Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Sharon den Adel, the lead vocalist of Within Temptation, about their new album “Resist” out February 1st. We talked about certain songs, the writing process for an album, and how the sound on this album is different from previous Within Temptation albums.
Sharon started by talking about the creative forces that brought this album together. Especially after the struggles to write it and doing her “My Indigo” project, “I did not feel the power and emotion I needed to write for Within Temptation. Those songs are a lot more powerful and expressive then what I wrote for my solo album. I was in a different kind of world and could not write those powerful, expressive lyrics that were needed. I am a person who can only write what I am feeling and what is close to me. When I did the “My Indigo” project it allowed me to write to clear space for me to move on to the new Within Temptation album. It took us about a year to do this album and the “My Indigo” project gave us some new inspiration on how to write lyrics differently. It opened up some new possibilities for us. Every time we made a change with an album in the past, there was an external part with another musician or something else that would give us inspiration. The production of this album has also allowed us to use sounds we have never used in metal for our own music. We have never been a groovy band, but this album has some groovy songs on it. We also have a lot of urban influences and urban music that influenced the way we write lyrics which changes the timing of my vocals. A lot of this is coming from what I learned from “My Indigo” and took with me to Within Temptation.
The age that we are living in is what inspired the actual lyrics for “Resist”. Technology is a good thing and we embrace it, but on the other hand, there is a less beautiful side to technology. Especially when you look at the internet and social media and how it influences people to vote or how to think about life and the effect it has on minorities. It is very easy to influence people in a certain way and that was an inspiration source for us. If you are reading something on the internet, you don’t know who is behind it. Rather it be a company or a Government, maybe even a person you don’t know. You must be careful of the newsfeeds you get and be critical of them. Don’t put yourself in a box and always look at the same kind of sites. You only get one side of the news and you need to look at the bigger picture.”
We then talked a little more about the metal sound on the new album and I mentioned it reminded me of a cross between Within Temptation and Imagine Dragons, “Imagine Dragons has been such an influence on the band indirectly and music scenes everywhere. It is because they use so many different styles on an album. The first album was very rebellious, and the producer was great. The way they mix the music is wonderful and if you mix that with metal and rock you get our new album. I think that is a great way of putting it. We like so many different types of music styles. I like reggae, metal, classical music and when you can blend it all together you can get some great sounds. The basis of what we do is rock and metal, but you try to implement a lot of those styles in the music you like and try to implement it in your music.”
Sharon then talked about the song Firelight and the dark atmosphere the song has, “That is one of my favorite songs. I wrote it for “My Indigo” originally, but it was too dark. We did some new arrangements on it and it became a song for Within Temptation. When the band heard it, they agreed it was way too dark for “My Indigo” and I agreed also. It really stood out as a heavy song. It was also a song that everyone thought was a Within Temptation song but was different from past songs.”
Sharon then talked about the song Mercy World, “The song to me is about when you have issues with a certain person, and you are angry with them for a long time and then you eventually figure out that is not what it is about. It is not about staying angry and trying to make a point to this person. If a person is very different from you and completely does not understand the situation of why you are so angry, you must realize there is no intent to hurt you in anyway. At a certain point you have been angry all these years and you realize it wasn’t worth the effort for yourself and you should have approached the problem in a different way. You are now sorry that you did not approach it in a different way, and you lost all these years that you could have talked about it instead of just being angry. I really hope in retrospect that you can forgive me for all those years.”
Next Sharon talked about the writing process for a Within Temptation album, “Sometimes we start with musical rhythms and you see what comes up. It depends on who is writing. Robert is always writing choruses first. When I write with Daniel the producer, we are going for atmosphere. Doing it that way, the chorus eventually comes by itself. You go step by step to build up a certain picture that becomes a song. It depends on who you are working with. I really find atmosphere helps me write more then just trying to write a chorus. It is a lot easier to write the chorus if you know the atmosphere of the music first for me. It is a little different with everyone I am writing with.
Next up was talking about the single The Reckoning and recording with Jacoby from Papa Roach, “We met Jacoby at the Graspop music festival in Belgium. We ran into him backstage and I told him I really like you guys. He knew I was from Within Temptation and we each knew the other’s music. He does a lot of drawings and he was showing me some stuff he was working on and I thought it was cool. The conversation was basically about art. We went back home, and I thought if we ever have a song that fits his voice, I would really like to work with him. He is a really nice guy and you need the voice to fit the song, but it is also important to work with people you really like. We thought The Reckoning could be that song. We sent it over to him and he was busy recording an album, but he listened to it and really liked the song. Time wise it was very difficult, but he managed to make it work. I was happy we were able to record the vocals for the song. Unfortunately, he was too busy to be in the video.”
Sharon was a delight to talk with. She is warm, friendly and has a good sense of humor. The new album is fantastic, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I will have an album review of it up shortly.