This interview with guitarist / vocalist Koen Romeijn of the Dutch melodic death metal band Detonation was done by our Mexican friend and guest writer I. Ishtar in October 2005.

Hello Koen, first of all let me tell you that the new album is amazing! What can you tell me about the reviews of the new album "Portals to Uphobia"?
Hi there, and thank you! Reviews have been really overwhelming so far, and fans also seem to enjoy the new disc as well, so we’re more than happy with everything! You never know beforehand how people will react towards a new album, but we had good hopes because there aren’t any major differences with our debut album...

I remember that your album was officially announced to be released in the beginning of this year, what happened, why was the delay?
True. We wanted it to be released on April 25th, but the mixing and mastering took too long to get everything printed and shipped out before that date. There were some problems with employees at the studio, and things got delayed beyond our control. Our label then decided to postpone the release until September 12th, which was of course a bit of a disappointment for us, you can probably imagine. We had to settle for that date however, so we took advantage of the situation by start working on the 3rd Detonation album already.

How much time did you guys spend at the Studio Excess recording the album?
It took us 2 weeks to record all songs, which could have been done in a lot less time, but our drummer Thomas had just recovered from an arm injury. We were forced to let him take things easy at first, so he could let his arm rest in between his recording days. I also spend quite some time on the vocals for this album, 5 days in total, which is 4 days more than I needed last time ;) We needed another 6 days for the mixing part, so I guess we spend a total of 3 weeks at the Excess studios. The mastering took place somewhere else without us actually being there.

I really wonder your obviously influence but tell me, what bands are the main influence of Detonation to compose your music?
We have many influences. In the beginning we were actually not only influenced by Swedish Death metal bands alone, but also by bands like Emperor, Morbid Angel, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, too many too mention actually! But of course we were once huge fans of bands like Edge of Sanity, Dissection and At the Gates. However, we have always been doing this mixture of melodic yet extreme metal ever since we started, which has a lot in common with the whole Swedish scene from the mid ‘90s. But nowadays we do not really feel the need to get influenced anymore by other bands, we still listen a lot to music of course, but not always to metal. We just do our own thing basically.

How do you work for the writing process?
Mike and I write the majority of the riffs at home, and Thomas also contributes in this section. We get together twice a week to work on combining new riffs together and jam those parts to create a song. In the exceptional case I write an almost complete song at home, but usually it’s just parts and riffs, we really need each other to make it a full song. But when one of us actually do writes a full song, we almost always pick out only the best parts from it and throw away everything else ;) I also work on the vocals when the complete basic structure of the song is finished, never earlier actually. As for the melodies and harmonies, those are usually created at first, but I always feel the need to try different things, so the actual parts on CD always differ from the original ones.

Have you guys ever consider include maybe elements of Black Metal, Progressive or Jazz to the music of Detonation in the future?
We always have had Black metal influences in our music, we even started out as a Black metal band in 1997! Even on “Portals” you can clearly hear some of those influences in certain parts, although it’s not as obvious as it used to be. But I guess those Black metal roots will always be a small part of our sound. As for the progressive elements, we are always experimenting with awkward rhythms and complicated structures in our songs, so in that way we are already a bit progressive perhaps, but most likely we will expand those elements in the near future. I’m not sure about those Jazz influences however, I can’t see how we should fit it in our music, but never say never!

How did you work with Niklas Sundin for the artwork? It was easy or hard to explain to him your ideas?
It was very easy. Niklas is a very talented artist, so we basically just handed the concept and the title to him, and he started to work on it. He emailed us a few weeks later with a few designs from which we could use. It actually only needed a few adjustments to get to this final design, it all went really smooth this time. It’s always a pleasure to have to deal with Niklas, he’s very friendly and he knows how things work in this business of course.

I know that you guys are fans of At the Gates and recorded a song of them for a tribute CD, please tell me, how was this experience for Detonation?
It was very cool! When we got an offer from Drowned Scream Records to participate in the ATG tribute CD, we were first thinking about doing “Cold” from the Slaughter of the Soul album, but unfortunately there were already two other bands that were going to do that we had to cover another song, the only problem was that we only had 1 week to send our version to the label, and we didn’t have any ATG songs recorded. We instantly decided to pick another song from the same album, and we choose “Under a Serpent Sun”. Two days later, we visited Excess studios for a day to record and mix it. The only regret I have is that we didn’t change the song that much to our own style, we only added some harmonies and blast beats, but of course we only had 2 days to learn and rehearse the song. So taking that in consideration, it turned out pretty good...

Detonation plays Melodic Death Metal in the vein of Swedish bands, have you ever feel sometime lack of support of the people, because the band are from Holland and not from Sweden? I ask this because I have the perception that the people thinks that all bands that aren't from Sweden and plays Melodic Death are just copycats of the Swedish bands...
Every now and then we have this “problem”. We sound like a Swedish band, but we are Dutch, which is perhaps a bit strange, but people will have to learn to understand that this is what we do and what we are best at, so we have no reason to change our style! We do get accused a lot for being copycats, but fortunately there are also enough people that think we bring a few extra’s to the current scene by adding a dose of speed and aggressiveness to our songs, and a certain spark in our music.

Do you have plans for an American tour in support of "Portals to Uphobia"?
No not yet, I guess it’s too early for that. But of course it would be great, especially after getting so many good reviews from “Portals to Uphobia”. We have to be realistic, a tour like that would cost a lot of money, and it will be very difficult for us as a band to get decent turn outs probably, we just have 1 album released in the States...but I have good hopes for a tour after the release of our 3rd album, it should be possible by then!

It would be great to see Detonation at Wacken Open Air this year...
Yeah, it would! We’ve tried to play there last year, but it turned out to be very difficult to arrange it. Maybe we’ll have a bit more luck next year’s edition, I’m sure we can put on a great show at Wacken. It’s essential to us to perform there as soon as possible, we need those big festivals to further spread our name!

Do you have plans for a full European tour?
Not at the moment, we actually just had a 4 week European tour with Decapitated and Gorerotted. Although unfortunately there were some problems...the tour bus had only 18 beds, while there were 22 people on the tour in total. So we were forced to sleep on the floor of the bus and in luggage compartments which was of course a lousy situation, but we really wanted to do these shows and we didn’t really care where we slept. Unfortunately, the tour organization interfered after 4 days and kicked us off the tour because the bus wasn’t insured this way, which made sense. What didn’t make sense to us was the reason why Detonation was thrown off the tour and not the first band of the tour, Dam. No hard feelings towards them because they are very nice guys, but we were the 2nd band of the tour, and we should have stayed on the bus in this situation. Anyway, we were not planning to give up everything just like that, so when we got home after the show in Belgium, we immediately held a meeting to discuss things over. We then decided to rent a car and to drive to all possible shows ourselves. We basically just picked out the most interesting shows in the UK, Germany and Holland and successfully did those. Due to the distances between the venues we were only able to do 14 out of the 28 scheduled shows, but still it was a good decision we made. The shows were excellent and we got an overwhelming response from the crowds.

But to answer you’s not likely that we will have another European tour anytime soon, but hopefully 2006 will bring us a couple of nice tours to make up for all the shit we’ve been through lately.

How is your relationship with your label Osmose Productions?
Very good, it has been good ever since we signed with them. But with the release of this new album there’s a clear increase in cooperation and interest from their side, which is great to see. They stand behind this album 100% and are very happy with the way it turned out.

I think that your label doesn't get the promotion that Detonation deserve, I mean I see more promotion for bands like Impaled Nazarene for example that don't need so much that because they are a well known band...
I understand what you mean, but I think things are really changing lately. Osmose is putting a lot of effort in the distribution and promotion of “Portals to Uphobia”. We have proved to them that we are not a “one hit wonder” after the release of our debut album, and recently they have seen us perform live for the 1st time as well, so they should be convinced by our qualities by know ;)

Have you ever consider doing an official video?
Oh yes, absolutely, but the right moment for that is still to come...I would really like to a video for one of the songs of this new album, but it has to be worth the money for it. So perhaps we’ll start shooting a video somewhere next year, we’ll have to see. We actually did record parts for a video once, after we recorded our first EP “Lost Euphoria”. But at the time we had no idea what we got ourselves into, we wanted to do everything ourselves with the help of some friends...I’ve seen the footage we shot that day once, hopefully I never have to watch it again, because it was terrible haha!

Do you have contact with other bands of Holland?
Yeah, of course. It’s a small country so we’ve met a lot of other bands in the past during shows and festivals. Most bands from our area (Utrecht) know each other or rehearse at the same rehearsal studios, it’s kind of one big incest situation because a lot of band members play in each others bands. The contact between most Dutch bands is pretty good actually.

Please tell me your opinion about Callenish Circle...
Funny you mention Callenish, because we’re doing a show with them this Saturday! We’ve played with them a couple of times before and they’re cool guys. Good band as well I must say, they know how they want to sound like and take care of their business very well. Music wise, I think Callenish plays a bit more straight forward kind of melodic Death than we do, with more room for basic structures and less atmospheric parts, but very tight and powerful.

What is the most amazing gig that you remember playing with Detonation?
Always a difficult question, I have so many good memories of shows we did! But the best show we recently did was the one in the London Underworld, a few weeks ago with Decapitated and Gorerotted. The UK has been a good place for us lately and for metal in general, but we didn’t know this show was going to be this good. We came on as 2nd band, and had about 45 minutes stage time. When we entered the stage we got a very enthusiastic welcome by the fans, the place was packed as well. It turned out to be an amazing and very intense show, probably one of the best we ever did. Last years’ Open Hell festival in the Czech Republic was really cool as well, which was one of the largest crowds we ever played for with about 1200 people.

Thank you very much for your time Koen; the best of luck for Detonation, you guys are the future!! I guess that's all by the moment, any last words?
Cheers for the interview! Hope to see you on tour somewhere, sometime. The portals are opened...and not likely to be closed for a long time ;)

Links of interest:

Osmose Productions