Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
Gerben van Oosterhout – Vocals
Barry Veeke – Guitar
Maarten Vermeulen – Bass and backing vocals
Tristan de Rijk – Drums
PD: What type of artist are you?
Barry: We are a hardrock/metal outfit from The Netherlands, purely doing it for the fun and joy of it. Of course, we would love to get more recognition and do all kind of cool shows but first and foremost it is an awesome way to spend our time and enjoy our friendship. Creating and performing music is super fun!!
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Barry: We all have been playing in all kinds of bands since our teenage years. I started out in hardcore/punk bands and the other guys in more alternative rock acts. We started playing together somewhat 20 years ago in a couple of different bands, ranging from classic rock, to modern progressive rock/metal. This latest progrock band, The Astral Travellers, disbanded somewhere in 2013. In 2016 our bass player Maarten, drummer Tristan and myself got together again because we wanted to rock! After a short search for a singer we once again joined forces with Gerben, who was also the singer in our former bands. And so Hvalross was a fact. We started throwing ideas at each other in the rehearsal room and wrote a lot of great (and not-so-great) songs. we started promoting ourselves at End of 2018 and in 2019 we did a ton of great gigs in small bars and some larger venues, all over The Netherlands and Belgium. End of 2019 we started the pre-production of our first album, and we all know what happened during 2020. With no gigs we took our time to make the best album we could. The result is our debut album Cold Dark Rain which was released on vinyl a few weeks ago and we are really proud of it!
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Barry: I think a wide variety of music influences us. Our bass player and myself grew up listening to eighties thrash metal like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Our singer was (during those days) more of a glam and classic rock fan, listening to Tesla and Led Zeppelin while our drummer was more of an alternative rock guy and a big Jimmy Chamberlin fan. Since we are all in our mid forties we all very much were aware of the grunge period, and I think you can hear this mainly in our vocal lines. Today we very much enjoy listening to alternative metal acts like Mastodon, Baroness and Deftones. During our progrock days we listened to a lot of Opeth and Porcupine Tree and the likes. However we are not trying to sound like anyone or anything, I think you can find all these different styles in our music.
About non-musical influences, our singer is a big war-movie freak so those themes are coming back regularly in our lyrics. And we do incorporate some fantasy type things in our lyrics because most of us like that stuff too.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
Barry: Our biggest dream is and always has been becoming rich and famous of course but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. Our goals are to play a lot of cool gigs and have a good time with a lot of hard rock and metal lovers. Unfortunately with the current situation that is not possible either so we are currently writing new songs. But yeah, the goal is to play a lot and to play some bigger shows and maybe some international shows around Europe. That would be awesome. Also keep on writing great stuff and record more music. With that in mind we hope to reach out to a larger audience that digs our music and as a result will show up at our concerts in the future. In short, as Dee Snider put it very eloquently; WE WANNA ROCK!!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
Barry: The basic musical ideas mostly come from our bass player Maarten and myself. We take these ideas to the rehearsal room and start playing around with them until eventually they form coherent songs. That is mostly a band effort. Lyrics are provided by our singer and bass player (who also does backing vocals). So I guess we should let them tell what they are about.
Maarten: Like said earlier, for the lyrics a lot comes from our love for movies and books. Mostly about fantasy, sci-fi and war. It’s a bit nerdy but it is what we like. Epic stories about knights and mythical beasts. As you can see on the cover of our album as well. Our concluding album track Geryon for instance, refers to the beast in Dante‘s 14th century epic poem Inferno that takes us for a ride in hell in the song.
In the beginning we wrote lyrics to fit the written riffs but since the recording process we tend to combine more, let the melody of the vocals take the lead in some parts and the riffs in the other.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
Barry: We started out doing that mostly ourselves using our network. Of course we have our social media channels where we promote our shows and music. Now that we have our album out we got in touch with a promoter (Hard Life Promotion) to get a bit more visibility for our music. Since we cannot go out and play live we figured this would be a good idea to get some more attention.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
Barry: Not sure if (illegally) downloading music is still a thing. Nowadays there are so many ways to enjoy music practically free there is no need any more for pirating. About that, the streaming of music I think is great. All music is available for everyone to listen to, and it gives unknown bands like ourselves a chance to be heard. On the other hand there is of course less revenue but for independent artists like us it is more important to get heard than to make a few bucks.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Barry: Wow that is a hard question. There is so much great music around in so many different styles. First thing that comes to mind is The Czar by Mastodon. That is such a great song and it has everything. It is a journey of epic proportions. It is about 11 minutes long I believe and when it ends I don’t want it to end. That is something I’d like to accomplish.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
Barry: Uhm, when I crave a beer and the fridge is empty, I guess. Can’t think of anything really. Of course this whole COVID situation and not being able to play live sucks hard, but not sure if that is a pet peeve.
Gerben: when we are in the middle of a great show and the guitar player breaks a string! But that empty fridge is pretty annoying too.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
Barry: Well that must be having our debut album in hand, the complete glorious 12 inches of coloured vinyl in that fantastic cover, drawn by our friend Nozzman (www.nozzman.nl)! Very proud of the result!
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
Barry: Since we cannot play live at the moment we are working on new material. Mostly via internet because The Netherlands are in complete lockdown so getting in a rehearsal room together is also not an option. Lots of ideas going around though!
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
Barry: Our debut album “Cold Dark Rain” is streaming on all major platforms and we have a coloured vinyl released. You can get this via our bandcamp. Links below: