Amsterdam based metalband THE CHARM THE FURY recently announced their sophomore album, The Sick, Dumb & Happy, which drops this Friday on March 17th via Nuclear Blast. After a few misfires, we were finally able to grab lead singer and growler Caroline Westendorp to discuss the bands latest release, her influences, and what pissed her off early in her career. Sit back, relax, and read all about this and more…
Toddstar: Caroline, thank you so much for taking time out of the schedule, man. So glad we were finally able to get this lined up!
Caroline: Third time’s the charm they say, right?
Toddstar: I know, right? Again, thank you so much for the time, we appreciate it. Let’s jump right in to what’s so exciting here is, well, the release of your new album. What can you tell us about the album, The Sick, Dumb, & Happy, that a fan might not get the first or second time listening through the album?
Caroline: That’s a hard one. Well, the main theme with the album is really based around the sick, dumb, and happy and it’s kind of about what you’d expect from a sick, dumb and happy person. The main theme is really about us becoming blind from the real problems in the world. The sick, dumb, and happy is the guy sitting on his couch, eating hamburgers all day and just watching mindless TV shows. Being all into that glossy, gossip culture. On the other hand you have the media spoon-feeding us such TV series and imagery and feeding us what we like to see and not feeding us the real problems in the world. And guessing we’re just all becoming blinder and blinder and start becoming like a sheep driven by commercial purposes, really.
Toddstar: Not in a bad way, but that a band would attack these kind of issues head on… especially in rock music, where it’s normally about the good times, it’s less about the social aspects. Is that something, when you guys were writing, you really wanted to kind of face some of these social issues head on? Or what you guys perceive as social issues?
Caroline: Yeah, well we were writing the album and when we were writing the lyrics, we want to write about how we feel during that time, and during that time there were a lot of issues, such as Charlie Hebdo attacks and issues we felt were relevant in our own environment. Like ourselves, we see it in our daily lives. We get so addicted to our cellphones. We’re influenced by all these fashion bloggers and buy-this buy-that commercial driven companies. We see it all around us and it makes us wonder, what are we becoming, really?
Toddstar: Speaking as someone who is based in the U.S., I know our elections probably didn’t help the whole issue.
Caroline: That’s so funny because we actually wrote the album before Trump got elected! Now you have Trump being President and way more issues coming along and also a lot of talk about racism and minorities and stuff. Yeah, the album is quite relevant for the time right now.
Toddstar: Are there any good nuggets in the disc? Is there anything you guys kind of kind of tucked away that a die-hard might find or weird tributes to other bands or to your influences or sounds?
Caroline: You could tell that we’re heavily influenced by bands such as Pantera, Metallica, and Slipknot. I believe there’s just that like one sudden Metallica, like kind of blink, a riff, on one of the songs? It’s basically because when we started to write a new album, our first album was really like really metalcore and it didn’t feel right for us anymore and we started listening to our all-time favorite bands and we saw that our all-time favorite bands, bands which include Metallica and Pantera, they make timeless music. They make songs that now-a-days still are so good, and that’s when it kind of hits us. First, we really wrote in song structures, like there needs to be a poppy chorus and then there needs to be some heavy breakdown. And we kind of let that go and started focusing on one great riff, or one great hook, or vocal line, because I believe that’s something that all of those great tracks by Metallica and Slipknot and Pantera have in common. Like, a great base to the song. Kind of like a riff that drives the entire song. So, no, we’re heavily influenced by those bands and I guess you could hear that on our record.
Toddstar: Awesome. Well, that being said, you talk about Slipknot, Pantera, and Metallica. If there were somebody up there that you could collaborate with, who would you like to bring in to do a song with?
Caroline: Oh my God! That’s a hard question. Personally I’m more kind of the southern metal type girl. I’m really into Every Time I Die, Underoath, and He Is Legend. Especially He Is Legend and I’d always love to do like a duet with either of the singers of those bands. But, for our record I think it would be better if… Corey Taylor, he’s just a legend. Well, if he would ever want to contribute to one of our songs that would be just mind-blowing.
Toddstar: I’d agree with that! With this album ready to drop here, in a couple days and you’ve got some festivals planned here in the U.S. as well. Do you guys hope to bring this to the masses after these festival dates, where you can really tour and get behind and show people what The Charm The Fury are all about?
Caroline: Yes, definitely. It’s like our ultimate goal. Just being able to head out on the road and just visiting a lot of countries and play a lot of shows, because that’s when you reach the audience and I think that’s like the most important tool. Just tour and play shows and reach a bigger audience, because if we reach a bigger audience, chances on continuing to tour and continuing to make a living out of music would be higher and that’s eventually what we just want to do. Do this on a full-time basis and just live really like the musician type of life, so that’s really our goal.
Toddstar: Well, the first two videos from the album I’ve seen, “Echoes” “Down the Ropes” are both very visual videos. How do you guys plan on kind of marrying that video visual expectation with the live stage show, where you guys don’t necessarily have that much availability of the visual? How can you bring the power of the music across, live?
Caroline: We’re working on a new set with lots of extras through the song? We just wanted to make an entire experience. We don’t want to merely play like ten songs off the album to the fans, but we want to make hybrids of the songs and jam in-between the parts and add some great riffs and some great, like some cool jams in-between the songs to keep the energy levels up. And, also, we’ve written this album, especially also, with focus on playing it live. There are some great extra parts to the songs that we hadn’t really had before, that are great for walls of death, for mosh pits, for stuff like that. So, it’s going to be like a heavy metal show, really, in the most extreme type of way. Just a heavy metal show with lots of energetic pieces, and hopefully people will react to it.
Toddstar: What is the best thing about being a musician?
Caroline: What’s the best thing about being a musician? That you get to see a lot of different countries. That you get to meet a lot of cool people. And what I actually, most of all, like is playing on a festival, because you play for a new audience? You make people aware and you get to see so many other bands play. So many bands that I’ve been listening to for years and then all the sudden you’re sharing the stage and you’re sharing the same backstage and that’s just so awesome. It’s really cool.
Toddstar: With you guys’ discography, you guys have had an EP, you’ve had, as you mentioned, your previous release, that you guys felt was a little different from the direction you were heading. What songs off of the new disc do you think kind of sit sonically with your older material to help create a set list? What songs do you think will just fit right in to what people perceive as the sound of The Charm The Fury?
Caroline: Well, there’s some stuff would mostly appeal to the fans of our older material would be “The Future Need Us Not,” “No End In Sight,” and “Weaponized,” because they gravitate more towards the metal/metalcore sound and I most of the time growl on those songs. I’d say that people would like those ones and we try to reach the other end of the metal spectrum with songs like “Down on the Ropes” and “Echoes” and “The Hell in Me” were more like the older type of metal songs, really.
Toddstar: You mentioned “Echoes” and I mentioned it earlier. It’s the song that’s grabbed me the most. I like the diversity just in your vocals, you bring some of your growl across, but if you listen real close you can hear your singing. You have a beautiful voice. How do you differentiate, when you’re going to deliver a song vocally, when you need to sing and when you need to growl? What is it about the song that will lead you?
Caroline: Do you mean where do I make the choices to growl and to scream and sing? That’s funny, because when we write a vocal line, we have this instrumental and then we would just head out to the studio and just sit down with a group of guys and listen to the song and lay down vocal lines just phonetically. So, it’s a quite funny scenario because we’re basically four people sitting in a room being all autistic, just humming in their own heads, and we would be laying like fifty different vocal lines on every part of the song and just filtering and selecting. This one has a great hook, and what do you feel is right for this part, and this is a heavy part so we should not make use of the clean vocals, but we should really go all out and just put a heavy growl in there. So, writing the vocal lines just takes so much time and we would just have like fifty different ideas and just filter and select the best ones. It’s really just feel the song, feel the parts of the song, and then I guess the vocal lines grow from there.
Toddstar: When you think about the new album, what songs can you not wait to deliver to the audiences live? What songs do you know are just going to be great songs live?
Caroline: Well, live I think “The Future Need Us Not” will be great. Also, “Songs of Obscenity” has this great part in the middle with a heavy breakdown and I think it will be great for a wall of death. But, personally I love “The Hell in Me” because it is so dark and moody, and it has a rap piece in it. Because I’m Dutch, I’m not the best English speaker and it has this really fast rap part in it, and it’s such a tongue twister for me so that’s going to be a challenge live that I really can’t wait to do that.
Toddstar: Caroline, who vocally would you say are your top five influences?
Caroline: Well, the one who directly influenced me was Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath. Then, we have Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. He’s just a great, great, great singer and also a great growler. Then, also, one singer I used to listen to, years and years ago, was Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw?Schuyler Croom from He Is Legend. And let’s just go for Corey Taylor, because his band was really like the first metal band I was really into when I was a kid.
Toddstar: That makes sense. Looking back over the last few years and your career, anything that you consider a misstep that you’d like a redo on?
Caroline: A misstep that I would like to do a redo on? Ooh. That’s a good one. Well, yes. Probably there are loads of them, because when you’re in a young band and you really want to head out onto the road and you release a few songs and there are some people showing interest in your band, you really feel young and dumb and naïve? And you think “Oh, there’s this great manager that will make us big that has all these connections and stuff.” So, I think, as a band, we made a few mistakes in terms of signing contracts that, in retrospective, really weren’t the best contracts that we’ve ever signed. We had this issue with our previous manager who, all of the sudden it became clear that he had gotten like three thousand euros from our label and kind of just took it and we didn’t know anything about it, so we felt kind of fucked up about that. But, no it’s just, in retrospective, as a young band I’d advise all bands just don’t sign contracts too fast. Really just open communication with new guys, new managers, all of that shit. It’s just really just a musician cliché, I guess.
Toddstar: No, it’s a great point of view and a great bit of advice for any band. Well, listen, we know you’re busy and we wish you guys well with the release of The Sick, Dumb & Happy on March 17th.
Caroline: Thank you very much.
Toddstar: Can’t wait to hopefully get you guys somewhere near Detroit after you guys hit your festival dates. We wish you well, safe travels to the U.S. at the end of April, and hopefully see you soon.
Caroline: Oh, thank you very much! Have a great day.
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