Roomthirteen take the time to get cosy backstage of the Brixton Academy on this cold and rainy November afternoon, and catch up with Ruud Jolie of Within Temptation to discuss tours, music lessons and their latest record

Room Thirteen: So you’re a band becoming bigger and bigger in the UK now, how does this make you feel?
Ruud Jolie: Obviously it’s an honour that we can play in bigger venues every time we come here, I think that it was only two years ago now that we first played at Derby in 2005 and that was one of our first gigs here, so that was not that long ago and now we are playing these Carling Academies where lots of legendary artists have played. So it’s great!

R13: What are your expectations for tonight’s gig?
RJ: That we’re going to have a great time together, not only as a band but also with the audience even though it’s big, I think the capacity is about 5,000? We’re going to make it a nice cosy evening tonight.
R13: You’ve already got quite a queue outside!
RJ: Really? Wow!

R13:Do you think this is going to be one of the biggest dates on your UK tour or do you think there will be bigger?
RJ: I have no idea, I think this is one of the biggest venues here so maybe.

R13: With this in mind, how has the previous tour been going for you and what is your favourite of the venues you’ve played?
RJ: Maybe it’s not so much venues but countries, there is a big difference between European countries and it depends. Scandinavia for instance have very big venues and nice food and everything is taken really good care of and the audience is really great, but the difference between the audiences of Northern countries and Southern countries is that in Southern European countries, say Italy or Spain, people go really beserk which is very nice for the band whereas in Scandinavia the crowds are just as lovely and enjoy it just as much but they express themselves differently. It’s not that it is better or worse but it is different. Actually last Saturday we did our biggest show so far in Holland which was a very big production in front of 8,000 people, that was really amazing and we’re still pretty flabbergasted from that even though we had two days off, but it was a nice experience.

R13: So you’re doing really well with tours, record sales and festivals etc. Did you ever anticipate it could be this big?
RJ: No, because as a band from Holland playing original music the main reason we did it was for fun. To become famous was never an expectation but it feels amazing, it is a dream come true.

R13: And I read that you’ve started breaking the USA, how does that compare to over here?
RJ: Well we’ve done two tours, one supporting tour with Lacuna Coil and one headline tour. There aren’t that many differences actually but the venues can be a bit dodgy, usually they don’t have showers and everyone who gets off of work wants to have a shower. We’re only human and it’s a line of work where you tend to sweat more I think but we had the good fortune to travel with some really nice bus drivers who let us take a shower in the hotel rooms, so that was a problem easily solved. The venues are smaller too, especially on the first tour that we did but the funny thing is that on our headline tour we were playing to a venue that held 400 people and then the next night one that held 1300 people, so it is a big difference to the 8,000 we played to in Holland for example.

R13: So you must be pretty busy, how does the band cope with such a busy schedule?
RJ: Fortunately we had a month off, although we were still very busy with promotion and interviews and such, but we were off the road and although busy it was very different way of being busy. How do I cope when I am on the road? I bring a whole stack of books and my Ipod, and I read and do interviews and that keeps me pretty happy.

R13: I also read that Sharon gave birth to a baby girl not long ago. How does the band manage to balance family life with band life?
RJ: Well that was already two years ago now, sometimes she comes on tour with us, her name is Eva Luna or Luna. Stephen the drummer also has a two and a half year old son, but the difference here is that Stephen’s girlfriend is at home with him where as both Luna’s parents are in the band. Usually she joins us, although she hasn’t on this tour and she has 6 nannies at the moment, but I think that is more a question you should ask Sharon and Robert.

R13: What bands are you personally into?
RJ: Myself? I have a couple of all time favourite bands which are Iron Maiden, Opeth and Porcupine Tree but also some country bands like Nickel Creek, I have a broad taste.

R13: That’s the best thing I think! I don’t know about other countries but over here certainly the band are generally considered to be within the gothic metal genre. Would you ever consider doing collaborations with such bands as Nightwish or Lacuna Coil?
RJ: Yeah why not if the result is going to be cool! I like to think we are an open minded band, we wouldn’t say no because we are considered part of the same genre, but at the moment we are all very busy separately so at this moment in time I would probably say no, but you never know!

R13: The thing that brought this to mind was the track ‘What Have You Done’ off of your latest album with the male vocals, it was a nice touch and I wondered if maybe there would be anything more like that in the future?
RJ: Who knows? *laughter*

R13: How do you think your music has grown and what have you learned as a musician and performer?
RJ: As a performer I have learned that I am in better control of my nerves now then before and am never nervous for a gig now except for the one on Saturday but that was an extra special one. I also know now that if I make a mistake no one can really hear it as long as I just keep playing and smiling, it will all be ok.

R13: Of the records you have worked on for Within Temptation, which are your favourites and why?
RJ: I only worked on ‘The Silent Force’ and ‘The Heart of Everything’. When I came into the band ‘Mother Earth’ was still enjoying huge success so we put off recording the new album. I am on the international cover of ‘Mother Earth’ but didn’t actually play on that album, not a lot of people know that actually. But, I would have to say ‘The Heart of Everything’ and I know that’s quite cliché as every band thinks of their latest album as their best but I think you can definitely see the differences. ‘The Heart of Everything’ has a lot more to offer in guitar work, more riffs, more solos, more picking etc so from an egosentrical view as a guitar player I have to say ‘The Heart of Everything’, it’s more developed and organic as a record and the songs are more developed.

R13: I agree, it’s definitely structurally heavier and complex and Sharon’s voice is on total form on this album which makes me curious, what happens if Sharon gets ill on tour? How does she look after her voice?
RJ: She has a bottle of Buckley’s which is good for vocals I’ve been told, I don’t know but it seems to help. But, if she gets really sick then we have to cancel because if I get sick I can just play but if she gets say flu or a cold then she could really damage her voice through singing, so unfortunately we have to cancel which we have had to do a few times. It happens but it is the best thing.

R13: Of the tracks on ‘The Heart of Everything’ what’s your favourite and why?
RJ: ‘The Cross’, because it’s totally different from what we usually do because it is the only song without an orchestra. It is interesting I should point that out because you might think I don’t like our own style of music because it doesn’t have an orchestra but that is not the case. *laughter* I just think that it is a really organic song with a lot of acoustic stuff, I have a mandolin solo in it. I also do some vocals so it was a very different feel for me and it was a lovely song to record. It has a really nice atmosphere and worked out really well I think.

R13:And very different vocals too!
RJ: Yeah! It’s nice with Sharon’s different techniques, especially the vocal breaks in the introduction, that little hook she does. It’s great!

R13: Do you have any tips for any aspiring musicians out there? If they wanted to get where you are what would they have to do?
RJ: Take your time, what I see very often is that bands can’t wait to record their first album but I often think that if they just waited, built on their experience and played a few more live gigs and be more critical about themselves it could make all the difference. You should listen to other peoples advice and try to use it to improve on what you already do, make sure your music is really tight before getting it out there. Sometimes you only get one chance to make an album so you want it to be the best it can be.

R13: And to finish, would you ever consider teaching music?”
RJ: I already do, short answer huh? *laugher*
R13: Thank you very much Ruud, enjoy the show!