Knight Area is a progressive rock adventure founded by Dutch composer Gerben Klazinga in 2004. Now on their fourth magnum opus, Nine Paths is a stunning masterwork soon to be released on The Laser’s Edge here in the States. The album features the participation of Charlotte Wessels of Delain on one track and was mixed by noted producer Neil Kernon (Queensryche, Nile, Nevermore). We recently had the opportunity to interview a few of the Knights to find out more about their fantastic new album, past shows in the States, working with Ms. Delain and Mr. Kernon, and other grand topics. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Knight Area, and how long the band has been together.
Mark Smit: I am the lead singer and play additional keyboards.
Mark Vermeule: I am the guitarist of the band.
The band started in 2004, just after the release of Gerben Klazinga’s Knight Area project The Sun Also Rises. In order to promote the album, he decided to start a band, that at the time consisted of seven musicians. Since about two years, two of them quited, and now we’re with five.
Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there?
Mark Vermeule: We live in different places in the middle part of The Netherlands, but most of the time we meet in Boskoop, where our keyboard player lives and has his studio. The music scene is quite diverse. We have bands that cover rock, pop, funk, blues, etcetera. Fortunately, there’s also a steady base of progressive rock fans, which gives us the opportunity to perform locally. However, it sometimes feels like there’s more interest in progressive rock in other countries. That’s actually cool, because that means we can travel for our gigs.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Nine Paths?
Mark Smit: It isn’t a concept album with a full story like Realm of Shadows. Nine Paths refers to an interpretation of the tarot, where each of the paths has a theme. Likewise, each of the nine tracks on Nine Paths refers to a theme: Mastery, Insight, Joy, Transformation, Peace, Relationship, The Seeker, The Universe, and The Sage.
Please select two songs from the new album and what inspired the lyrical content?
Mark Smit: The opening song Ever Since You Killed Me is about a woman who has been killed by her husband and now returns as a ghost to seek judgement, and eventually takes him with her by scaring him to death. The inspiration came from the tarot theme “judgement”. The River is inspired by a weekend I spent in the Alps, where everything is still untouched by human hand. It tells the story of the perfect world of nature in which the river is formed, and the polluted human world where it ends.
What was it like working with Neil Kernon and what did he contribute to the overall process?
Mark Vermeule: In short, it was a great opportunity for us to work with someone like Neil. He’s obviously very experienced and good at his work, but also a nice person to work with. We’ve been recording and mixing our albums by ourselves for quite some time now, and we agreed that it would be good to get in a fresh set of ears. We learned quite a lot from this experience on how we want to record in the future and about the possibilities, sonically speaking. To me, that’s one of the most important things Neil contributed: making sure that we sound how we want to.
What could one expect from a live Knight Area show?
Mark Smit: Knight Area has always been about quality, especially live. Our material is diverse which allows us to please many types of audience, from pop to rock and from symphonic to progressive metal. We are always grateful for everyone who comes to see us play, and I think it shows.
Mark Vermeule: A while a go, we had a limited release of a live album. We received some nice comments, people saying that they enjoyed the energy from the live performance.
What was the experience like playing Nearfest and what did you think of the States?
Mark Smit: Nearfest was a great and rewarding experience, it was one of the first concerts we played and I was overwhelmed by the responsiveness of the audience and the number of visitors who already knew our debut album. It was my first time in the USA, we returned to play there in 2008, and it was great! The people were very friendly, treated us like movie stars and hopefully we will get the opportunity to play there again.
Mark Vermeule: In addition, I think that there’s something about the States, where people really are professional about these kind of events, and still are fun to work with because they just love this type of music.
Has Knight Area ever played any other shows the States or plan to do so in the future?
Mark Vermeule: We once did a charity concert in Greensboro. We also performed at FMPM in Montreal, and that’s about it on your side of the ocean. From these three experiences we still have some warm relations, and once in a while we still have contact to discuss the possibilities. It really takes some effort to plan these long distance tours and make it work financially. I hope we can come over soon.
What was it like working with Charlotte Wessels of Delain and have you ever performed Please Come Home live with her?
Mark Smit: We recorded in separate studios, so we didn’t meet until after the recordings. It was interesting to hear her stories about her career and Delain. It was refreshing to hear how a fellow musician looks at a band like Knight Area and the music business in general. We haven’t played live with her yet, she is busy recording for the new Delain album, but it may happen on a future occasion.
Mark Vermeule: Charlotte was great. She’s really approaching this professionally and the first track that she sent us was spot on.
Who did the stunning cover art for Nine Paths and how much input did you have on it?
Mark Smit: The cover art was made by Dennis Sebeijn from damnengine.net. My input was the album title, the tarot themes and the song texts. He almost instantly came up with the basic idea of the wheel with the nine paths, we only had minor suggestions for the final version. It was great working with him.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Knight Area?
Mark Smit: Outside of Knight Area, I am keyboard player in a Queen Cover band called Miracle. Recently I have also done some guest vocals for the new album Solutions of the Dutch prog band Songs Of The Exile (S.O.T.E.).
Mark Vermeule: Knight Area is the only band I’m involved with at the moment.
Any final words of wisdom?
Mark Smit: Nine paths leading to the world of the Knights!
Mark Vermeule: I hope you all enjoy our new album Nine Paths as much as we enjoyed creating it!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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