Anneke van Giersbergen talks VUUR and her heavy new direction
Anneke van Giersbergen plunges into the turbulent waters of progressive metal with VUUR. She tells Prog about her new direction and finding players who can kick her kick her songs in the butt
I t’s been a decade since Anneke van Giersbergen left The Gathering, the band that first brought her fame, to strike out on her own. In those 10 years, she’s lent her creative energies to a host of projects, from collaborating with Devin Townsend, Danny Cavanagh and Arjen Anthony Lucassen to releasing solo albums and recording and touring with The Gentle Storm. Now she’s set to unleash her heaviest music to date with her new band VUUR – which means ‘fire’ – on In This Moment We Are Free – Cities. Where does she find the time?
“I love singing so everything people ask me to do, most of it I say yes to,” says van Giersbergen. “My husband Rob, who is also my manager, has to stop me a lot of times: ‘You really physically don’t have time to do this.’ Having said that, I did everything in the last 10 years and I feel like I need to focus more on a few specific things. Maybe you can say it’s the same as being married for all this time, then you break up and you do it with everybody and then it’s out of your system and you’re relaxed again. Then you can… I wouldn’t say settle down, but I would say focus on a few things that I love the most.”
VUUR share plenty of personnel with The Gentle Storm, the band founded by van Giersbergen and Lucassen. Joost van den Broek has switched from playing keys to producing and co-writing, while drummer Ed Warby, guitarist Ferry Duijsens and bassist Johan van Stratum all contributed to The Gentle Storm before joining VUUR.
“Arjen and I put a band together just so we could tour with The Gentle Storm and I realised halfway through, ‘Holy shit, this is such a good band,’” says van Giersbergen. “The players are really good and they’re such nice guys. I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this now, with them,’ so I asked them, ‘Will you join me in a new band?’”
Despite the familiar faces behind the scenes and in front of the camera, plus new kid on the block Jord Otto as lead guitarist, the two groups sound completely different. Where The Gentle Storm had strong folk and classical influences, VUUR have their feet firmly planted in progressive metal, with a dash or three of djent in the pummelling attack of Otto and Duijsens’ twin-guitar onslaught.
“It’s a funny thing,” says van Giersbergen. “We wrote on a six-string with a drop tuning. Neither Joost nor me can play a seven-string but we always worked in a key that was good for a seven-string because we had guitar players who play seven-strings and our bassist has an extra string so it’s going to be extra low, low, low. We had distinctive ideas about how fresh but heavy it should sound.”