– Hi , thanks for your time. What’s keeping MAYAN busy soon after the band’s debut album?
Mark: We did a short tour and cd presentation in the Paradiso – Amsterdam. Besides that we’re working on a south american tour and we will do a few summer festivals.
– To start, could you please make some history of the band? Why did you feel the need of forming it, it’s sound, etc.
Jack: It all started when Mark and I met each other a few years ago when he was playing with Epica in my hometown. We hadn’t spoken each other in years and had some issues to set straight relating to my departure at After Forever. We talked about it, left it behind us and started making music again. It was great to work with him again, the first result was the opening track of Epica’s «Design Your Universe», «Resign to Surrender». From then on, I think we both had the feeling that we had to compose more together. Then we approached Sander Gommans and gathered a few times to compose new songs together. Unfortunately, Sander hadn’t got enough time to go on and so we looked for a replacement. Mark knew Frank Schiphorst from his performance at Christmas Metal Symphony in 013, Tilburg. He was a perfect replacement with his creativity and chaotic riffs. From then on, it went very fast and in less than a year, we were done composing all songs for our debut album «Quarterpast». It sounds heavier than Epica or After Forever and will probably take people some time to get into. Most important was that we composed what we liked and that we had a lot of fun.
Also, when the three of us got together, we quickly agreed that this wasn’t going to stay a project and that we wanted to play the songs live. So we formed a band. Mark asked his bandmates Arien and Isaac (from Epica) to join us. They were very enthusiastic, so they did. Frank introduced us to Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Obscura, Pestilence) who played bass guitar during our debut album recordings. He also hadn’t enough time to stay with us to play live, so we looked further and found a great replacement in Rob van der Loo (ex-Delain)!
– First thing that caught my attention was the band’s name; why did you choose it? Does it deal in any way with your lyrics?
Jack: We’ve actually had a contest to let fans think of a suitable bandname, but in the meantime we agreed that MaYaN would be a great name. We all like the history of the mayan civilization, and to us, MaYaN just felt like the right name. It’s short, catchy and matches our mutual interest.
Frank: As for dealing with the lyrics, not intentionally, but I think you can interpret a connection in it in more ways. One way for instance is the connection between the typical Mayan pyramid-picture we’ve all seen before, with the eye above.. as in a calendar showing progression towards unlimited consciousness (the eye,) and the world as it is now, in which the biggest part of its inhabitants is connected through technology like the internet, mobile phones (if we can still call these phones ;)), etc. compared to let’s say the nineties. So there’s your growing consciousness from which so much has been and is learned. And this goes for what’s going on in the lyrics also.. Like what the governments are up to; nowadays everyone is so much more aware of things mentioned in the lyrics, like for instance corruption, because we are so much more connected and communicating. For instance what WikiLeaks did, eye-opener for many. If I look 20 years back, this wouldn’t cross my mind. Growth of consciousness as seen by the Mayan’s. So that’s just an interpretation by myself and I think anyone can see these connections in their own ways 🙂
– As I said, your first «Quarterpast» came out just a few weeks ago. How’s going its feedback? Is it fulfilling your expectations?
Jack: It’s going great so far! I was wondering how our album is received because some tracks are quite complex and the sound in general is more heavy than After Forever or Epica. In a certain way, we did take a risk there. But we’ve already had many great reviews, which we are obviously very happy with!
Frank: Hell yeah! To be frank it transcends my expectations (I’m really down to earth on that), with all these high ratings given. Really happy with all reviews and reactions. Most beautiful thing is that those reviews show the listener gets it, feels it, and show what the music does to them. And that more is discovered every spin of the album. It’s not straight forward music, it’s more open minded and spontaneous, driven by our own
guts. So every single one of these reviews is a big personal compliment.
– Mark, how’s going changing the guitar for a mic?
Mark: That’s great, I sometimes need new challenges in life. Of course it’s a big step and I needed to get used to it but every show I learn new things and I think it works really well now. Without guitar you’re able to have more interaction with the crowd.
– Another thing that caught my attention off the album was it’s quite powerful cover; what could you explain us about it? It also seems is strongly connected with some themes you cover in the album…
Jack: It deals with corruption and sickness in the world, which is ruled by money. People hear a lot of promises about a better future for themselves, but the truth is that they’re neglected or even suppressed. Now you see that people aren’t taking it anymore, corrupt leaders are falling or making desperate moves to defend themselves.
Frank: It also made people think we’re a satanic band haha.
Mark: yes while we are definitely not, we are no religious band, neither a satanic one 😉
– So for those that haven’t heard/read the lyrics on «Quarterpast» yet, could you tell us some main concepts we can find on them?
Frank: Many ignorant things going on in the world. Corruption in governments, abuse of power, excuses for war, people doing wrong things when blinded by money/power, etc.
Mark: The lyrics are dealing about, corruption, abuse of power, fraud, oil, money and animal rights. Money was invented to make the trading of goods easier but nowadays it’s nothing else than a tool to have power. With money you can literally buy everything (power, health, even sexand relationships) so it’s a survival tool to get as much as possible of it.
But it doesn’t bring us anything in the end. Instead of that we are destroying our environment and therefor ourselves.
– This is your debut album and has been released through a major label such as Nuclear Blast, does this open new doors to MAYAN?
Jack: It helps us a lot. They are a big name in the metal scene and they know how to promote their metal bands. Mark introduced us to them and they were very enthusiastic. Epica is already signed to Nuclear Blast for many years, and because their experience with them has been very good, we decided not to look further and asked them if they wanted to make a deal. They did, and we signed! They invested in us right from the start, which enabled us to record our debut album in Sascha Paeth’s Gate Studio. He did an amazing job, we wanted the songs to sound powerful but not too bombastic and we think that’s exactly what he managed to realize.
Frank: Yeah pretty awesome to be a part of that. NB are very professional yet down to earth people who like the good stuff like we do; metal. And working together is an ideal situation. They’re the best at what they do, and we love to do what we’re best at and we all like to work hard for that which indeed expands possibilities.
– And is being well-known members into the Metal scene a benefit for you too?
Jack: I think that it’s a benefit. Specially in Latin America! Over there, people were already getting crazy when they heard that members from After Forever and Epica would form a new band. And Nuclear Blast uses it for promotion as well. However, it also results in high expectations which you have to deal with. For some fans it’s disappointing because it’s too heavy for their taste, other fans like it a lot because they like the heavier sound. I think that’s fine.
– In the record we can find an interesting mix of musical styles; is everyone involved into the songwriting process?
Jack: As I told you earlier, Frank, Mark and I were the main songwriters. However, most of the texts were written by Mark. The vocal lines were written by Mark, me, Sascha Paeth and Amanda Somerville.
Frank: That’s right. And we all have a broad personal style in our music which fits together in a great way.
Mark: I wrote most of the lyrics indeed, but some parts are written by Laura (all italian parts) and Najla wrote the basic of Sinner’s Last Retreat. Both women are very smart and write really well.
– And also due to this I wonder what are your main musical influences… Holland seems to now have a huge «symphonic» scene and has always had a pretty strong Death Metal scene too. Have any compatriots influenced your playing style?
Jack: Back in the beginning days of After Forever (around 1995), I was a big fan of the Gathering, the Orphanage and Ayreon. They inspired me a lot in my way of playing keyboards, because back then, there weren’t many bands combining metal with symphonic elements yet.
Frank: I’ve been around in the progressive metalscene since I was 17 or 18, playing in the progressive metalband Symmetry for many years, and I’ve discovered a lot of cool music from that scene through that. I always get inspired by other good musicians, for instance my best mate Leendert Brouwer (also guitarplayer) I’ve been jamming and writing with a lot of technical no-boundaries deathmetal incl synths, or Marcel Coenen with whom I played a lot (and had to practice my ass off for being able to shred along haha), and musicians like Michiel vd Plicht (God Dethroned, Prostitute Disfigurement) and Jeroen Thesseling (Pestilence, Obscura) I’ve been making music with. And a lot of Dutch bands I’ve seen and/or played with. These things always inspire and give new impulses to my playing because of doing so many different and often more extreme things.
– In «Quarterpast» we can find several guest artists. Simone Simons and Floor Jansen sing together in one track, for instance. What can you tell us about this cooperation?
Mark: Many fans have asked me over the years to create a sng for Simone and Floor. In After Forever and Epica it never happened because of several reasons. So now for MaYaN there was this big chance to make it happen.
– We can also find Italian soprano Laura Macri. Why did you decide to have her and what has she brought with her voice?
Mark: She’s one of the biggest Italian opera talents, when I heard her voice i fell in love with it. She loves metal as well so it was a small step to ask her for MaYaN. She is a true opera singer and people can hear the difference between every singer’s specific fields.
– And how will you manage this for your live shows? Will you ever try to have some of these guest artists with you?
Jack: That indeed is a challenge. We’ve already played 10 shows. On our CD release party in Paradiso, Amsterdam, everyone singing on the album was there but that’s hard to realize for every live show. On the other 9 shows, we played together with Simone, Laura and Henning Basse. In future shows we try to play with them together too. We always will have guest artists with us, as far as it fits everyone.
– We could say MAYAN is an «all-star band» so, is this band just a project or can we expect it to be a stablished band with upcoming releases?
Jack: In the beginning, we thought of MaYaN as a project but it became a band. And we will stay a band, we’re very serious about it and who knows what will happen. Actually we’re already writing songs for a new album! We just have a lot of fun composing new songs.
Frank: Indeed. The coolest thing to do, and a thing we’ve always done, making music. And we’ve really found eachother in that 🙂
– What are your aims to get with this band?
Mark: To tour around the world and make some more cool records. There’s no pressure to sell as many albums as Epica so we can just have fun and see what happens.
Frank: Being on MTV Cribs with my upcoming bigass mansion. Kidding. Would be cool tho. But no, just make the best out of it and do anything possible for that thing that makes me tick and that’s just making kickass music and being on stage playing it 🙂
– Most of the bands you play in and MAYAN have a quite different vibe and style, what differences from all of them? What provides you one of these bands that the others can’t?
Mark: In MaYaN I can express a heavier side of myself and we write the music in a completey different way with MaYaN. So it’s very refreshing to work with other people sometimes and that keeps me motivated for Epica as well.
– And finally, what can we expect from MAYAN from now on? Do you have any touring plans (beside the festivals confirmed so far)?
Jack: Currently we’re checking if we can perform a Latin America tour, and although it’s a challenge to get everyone available for it, we’re doing our best. Hopefully, we have more news about that soon!
Frank: Yep. And taking every possibility in playing live. Besides the Latin Amercan-tour we’re planning other shows as well so we’ll be out there as much as possible.
– That has been all, thank you once more for your time and our best wishes. If you now want to add some final words to our readers, last lines are yours.
Jack: Thanks for checking out this interview @ Queens of Steel! I hope you’ll like our debut album and hope to see you on one of our shows!
Frank: What Jack said and thanks at all fans giving us all the support we’ve gotten so far! You rule.
Mark: Thanks as well 🙂