I am sure you are a big unknown to most of our readers – so could you please start by introducing you?
“Scrapbook” is a very long album – what can metal fans expect from it?
TDW – Hehe, Scrapbook is very long indeed! I think that metal lovers can expect a very diverse set of songs, ranging from metallic exercises to melancholic ballads to orchestral pieces and all things in between. I kind of realized when the post-production was finished that not everyone would appreciate this record in full because it just turned out to be so huge and diverse.
I personally like this record as a whole because it shows a lot about the types of music that I enjoy and what I want to do creatively and song writing wise. (And still there’s a lot of things that I haven’t done on this record that I still want to do!) I think that if there are people out there who can stomach this record in whole, they are actually quite hardcore and open minded and I salute them. Because two hours of technical music like this is just bat-shit insane, haha!
Why a double album at this stage of your career?
TDW – To be honest I initially did not decide on making a double record at all. The philosophy behind this record was to create an album with guest writers. And to give everyone even chances in terms of playing time, I gave them all 2 songs. (Or 1 if it was a longer one) I started out with four collaborators, but it turned out to become nine in the end and all of a sudden I had two hours worth of material lying around which, in my humble opinion, was all of a high quality.
I personally felt that it would not be fair to cut any material from this record as my artistic vision was to really show the world everything that happened in our writing sessions and thus the album became a two disc product. I know that there will always be criticism on a decision like this but I am also a believer of true artistic freedom and this time I took the freedom to do it this way, either if people liked it or not.
To write and record a double album almost singlehanded is a big task, any regrets, something you’d wish you’d done differently?
TDW – Oh yes, it was a mammoth task to perform certainly. I mean, recording a normal album is a pretty big task on its own. Even if you work with, for example, just four persons in one band, recording is a long-taking and hard-working process. But working with nine different songwriters with different ideas (and of course different time schedules.) to create music like this is almost like signing your own death sentence in a way, haha
However, I don’t regret doing the record like this because it was a great learning experience for me and for the rest as well. I learned a lot about writing, producing and recording and I think that creating a record as diverse as this, sharpened my skills on a lot of fronts, so I am actually quite happy with the result and the process. However, I do know that I will not do a record like this again soon, because that would probably kill me, haha!
How happy are you with the final result?
TDW – I consider Scrapbook to be my greatest achievement yet. This is the first record I produced that I dare to describe as good. Not great, awesome or perfect, but good. And considering how much of a perfectionist I am, that is quite something. However I am aware of the flaws of this record as well and I know for fact that I can do better than this, so there is still a lot to learn and truth be told, I like that prospect because that means my journey is not over yet. I want to make much more music than I did so far so I hope I can stick around for a while longer!
If you had the choice to pick your producer (free of charge), who would you pick and why?
TDW – I think Steven Wilson would be an obvious choice as he is able to create sounds that always strike me as genuinely beautiful, clear and vivid. His way of producing gives me positive goose bumps and I would love to have that on my records. I also would love to work with Kevin “the caveman” Shirley once, as he is responsible for mixing one of my all time favourite albums Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater. If I could get a sound like that on a record I would be happy as a little schoolboy, haha!
Who and what has inspired you, musically as well as lyrically?
TDW – I guess my main inspiration for making music myself, came from the first prog metal bands I heard, being Dream Theater, Symphony X and Pain of Salvation. But as I started developing myself as a songwriter I started adding in all sorts of music that I liked next to the prog metal music, ranging from Progressive Rock, Death Metal, Pop, Rock, Classical, Fusion etc. I like a lot of different music so that will always get into your psyche and eventually into the things you are playing and writing yourself.
Lyrically I started writing to get rid of personal demons mostly. As I told in other interviews over the years, I am a highly sensitive person and I look at the world a bit differently than most people do, so that always provides mind activity to turn into writing. My head is basically racing non-stop without a break, so sometimes I only have to wait for 5 minutes max before a lyric is finished. It has just taken me a while in life to find a “job” in which I could let all these ideas out for once, haha!
You have influences from prog as well as metal, but where does your true roots lay?
TDW – As I just said, my true roots do lie with the prog metal groups I heard when I was about 14 years old, but I’ll also shamelessly admit that I have been listening to a lot of weird stuff before I was bitten by the prog bug. I was a child raised in the 90’s, so bands like Rage Against the Machine and Korn were things that stuck with me as well. I think I still have a sense of groove to the stuff I write which definitely owes to those years of listening to more mainstream metal stuff. And there’s much more music I have been listening to before that which is not considered metal by far, but I won’t bore you guys with that, haha!
TDW is a project, any chance you’ll ever present your music live?
TDW – I would love to! However, at the moment the priority is not high. I am also working on being a part of another band again next to my TDW work named Mind:Soul and that band will be focussing on playing live in the future. However for TDW I just feel that the time and conditions for performing this material live, have to be right and at this moment this is not the case yet.
What’s next for TDW, another album… or?
TDW – At the moment I am working on a new record yes! Actually, it is almost completed! It will be a re-release of my first record named First Re-Draft that will be released through the TDW website exclusively. More information about that will be given in a video update in the coming weeks and next to that I am also busy writing new songs which might just be released somewhere this year as well, so yes, there are quite a few going on right now.
I have seen your albums being compared to the work of Arjen A. Lucassen, but besides being from Holland and you both play progressive inspired metal I really don’t hear many similarities. Off course such a comparison helps, but how do you reach on such statements?
TDW – I personally think that comparing me to someone like Arjen is way too much credit! I mean, what I do is like you said something different musically first of all, but Arjen has singlehandedly influenced the prog landscape as we know it and I only consider myself a little blip on the map compared to him.
Of course it is flattering if a reviewer likes your work and makes comparisons like these and I can really have a good day if I read something like that, but I remain to see it in my context with both feet on the ground. And my context is that I work hard and love what I do and that I think I don’t really suck at doing it, but I am not by far on the level that Arjen is on right now. I just hope that I perhaps might reach that level once, but I’ll just see what the future brings.
What does the words prog metal mean to you?
TDW – Prog metal in my opinion means that I as a composer love to work with metal as the foundation for my music, but that I have the freedom to add anything I like in a song whenever I feel like it. To me it means that I love the sound of a distorded guitar and a heavy drumkit, but that I can also add a Marimba or Bagpipes or (insert weird instrument here) in there if I think the song needs it. Prog metal is freedom for me, and it will stay that way as far as I am concerned.
Thank you very much for answering my questions. Do you have any last rants for our readers?
TDW – No problem, it has been my pleasure to tell the world a bit more about the mechanics behind the sound patterns! As always I hope I haven’t bored anyone to tears with this and if you have gotten interested in the stuff I do, please visit TDWmusic.com or find me on facebook and all that. Thank you for giving me this webspace to do my ramblings!
Greetings and all the best to all of the readers of powerofmetal.dk!
Interviewed by Kenn Jensen