Thank you for your time, Rick! Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself, and Martyr?
Of course. Rick Bouwman here, guitarplayer of the Dutch Metal Legends MARTYR. I raised the band already over 30 years ago , being a teenager. I discovered heavy metal mainly after the releases of KISS Alive 1, Van Halen 1 , those kind of amazing records, but before that I was already into Zeppelin, Sabbath and more old rock and metal bands due to my brother. So, MARTYR established in the early 80’s in Utrecht ( is till live there) when a bunch of friends with an average age of about 16 years old decided our country needed a true metal band that was varied and stood out to the already established rock/ metal bands at that time. Our goal: Metal with speedy and varied riffs and a certain high level of technicality.. A delight for those who love strong and heavy melodies.
MARTYR achieved that goal quite quickly as with the 2nd demo “Metal Torture “ the band was already mentioned as best newcomer metal band from Holland by Aardschok Magazine. And the demo was distributed all over the world which was the break-through for the band that dared to be different.
Not too many bands can say they've been at it for 30 years, that's pretty amazing in itself. So, word is is that you guys are set to release a follow-up to 2011's album, "Circle of 8"; how do you feel this latest material compares to your last record?
Yes we release our new album called ”YOU ARE NEXT” on March 31 on a cooperation with Into The Limelight Records and Pure Steel Promotion.
It has been 4 years since “Circle Of 8” and total time to make this album has been a process of around 2,5 years. We entered the studios already early 2014 to do 2 pre productions to get the proper feel on the songs and to determine which way would fit best to do this album. In September 2014 till August 2015 we did the recordings after which it was mixed and mastered by our producer Jack Nobelen.
The new album is again ,in our opinion, a big step forwards compared to the previous one. I think the songs are also a lot heavier and more dynamic. Productions I far better and all songs have such a great drive to it. Nice to know is that Rop (vocals) and I write everything at home to record and arrange it in ProTools so we have a clear knowledge of what the song should feel like. We then take it to the rest of the band to explain it and capture that feel we need the songs needs to have at rehearsals and in the studio. At that moment Rop has the global idea of the vocal lines , but the rest of the band did not hear it yet. That all came together in the studio where Rop’s final vocal lines are merging the songs to one.
The new album also contain some terrific guest musicians to make it complete.
I enjoy your guys' earlier work and always considered it unique, "heavy, and dynamic". Especially when compared to other bands of this day and age. With you saying this next record is going to be even bigger in scope, I can't wait to jam the new tunes! With the near-completion and distribution of "You Are Next", do you believe Martyr have accomplished(or will accomplish) what you set out to do from the band's inception? Personal goals, musical milestones, etc..?
Yes and i tell you why. We are so into what we want to do. I mean everything we do especially music wise we first must like ourselves and stand behind it for 200%. When after that our audience like it of course we are honoured but first we write the songs we want to hear and we want to bring. We always worked like that. That’s why the music was/is so different. Sometimes we hear that we use strange breaks, strange notes or not logical arrangements but it is all sorted out in a way that you still are able to follow the music , know what I mean? That is our goal.
Of course there is much more we want to achieve, we want all the world to hear the music , we want to play everywhere. With this new record we wanna grow again in doing more bigger festivals and travel abroad more and in different countries and other continents. In the 80’s, and still , as the band is so much influenced by japanse metal, we always said that we need to tour Japan. Another goal to be achieved.
A wide array of goals achieved and unerringly strived towards, I follow you. That state of mind is something all prospective musicians could take inspiration from. You mentioned Martyr take inspiration from Japanese metal; would you mind elaborating on that? What are the band's major influences? (old and new)
We often hear the question who our inspiration has been and as we come from the NWOBHM era most think it must be NWOBHM. It is not in fact , though we love it ofcourse , but our inspiration mainly came from US metal like early Queensryche, Warlord and others , but most important and biggest influence came from Japanese metal . Bands like Loudness, X-ray were big influences on the band. We still consider those bands to be amazing. You know, our fans favorite tune called “Speed Of Samurai” is a tribute to bands like Loudness. Currently we also listen to new bands, I mean we are 30 years further so yes other influences came along as well. Our musical influences nowadays can be diverse. From 80’s metal to more extreme bands like Lamb Of God and Slipknot for example.
Ahh, makes sense. I imagined the band to have modern influence, as well as older. Martyr seems to be rooted in a foundation of heavy metal, but doesn't pay heed to the defining genre restrictions. I get a very forward-thinking vibe from your music. That's why I find Martyr's tunes so refreshing, you don't stick to any one sound. Since we're on the subject of "old and new", what are your thoughts on the metal/ music industry? Has it changed much since the bands induction into the business of music?
It is hard nowadays for a band to get records sold as we all know. And besides that, the offer of releases is even then still tremendous. Every band can release a CD , compared to the eighties where a band with a record deal or a record out was something unique. On the other side , with internet , social media etcetera you can do large promotion activities and reach many people. But then again it is a challenge not to “get lost” in the amount of news and information fans are receiving nowadays on so many platforms and from so many bands. So I think there are pros and cons but as a band MARTYR has been and still is very satisfied with the way things are going now and were going back then.
The business industry changes when you look at record labels and venues for example. The offer of bands is so tremendous that I think it has been taken advantage of by f.e. asking bands to come and play for door deals or even pay to play. A lot of buy in tours are offered to us but in fact you are paying the costs of the nightliner for the main act. I think it is destroying the business a bit when bands are paying to play.
Metal itself has also changed which I think is a good thing as I respect everybody’s preferences, but it is just too much “labelling” the different styles of music and put it in “compartments” . In the early days there were just a few styles and it was more clear.
During your time as a performing artist, or even before Martyr fully came to be, was there any particular experiences or moments that truly inspired you to push on?
For me personally it all started when my brother borrowed a guitar. He didn’t play on it, so I did, and that’s when it started actually. Listening to bands like KISS , Van Halen and others i was inspired to rock on it and make a career in music. Of course I did my lessons but there is no better way to improve your guitar techniques and your musicality than playing in a band and listen to others. So in fact i need to thank my brother for not picking up that guitar.
And to finish off the interview... Are there any bands/albums you'd recommend our readers to check out?
Bands to check out are many , too many to mention so here are a few which I think our fans need to check out. Listen to the old skool bands like Raven , Loudness, old Queensryche who are all still kicking MAJOR ass by the way . The latest Raven and Queensryche album are f.e. really good in my opinion. Also still amongst my favourites and the production also still stands after so many years : Van Halen 1. Albums of some more unknown bands over here in Netherlands which i really love are Manimal (check out Trapped In The Shadows), Sevendust (all albums), Eyes Wide Open (new single Blindead is just awesome). Just check em out.
Have any last words for your fans/readers?
Well let me just thank all readers and all our fans for the continuous support over all these years. It is just awesome to see so many of our old fans , but also so many new fans supporting the band. A Big thanks !
We will bring you your daily dose of metal health. No need for the doctor's appointment because it appears that YOU ARE NEXT on our schedule.
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Thanks Rick / MARTYR