Interview: STEVEN ‘GAZE’ SANDERS of SPOIL ENGINE discusses the details and writing process behind upcoming album RENAISSANCE NOIR.
SICK AND SOUND has the pleasure to introduce its readers to an interview we had with female fronted modern metal quartet from Belgium and the Netherlands SPOIL ENGINE lining up vocalist Iris Goessens, guitarist Steven “Gaze” Sanders, bassist Dave De Loco and drummer Matthijs Quaars.
The band offers a blistering metalcore output with melodic and thrash influences and is currently signed to Arising Empire / Nuclear Blast. After unleashing new single R!OT in September, the Belgian outfit is set to release their new full-length RENAISSANCE NOIR on November 15th, 2019 via Arising Empire following up 2017 record Stormsleeper.
In this interview our editor-in-chief Alex had with guitarist and songwriting mastermind STEVEN “GAZE” SANDERS we discussed in detail the writing and creative process approached for Renaissance Noir and the progression taking place since previous album Stormsleeper. We talked about the current metal scenario, and explored the lyrical themes and messages that Spoil Engine are bringing forward with their music. Steven also shared more details about single R!OT and upcoming plans.
- Hello Steven and thank you for your time. You’re the guitarist and songwriter of SPOIL ENGINE, so let’s discuss the creative and writing process approached for your upcoming album RENAISSANCE NOIR.
Hi and thx for your interview! Well, most of the time, the songwriting starts with some basic riffs & drum ideas to get the first feel of a song. Since we all work in the same toolset (Reaper), we can rapidly share stuff internally. If we all like the basic concept of a song, every single member adds his or her own recording to it. So basically when we come together in the studio, we already have 90% of the song and are ready to jam and test some details. That is the cool thing about this digital age: you come together and instantly play a song you never played together before. If we eventually use the song on the album, that is decided at the jam sessions, based on ‘if we feel it or not’. I guess we had over 30 song ideas to then land on 10 final songs for ‘Renaissance Noire’. Basically, the darkest, hardest and most diverse songs survived.
- RENAISSANCE NOIR is following up your previous full-length STORMSLEEPER dating back to 2017. So how has the songwriting changed or progressed for this record as opposed to your previous material?
The most important ingredient for the album was TIME! Yes, we completely shut down the live performances end 2018 to fully focus on the new album. And we wanted to let every band member shine as never before, so do that you need to create the most possible relaxed atmosphere. So we did it by fully recording the album at our home studios, even the vocals. No studio booking stress, no budget issues…. all cool! After the recordings, all takes went to Henrik Udd (award-winning producer for Architects) for final mix and master. We already worked with Henrik on the previous album so we perfectly knew what to expect. And he delivered again!
- What’s the general message that SPOIL ENGINE wish to bring forward to their audiences with this record and their music in general, if any?
Although we don’t play punk music, we really have a kind of punk mentality. Our main message is: “Be yourself, don’t care what others say or want you to say, just do your own fuc*ing thing. Nobody cares about a copy. Better to be a unique pirate than a copy sailor. Don’t try to be better, try to be different.”
- What specific lyrical themes are discussed in the record?
Iris takes most of the lyrics and the themes are most of the time personal to her: the ambiguities of life, the daily fuc*ups, the scream for personality instead of generality. Some topics go broader but we never “instruct”, we only “observe”. Use your own brain instead of ours.
- What were some of your influences, in terms of most listened to albums and bands, while writing and recording RENAISSANCE NOIR?
The influences are very broad but if it’s hard, honest and brutal, it’s an influence. Bass player Loco and myself are more Pantera, Carcass, Decapitated inspired, while drummer Matthijs and singer Iris are more BMTH, Architects, While She Sleeps oriented. And that’s what makes the perfect combo for the SE sound: groovy, heavy, diverse, dark, hard, dynamic.
- What’s the most personal or meaningful song to you in this record as a songwriter?
From a musical point of view, all of them . Since we had time, all songs represent a different feeling or emotion during that time of preproduction and recording. “R!ot” is a more objective state of the world address, while “Golden Cage” is something quite personal to Iris. My personal favo’s are “The Hallow” (with Jeff ‘Carcass’ Walker), Frostbite and The Void. Very diverse songs, in all possible ways. Just listen to discover .
- Let’s briefly explain the artwork and title of the record.
We see the album as an internal (r)evolution and a rebirth of the band as a 4-piece. In 2018, we travelled the world with the Stormsleeper album, had to endure all the external pressure coming along with such endeavour and needed time to reflect on ourselves instead of the things around us. That is also the main concept of the Renaissance era: Humanistic or human-centered, reinventing ourselves and putting the band members at the center instead of the ‘business’ side of a band. Singer Iris came up with the ‘Renaissance’ title; we added the ‘Noire’ to make it all just more metal and basically just more us. The artwork itself is drawn by UK artist Adrian Baxter. We wanted a more realistic pen drawing instead of an artifical photoshop image and that’s why whe chose Adrian. And he did a great job!
- Single R!OT was released as a forerunner of the record just recently. Let’s discuss the details of this blistering groovy track and the mindset behind choosing this single in particular to anticipate the record?
“R!OT” is your typical SPOIL ENGINE song: in-your-face intro, pumping verse, big chorus, big production. We don’t make things too complicated, we just want to get the energy out! The mindset is quite simple: we’re just the Renaissance painters of our generation. We musically “paint ” what we see and everybody is free to think and act for him- or herself. Sometimes the song is perceived as a climate protest song, but it’s not. We’re just saying: “Still in 2020, dialogue is not possible and fists must be raised to get things done”. We’re not a political nor sociological band, we’re just messengers. Use your own brain and do something with it.
Watch SPOIL ENGINE – R!OT (Official Video):
- SPOIL ENGINE formed in the 90’s Belgian underground hardcore scene and currently pigeonholed in the metalcore scenario, with melodic and thrash influences. What elements make it up to this kind of shift and current dynamic sound you have crafted? Is this mostly relying on your guitar work?
As a person, we have always been inspired by heavy music in general. We’re still as much a Pantera, Slayer or Carcass fan just as we were in the beginning. The dynamic shift is more influenced by broadening our own horizon and the type of music we listen to. Back in the days, it was only metal, nowadays we listen to everything.
- How important or not important it is to evolve beyond the standard metal or –core scenario from your point of view?
We don’t care about genres and that’s what creating the evolution in our band. We just play what we want to play. For instance, our second single “The Hallow” is just a combination of sheer grindcore verses with a big sing-along chorus. If it rolls, it rolls.
- SPOIL ENGINE have been sharing the stage with iconic names such as Megadeth, Motorhead, Papa Roach, In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Prong and international appearances at After multiple international appearances on Wacken Open Air, Graspop, Pukkelpop and many others, tell us a couple of favorite ever on-stage moments.
Well, if you can play the largest metal festival both in Europe and Asia in the same year, then that definitely counts as a winner! A cool moment was also when we helped out Tommy Victor when touring together. His bass player Mike had to leave the tour for personal reasons so we helped out Tommy by each learning 4 Prong songs overnight and play a full set. Everybody happy! More recently, some great shows were Papa Roach and In Flames supports. All top notch bands and yet so friendly and almost humble. Great to experience this positivity on that level.
- What’s in store for SPOIL ENGINE and how are you getting set to release and promote your album and melt faces? Any shows and upcoming tour you can reveal?
We’re currently working hard on the release shows for 2019 and the international shows/festivals for 2020. The book of revelations will soon be made public .
Thank you for your time Seven and all the best for the release of RENAISSANCE NOIR. Good luck for your future endeavors, we will support you into Europe and US!
SPOIL ENGINE – RENAISSANCE NOIR tracklisting:
3. The Hallow (feat. Jeff Walker)
5. Golden Cage
8. No Flowers for a Pig
9. The Void
10. Storms of Tragedy
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