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InterviewsSoT Speaks with Manda Ophuis and Hendrik Jan de Jong of Dutch act Nemesea

Posted on Sunday, March 25 2012 @ 08:07:55 CDT by Pete Pardo
Progressive Metal

Nemesea is a Dutch symphonic metal band formed back in 2002 in Groningen, Netherlands. The band was founded by vocalist Manda Ophuis and guitar player Hendrik Jan de Jong in September of 2002. Their first performance was April 2003, when they opened up for After Forever, a band their sound has often been compared with. They signed with the Dutch label Ebony Tears in November 2003 and released their first album, Mana, in November of 2004. For their second album they signed up for the Dutch crowdsourcing website Sellaband, and were the first band to raise over $50,000 from fans to create their next album, In Control, which was released in June of 2007. They signed a distribution deal with Rough Trade Records to distribute the album. In September of 2009, the band released a live album, Pure Live @ P3. The Quiet Resistance is their latest album and it is spectacular.

SoT's Mark Johnson was lucky enough to find both band founders vocalist, Manda Ophuis and guitar player Hendrik Jan de Jong, as well as keyboard player Lasse Dellbrugge, open & willing to participate in an interview and talk in-depth about the band.

SoT - Nemesea seems to have a great fighting spirit. After reading over your band bio, you have had to claw and fight your way to the top. Sounds like a great "Rocky" story, which we Americans love. Your fans have supported you well. That angst and drive really shined through in "Caught in the Middle". The lyrics say it all, "Yes I know nothing comes for free. Just let me see what is right for me. What's it like to be the best." Tell us about the story of your rise and signing with Napalm Records, from your perspective. (Great workout song, by the way).

Hendrik Jan de Jong - Your are right about the fighting spirit! Things didn't go as planned for the band over the years and we faced some difficult times asking ourselves the same question over and over again; "do we give up or push through?" It has always been the last one. Napalm came into the picture about a year ago. They asked us if we would work with them for the next couple albums and we teamed up.

SoT -Can you shed some light on the story behind the opening narrated track, The Quiet Resistance?

Manda - From day one we spent all our effort on Nemesea. We are very dedicated to making music but somehow we couldn't find the right people to work with, for instance a label, management or booking agent, etc. This lead to the situation that we weren't playing live very much, weren't able to play outside of Holland to work on an international career. The general radio stations didn't support us by playing our songs etc etc. We had a few management flaws that also didn't help. Next to that, and this was our own choice, we changed our music style that lead to a situation that we had to start from scratch. This also slowed down the process of "making it" whatever that means :)

SoT -Tell us a little about your home region and the surroundings which inspire your music?

HJ - Well, the band is pretty divided over Holland. Lasse and Frank live more to the centre, where more is happening. Manda, Sonny and I live up north and although we live in a cool city called Groningen, there isn't a lot going on. Inspiration isn't coming from our surroundings to be honest. We get inspired by music from all over the world.

SoT -Afterlife is another song of hope and struggle to get through the obstacles we all face daily. This song seems more personal though. Please describe the inspiration for the song in more detail?

Manda - I don't go into lyrics too much because I really want the listeners to feel/fill in their own stories/ emotions. Afterlife is about an impossible but necessary love, that's basically it.

SoT -What is your favorite song, your favorite vocalist and artist of all time?

Manda – I have a very broad taste of music; I love rock, metal but also a lot of pop music and artists. A song that I've absolutely loved from the first time I heard it was Cry Me a River from Justin Timberlake. The melancholy in that song really struck me. Artists I like are: Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Jared Leto and bands I really appreciate are Rammstein, 30 Seconds to Mars, Paramore, Linkin' Park, Limp Bizkit, etc.

SoT -Which is your favorite song to sing/play on The Quiet Resistance?

Manda – I don't have just one favourite song. All the songs are dear to me. If You Could is very special to me as well as Release Me.

SoT -Whenever describes a different side of the struggle to rise from conditions that are not of your choosing. Please describe the inspiration for this track.

Manda – As I said before I don't go into the meaning behind the lyrics, sorry.

SoT -If You Could, slows things down and provides a softer side of Manda's vocal style. Tell us about the moment you pulled the lyrics and melody together to create this warm song.

HJ – I write most of my songs just on acoustic guitar and this song just came out pretty fast. Sometimes this happens :) The only thing I had to figure out was the key and right sound environment for Manda because during the writing I sing the songs myself. When Manda came up with lyrics we knew we had to give it this structure that is slowly building up to a climax.

SoT -High Enough brings together a great teaming of Manda and Delain's Charlotte Wessels? What was it like to work with her?

Manda - We know Delain/Charlotte from playing live with them a couple of times. HJ was thinking about a duet and when writing that song he thought of asking Charlotte because of the voice combination. Charlotte was happy to do the track with us. It turned out very well.

SoT -Say is a great song about overcoming lies and promises made without fulfilment. "Say it like you mean it. Words are strong enough to make you swear". The music is some of the best on the album up to that point. Describe the writing process within Nemesea using this or another track.

HJ – Often songs start with a small part. Sometimes it's a chorus, sometimes a riff or verse..

Say started with the chorus. I came up with it on acoustic guitar. Then Lasse came with the intro melody and when I had both parts I could write the rest of the track. It wasn't a hard one to finish, I remember Whenever was…

SoT -It's Over sounds like a break – up song. Describe one of your worst experiences, without naming names. (laughs)

Manda – I haven't got one! (laughs)

SoT -I Live is full of excellent piano and soft vocals. It is a rare moment of peace and seeming tranquillity amongst the many phases of angst on the album. Manda you did a great job holding that final note.

Manda – Thanks!

SoT -Stay with Me features some of Lasse Dellbrugge's best keys. Would he like to comment on where the inspiration came from for this symphonic expression?

Lasse – Well, to be honest, Stay with me is one of my least favourite tracks when it comes to sound design because it's mainly orchestra, and I'm more into the electronic side of keyboards. I remember working with Joost (producer) on the track and both he and HJ wanted a more classical approach. This is cool when not used on every track ha, ha, but nobody in the band wants that, only this one.

SoT -Rush is another solid powerhouse. That opening keys and guitar duo is cosmic. Describe how this track was developed.

HJ – I had the verse riff/ key part already. This was an idea that originally was meant for the In Control album. The vibe on IC was very different, so this idea didn't match. But, when an idea has potential I save in a certain folder .

When I started again with this old idea I could easily make a melody on it, one I liked. After that the chorus was a bit of a struggle, especially the band arrangement, meaning the drum, bass and guitar parts. But… it worked out.

SoT -Release Me has a cool atmosphere reaching vocal for Manda. What is like to perform that one on stage? (Sounds like you even brought along a crowd for the track…(laughs)

HJ – We didn't play the song live that often but it's definitely a cool live track. We stretch the guitar solo a bit so for me ... very cool.

SoT -2112, must have been a lot of fun for Dellbrugge? So what is everyone in Nemesea's thoughts on the Mayan Calendar and this infamous year?

Manda - Most of us feel that in some way it must be right. We feel the world will "explode" in a way. The world as we know it will definitely change. In what way is hard to tell of course. Let's see what December 21 will bring us.

SoT -Describe the inspiration and development of Alien, and the guest vocals.

HJ – Ha ha, it's Allein and its German for alone. It all started with a key part written by Lasse. I do this often, pick a certain theme or instrumental part and start writing a song around it. This is the challenge.

It already had an industrial feel/sound and when I came up with the guitar riff it had a Rammstein feel. Then you can do 2 things, throw it away and come up with something new or choose to give a 100% feel. That's what we did and this is also the reason for asking Heli to sing on the track. He's comes closest to Till's voice but also keeps his own originality in a way. The right voice for this track.

SoT -I was inspired when I read on Facebook that Nemesea and Stream of Passion teamed up for some shows last year. How much fun was it to play with Marcela and Stream of Passion?

HJ - We didn't know Stream of Passion personally, for instance compared to Delain, and we don't connect with their music that much but it was great fun. We'll do a show with them in the end of March again. We are looking forward to that.

SoT -Do you have future planned shows with Stream of Passion or the other bands on the Napalm Label?

Manda – Not that we know of.

SoT -Tell us about your future plans for the The Quiet Resistance tour?

Manda - There are some plans to do an international tour this year but nothing is 100% sure yet. Next to that we'll do festivals this summer, mostly in Holland and Belgium.

SoT -When are you planning to return to the studio again?

HJ – We are aiming for recording sessions for the next album this summer :)

SoT -Can you share any new teasers or ideas for the next Nemesea album?

HJ – I'm writing lot's of songs but haven't finished any of them, it's just basic melody ideas, nothing listenable for the audience yet without them getting the wrong impression.

SoT -Is there anything else you would like to add that I did not cover in the interview?

Manda – American fans are really important for us. We've had a lot of support from fans over there. We want to say thank you for that and we really hope to come to the USA one day. Until then stay tuned 'cos new music is already on its way!

SoT -Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. We at the Sea of Tranquility wish you and Nemesea much success with the launch of The Quiet Resistance and all that you do in the future. As fans we'll be watching for your continued success.

Mark Johnson

(Click here to read our reviews of The Quiet Resistance)

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