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Fourteen Twentysix Comes Up Number One
Posted on Wednesday, November 17 2010 @ 17:22:11 CST by Duncan Glenday
Progressive Metal

After sending shockwaves throughout the progressive community with their debut EP, "Songs to Forget", Dutch act Fourteen Twentysix follows-up with an even stronger full-length album. Lighttown Closure is a highly-impressive release, and Sea Of Tranquility's Jeff B recently had a chance to catch up with their mastermind, Chris van der Linden. All fans of unique and highly-original rock music are highly advised to check out Fourteen Twentysix's website, where both of their releases are generously offered at a name-your-price download.

Sea Of Tranquility - Jeff B: First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on the release of Fourteen Twentysix's successful debut album, Lighttown Closure! Are there any notable experiences you want to share when you were making this album?

Fourteen Twentysix - Chris van der Linden: Thanks!

I started Fourteen Twentysix as a solo project in 2006 after quitting playing drums in bands. I wanted to tell my own story but didn't play any guitar or keyboard. I just started recording and learnt along the way, drawing from the experience I gathered while in the studio with other bands. After finishing my first EP I said to Jelle (our guitarist) "I never want to do it all alone again". But as push came to shove I found myself making Lighttown Closure pretty much alone again. That was a struggle cause making a complete album is completely different than just a few songs on a demo. So I learned a lot about overcoming blockades, frustrations and recording fatigue during the whole process.

We've just started writing and recording our new album and now I've managed to get the entire band involved. Those guys started two years ago sort of like session-musicians just for the live shows, but they're an integral part of it all now. The solo project is no more [snifs] [Laughs]

 SoT : Fourteen Twentysix has a very unique sound in the modern progressive scene ... how would you describe your own sound, and what are your main musical influences?

CvdL: Our music is a combination of dreamy, experimental rock which combines traditional elements with more progressive and electronic elements. We draw influences from bands such as Chroma Key, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and Anathema. Personally I was a big fan of Tiamat's A Deeper Kind of Slumber and Paradise Lost's Host, because they blended '80s electronic stuff with darker rock. I know the other band members are into other music styles too such as classical piano music, industrial and postrock / indiepop. So we bring a lot of styles to the table and making them our own.

 SoT : What gave you inspiration to start Fourteen Twentysix, and how did you decide upon that name?

CvdL: I wanted something strange that would stick out and make people wonder. Most band names are obvious, ours is abstract. While the numbers have a personal significance to me we don't tell that. Not knowing is part of the mystery. And who cares? Its about the music and the band name should make you curious about the music.

 SoT : Have you been involved in any past bands or projects prior to Fourteen Twentysix?

CvdL: Yes I've played drums in several death and doom metal bands which was great. I'm still a big fan of bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema and Meshuggah. After that I moved into more progressive / postrock / indie territories with a band called Sweet Assembler. We recorded two albums with that band which got very good reviews in Holland and Belgium. I gained loads of stage experience with those guys, something that will benefit me always. Also I picked up my first recording/engineering experience with Sweet Assembler, because we were doing everything ourselves mostly. That provided a sort of latent base of knowledge to draw from with Fourteen Twentysix.

 SoT : Tell me a little bit about the debut EP, 2009's Songs to Forget.

CvdL: Songs to Forget was my first set of songs I did after quitting Sweet Assembler. I was pretty much fed up with being in bands and just wanted to record my own story. It was really learn as you go and just try to be creative with my limited guitar playing skills and so on. I just played keyboard, recorded drums in my bedroom and strummed some guitars. I weaved that into the first songs, which have that particular strange sound no other band had. I used a lot of drum computers because I wanted to move away from the traditional band thing I'd done for so long.

It was also a very dark period for me, my second girlfriend had just left me, I guess I'm better with music than women [Laughs] So for me it was also a way to let out all the frustration, sadness and anger about a lot of things. When I released it online it got very positive feedback, so I decided to promote it some more. To my amazement it got great reviews on various music sites. That was the moment I started thinking about taking those songs to the live stage again.

 SoT : What about the debut full-length, 2010's Lighttown Closure?

CvdL: Lighttown Closure is the logical follow up to Songs To Forget as it deals with similar subject matter. After finishing Songs I really wanted to move into more positive and lighter atmosphere's, let the darkness go a bit. At the start of the recording process I did some songs with Jelle. They we're great and really beyond anything I'd done so far. Some of the stuff was rocking like mad, had great upbeat vibe complete with delayed, bouncing U2-guitar lines. I loved it, it felt fresh and positive.

But then Jelle got busy with finishing his art education and I started recording songs by myself again. The material turned out to be pretty heavy and dark stuff again. Apparently I had to get some more stuff off my chest so to say, a chapter not fully closed yet. I had to overcome the disappointment of the fact that my own songs were so dark again, cause I really wanted to move forward. I spent a whole year working on the album almost every single day to the point where I was about the break down mentally. In the meantime I met a new girl and started living together, that gave me some new breathing room and a bit of a new energy to finish the album. But the guys in the band really had to pick me up sometimes, dragging me through the incredibly heavy times of getting that album together.

When Lighttown was finally finished I wasn't really happy with it. I wanted to make a more positive and vibrant album. What I ended up with was dark, gloomy and slow. Now after half a year I can see the tremendous achievement and good stuff again. It is a massive album with some great songs and soundscaping. It has its flaws for sure and you can sort of hear the struggle of finding the right direction. The album got almost all positive reviews so that is great, it means people do relate to the music and the words. I now look back at this album as being a necessary step I needed to take to be able to fully move forward. It just had to be recorded and released to move on the lighter, new avenues.

 SoT : Do you prefer doing studio recordings or live performances?

CvdL: I'm definitely a studio guy. While I really love playing live shows, to me there's nothing like that magical feeling of creating something with sound and putting it to tape bytes.

If it wasn't for the fans and actual need of playing live to promote yourself I doubt I would pursue playing live so much. On the other hand though the other guys, I know, are definitely more the live show guys. They don't like being in the studio so much. But for me, the most reward is in writing, recording and mixing something and then seeing it published complete with artwork and promotion.

 SoT : What's your opinion on the modern music scene? Would you consider the internet to be a positive or a negative for the music industry?



CvdL: Totally positive. We wouldn't be where we are if there was no Myspace, Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter. We share our music for free as long as we can, and internet is a great tool to meet people.
 
We've generated over 30.000 downloads of our music this way, which in terms of physical sales would not be possible for us. Not without a label for sure, and even than it are numbers not easily challenged.

Of course everything costs money. For our new album we expect to be investing about 4,000 to 6,000 Euro's to record, mix, master and promote it. Lighttown was bout 3K . That's a lot of money next to your standard expenses such as gear, gasoline, merchandise production and food. Everyone likes to earn that money back if possible. We have chosen to invest first and worry about earning it back later. After all we love what we do and then the money is a secondary thing. We all have our day jobs next to this for now so its a trade off.

 SoT : What are your future plans for Fourteen Twentysix?

CvdL: We are currently recording a new album which we intend to release a single with video clip for around February 2011. The new album will be kind of a landmark for us because it is written and recorded as a total band, not a solo project. Also, the rough material we have going now is already a league of its own, in many ways light years ahead of Lighttown Closure [Laughs].

Future plans also include playing live more in the Netherlands and around Europe. We are trying to break into Belgium, Germany and eastern European countries such as Croatia and the Czech Republic.

We'll do as much as we can independently but are also looking into attracting attention of labels and bookers.

 SoT : Do you have a favorite musician or band?

CvdL: Yeah many!

Stuff I keep listening is Fredrik Thordendahl's Special Defects album Sol Niger Within and things like Katatonia, Meshuggah and SYL.
When I'm not listening loud stuff I listen to bands like Imogen Heap, AHA and Depeche Mode and ambient artists such as Ben Woods.

 SoT : Here's the toughest question... favorite album of all-time?

CvdL: Oh [Laughs] that's evil.

I think I'd have to say Sol Niger Within, the solo album by Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendahl. Also, Ultra by Depeche Mode ranks high as a favorite.
Most of the albums rank high because of their nostalgic value, not all of it is something I listen to again daily. Guilty pleasure would be October Rust by Type-o-Negative .

 SoT : Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Is there anything else you want to share before we close up?

CvdL: You're welcome, always a pleasure.

We'd like to invite everyone reading this interview to download our music and give it a spin. Also, we'd love you to become a Fan on our Facebook site. We post news daily which is a great way to keep in touch with us.

Jeff B






Band members:

Chris van der Linden: songwriter, singer, leader
Jelle Goossens: guitar, keys
Tom van Nuenen: guitar, keys, backing vocals
Martijn Jorissen: bass, keys, backing vocals
Jeroen Dirrix: drums, keys



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