Alternative Matter got the privilege of talking with Tank86, a instrumental progressive metal band out of the Netherlands. With their release of Rise these Dutch metal heads are destined to become a force to be reckoned with in the metal community.
Guys, first off let me take this moment to thank you for taking time to answer some questions for Alternative Matter.
No problem at all.
Can you give us a quick history of Tank86 for the world at large?
Joost (guitarist) and me started the band in 2004 together with drummer Jan who was with us in a few crappy bands before that. We were soon joined by Floris on guitar and recorded our first EP (Ariba) in 2005. In 2007 Rogier took over the drums and is still pounding the crap out of them right now. In 2008 we recorded another EP (Behold) and it brought us a European tour supporting Dozer and some sweet shows with Monster Magnet, Pelican and the like. At the beginning of 2010 Floris quit the band due to health issues and was replaced by Harold. We recorded our first full length album “Rise” last year and released it through our own label Rising Magma Records about a month ago.
What lead you as a group to instrumental music rather than traditional vocal style of musical creativity, instrumental work is a very hard road to travel and how did you decide on that road?
When we started TANK86 out of our previous crappy bands, we deliberately set out on the instrumental route so we could keep stuff in our own hands and not be dependent on singers and the egos that they generally bring with them. And I think when you listen to “Rise” you’ll hear there’s hardly any room for vocals anymore. There’s just too much going on. You have to work harder to write good and interesting songs, but it’s also more fun, because there’s so much cool stuff you can do. There’s no conventional song structures you have to keep to and it’s easier to combine different styles. And let’s be honest, there is nothing more awesome than huge piles of big riffs now is there? Vocals can be great for sure, but more often than not they just take away the attention from what it’s really all about.
Does this mean you will rule out completely vocals later on if they make sense to your music? Maybe a guest vocalist for a track or two?
I think it’s highly unlikely. There’s two guest appearances on “Rise” and we specifically asked cool guitarists to contribute and not vocalists. So now there’s two solos by Peter van Elderen (Peter Pan Speedrock) and by Tommi Holappa (Dozer/Greenleaf) on the record and that turned out great. So if there will be more guest appearances it’s probably going to be more guitarists that we really like.
What were your major influences when you set down to write Rise, what are your major influences today as you continue working on new material.
Obviously, there’s a lot of influences from all kinds of directions, but if I have to name some specific ones, I’d say High of Fire, Baroness, Grand Magus and Mastodon. Just good heavy bands with a progressive edge to them.
Is that early Mastodon or later Mastodon that you prefer. It seems like there is some split amongst fans as to which sound is better?
Well I loved Crack the Skye when it came out and even own the vinyl, but when I listen to Mastodon now I tend to go back to the older stuff like Leviathan, it just seems to age better somehow. Same goes for Baroness, Blue Album was great when it came out, but now I only really listen to the old EPs, those still tear me a new one every time.
What is the Dutch metal scene like these days? I have a friend who lives there and it seems to be a little hit or miss?
Well there is a lot of stuff going on in all places, but it really depends on your style and tastes. That’s the thing with metal, it a huge genre, but it’s really fragmented into a lot of subgenres with distinct fans. For us as an instrumental band it’s less of a problem, because we mix up our styles a lot, so we tend to go together well with a wider spectrum of bands. Holland’s got plenty of venues, so a lot of good bands come over here to play and that’s always a good thing.
Are there any Dutch acts that you would like to work with?
Well we’re actively planning collaboration with our Belgian friends from SardoniS. They know a thing or two about heavy instrumentals so to speak, so that should be awesome. We’ve played with a lot of cool Dutch heavy bands in our Rising Magma travelling heavy festivals as well and we’re always open to work with likeminded bands.
What is the touring situation like for you? Are you having to keep close to home and is there any chance that you will be heading to Europe or the States anytime soon.
We’ve been working so hard at getting all the stuff for the release of Rise done that we’ve only just started with booking new shows. We’re definitely going to tour Europe after the summer and we’re currently talking to booking agencies to work it all out. We always keep an open mind for good ideas thrown at us too. We definitely want to tour the States as well, it’s just a little harder to organise because of the distance and costs of travel. So we’re currently concentrating on Europe, but the US is right on top of our list after that. We’ve worked our asses off writing and recording “Rise”, we’re eager to tear down stages everywhere with it!
Can you comment on how your cover art came to being? Artwork is such an important statement for a band, even in this day of digital downloads, artwork is still noticed and commented on?
We used a statue for the artwork on “Behold” and we thought that this worked so well that we continued this style on “Rise”. A statue can be very powerful without using any words and this is obviously very fitting for TANK86. It’s just all about summoning up the right atmosphere and let the listener fill in the rest.
What message do you want to send to the world at large about Tank86?
We’re not big on the messaging thing, we don’t even put a mic on stage because we want the music to speak for itself. So I guess the message is just heavy riffing! And don’t hesitate to contact us about stuff, we like discussing heavy stuff.