Orthanc – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD:What type of artist are you?
O: We are a four-piece heavy metal band from Belgium influenced by, mostly classic metal bands and whatever real music, played by real people, with real instruments. Marnick & Geert Serreyn play guitar & drums respectively. Matthias Vanden Berghe plays bass, and my name is Ortwin Lietaert, and I’m the vocalist.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
O: We started out as teens in different bands from the same area on the Belgian coastline. We are what is left from three different bands, some thirty-five years ago. At the time we all lived no more than ten minutes away from one-another. By the end of the eighties Orthanc was born, and by the beginning of the nineties we played up to an 80 shows per year, as an opening-act for bands like Annihilator or Immortal or headlining ourselves. We recorded three demo-tapes that all got good reviews at the time,and we won a rock contest by the Belgian national radio, but somehow we never managed to get a record deal. By 1997 we all had families and jobs that demanded our full attention, so we called it quits. In October of 2014, we were asked to do a one time reunion concert and we had so much fun that we decided to give it another go. Four of the five original members are back. Since then we recorded our first full CD called ‘CARNIVAL’ and played quite some shows.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
O: Our drummer listens to whatever is on the radio. Both him and his brother ( guitarist Marnick ) have been Iron Maiden fans since they were kids. Bassplayer Matthias is a classically schooled musician and is into jazz and blues and weird music. I listen to all kinds of stuff, but I’m always going back to old hard-rock and metal and proto-metal stuff. In that sence I’m also a huge fan of certain stoner-rock/ stoner-metal, like KADAVAR or GRAVEYARD just to name a few. Marnick is the only hardcore metalhead in a way, listening to all the new bands. Non-musical inspirations – I can only speak for myself – I read a lot. Both fiction and non-fiction, and I try to put that into my lyrics. And I enjoy a good film.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
O: We are all full-grown men by now and we take it as it comes. As long as we are all having fun we’ll keep on going. There’s no more dreams or goals. We’ll take it as it comes along. I just received a mail from a Dutch concert organiser that was looking for bands for a Festival in Amsterdam. I sent him a mail that we were interested. Today he answered that the bill was full, but that he would think of us next year. I don’t get disappointed by that. I think ‘maybe next year then’ and go on. We’ll see. Life’s too short to let things like that absorb the time and energy that I can use for something else.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
O: Most of the songs get shaped in the rehearsal room. Someone comes up with a riff, bass-line or even a hummed piece of music and we build up the song from there. Sometimes that works, or sometimes the idea gets dumped. So songwriting, to us, is a slow process. I write most of the lyrics, and they are about things that shake me at that very moment. Things that go wrong in our world. Greedy politicians, wars around us, etc. Or I get my inspiration from the books and films that I read and see. I’ve never written a love song in my life.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
O: Like most bands do nowadays. Social media. But I suck at it. Honest. Our children are in their twenties, and they grew up with that. So we let them handle that. All the more time we can spend writing new stuff.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
O: It’s how things are going in this day and age. I miss holding a new album in my hands like when I was a kid, but I confess, I’m downloading stuff too. When I was a kid you sometimes bought an album based on one song or even, on the looks of the album. I download music, so I can listen to it before I decide to buy it. I used to have a record collection based on how the album covers looked. What I buy now is music that I already know. So there’s very little disappointing things creeping in my collection.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
O: There are tons of songs that I wish were mine. Good music can bring people to tears, or make them feel better, or find a way out of stuff they are struggling with. I spend two years in military service. I hated that. Metallica’s ‘ Master of Puppets’ got me through that. That is what I hope our music does to people. Even if it’s just a few.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
O: Concert promoters booking you, and not doing their job, which is promoting the show. Very disappointing to play before an empty room. When you’re on a door deal, it’s a complete disaster. And people attending a show and spend the whole evening looking at their cellphones.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
O: When my older sister who isn’t into heavy music at all, came to see a show once and told me afterwards that she really enjoyed it. I know, it sounds cheesy. But that was fantastic to me. And getting compliments from musicians that I look up to makes me blush too. Annihilator’s Jeff Waters shaking my hand and saying great show left me speechless thirty years ago. And Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke did the same thing last year and again I couldn’t bring out a word. It never gets old.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
O: We’re writing new material as we speak, and hope to release a new album in 2020. David Ooms from Reddrum Studio’s where we recorded the first album, will be behind the knobs again, as we were very pleased with the result. We will let you know when we’re ready.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
O: We are playing a local festival on may 9th at Beernem near Bruges in Belgium, and are negotiating two more shows that have not been confirmed yet. So it’s kinda slow at the moment. If there is anyone out there that can use four old geezers making lots of noise contact us through our Orthanc – Belgium page on Facebook. We carry around a collection of fine Belgian ales most of the time, and are happy to share them with people that enjoy good music. That must be reason enough. Cheers.