French power metallers Nightmare are back with a brand new effort called, The Aftermath. I spoke with Matt Asselberghs (Guitar) as he talked about the new record, its apocalyptic themes and the band’s influences. Interestingly enough, he mentioned everyone from Bathory to Emperor to Bruno Mars and even Avril Lavigne. We also talked a little bit about his personal hobbies and the fact that Nightmare isn’t afraid to mix other elements into their brand of metal. The most important thing I took from this interview was that you need to be happy with what you’re doing, because the world is becoming a more frightening place every day. Truer words were never said…
For some of us who aren’t aware of your impressive legacy of heavy metal, tell us a little about yourselves and how you began playing metal. How have things changed in the band since the early days in the eighties and this new record in 2014?
I started playing music when I was eleven and at the time my only influence was my father, and he’s still my inspiration today. He got me into music with bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Whitesnake. Things for sure have changed since 1984. To put on a record you needed time and the bands were working for real on tape recorders which have totally disappeared nowadays. I really love that era only because it was real and we didn’t use computers to make a drum sound or something like that.
The new record is called The Aftermath. What exactly is this the aftermath of? Tell me a bit about the theme behind the record if you will.
Well, The Aftermath is a way to express human vanity through music. You know, I think one day or another; nature will take its rights back. We’ve done a lot of weird stuff for a hundred and fifty years like biological wars, weird treatment, destroying the earth, and its gonna really get back on us one day for sure.
Let’s talk about the writing and recording process behind the album. How long did it take to write and record the disc and where did you record it? What was the atmosphere like?
Well we decided to make it differently this time. The idea of a new album appeared during our last tour with Circle II Circle and we just started working on it. Also, we decided to record guitars at home and do a re-amping process. Everything was mixed and produced by Mario and Jan from the Dreamsound studio in Munich and everything was so fucking good! Those guys rock!
There are a lot of interesting topics on the record, like “Necromancer”, “Digital DNA”, “Ghost In The Mirror” and “Mission For God” among others. What are some of the things you’re trying to express with these tracks?
As I said above, those tracks deal basically with a near future where machines take control, like in Terminator or those silly religious wars, it is all about the fall of an empire we built.
As of late, you’ve been focusing greatly on the apocalypse and an eventual Armageddon. Do you think that these times are surely ahead? Is mankind in danger of wiping itself out?
Personally I never believed in mankind. I think that the human was born to die and to make war as every civilization shall come to an end sooner or later. Really when you see what happens in the world everyday it’s getting very scary, isn’t it? We have the chance to make music and to be happy with it and that’s all that really matters in a way. Be happy with what you’re doin’!
What bands could you say first inspired you to play heavy metal, and what would you say are some of the bands that inspire and influence you today?
Good, I’m the only one in the band who listens to many different kinds of music right now. At first, of course I used to listen a lot of heavy metal and my first loves were Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and so on… Now I just love to listen to other stuff because it’s important to be open-minded and to see where talent is! I would say that Lana Del Rey, Portishead, Blues Pills, Bruno Mars, Mobb Deep, Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne are what I listen to nowadays!
What do you think of the current state of heavy metal? It’s changed a great deal in the years since you’ve been a band, but you seem to be embracing it, adding death metal vocals and all sorts of other newer ideas to your sound.
Yeah, that’s it! I think to put a name on what you do is always useless. “Hey, look! I’m doing thrash/death/punk/rock/atmospheric/grind/core. That’s amazing!” (Laughs maniacally) Well, we’re doing metal and we really like to put some other metal influences in it. I think heavy metal is something that you like until you die when you are really in it. And of course, it has changed but that’s life – you have changed and we have changed, and that’s what makes life beautiful (Smiles)
What do you do when you’re not playing music? What hobbies do you have?
Yes I have many other hobbies. First I’m a history addict and I really love to visit museums, mainly when they deal with World War II. I love seeing the old war birds. I’m also really interested in UFOS and conspiracy. My third passion will be my job: I’m an educator at a school and I really found something very deep there.
What would you say are some of the best records of all time?
Metallica – Ride the Lightning and the Black album
Bathory – Nordland I and II
Immortal – All
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Lana del Rey – Born To Die
Thin Lizzy – Thunder And Lightning
Avril Lavigne – Under My Skin and many others…
Thanks for answering my questions and best of luck to you in future efforts! – Eric