Devil’s Interview w/ Mats Van Der Valk of Autumn

Autumn are an absolutely excellent heavy rock band from the Netherlands. Their newest album “Cold Comfort”, which is their third for Metal Blade is filled with hauntingly beautiful tunes that will stick in your brain long after you’ve heard them. This isn’t extreme metal, but it is heavy, yet at times melodic enough to be heard on hard rock radio. If there is any justice in the world they will take off in North America soon.

Not just another “female fronted metal band” only getting attention because they have a pretty face on the mic, Marjan Welman has an amazing voice and the band has the hooks. Don’t write them off as another female fronted band-Check them out and get “Cold Comfort”. You will be happy that you did.

Can you start off by introducing yourself to our readers and a bit of background on Autumn? I know you guys aren’t very well known in North America yet.

Hi, I’m Mats. Guitar player for Autumn. We’re a heavy, alternative rock band from the Netherlands. We started out as a gothic metal band in 1995, but our style has developed quite a bit since then. We’ve released our fifth studio album ‘Cold Comfort’ in November last year. It’s our most melancholic and multi-layered album so far. We’ve also incorporated some interesting ‘proggy’ elements.

I personally only recently got into Autumn with the release of “Cold Comfort”. I have to say, that so far it’s been one of my favorite albums since I’ve heard it. How have you found the general response to be so far?

It couldn’t have been better, really. We realize that this album is a bit harder to get into than our previous efforts. The production is rather ‘warm and broad’ than ‘flat and loud’. We took a bit of a risk by diving deeper, but the fans and media seem to understand what we are doing. Cold Comfort is getting great reviews. We’re very proud.

Does the band ever get sick of being lumped into the “female fronted” metal band category and sometimes wish that the press would focus solely on your music instead of the fact that you are fronted by a pretty face? Or, reversely do you find that this is a positive thing that has helped the band with its career?

We started out as a ‘female-fronted metal band’ when this genre was becoming popular in Europe. We became pretty well know, too. Though our music has moved on, we still owe our good name to this period. We are proud of our history. Breaking free from that particular label was tiresome and frustrating at times, but we are associated with it less and less. The music tends to speak for itself, though it took a while to get people to listen.

Who does most of the songwriting and how do the songs generally evolve?

My brother Jens and me write most of the music and lyrics. All band members live scattered over the Netherlands, so we never rehearse. We share all our ideas over the internet and work on them in our home studios. Everyone contributes his own little special element. Sometime the entire idea gets turned inside out, and quite often a couple of different versions are changing hands. It can be hard to keep track of everything. We completely trust our band members’ abilities to make a good idea even better, so every time we get something back, it’s a new surprise. Imagine getting a stoner style riff back after a prog-enthusiast went to work on it. We never know what will happen! We depend on each other to enhance the quality of the songs. This method keeps us inspired and helps us stay genuine. This is the definitive Autumn line-up and we would probably disband if one of us would decide to call it quits.

I really enjoyed the video for “The Scarecrow”. Do you feel that videos are still a valid medium for promoting music nowadays or do you do it to appease the fans who want a visual aspect to the song?

I think a music video can get new people interested in a band. ‘The Scarecrow’ was not the most obvious choice for a single, but it does stand out because of the strange time signature, melody and eery atmosphere. I am sure we got some people interested in Autumn, and that always helps if you want to sell some CD’s. So yes: I think it’s still a valid medium.

Who are your influences musically?

All members of Autumn have their own musical preferences and we all contribute actively to the final result. I seriously haven’t got a clue what influenced us. Cool artists, I guess, haha.

Any touring plans for North America or elsewhere than Europe?

We are hoping to do a European tour for this album, but we have no solid plans yet. We are looking for a good headliner to support, but regretfully, our style is hard to fit in. Maybe we could tour with ‘Katatonia’ or ‘Psychotic Waltz’. Now that would be grand! Touring europe with ‘The Gathering’ in 2011 was great. A match made in heaven. I’d do that again anytime.

Do you tend to get frustrated about the fact that many people download their music for free off the internet instead of paying $10 to get it off of Itunes or on a CD? Are you actually able to make a living playing music or do you guys need to work day jobs?

Good question. We don’t get frustrated that often. I like to think that people that like our music enough will buy it eventually or come to a show. I don’t see any harm in people ‘sampling’ the goods before purchase. That’s what music enthusiasts mostly do. I used to get tapes from friends and listen to the music they had copied from CD or vinyl. If I liked it, I would buy it for myself. I hope that it still works that way.

I noticed that Metal Blade doesn’t allow any of their artists on streaming sites such as Spotify or Rdio. How do you guys feel about these services personally? Would you prefer to have your music available on streaming sites or do you feel that full priced downloads and CD sales are preferable?

As a band, we need to sell CD’s to exist. That’s a fact. Times are changing and things aren’t looking very good for record companies and artists, so we have to adapt. I think Spotify and Rdio are a great way to get people interested in our music. We can and have to try to use these new media to our advantage, because they are here to stay. We are on Spotify, by the way. Don’t know about Rdio…

What are your top 5 favorite albums of all time?

This question is almost impossible to answer, but I’ll try. In random order:

Tool-Aenima.
Karma To Burn-Karma To Burn.
Entombed-Clandestine.
Massive Attack- Mezzanine.
Kyuss-Welcome To Sky Valley.

Anything else you want to say?

Thank you for your time. Support your favorite bands, because they’ll need it!

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