Earlier this year, Within Temptation released their seventh studio album, Resist, boasting ten new tracks that reference their lengthy back-catalogue while forging new ground by pulling elements from popular modern music in which the band’s members are all interested. For instance, Anders Fridén, Jacoby Shaddix and Jasper Steverlinck contributed vocals to three individual songs on Resist.
Vocalist/songwriter Sharon den Adel struggled with the creation of new material after their 2014 release of Hydra, opting to try creating some solo music under the moniker of My Indigo. It was during the writing of the songs on My Indigo that ideas for the songs that would eventually become Within Temptation’s Resist album took root.
To an unfamiliar ear, Resist may not sound all that different from past releases, but the ten tracks on the album have a level of studio sparkle that differentiates them from Within Temptation’s earlier releases. Elements of pop music, modern rock, and metal can be found throughout the album. The addition of Fridén, Shaddix, and Steverlinck as guest vocalists takes the record into some new terrain as well. Within Temptation just wrapped up a run of North American dates touring with In Flames as their openers. During their Toronto stop, Sharon den Adel took fifteen minutes to speak with us. That interview (including audio) is presented here.
I appreciate you doing this a lot of times vocalists don’t like to do interviews or before they do their shows
Sharon den Adel: Yeah, well I don’t think it will change the problem I’m having with my voice anyway.
Jacoby Shaddix of none other than Papa Roach teams with Within Temptation for the single “The Reckoning.”
Can you talk a little bit about where you were at mentally, physically and emotionally at the end of touring Hydra.
den Adel: When I when we came back from Hydra it was a long tour for me. Also, the way we toured, and there was a lot of things happening. My dad got sick at the end of that tour. And so when I came back, what I normally do is maybe go into the studio because I have a lot of ideas and you’ve been playing the same songs for such a long time. You get bored with them, and you want to write something new. But this time things were quite different. I didn’t feel like going to the studio. I didn’t have any inspiration to know where to take the music in a different direction.
Not just me, everybody in the band who writes had the same problem more or less, on the point that they didn’t know either which direction it should go. We did have an idea, but we didn’t know how to get there. Anyway, for me, I was really frustrated because I always can write very easily and ideas just come very easily to me. And so at that time, I was really feeling like I’m lost. And that was frustrating, it was the first time in my life. And it’s (writing music) for me like a way to express myself. Of course, like any musician.
So, I took some time off and just realized I needed more time from myself and also to look a little bit back on how my life had been so far with the band. And also decide if I still wanted to do this. My dad got sick, and I also realized that I didn’t spend much time with him since he came back from abroad because he used to be an expat and he lived, my parents and me, outside of the Netherlands for many years. And eventually, when I got kids, he said ok, I’m coming back, so I want to enjoy being a granddad and everything. But I didn’t spend much time with him, so I decided I’m just going to spend the time he had, with him.
And so I wrote an album called My Indigo which is more of a singer-songwriter kind of album. I used the same producer as I use for Within Temptation. He’s been with the band for such a long time, and he also understood that I needed to take this side road or maybe a definite goodbye for Within Temptation. But I was gonna do that with him, and I did, and it was it brought me new ideas for Within Temptation and also it was good to get rid of all the things I had in me.
A certain kind of change, well I needed to reflect on my life, and it didn’t fit Within Temptation, so I did My Indigo. I did that. It helped me and helped me also get back to Within Temptation again. We got new ideas for how to do the production for Within Temptation and also songwriting-wise we felt like we took certain things that I did for My Indigo into the songwriting process for this album.
The Resist album dropped on February 1st, 2019, via Vertigo/Spinefarm.
A lot of writers that I like say that when they run into writer’s block; write something else. Just keep writing but do something completely different. So it sounds like you’d figured that out.
den Adel: Yeah. I think we’ve done it before. Also, I remember I think it was around the Hydra or The Unforgiving album. Probably it was Hydra I think we did it at the same time we did the Q Music Sessions which was like this cover album for the radio and also that helped us also develop new ideas for the album. Because when you do something different you get out of your comfort zone and you start exploring in a different way again then you normally do, and you get different impressions of different music styles.
You somehow always take everything you do outside of something that you do the same thing every time you take something new into it, and that really makes sense. It is a necessary change. I think maybe I’ll do next time again with a new My Indigo album or another project… maybe something else. It does work, yeah.
A lot of the songs on that Q album were pop songs that you guys were interpreting.
den Adel: Yeah.
And some of those elements have made it into the material on yet on Resist.
den Adel: Yeah. I mean that one with that the cover songs it was a long time ago. It was mainly My Indigo because My Indigo is more inspired by urban kinds of music. And I think we were never a groove band in Within Temptation, but this album for the first time has some groovy songs on it. It is because we have this time there are songs with a reggae vibe going on and even some hip-hop kinds of things happening. It’s just taking crossover things into our own kind of music, and it makes it more.
It’s not like we’re in now that kind of type of band. We’re not making reggae music we’re not making urban kind of music, but we’re still making Within Temptation music and just implemented certain elements from modern music (how I call it) because they’re more experimental at the moment than any other songs in the metal scene to my opinion.
Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong direction but I think but that’s what was missing for me as an inspiration from the metal scene and in the rock scene – nothing really is happening here. Most new things are coming from different places, more of a pop scene actually and not that you’re making pop music but if you want to sounds modern, or up to date like 2019, you need to have certain things that make it sound “now” actually.
The video for “Supernova” off of Resist was just released in February.
Would you describe Resist as a concept album?
den Adel: No, because I think Resist is like a general theme. It’s like an inspiration source because some songs are not about that at all. So it’s like a few songs are about it and about that in a political way some are more in a personal way and are some songs who have nothing to do with the album title at all. So it’s more like it just became an all overall kind of inspiration source from the world we’re living in now. We are living in a totally crazy world with all the political stuff going on.
So, what are some of the things that you personally would like to resist? And what are some of the things that you would like your children to resist?
den Adel: Oh, well let’s start with my children for instance. It’s like the thing that inspired me. You know it’s like they’re not allowed to be on the Internet in the way that they don’t have their own account for everybody to see. I have closed up accounts for them because they don’t realize like everything they post on it in ten years time… it’s still going to be there. So because it’s very hard to erase things that you put on the Internet and now and my oldest (is) 13 and my youngest is 7. So, if they post stuff, of course, they want to have an account.
Yeah, I can understand because everybody in the class is doing it. But I just want to protect them from whatever idiotic thing they might do in the future and post. They’re not allowed to do anything like that, so it’s more like to protect him because I think what we’re losing now on the Internet is mostly our identity in a way. It’s more about anonymity because I think that’s something we should be a right to have. Not everybody needs to know what I’m doing that everybody needs to know and do something with that with algorithms and stuff like that. I think we have that right. So just want to make them be able to make their own choice in the future.
Was it a band decision to try and move into some of these different directions that you’re exploring on Resist? Were you unified on that?
den Adel: Well, with the people that we’re writing with, yeah. And it was also like we knew that we liked certain bands and kinds of music and we would listen more to that kind of music then maybe bands that were inspiring in the metal scene. So we think okay, you know that’s not what we want to make, but we want to make our kind of music; heavy music but then with certain elements that make it more modern. And I think everybody understood that there was a way to do it, but we didn’t know how to get there. Because these worlds were so far apart from each other. And eventually, if we did find (production-wise) a way to do it. And so yeah. But we’re still exploring because it’s still very hard. Even where we want to write more new songs, It’s still very difficult, I think.
Sharon getting ready back-stage in Toronto, before the band’s show on March 6th at REBEL.
So when you were putting some of these tracks together, and you knew you were gonna collaborate with musicians, did you have musicians in mind? Did you go to Jasper and Anders and Jacoby first?
den Adel: No, no, no, no, no. It was the other way around. It’s like you write the song first and then it’s like ok, which voice would fit on this? The most important thing is the song, and then you see what you can do and who you can ask and who has time as well? Also, all three immediately said “Yes.” For us, it was like (wipes brow) “Whew! I don’t have to explore anymore.” They said yes. Yes. And we have some nice names, and they have amazing voices. Yeah and they all bring something different to the music.
Were you worried at all that the sound on Resist would maybe ostracize some of your fans from back in the day? Did you think that was gonna be a challenge?
den Adel: You know, I think that fans never like change. But they do get shocked by us every time because every time we try something new we try to follow in our own way. And I think it starts with what I like to do (and not I but just the whole band) and I think as long as we are behind the music and we like what we do, it will come across and eventually, hopefully, it will convince people who are maybe like “Ah, You know I don’t like it.”
I heard a lot of people say with previous albums like the song we did with Xzibit (“And We Run”) “oh it’s crap, you know it can’t be good when we have a rapper on.” But they had never heard the song. When they heard the songs like I have to come back to you and say “I’m sorry.” One of the interviews we did with Metal Hammer in Germany, he said, “I really don’t like this song.” And then I saw him a month later for a bigger interview, and he said “this song was on in the office (the Metal Hammer office) and now it’s my favorite song.”
So, of course, that doesn’t always happen, but there are you have, people just need time. We had time for three or five years to change, and they have their first opinion. Of course, you have to maybe let it sink in or something.
I think these fans that are out there who don’t want to hear their favorite musicians change would also be disappointed if you just rested on your laurels and made the same music over and over again.
den Adel: Yeah exactly. So you need change, but it can’t be too much for them. That’s the thing, probably. But I know that. But our rule is just that we have to feel what we feel and we have to do whatever we need to do. If there is an album in between that, you don’t like? Yeah, we can’t help. Maybe the next one will be your kind of cup of tea again.
I like listening to these new songs the instrumental versions that are on the deluxe edition.
den Adel: It’s different, yeah.
This video brings back some great “Memories” from 2011.
They sound quite different. It’s interesting because if all you’ve done is stripped off your vocals, I’m surprised that just doing that could make that much of a difference in those tracks.
den Adel: Yeah. But this does give them a different kind of flight to it. Sometimes even with the regular kind of vocal lines, it gives a different flight to the song.
The collaborations that you did with the other vocalists. They were all done virtually? So you would just send them the music they would record and send it back to you?
den Adel: Exactly. That’s the modern way now. That’s it. That’s the good thing about technology.
Will Anders ever sing “Raise Your Banner” with you live?
den Adel: I hope so. The thing is he just did it like a long set, and then he has come, and it’s this first song we play, but he’s gonna do it somewhere during this tour. I’m not sure. It’s not tonight, I’m sorry to say. But I hope he will do it one day soon. So I’m gonna ask him anyway. But he said “I would like to do it here and there. But not every night.” Yes. And also probably because he has a lot to do with (In Flames’) music. They do a lot of promotion for their own album as well, of course.
You’ve recorded a lot of live footage and released it as either audio or video packages. Are you going to try to capture Resist live and do something with that year or two down the road?
den Adel: I hope so. I would like to anyway. But I must say that nowadays it’s harder. In the past, you could sell these packages still, but nowadays it’s so I don’t know if we can do it in the same way because it’s very expensive the way we did it always was like extremely expensive. And then you really have to know what kind of end result. We always want to have nice quality. We’re a band that likes quality above quantity, so maybe we’ll do a few songs maybe. I don’t know. I have to see how we can do this in a way that’s that it still makes sense in our way.
What are some of the characteristics that you look for in the songs that you are writing. When do you know that you are on track with putting something good together? Is there something that will happen or something you recognize in the early stems of your songs?
den Adel: Well it’s all about emotion for me. It’s like if I find the right emotion and then like and it can be a combination of what one of the guys are playing on the guitar or piano, and I’m singing at the same time. And if that comes together you know; you always have this magic moment that there is something magical or there’s something electric happening, and it’s just; “he knows, and I know.” At the same moment like Oh my God this is great. But we have that a lot of times and often most of them are crap. (laughs) You throw it away, but a lot of times it’s still you know it results in a great song.