“I didn’t know if there was going to be another Within Temptation album, I just had to get away” - hmv.com talks to Sharon den Adel
It’s a been since we heard from Dutch arena-filling metal types Within Temptation.
After the release of 2014’s Hydra, the band toured hard, a tour that went all the way to the very end of 2016 with a huge tour in their native Netherlands. At the end of all that, the band were exhausted and agreed to take a long break. But the burnout turned out to be more than just sheer tiredness for singer Sharon den Adel.
When it came to beginning work on a new album, the singer couldn’t find any inspiration, and, when she was finally able to write, the songs she delivered were folky pop tracks, not the stomping metal of her day job.
Deciding that after 22 years with the band, it was time to try something different, she made a solo album under the name My Indigo. With her palette cleansed, den Adel felt refreshed and revitalised, ready to return to Within Temptation.
The result of that journey is new album Resist which sees the band bringing in new influences from pop and hip-hop, as well as working with guests like Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and In Flames’ Anders Fridén.
With the album out now, we spoke to den Adel about working through her issues and coming back to Within Temptation…
It’s been a little while since you last had a record out. In the time in between you’ve done a solo project and taken a long break, can you talk us through the journey back to Within Temptation?
“The solo project was a necessity. When I came back from touring Hydra, I was so tired of everything. We did so much travelling, too much. It hit me that I had been doing this for my whole adult life, more than 20 years, it came to a point where I felt out of balance. My Dad got sick and he didn’t make it, that made me really reconsider my life and seek a new balance. Tied into that, I didn’t know where I wanted to go with the band.”
Did everybody else feel the same way?
“They did, none of them had any inspiration to write a new album. I decided that I had to break away. I didn’t know if there was going to be another Within Temptation album, I just had to get away. I tried to write. That took a while, I was completely blocked at the beginning, I decided I had to give myself complete freedom, just to write whatever came out. And the songs I was writing were not Within Temptation songs. So I started My Indigo, it was me getting out of my comfort zone, it was music for myself and music I needed to make.”
How did those songs develop?
“I did the album with our producer Daniel Gibson, who has done all our Within Temptation albums. I wanted to do it for myself and I didn’t want to have to drag everybody else along with me. Daniel enjoyed doing it, we both enjoyed exploring. In the end, Robert (Westerholt, Within Temptation guitarist, songwriter and Van Adel's partner) joined in too. It was a great journey for all of us, it was an inspiring process and it was very inspired by urban music.”
Did the help with the new music?
“It brought us all back to Within Temptation. We took a lot of the influences from the songs of My Indigo. We’re not making urban music, not at all, but we have groove now. We were never a groovy band, but we’ve found a way to get a bit groovier. The timings, the rhythms, it’s in there now.”
What made you want to start working on Within Temptation again?
“I felt it again. I felt like I had something to say and I felt like a doorway back to the band had been opened. New influences from urban music, working heavy guitars with new production techniques, it’s sounds we’ve never used before, but it’s a real breath of fresh air.”
Were the rest of the band open to these new influences?
“It took them a bit of time. They came later in the process, they weren’t with me for My Indigo, they had to get used to it. But once they did, they got excited. They understood we needed to do something new, to get excited again and we were all onboard.”
You stuck with Daniel Gibson for the new record, did you ever consider getting a different producer in?
“No, when it works, it works. You have to respect that. He knows us inside and out and he’s the one you want to be by your side when you’re figuring out where to go next. He’s a very talented guy and a diverse one too, he goes from pop to metal and everywhere in between. He’s very open-minded and he’s always helped us get there. Why change a winning team?”
You’ve got three guests on the album, Jacoby from Papa Roach, Anders from In Flames and Jasper Steverlinck from Arid. You must enjoy collaborations, because you had a number on your last album too...
“We love them and weirdly it gets us a lot of criticism. I like working with other people, I love learning from other songwriters and finding new ways to work. People know what I can do, it’s nice to get new inspiration. Everybody brings something different.”
It’s the norm in every other genre other than rock...
“Somehow it’s a bad thing to do and most of the time when people ask us about collaborations, it’s framed as a criticism. But we like it and when you’ve been a band for as long as we have, you just have to go with what you like to do and what makes you better. I don’t see these collaborations as a weakness, it’s a strength. We like to open to all kinds of things.”
How did the track with Jacoby come about?
“I’ve always liked Papa Roach and his voice, but we had never met. We finally did, at Grasspop, we were next to each other. We started talking about art, oddly enough, and we had a nice connection. Then when we were looking for a voice for the song ‘The Reckoning’, I thought of him. He has such a great voice. We sent him the song, two songs actually, he chose ‘The Reckoning’ and he was great.”
“In Flames have been around for a long time and we’re big fans. They’re experimenting a lot at the moment, like we are. We needed somebody who could scream and he said yes he would. He’s not all over the track, but when he needed him, he’s there.”
“There’s also Jasper, he’s this great prog rock guy from the Netherlands, he’s one of the best voices in music. Opera, metal, he can do it. We actually met doing a TV show and we had a great connection. We did this song and we plan to do more stuff together. He’s what we go for, people with character who can bring something extra to our music.”
What kind of album is it lyrically? Is there a theme?
“It has a theme, but it’s not got one big story. It’s an album with quite a lot of political fire. ‘Raise Your Banner’ is a big one for me. I miss people protesting, people coming together, protesting the bigger things in life. There is so much to be angry about and people just do it on the internet. People should be on the streets and making themselves heard. A lot is going wrong with the world and it has given us a new fire.”
Is that where the album title came from?
“It wasn’t there from the very start, but it fits well. We really feel like we have something to say. In the past, we’ve based on lyrics on history, William Wallace, the second world war. But there is so much going that inspires us to write, we didn’t need to look back.”
What are your plans to take the album out live? You’ve got seven records to pick from now…
“We’re already playing five new songs from the new album and we want to do more. We’re trying to find the older songs that fit with the new ones. The big, powerful songs.”
You started the interview by talking about how burnt out touring made you, have you adjusted your plans to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
“I’m very aware of that and you need to keep evaluating it. It’s more cut up. I lost my Dad last year and I want to be there for my family, I need to be home. So now it’s two weeks on tour, two weeks at home. We need to find a balance. The whole band and crew have families now and we need to find a new pace.”
Within Temptation’s new album Resist is out now