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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Interview: Despicable Heroes


In December last year, the Dutch metallers of Despicable Heroes released their EP, Arrival. They also reached the semi-finals of the Dutch Metal Battle. At those semi-finals DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen interviewed their guitarist Kevin Bos and their vocalist Koen Vroom, which you can read below. In the end, they also won this semi-final, so they will appear in the final of the Dutch Metal Battle too.

Hey, congratulations with your latest EP, Arrival, which was released in December last year, it's really nice!

Kevin: Thanks!

Koen: Yeah, it's nice, right? We are also really satisfied with it.

Kevin: For sure! We are working hard and are very enthusiastic. It's doing great with some nice shows.

Koen: It gives us a boost in terms of productivity. We also really want to do shows again.

When you compare Arrival with its predecessor, Shipwrecked, released in 2013, what do you notice?

Kevin: There are less tracks, but the total album length is higher. Of course that means the tracks have become a bit longer. The most easy way to describe it is probably that we became more mature in creating and playing our music. Shipwrecked was still a bit of just being heavy and ramming in the direction of metalcore, even with a bit of hardcore. Now, we are just making real metal. So, the tracks have become longer.

Koen: They also became heavier. The idea behind it is that it has to be powerful. Besides the tracks being well-written they also are really powerful. That is our goal and I think we succeeded in that.

You (Koen) wasn't part of Despicable Heroes during Shipwrecked, right?

Koen: No, but we are friends for about seven years or something now. I did contribute my vocals to one track on Shipwrecked. That already was very nice and since that time we kept contact. When they played in the area, I often went to the show and joined them for a song. It's a really nice group. At one moment they asked me to join them as vocalist. At that moment I was too busy for it and it was too far away for me. A year later I got a relation with someone coming from Ede, which made it all a bit more attractive. I already wanted to join them and now it was with less distance. Earlier I was just worried about it costing too much. Now, everything turned in the right direction. So, that was when I joined them. It was already clear that it was a right match at the first rehearsal.

Kevin: For sure! First, we went to eat something with everyone, also to chat a bit with each other. At that moment we also knew it was the right decision. We even didn't need to do an audition.

Koen: I already knew I would fit in with the guys, in terms of how I am. We are friends, I knew I could handle their humor, I knew I could handle Kevin and I knew Kevin could handle me. A match made in heaven. It is super, I am really happy that I chose to join them.

On Shipwrecked you (Kevin) did the vocals. Besides that you already knew each other, was there another reason for getting a new vocalist in Despicable Heroes?

Kevin: At the beginning we started with the three of us, the drummer, the bassist and I. Soon I noticed that I was very busy with a lot of things. I was taking care of getting all in the right direction, talking between the tracks, tuning and playing my guitar and screaming, that cost me a lot of energy. The next step was that Sander, our guitarist, joined and I changed to doing vocals only. That went very well. In the meantime I was writing new tracks and we soon noticed that we needed a second guitarist for those. I wrote all that, so I also picked up the guitar again. However, that made me doing all those things together back again. So, it again cost me a lot of energy and I barely noticed what was happening in the audience. So, when we started writing Arrival I knew we needed a new vocalist. I also wanted to have fun and enjoy, we won't be the new Parkway Drive or something like that. Let's start with having fun, which means a guitarist joining and me doing vocals or a vocalist joining and me playing guitar. Unfortunately, it became the second option.

Koen: Yeah, I am sorry. I am not very good at playing guitar, otherwise I would maybe handle that.

You hail from Barneveld.

Kevin: Yeah, Gino (the bassist) and I hail from Barneveld, the drummer is from Lunteren, the other guitarist is from Ede, everyone a bit further away.

Koen: And I hail from Zevenaar, which is almost Achterhoek. So I am living the furthest away, but I also feel a little bit like someone from Barneveld.

Kevin: You are living in Ede for half the time.

Koen: Exactly, I am very often in Ede. We rehearse every week.

Barneveld is a place in the Dutch Bible belt. Is that something that gives struggles sometimes?

Kevin: No, not really. We rehearse on Friday evening, which goes without struggles. We aren't a satanic band or something, so we can do our thing. I don't have the idea that Barneveld limits us in that. In my opinion it's a nice contrast we can show to the outside, rather than it limiting us. Of course, we also were a christian band originally.

Koen: On the other side, we aren't getting subsidy from the church. They don't support us, but they also aren't against us.

Also congratulations on reaching the semi-finals of the Dutch Metal Battle which is tonight. How did the latest round go?

Kevin: It went great, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

I understand that, of course you won that round. However I meant how did the show go?

Kevin: The show went very well, we were the third band of the evening, just as we are tonight. We went to that show with the idea that we wouldn’t win, but just for playing a nice show. In the end we won the audience price and the jury price, that gives a huge kick in your self-confidence.

Koen: That was something really nice, we went to that show without expectations. We were pretty relaxed and had quite some fun with the other bands that evening. It was fun, we were all in it together, but we didn't begrudge each other. It was really nice and during the announcing of the winners you of course get a little bit nervous. In the end we first won the audience price, which we already thought because of the way that person was saying it. After that they again called our name because we also won the jury price. That was amazing, that we hadn't expected. We just had a lot of fun during the show. Apparently that was something that has been seen, which is nice. I think it means that you're doing great when you win without going just for winning. That of course is how it feels.

You also didn't expect that during the evening?

Kevin: No, there was a real good band before us.

Koen: The competition was strong. All bands were very difficult to compare to each other. One of them was very melodic, while we play less melodic. We have a lot of technical stuff in our music, but what is standing out is the lower and heavier part of it. Some other bands had the more melodic part standing out more. It depends on what the jury judges about or whether they judge about the total package.

Kevin: To hear your name two times afterwards is amazing.

Looking forward to tonight, what do you think about it?

Kevin: The same!

Koen: I try to not make it a competition in my head, but of course there is a very big price attached to it, which keeps staying in my head a bit. Of course we play because of playing our music, but the fact that there is a possibility to win it is always in your mind. I am not nervous right now, but I will be before our show. Of course those nerves will be back when the final band stopped playing and the jury will announce the winners. We just want to play our show for playing our music, which is something we also want show that.

Does that also include trying not to think about it too much?

Kevin: We just go to play a nice show.

Koen: We will throw a party during our show and we like to show that.

Kevin: The audience that doesn't come for a specific band, doesn't care about it being a band battle or not. We just want to entertain them.

Koen: We will see at the end of the evening which band wins. Of course it would be nice if that would be us.

Your music sounds like it has a lot of energy in it, how do you transform this to the stage at a gig?

Kevin: By being who we are to be honest.

Koen: We also get a lot of our energy from playing our music. Even during rehearsals it is difficult to stand still. We really enjoy creating and playing our music, which is in my opinion why it sounds very convincing. It is my outlet, I work in the home health care. There I am very calm and I have to be normally social. Here I can scream, jump, dance and everything I want to do and this is what I can put my energy in.

Kevin: We just go, when we are on the stage, the switch flips. We are on stage for the audience, the audience is there for us. So, just do whatever you like to do.

Koen: I think we are also very proud of our music. For us, there is no doubt about whether our music and our show are good or not. It's good to us. I think that we have some sort of self-confidence that we bring onto the stage because of that. I don't know whether that contributes to a better show or not, but to me it is something very important. We made this and I am proud of that. I am also proud to propagate that to people.

How do you prepare for a show?

Kevin: Beer.

Koen: Two beers to get on the right level and a bottle of water for on the stage. I noticed that I am getting older. When I played shows 10 years ago I could handle it a bit better compared to now.

Kevin: Time to exercise!

Koen: Exactly, I have to work on my fitness. It costs quite some energy, I for sure have muscle pain tomorrow. It is totally worth it though. I think I prepare too little compared to what I should do. That also is because I don't have any idea about how to prepare. I didn't have a vocal coach or something like that. If things will go very well for us in the future, that is something I have to look for. Until that moment we will just do what we like the most and in the way it works for us. After that we will see when that time comes.

Kevin: For sure. When preparing the stage the warming-up almost goes without noticing.

Besides tonight you already announced three upcoming gigs, can we expect more of them?

Kevin: When it's up to us for sure. We are already working on some more shows, but we can't tell something about that yet. Let's hope that, for example, Brainstorm this year is possible, that would be very nice.

You are also already working on new material, right?

Kevin: Indeed. The next EP is coming. We started working on it a few weeks ago. We are allowed to use two fantastic guitars build by Bo-El for that, which is amazing. Bo-El is a guitar builder from this area. This EP will be a bit more melodic than the last one. In my opinion it will be a nice step after Arrival.

Koen: We will look to what more we can get out of us. Trying to push ourselves a little bit further. Watching what more things are in Kevin's mind, he is mainly busy with writing it. The tracks are also very nice, again. It perfectly fits the direction we are headed in so far, but in my opinion it also adds something extra. Just a different flavor or something, which I really like. You can for sure listen to the tracks after each other or in a different order. They all will fit in our set for sure and that won't be at the expense of the energy.

Do you already have any idea about a release date or not?

Kevin: It will for sure take three months to be finished, so it probably will be autumn.

So, you (Kevin) are mainly writing. Where do you get the inspiration from?

Kevin: I do indeed. I mostly get my inspiration from other music. When I listen to a band, I often think about what would sound nice added to it. That idea is staying in my mind for a while and at some point I start working on it. Out of the blue I am sitting behind my computer and I suddenly get the right feeling. That's when I pick up my guitar and get for example a riff out of it. I'll bring it to rehearsal and then we'll work on it together.

Koen: Working on it, expanding it, trying different things that could be added to it.

Kevin: Yeah, that's what mainly happens in the rehearsal room. I often bring one or two riffs to rehearsal and we transform that into a track together.

Koen: It is also very nice to see how for example a guitar riff by Kevin gets picked up by the drummer. Kevin hears what he does with it and he maybe didn't have that in mind, but really likes how it sounds.

Kevin: That way we play things to each other. Two or three rehearsals later we are finished and have a full track to rehearse with the entire band.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Koen: We like to play gigs, so in case you have a nice festival or show: bookings@despicableheroes.com and also enjoy listening to our music on Spotify.

Kevin: Thanks DutchMetalManiac!

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