Over the past eight or so years, Dutch band has evoked and provoked with their continually exploring psychedelic/progressive intense sounds and equally intensive and imaginative lyrical concepts. The release of new album A Sign of Time finds the quintet stretching and exploring boundaries with startling musical intrigue brought through melodic flames, dramatic rhythms, and muscular intensity. Snaring the time donated kindly by vocalist Davy De Schrooder, we looked at the heart of an album and band which has made an intensive impact on the year.
Hello, welcome to The RingMaster Review and many thanks for taking time to talk with us
Hello, thank you for your interest in Maudlin.
Can we start with the obvious questions, how did Maudlin’s members meet, what was the spark which brought the band to life, and how did the early days of the band shape its direction?
Maudlin has been around for 8 years; before we started Maudlin Kris, Jasper and I played together in Disengage. When Disengage’s guitar player and drummer wanted to concentrate on their other band the three of us decided to keep on playing together. We had no idea, what would come out… it just felt good playing together. We went looking for a bass player and drummer. Jasper used to play with Thijs Goethals in a band, while Kris was in another band with drummer Davy Vandenbroecke. We all teamed up, started rehearsing without thinking about which style of music we wanted to play. Just jamming together… what came out of those early jams was Maudlin’s EP ‘Solitary Echo’. We got booked for a show and kept on playing and writing songs together.
Maudlin as you said is not your first band, is there any similarity or relationship between the music your played previously and that of the band now?
As I said before we were in Disengage, which was an melodic hardcore band, think of early AFI. There is no relationship between the music we played in Disengage and in Maudlin. In Disengage we played the music of the scene we belonged in. In Maudlin we play songs without any boundaries, we don’t want to limit us to a certain style. We talk a lot about what feeling we want to bring with an album or song, but in contrary with the individuals in Maudlin, we feel that Maudlin is not related to a certain scene. Maudlin is there for anyone who wants to hear it, who feels what we’re doing.
What has influenced your music most, musical influences over the years, life itself, or your drive to explore your limits?
To answer this one we have to step out of ourselves, because this is an objective question and we are subjective persons. And trying to be as objective as possible I’ll have to say that it’s everything together. Off course we’re listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind as well as we listen to Mastodon, Tool, Baroness and the more doom bands as Neurosis, Saint Vitus… and it’s no secret that those bands are a huge inspiration. But I guess we can also say that although we get influenced, we are no copycats. Because we’re living our life and we do, as everyone, get in touch with issues as birth, death… and I’m sure that gives a personal feel to the jams that turn to songs. And exploring limits, that’s an obligation as a musician.
You have just released your excellent new album A Sign of Time, one which left us invigorated but equally exhausted haha. With a release and songs which push boundaries and incite the fullest depths of imagination and musical intrigue how easy or hard is it to find the finish of a song when your ideas are in full flow?
We took our time for this album. We had many ideas and thoughts and a story that we wanted to integrate in our music. In our minds we made a painting of how songs needed to sound and we worked around those ideas. A lot of talking happened in the band, but we also did what we do best, jam and create. It’s amazing that for some our album is invigorating and exhausting. Believe me we went through the exact same feelings writing it. We have to; if we do not have the feeling that we are pushing boundaries, are exploring our deepest imagination… then we throw away the riff. We only bring the riffs, lyrics… that are good enough for us. If we don’t believe in it, we have no idea how we should bring the song on stage, because playing out live, that’s our main drive!
How has the new album evolved and stretched you as writers and musicians compared to your previous releases?
Our main objective when we start jamming is to make the best Maudlin song to date. So, with every song we write we try to push ourselves. And we push ourselves in every possible way, music wise, but also on the approach we have for a certain subtle emotion we’d love to bring on that very moment in a song. We love to switch with moods. I need to explain this with an example, because I have no idea how to explain this in English. Anyway, let’s take the sudden death of a good friend for an example. It’s obvious that when you hear this news you will mourn… but meanwhile you also will re-live the good times and no matter how down you are, that reflection of that one special moment will gave you a warm feeling in your stomach. Integrating subtle things as this in your music means you’ll have to stretch yourself every second of the writing process.
A Sign Of Time thematically begins where your 2008 debut album Ionesco left off, can you talk about the intriguing story and what inspired you in the first place come up with the startling tale?
The conceptual album ‘Ionesco’ was about putting a fictitious character in a non-fictitious situation and telling about the feelings that person went through in this rather extra-ordinary situation. ‘Ionesco’ had an open ending, we didn’t tell if our character survived his suicide attempt or not…he had after his surgery depression, ‘cause he felt he lost touch with himself after Dr. Freeman did his surgery. ‘A Sign of Time’ doesn’t reveal this either. On ‘Ionesco’ you had about 30 seconds of silence which symbolises the trip our mind takes us on towards the eternal white light. “A Sign of Time” is a time stretch of that minute and it explains our characters (near?) death experience. The songs are about all the highlights and the moments that made you who you were. All those highlights are connected to a natural phenomenon and they leave us dazed with a barrel full of emotions. All that happens in those few seconds that when you experience them feel like hours. Our mind lives our life again but all our highlights get symbolised. Wood nymphs symbolise our big loves, fire birds are our fears, Vulcans equal the ones that want your love, storms are everything that went wrong, earth/dirt reflect the ones you hate but somehow need to go on with your life. Each symbol is a sign of time.
Are there other inspirations and factors lyrically that have added to the new release?
I love to read old English poems. But I have no idea if that can be seen as an inspiration. What inspired me the most are the myths I read as a background check. Every painting we had in mind was painted through the eyes of a mythical god. Through this idea I started reading stories from every possible religion, culture… and the most mythical stories seemed to fit our story best. It helped me putting words on paper for the songs.
The tracks on the album as well as painting the narrative of the theme also inspires and ignites other thoughts, fears, and reflections. In many ways it actually reminded me of the anti-war novel and subsequent film, Johnny Got His Gun in force and effect. How much was sculpted and how much of that dramatic power naturally evolved during writing and recording?
As I told before we had those paintings in mind, but they were not holy… if we felt the story came out stronger with another feeling or the song became stronger with another riff we used it. So, the base was sculpted, but it evolved during the writing process. I guess 90% was finished before we started recording. The last 10% was us trying to explain to our mixer (Andrew Schneider, known from Unsane, Shrinebuilder) and our master guy (Dan Coutant, known from The Gaslight Anthem, Coliseum) our story, feelings… and their interpretation turning the knobs.
Are life and death and the accompanying shadows to both extremes a fuel which you can see will continually inspire and push your imaginations?
No matter who or what you are, I guess you are always inspired by both life and death. But what was more interesting to us, was that grey zone, that zone of which we don’t know if we have to believe it or not. Because that zone has mystique and it leaves room for interpretation.
A bit of a stupid question but did you approach the connecting themes of the two albums differently this time around?
Yes, ‘Ionesco’ was about real, raw feelings. ‘A Sign of Time’ is more about the psychedelic side of feelings.
You have as a band moved to a cleaner singing style vocally for the new album compared to previous work, was this just part of your continuing exploration or something you felt was needed for this particular piece of imagination?
I don’t do any of the clean vocals. Every band member has a microphone. And all the clean voices are for the real musicians in the band. I admire the musicians in Maudlin and it’s an honour to play with Jasper, Kris, Yannick and Munchie and it was a honour and a pleasure which was all mine and ours to play, tour and record with our previous members Tim Gyselbrecht and Thijs Goethals.
Tell us about your recent album release show, I believe it was a full on visual and artistic experience for all?
Some months before the release show we gave our recordings to different artists: photographers, sculptors, painters, graffiti-artists… we told them the story and gave them carte blanche. They all made something around it and we had a release show with an exposition. And for the very first time we also played with visuals, which we might do more in the future on some special occasions.
Do you see the visual side of Maudlin from artwork, photography to videos etc. is as relevant and important as your music to give the richest experience for people?
Yes. I guess this strong answer says more than a whole explanation
What comes next for Maudlin?
I think we aim on a split or an EP within a year and we’ll see from there music wise. And we hope to play out live as much as possible, that’s why we are in this band… so hopefully we might play out… well euhm… everywhere.
Are ideas for the next songs already fermenting inside or do you manage to take a break from that aspect to concentrate on shows and promoting the current release whatever it may be etc.?
Well our very next rehearsal we start jamming again and let’s hope some new and powerful riffs come out. But meanwhile we keep on playing our new album… we feel like our “A Sign of Time” album deserves the best possible promotion and there is no better promotion then an amazing gig. So, we combine both.
What do you hope at the very least people come away from A Sign of Time emotionally and inspiration wise?
I hope it touches people, that they start thinking about it and that they give our story a personal touch.
Thanks again for sharing time with us, it is much appreciated and good luck for what was for us an enthralling and powerfully rewarding confrontation…any last thoughts for readers?
Let your last thought be a good one, always and every time!
Read the review of A Sign of Time @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/maudlin-a-sign-of-time/
The RingMaster Review 04/03/2013
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