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Progressive Rock Interviews

In-Tension

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with In-Tension from 2006
MSJ: Editor's note - we normally don't credit answers this way, but the interview was done via email and the band wanted to credit two members with the first answer, so we'll do it that way.
MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of the band?
Maarten Spoor and Nelis van Lierop: The band started back in 1998. Nelis, Maarten and Ruud are the only ones from that period that are still playing in In-Tension. We had another bass player an additional guitar player and a male singer at that time. We started playing music that was heavily influenced by bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X and of course we covered some of their songs. Our own material tended towards quite technical progressive parts which were a lot of fun to play, but not easy to listen to. We changed line-up every year with Nelis, Ruud and Maarten being the only constant factor. We tried with another singer/guitar player, another bass player, with two guitar players (without vocals) and with another female singer but every time we got stuck writing new material. This all changed when Robin and Noor joined the band late 2002 and we changed the name from Symphus to In-Tension. Basically we just threw away all material we had already and started writing new stuff. The only song that is left from our "Symphus" period is "Mind's Illusion.” The biggest difference between “Symphus” and “In-Tension” was that, from this moment onwards, we consciously tried to develop our own style instead of just writing each song from a new angle. This was also the reason we wanted to change our name in order to make a fresh start. Robin, Maarten, Nelis and Ruud were playing in a Dream Theater cover band named Images and Dreams at that time and Ruud and Robin both were studying at the Rockacademy in Tilburg. As a graduation project they had to record an album, which is how we got to write music for Fragments. We wrote the album in one year and found a great producer in Pieter Kop, who is the sound engineer of the Ayreon/Star One/Stream of Passion live shows. He has really helped us in developing our own sound and we're still quite happy with the resulting album Fragments. Some time after recording Fragments Robin decided to leave the band and we found another bass player, Pieter. Pieter has some other, non-prog influences that add to the type of songs that we're writing at the moment. The plan is to start recording a new album by the end of this year or the beginning of 2007.

MSJ: I know artists hate to have their art described or pigeonholed, but how would YOU describe it?
Maarten Spoor: Hmmm... I'd say atmospheric progressive rock.


Nelis van Lierop: I agree with Maarten though I think there are some parts which are heavily influenced by classical music too. In our new work we try to combine extremes by alternating between heavy rhythm/guitar parts and mellow classical parts.
MSJ: What are your musical influences, both personally and as a band?
Maarten Spoor: Personally, of course there's Dream Theater, that have inspired me a lot. As a teenager I used to listen a lot to Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, Vader, which made me want to be a solid, fast metal drummer. The past few years I mellowed out a bit in taste, although I still listen to these bands. But now I like to listen to bands like Sting, Terry Bozzio, The Gathering, Devin Townsend and Faith No More. I also like some dance music like Underworld or Kong and I like many bands from the 80's like Tears for Fears and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. As a band our tastes and influences are quite diverse, varying from Pain of Salvation to Satie, from U2 to Primus, from Devin Townsend to Dream Theater, from Tool to Bozzio and from Symphony X to Nightwish.


Nelis van Lierop: I have always been influenced by classical music like Bach, Satie and Vivaldi due to my classical piano background. Kevin Moore’s intro of Dream Theater’s “Metropolis part 1” was the main reason for me to start playing synthesizer in a progressive rock/metal band. Other musical influences are: Liquid Tension Experiment, Symphony X, Planet X, Chroma Key, Warmen, Rammstein and Fear Factory.


Ruud de Boer: When I began playing guitar I was very much into metal. Bands like Death and Pantera really blew me away with their powerful and melodic guitar licks. These were my first influences as being a guitar player. Later on I discovered bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X and Sadist. By listening to these bands and playing their music I developed my technical skills on the guitar. I also listen to bands like Pain of Salvation, Sting, Dire Straits and Queen. All those bands are using their knowledge and skills to make songs which are among the best ever made.


Noortje van de Voort: Musical influences for me are: The Gathering, Nightwish, Within Temptation and Pain of Salvation. Within Temptation was an eye-opener for me. Their music really affected me and especially the voice of Sharon. I listened to their music every day and that’s why I think that Within Temptation has had the most musical influence on me. At this moment I listen to Pain of Salvation a lot. I really admire Daniel, the singer of Pain of Salvation. His voice is unique, he can do anything with it and it’s full with emotions.
MSJ: Are there musicians out there with whom you would like to work in the future?
Maarten Spoor: Yes, many! I would love to work with Russel Allen, I think he has the most magnificent male rock voice I've ever heard. Furthermore Arjen Lucassen, whom I admire for his creativity and nice sound. Derek Sherinian, Sting, Tony Levin, I think just about all musicians that are playing in bands that I admire - too many to mention here.


Nelis van Lierop: I would really like to work with the following artists: Kevin Moore, Devin Townsend, Derek Sherinian, Russel Allen, Arjen Lucassen, Yann Tiersen. Of course I don’t know if I’m worthy enough to waste their time.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
Maarten Spoor: I'd say the major labels have created their own problems. With the introduction of CD's prices went sky-high and never went back to the level of vinyl. For a big part they depend on teenagers, and teenagers simply don't have the money to pay 23 euros or something for a new CD. These prices are ridiculous. When I was a teenager we would rent CD's at the videoclub and tape them on a cassette. Nowadays people download songs because it's easier and completely for free, but for me, when an album is really good, I'll buy it anyway. And if I like a band's music I'll visit their concerts anyway. So there are pros and cons on downloading. Pro is that it's easy to get exposure as an artist; con is that you'll miss some income.


Nelis van Lierop: I agree with Maarten. I think the problem is also caused by the fact that it is quite hard to find places where you can watch your favorite musicians play their music (at least in the Netherlands). Moreover, the entrance fee is often very high. Much of the popular music cannot be played live any way (computer generated) which makes it harder to identify with a band. Therefore, it is easier these days to forget that there are musicians who depend on selling their music.
MSJ: What's ahead for In-Tension? Touring, more recording?
Maarten Spoor: Since Fragments, we have finished writing almost an entire album. As I mentioned before, we plan to start recording by the end of 2006 / start of 2007. Until then, we will play some concerts now and then. Then we'll hit the studios and after that we'd like to promote the new album as much as we can by playing. Also we want to use the second album to promote Fragments again, because I think we didn't do well with this. We could have reached a far bigger audience in my opinion, but we just didn't do it - so more promotion, definitely.


Nelis van Lierop: I think Maarten covered it all. Some support from a label would be nice to help us achieve these goals. Unfortunately, we have had some bad experiences with the music industry so far.
MSJ: Where did the name In-Tension originate?
Maarten Spoor: I hate to admit this, but I forgot.... Last year a DJ asked me this question live on radio and I really started telling some crappy story that didn't make any sense at all. I talked for about 5 minutes about Tensions and Intentions and in the end he said: "So basically it just means 'in tension'?". "Uhmm. Yeah, basically". Hehe, so I hope Nelis can help me with this one.


Nelis van Lierop: Let me solve the mystery. When we where brainstorming about a new band name I was listening to Liquid Tension experiment. As far as I know I was slightly influenced by their name. The summary Maarten gave of his 5 minutes radio explanation is another reason. It is also a dodgy translation of two parts of the Dutch word “inspanning” which means something like great effort. We thought that was appropriate because we certainly like to make life difficult for ourselves. Moreover, we just thought it sounds nice.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
Maarten Spoor: Last CD I bought: Rammstein - Rosenrot. Lately I listen a lot to Ayreon again and Moby.


Nelis van Lierop: The last CD I bought is: Warmen – Beyond Abilities (not their most recent album but very nice). Lately I listen to The Devin Townsend band a lot.


Ruud de Boer: The last CD I bought was probably Symphony X- The Odyssey. This band has according to me a perfect balance between strong melodies and powerful metal. Lately I listen often to Pain of Salvation (my favorite band), Soilwork, Dire Straits, Textures.


Noortje van de Voort: The last CD I bought was Pain of Salvation, 12:5, an acoustic CD. Lately I still listen to Pain of Salvation a lot, I can’t get enough of Daniel!
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Maarten Spoor: I check out regional bands regularly. The last known band I went to see was Stream of Passion. Great show, great sound, great concert as a whole.


Nelis van Lierop: The last band I visited was Fear Factory.


Ruud de Boer: Yesterday we went to see textures live in Eindhoven. It was a very great performance. They make extreme aggressive and most of all technical metal which I like very much. But they also add some beautiful melodies to their music. Bands which can combine those three elements into their music are good bands to my opinion.


Noortje van de Voort: The latest concert I visited was also Stream of Passion. And I agree with Maarten, it was a great show!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Maarten Spoor: Once we were playing the end of a song, which was kind of noisy. So I got up behind the drum kit to lean over the cymbals a bit and just make a lot of noise by hitting every cymbal within reach. Then as I wanted to sit down again I realized too late that the drum stool had fallen over, so I fell down behind the drumkit with my arms and legs in the air. Man, speaking of embarrassing moments....


Nelis van Lierop: We had to play in a small pub once. I plugged my keyboards directly into their PA system and I already could hear something funny. When I pressed a key I almost destroyed their sound system because I forgot to reduce the output volume. I believe the crowd and the owners could not appreciate that. I hope they still had enough hearing left to listen to our show after my stupid action.
 
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