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
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!
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.
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]
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?
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
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?
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
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?
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
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
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].
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.
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
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.
der Linden: songwriter, singer, leader
Jelle Goossens: guitar, keys
van Nuenen: guitar, keys, backing vocals
Martijn Jorissen: bass, keys,
Jeroen Dirrix: drums, keys