To start again after a decade of being in a hugely popular metal band. Floor Jansen was all of 16 when she joined up with a band that would soon call themselves After Forever. That was in 1997 and during their time together, the Dutch collective toured all across the world and recorded a total of five well received albums. All came to an end in 2009, and yet all great artists live another day to create. Floor Jansen has done just that, unleashing a tremendous new band called ReVamp. With a staggering new self-titled album on Nuclear Blast and offers of new tours on the horizon, there is truly life After Forever and beyond. We recently spoke with Floor Jansen to discuss the many aspects of her dynamic new band…
How did you feel about the final self-titled After Forever album, and what was the state of the band at the time of the recording?
I’m very proud of that last album. I think it’s definitely the best After Forever album we ever made. It was a very exciting time to record that. We had a very cool producer. We had never worked with that producer before. He came in at the very end of the writing process. We had 95 percent done and he came in to finalize the sound with us. It was a very good addition to what we could do ourselves. It was a very intense process.
Is there any significance in what made you decide to choose the band name ReVamp?
It’s always hard to choose a name. But this one was really something that I thought, “Yeah, it has a cool sound.” I really like the meaning of it – it really represents the moments in my life now. It gives new energy to my career. I like the word “Vamp” in it – not as “Vampire” but more like a strong woman in charge of her career. It’s short and nothing too mysterious. It’s more who I am.
How would you describe your music of ReVamp to an After Forever fan?
It’s similar but it’s heavier. It has similarities just as much as it does differences. I use my voice in a very diverse way. It’s more rock oriented and less orchestral – but it’s still bombastic. It’s heavier in general.
What made you and Joost van den Broek from After Forever decide to collaborate on a new project together?
First of all, it’s not a project – it’s a new band. I started it as a project to let it grow into a band just to speed up the process. I didn’t want to be out of the picture for too long. I was thinking, “Who do I want to write for it?” And Joost was the first I thought of. He’s such a great keyboard player and songwriter – he’s somebody who could write in very different styles. With him, I could write something that would not be copy/paste of After Forever. He’s a very reliable, good guy and he was the first one I thought of. Waldemar Sorychta the guitarist was someone I didn’t know before. He called me actually for another project. I asked him to join me in songwriting for this, and he agreed.
And then you have Matthias Landes, the drummer from Dark Fortress, in your band. How did you wind up meeting him?
I started it as a project and let it grow into a band. I had three stages I worked in. First the songwriting, then record the album, then find my band members. The guy who drummed on the album I really hoped could also join live – but he was so busy with other things, that I decided to continue looking. And I checked with the other band members – I checked my own network – I had an ad online that I was looking for band members. Most of the people that thought who could fit the bill submitted audio and video material. And if I thought that there could maybe be something, then I invited them over for auditions. There was actually another drummer I knew from a Dutch band who said, “Hey, you should check him out.” And I did. He did an audition and I was like, “Geez, yeah! He’s great!” He’s a very good, technical drummer – he knows how to do stuff like Dark Fortress very well, but he also knows how to groove and how to play something that’s smooth and easy going. A lot of metal drummers are almost like machines, they’re tight, but they don’t have any feel or groove. And Matthias has both.
I read online that you sang a song with Dark Fortress or helped Matthias with a university project?
Matthias studied at an academy in Rotterdam and had his graduation a couple of weeks ago – and he asked me to join Dark Fortress for a song. It was fun to do. I even painted my face a little bit, because they have this corpse paint. It would have been weird if I didn’t. Of course they didn’t expect me to, but when I was in the backstage while they were already onstage, I just painted a big black thing on my face to blend in.
You said you placed an ad online. You must have gotten some pretty interesting inquiries…
Yeah, there were a lot of reactions. Some realistic and some not. I was very clear on where I wanted people to come from. I mean, I don’t care whether you’re Turkish or South American or African or Indian – I don’t care – as long as you live in the Netherlands. I’m not going to fly you over for rehearsal from the States – or wherever you’re from. You have to be living in the Netherlands. But even that was a difficult one because people from all over the world were, “Yeah! I would love to come over! I’ll immigrate for you!” Wow, okay! That was amazing.
Here’s My Hell is such a dynamic opener. Where did you come up with the lyrics for that one?
I had a bit of a rough time after After Forever stopped. From a lot of the darker thoughts I had through that period of time comes new inspiration. And Here’s My Hell is definitely one of them.
What was it like working with Speed from Soilwork on In Sickness Till Death Do Us Part: Disdain and will he be able to perform his part at any of the ReVamp shows?
(Laughs) I hope so; Russell Allen (of Symphony X) did in our live presentation (on Sweet Curse). But Speed, I haven’t even met him yet. He sang his parts when he was in the studio for Soilwork in the States, so I never met him. But Russell, we’ve been friends for many years since we did the Star One tour together back in 2002. He was in the Netherlands and came over at our show.
What was it like doing the very first ReVamp live show, and were you nervous at all?
Yeah, I was. It was actually 2 ½ years ago that I did my last show with After Forever. Of course I’ve been onstage the time in between – but never with my own metal band for a one and half hour show. We want everything to be perfect – you want your band to feel comfortable – you want your crew able to do their job well. Of course the crew is new too – none of the guys I knew really well in this setting. I had new merchandise coming in and everything. It was very exciting!
Is there any chance of ReVamp coming over to the States to do some shows at all?
It’s definitely high on my wish list, but there isn’t anything complete yet. But I am working on it.
Do you still keep in touch with Mark Jansen and what do you think of Epica and their singer?
Yeah, and actually they even joined us onstage a few weeks ago. We did Disdain with them. Very cool! We’re definitely still in touch, and I have to say, I really like their latest album! The albums before it were not really my type of music, but this last album they very heavy orchestral stuff. I think Simone is using her voice more diversely. For myself as a singer, I always try to be a diverse as possible – it’s my thing. But I also appreciate very much in other voices. It keeps a whole CD more interesting when there’s more colors used in a voice. That was something I missed before, but now I think Simone really grew. They really managed to build up their name. I think that deserves a lot of respect.
What has it been like working with Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon and will you be working on other projects with him?
Working with him is super! And there are actually some things in the pipeline. I can’t really say anything yet, but there are some things coming up.
When you did that song My House On Mars on The Universal Migrator for Ayreon, did you get to meet Johan Edlund of Tiamat, whom you did the duet with?
I didn’t meet him back then. I did meet him later on. He’s a very cool guy. I remember that they told me he was very private person, never really says anything. And when I met him, he was talking, and he was talking, and he was talking. And he’s a very nice guy.
With your music being so dramatic, would you ever want to act and do a musical like Phantom Of The Opera, Mamma Mia, or something similar?
Maybe Phantom yeah – that’s my all time favorite musical next to Jeckyl and Hyde. Acting itself I like. I wonder if I could be an actress – I think it would be fun. I always like to get into the skin of others and when I write, I do the same thing. But a musical, no. I actually studied musical theater for a while and I noticed that I really didn’t fit in. So I could sing, but I’m not a theatrical person. I’m a rock singer. It’s a different world – they’re a different people. Maybe I’ll grow into it when I’m 50 or something – you never know. It’s not like I’m saying no I don’t want to, I think it’s stupid – not at all. It’s just very different, and for now I don’t feel comfortable there, but you never know what the future might bring.
Do you think a few years from now that After Forever will ever want to get together and do a reunion show for the fans?
I think we should call the fortune teller for that. (Much laughter) I don’t know. My focus is not really there right now. I’ve managed to build up my career, my life now with ReVamp – and it seems that the reunion is not really a priority right now. But I know there are a lot of people who would like to see us do that and maybe in time we will. But for now, it’s definitely not my priority in my life.
Let’s talk about a few more songs on the new album. What inspired The Trial Of Monsters?
The idea behind it – today it’s possible to make dictators and war criminals come to court. There’s this international war tribunal in The Hague here in the Netherlands where people who commit crimes against humanity get judged. There is a committee there that looks at it and they actually give voice to the people who became victims of this regime who got into this unfair position. I think that’s a very, very good thing. It’s about The Trial Of Monsters – the trial of dictators, war criminals, and other idiots like that.
You conclude the album with a song called I Lost Myself. Tell me about that song, and did you Find Yourself?
(Laughs) Well, if you read the very last line of the lyrics – I did, yes! It’s actually a very sad time of course – to lose yourself. But I think there are a lot of people – maybe everybody even – that at some point have this moment. Some have it for months – some have it for only a day or a week – some have it for a year. But there’a always a point where you look to yourself in the mirror and think, “Hey, who are you anyway? And what do you want? What is your goal again?” When After Forever stopped, 12 years of my life – at least a period ended. And I really had a lot of moments in the mirror thinking, “What do you want with your life?” I’m a musician and a singer and I couldn’t even imagine doing something else. “But what do you want? What makes you happy? How are you going to go from here?” At the end of the song, I came to the conclusion, “Yeah! This is who I am and will always be.” No matter what happens, there’s always a certain basis which you go from, and that’s yourself. And your goals will adjust along the way – you won’t want the same things in your whole life. So it’s a sad song, but with a happy ending.
Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the United States who have been following your career?
First of all, thank you for following my career. I think it’s very special that a singer from such a small country in the Netherlands gets supported by people from the other side of the ocean. And I’m very grateful for that. I hope that people will really enjoy ReVamp. I hope that the people who like After Forever will enjoy ReVamp too. For those who never liked After Forever, give this one a shot – it’s different. And for those who never knew After Forever, you’ll start fresh anyway, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
ReVamp on Myspace