Merel Bechtold will be known to many fans of Metal from across genres, from the brutal sounds of MaYaN through to the melodies of Delain and the Progressive stylings of The Gentle Storm. Bechtold’s latest release is from her own band Purest of Pain, with their first full length album, ‘Solipsis.’ Purest of Pain debuted with the ‘Revelations in Obscurity’ EP in 2011, but Bechtold says of ‘Solipsis,’ “It’s very different. ‘Revelations,’ we really had no idea what we were doing, actually. And it sounds really bad. I don’t think the guy who recorded us was the perfect person for this, as well – informing 18 or 17-year old kids, ‘Change your strings,’ and all those kinds of things, very basic things. And of course we had a different singer. I think the sound was already kind of there, even though it was a little bit more Metalcore back then. But this album, this is how we sound really.”
“With the first singer Ilja [van de Rhoer],” Bechtold continues, “he was my best friend, and we always went to concerts together. This is also where I met him. It wasn’t a selection based on musicality or on skills, it was just like, ‘You’re one of my best friends, do you want to be in a band together?’ So that’s how it started off. I actually never heard him before. So it was already a very different way to start. And with J.D. [Kaye], we checked him out, and one of the things that is really an improvement is that J.D. has a big musicality, good timing. But one thing is the same, and that is that they’re both really, really smart guys. They’re both smartasses, let’s put it that way,” she adds wryly. “They’re full of philosophy, and that’s of course where ‘Solipsis’ came from. So that’s one thing that is the same.”
When it comes to writing the album, Bechtold was absolutely the driving force. “Michael [van Eck] wrote E.M.D.R., and I wrote all the other songs. That was just a very lonely process, let’s put it that way,” she laughs. “Most of the songs I wrote actually turned up on the album. We didn’t really delete songs. It was a long process because I’m actually the only writer, and of course I had a lot of stuff going on. I spent so much time on arranging things around the band as well that music was on a very low level of doing it. So I really just wrote two or three songs a year, and these are those songs.”
The album was partly crowdfunded through an IndieGoGo campaign, which turned out to be a very positive experience for Bechtold. “It was actually really cool. I had no idea what to expect from it, because I never did it before. A few friends of mine did it before, but I just had to do this all by myself. That said, it was an amazing experience. I got a lot of energy out of it, I didn’t expect it to be so much fun, because it was really cool to connect with the people who follow me as well. And we had a really great end result of the IndieGoGo campaign, if I can put it that way. I didn’t expect that to happen, to be honest. That was really cool. Before I was working, playing for six years to get a budget together and so we had to do a lot by ourselves, we had to be creative with the budget because it was still a very small budget. And for our next album, I don’t have to play for six years. We can do an IndieGoGo campaign and start from there, record the album and work the other way around, and then do shows. It gives a lot of new perspectives for the future, and I think it’s really cool how people reacted to it. I think it’s important that you don’t have to be a slave of labels any more. You don’t have to be a part of it because this is a really good way to fund your budget.”
Despite having found relative financial freedom for the band, touring isn’t currently on the agenda for Purest of Pain. “We don’t have plans yet, I suppose I’d say it that way,” Bechtold says. “And one of the reasons is that touring as an unknown band is really, really, really expensive. You would be shocked. I wouldn’t say it’s not worth it, but it’s just crazy how things are at the moment. It’s not because a band is really cool that another band wants you on tour with them. Of course, if there’s a good offer, then yeah, but I don’t expect it to happen.
“But actually with Delain we talked about it a couple of times,” she says a little wistfully, “to go to Australia, but it’s such a big adventure – and that’s the fun part – but financially it’s a big investment, so is it worth it? Maybe if you can combine it with something like Asia, then it’s somehow possible. I really would like to tour Australia. It’s definitely a place I would like to see, and then stay for a few weeks, maybe,” she grins. “Hopefully one day, it would be really cool. I would be super psyched.”
But for Purest of Pain, “Releasing it is the next step. Because we’re an independent band, we don’t have a distribution company involved, so we’re doing everything ourselves. So that’s a really big task that’s planned in my agenda. And I’m actually currently writing new music, which really feels like a relief because I haven’t been able to create new music for a while because of touring, but also because of how my mind was full with this for a long time. I felt like I couldn’t continue unless this is ready, and it’s actually now. So I started writing a lot of small parts of music to kind of get a new idea, or new inspiration for new music. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. Maybe it’s going to be a total new album of a total new project. Probably a big chance that’s going to happen because I have some parts that I really dig, to put it that way, that have potential, but it’s different than any of the bands, really. I also write music a little bit for Delain now. So I started getting myself involved with it. I don’t know what’s going to happen, what’s going to turn out on the album or what they are going to do with it. That’s their thing, I just deliver some music, and we’ll see what happens.”
With so many projects under Bechtold’s belt, it was interesting to explore which has been the most challenging for her as a musician. “I think Delain,” she answers after a pause to reflect. “Even though it’s the easiest music to play, it’s the hardest music to play because the other things are really close to my comfort zone. I play Metal. MaYaN is really challenging, it’s really hard music, but for me it’s peanuts because it’s my comfort zone. And Gentle Storm was challenging to remember all the stuff, but it was good to play it. But I think Delain is challenging because there is so much you have to play as a rock musician, not as a Metal musician. As a Metal musician you’re used to playing all the time, playing riffs, the complete song, and that’s it. With Delain there’s so much more you need to be perfect, of course you need to be perfect in general, but it’s different because you’re not the key instrument, but you have to be very functional, and of course the leads and the solos are not the ones that I created, so when I have to play that it’s kind of challenging because it’s not mine, so it plays different. It feels different. I think with Delain it was the hardest to make it mine, to make it my own. And with the other bands it was easy, it simply felt good. But with Delain it really took time to make it feel good, and to make it feel like my own. That was not really about the playing. To me as well, Delain is a rock band, not a Metal band, but of course those opinions are different, within the band even. And I’m sure especially among the fans. But if you compare it to the other bands I play with, Delain is really soft,” she laughs.
PUREST OF PAIN’S ‘SOLIPSIS’ IS RELEASED MARCH 1. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE!