further up the road, you can feel that music has changed again. Music is not inspired on the '80s, but more like there are different influences in the music again. Music's always organic, and you feel things are changing comfortably.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: The influence of '80s music on "The Unforgiving" album worked so wel. Did you think you wanted to try another album based on the same sounds?
Sharon: When people asked us after "The Unforgiving", "Are you gonna make another 'Unforgiving' album?" we said, "Of course." Because we were really full of it in a positive way. We really like the album a lot and still do like it a lot but we really feel there's an '80s feel to the songs. When we started writing this album, again we felt like we were already knowing we were gonna go a different direction also.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Could you tell right away that "Hydra" was going to be different than "The Unforgiving"?
Sharon: When we had written the first song, which is actually the first song on the album, "Let Us Burn", it felt like it should be more guitar-orientated. We knew the orchestra could still be there and we could still have the symphonic element there but it's really minimized actually more than ever. When you describe what WITHIN TEMPTATION is, it's melancholy and heaviness. Emotion — real direct emotion in a way.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: "Tell My Why" has amazing harmonies on there.
Sharon: Yeah, I like it also very much. You can see there was experimenting a lot and also with [rapper] Xzibit, it was also again like we had a certain vision how there could be a crossover and keeping in mind AEROSMITH and RUN DMC at the time although it's a totally different song and totally different band. But we felt if they can do it, there must be a way to make also our music somehow crossover with rap. Not because we wanted to do something renewing (different) but we felt in an artistic point of view that it could really, really work with our kind of music.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Was it difficult finding that balance between the rap thing and rock?
Sharon: We just tried and tried constantly with several songs and just taking rap music from the Internet and trying it on our songs. For a lot of songs it didn’t work and finally we had this song "And We Run" and we felt like, "OK, this could really work with this song." Combining this with a rap kind of voice like Xzibit's, which is very dark and very heavy and has a lot of bass in it, was a good contrast with mine. He was like the perfect person to ask for this song and also because he already tried a lot of experimental stuff on his own things. He already tried rap with guitars and orchestration and we felt like, "OK, he's somebody who's really open-minded or open for this kind of collaboration."
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You reached out to Xzibit?
Sharon: We contacted the management and they contacted him, and pretty fast afterwards, we were talking to Xzibit. He heard the song and liked the song and we told him what the song was about. I must say I didn't talk to him, but Robert [Westerholt, guitar] did. I was still recording my vocals at the time he was talking to Xzibit actually on Skype. We never met so far, but hopefully we're gonna record a video soon for the song and gonna release that also.
Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.