Interview: Charlotte – Delain.
Delain are a band who have really felt the pressures of the issues plaguing the music industry of late. Following their record label being bought by Warner Music Group, they found a lack of support from their new company for their record and a number of issues that led to its release being pushed back a year. Thankfully, Roadrunner stood behind their artist and the band’s third album ‘We Are The Others’ is due for release imminently. Vocalist Charlotte was kind enough to chat to us for a bit about their new record.
As we chat, Charlotte is in Europe in the midst of their current tour. “Tour has been really good,” Charlotte begins. “It’s just that normally when you do a tour like this, it’s cool to have your album released already but in our case the album release – due to some very unfortunate situations – is not out until Jun., So, we’re having to tour without the new album when we’re doing album promotion, so yeah! It would have been nicer if we had this tour after the release, but it’s still cool because it’s nice to see that the fans are still coming and they’re happy to hear something new. It’s all been going great so far, but we’re also looking forward to touring more and seeing people sing along to the new tunes. I don’t know about you, but if I go to a concert I like to already know the songs I’m going to hear. But that will okay for next time hopefully!”
Have fans been patient and understanding with the band’s issues surrounding the release? “You know, it all really depends on how much they know about the whole Roadrunner/Warner situation,” she admits. “Once you try to explain what happened, people are more understanding. I mean, Roadrunner are the record company we are on and they were sold to Warner. Warner is basically a pop label. It took a lot of time for us to reorganise before we could even start recording the album. This made it take a long time. Then, we finally had the album finished and we were told that Warner wasn’t actually going to release all Roadrunner artists. I mean, we don’t know how excited they were about Delain and to be honest I guess they weren’t at all. If you look at it from a mainstream, money making point of view and you had to choose between releasing Nickelback or releasing Delain – hmm! Tough choice – what you gonna do?!
“We were really unhappy about the situation of having a record label we didn’t know because we were just transferred to Warner as Roadrunner went to them. We didn’t know them, and we didn’t know when or if we were going to get a release. We were brought back by the old owner of Roadrunner, who still had a company in Holland. That’s actually where we jumped off the sinking ship in time because last week we heard that Warner is actually closing all Roadrunner offices. That’s just really sad, because Roadrunner was never the problem and we really like the guys at Roadrunner; it’s just bad times for the music industry.
“So, for the album there were a lot of influences from outside the band that made this delay really bad – that’s why I think people won’t really hold it against us personally. I think we could have been releasing it about a year earlier without all this business nonsense. It was nasty for us as well because you just want to write music, record and play gigs and we’ve been negotiating and pushed around so much in the last year that it sucks. That’s not what you want to do when you’re sixteen and you decide “I’m going to be a rockstar!””
“ It was exciting because we got to work with a Tripod production team and this was the first time that we’d worked with a producer outside of the band,” Charlotte continues, turning to how the approach to this record differed from their previous two. “Both the albums before – Martijn did it with Oliver Philipps, they go way back. Now, we first contacted Jacob (Hellner) because I really liked his work with Rammstein and I really like ‘Clawfinger’. So we contacted him and he introduced us to the other two members of the team, which are Fredrik (Thomander) and Anders (Wilkstrom) and they had an influence on the whole process.
“We wrote the songs, we had a whole bunch of them and then we went into re-writing sessions and they were there at the recording process and they were pushing us to the limits. It was really exciting. On the other hand it was really tough because when we were just writing with the three of us before – as we make up the core writing team of Delain – any differences in opinion would just be three between three people. In Stockholm, we were sometimes sitting in a room with six different people working on a song and that’s great when it’s going in the right direction because you’ve got six creative minds having ideas. When you have a difference of opinion it’s way more difficult when you’re dealing with six people on the same page. It was good though and I think it had a really positive effect on the album. I’m just really proud of the outcome.
“When writing songs we usually have an idea of what we want to write today or what we want to do. I always notice that you might have a plan but inspiration doesn’t let itself be directed. Sometimes we will say ‘Okay, today we’re going to make this kind of song’ and it will turn out as something completely different. In the end, it’s all what happens in the moment that defines where it’s going to go and I think that’s also why we never do themed albums because you look at the songs on the record and they’re going in so many different directions. There’s some in there that are very poppy and catchy, then there are songs that are heavier than anything we’ve done before. It all depends on the day, the mood, the weather!”
For the title track of ‘We Are The Others’, Charlotte chose to deal with the case of Sophie Lancaster through her lyrics. Explaining the impact her case had on both her and the record, she explains, “Well, introducing Sophie Lancaster into the song happened very late in the song writing process. We had worked on the song together as a band and we had the song and I was there to vocalise the lyrics. I had this idea about making it an outsider anthem because one of the things I hate most is stereotyping and discrimination; this goes on a lot whenever you look at sub-cultures or race or sexual orientation or whatever.
“I wanted to do something about that and I wrote the lyrics and the song developed from there. When I took a last look at the lyrics with the guys in Stockholm, they said to me ‘Is this really what you want to say?’ because they weren’t sure and it sounded kind of creepy. They said, ‘What do you want to do? What do you actually want to say?’ So I went back to the lyrics and thought ‘What do I actually want to say?’ It was so tough because it’s a subject so close to my heart and I couldn’t quite find the words to say what I wanted without pointing the finger. That’s when I remembered the case of Sophie Lancaster – a very, very tragic incident. She was kicked to death just because she looked goth and I remember the way I felt when I heard it.
“You know, I thought if you introduce a story like that into your song you don’t even have to explain why it’s wrong, you know? You’d be quite heartless not to get how this is just wrong and what can happen when you don’t accept others, in a way. I usually write about stuff that happens to me or is close to me. When it’s bigger subjects, it’s easy to write in abstract figures or metaphorically, but this is a very real thing that happened to a very real girl. There’s a lot of personal grief involved with family and friends, so I just wasn’t sure in the beginning whether I could. I just wanted to have some respect.
“I called the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and found out that they were really happy about the idea, so that pushed me into the right direction. I’m really glad that they were behind the whole idea and everybody should check them out, by the way, because they do a really good job in educating people about this. In the end I’m really happy that we chose to introduce her story and it feels good to do something with the initial feelings I got when I heard the story.”
Turning to other ideas that feature on the record, she adds, “I always love these love gone wrong lyrics. I didn’t even have that many break-ups, but I always end up writing about them! That’s in there in a lot of songs like ‘Where Is The Blood’ for example or ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. There’s also one song on there which is called ‘Generation Me’ and it’s basically about – well, not about Facebook but about the whole Facebook generation that are only concerned with stealth, branding and the world revolving around them. We’re kind of mocking this in the song ‘Generation Me’. It’s not as big a subject as the others, I mean we chose a different style to deal with that topic and we’re making fun of that. We’re also making fun of ourselves because we’re pretty much a part of this generation.”
To succinctly sum up ‘We Are The Others’, Charlotte says, “I think it’s just a really in-your-face rock album and I think it’s really hard to describe that you’ve done yourself, especially when you’ve worked for such a long time on it. I think it’s a good album! I hope that when people listen to it they’ll think the same.”
As for the rest of 2012… “Well, we’re going to release the album in June and even before we do that we will do some gigs and introduce people to the new songs. After that, we’ve got Rock AM – the biggest metal festival in the world – and that’s pretty cool. Then we’re going to tour again once the album is released and we’re going to tour across Europe and do a few tours. We’ll be busy this year!
“I would just like to say that I hope people come to say us on tour and I really hope they like the album! I want to thank everyone for their support so far.”
You can find out more about the Sophie Lancester Foundation here: http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com/