Martyr is a cult act from the 80s that has just released their new album “You Are Next”, fusing speed metal, heavy metal and power into one. They keep loyal to their classic legacy but they still sound fresh and powerful as if they were born just a few months ago. So, we have had the honor to talk to guitarist and one of the founding members of the band, Rick Bouwman, that has told us many and very interesting things. Enjoy it!
Hello Rick, thanks for this conversation and congratulations for your new work
Thank you very much and thanks for this interview.
Martyr was born in 1982, but you stopped your activity in 1989 until 2005. What happened in the middle and what reason brought you to resume the band?
Yes we started as youngsters back in 1982. Releasing a few demo tapes after which we got signed in 1985 to release “For The Universe” and “Darkness At Time’s Edge” along with contributions on great samplers like “Dutch Steel” and the famous “Metal Massacre VI”. After “DATE” was released things were going really well , we were touring a lot and got major publicity and some major record labels got interested , also due to help of our management at that time. But, youngsters as we still were we listened too much to that big label’s wishes which wanted to force MARTYR into a more commercial direction. Wwe did some demo tapes for them but in the end it didn’t work out. In 1987 MARTYR broke up to get back together again in 2001 for a, what we thought, 1 time reunion for the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival (A Dutch Metal Fanclub) and did the same in 2005 for KIT, Headbangers Open Air. After that the rereleases of the 2 cult classic albums came out and we kept on going ever after with tours all over Europe and new albums as well.
Old fans of the band probably will remember great albums as “For the Universe” and “Darkness at Time’s Edge”. But, what do you remember of that time?
I remember the fun mainly. I know these albums are seen as cult classics. In the mean time already rereleased about 3 times or so. People still do want to hear those songs, also when we play live. In that time we were a very young band, so being in that band and playing every weekend onstage was our partytime during those weekends instead of going to bars or clubs. We were and always have been a hard working band. So it was so overwhelming to see that fans came along with us while following our own path. As we wanted to be different then the already established acts that were around those days.
Rick, do you miss anything from the golden 80s?
Well, I think the 80’s when it comes to metal was the main era in the existence of heavy metal. I mean it set the basics for all bands that came after that. It was a journey, discovering new bands through radio stations and not as overwhelming with all the bands (good and bad) that are offering their albums right now. Everyone can release a CD nowadays, back then I think it was still something really special to have your own album in the stores physically.
Yes, I still recall the magic of entering a music shop and leaving it with a vinyl under the arm. What can you tell us about Martyr’s current line-up? I think you still keep some of the key positions with no changes compared to the formation back in the 80s, right?
You are totally right. In fact 4 out of 5 were active in MARTYR in the 80’s. Myself being the founder together with Rop (vocals) and Marcel (guitars) are from the very first start of MARTYR. Wilfried joined a few years later. Because our original bassplayer left 2,5 years ago we found an amazing replacement in Jeffrey Bryan Rijnsburger.
You have just released your fouth album “You are Next”, I think it improves a lot your effort from 2001 and it sounds closer to your first releases…
You Are next is out since March 31, and wow, we are really happy with everything that goes on. Reviews, respons, feedback from the industry and most important (!) our fans is simply AMAZING. The funny thing is we don’t think about keeping close to the first releases. We just want to make the best album we can make. We us the new technologies although we record traditionally, meaning we play everything live in the studio!! I think we are 30 years further and yes you can hear that.The new album is more raw, aggressive, heavier. We are influenced along the way but we on the other hand never forget where we came from.
How long did you work on “You are Next” and how was the composition process?
It took us 2,5 years to make this album. Rop and I mainly wrote the songs, composing it in my small home studio and did the arrangements by recording guitars with drumloops. That set the basic for the songs, the arrangements and gave the feel as we wanted it back to the band. The other then filled in their won parts mainly without losing that feel, which we thought these songs needed. Early 2014 we did 2 pre productions to judge the way of recording we wanted and judge and re-arrange the material. After that we started recording till August 2015, started mixing and mastering til December 2015. Our producer Jack Nobelen gave us all the time we needed and did an amazing job!!
We are going to find a lot of strong riffs, songs with powerful rythms as Monster or In The End. We can say this album is the most agressive of your whole career?
Yes, i agree, it is. It is what we wanted. It needed to progress from Circle Of 8, more heavier. All songs are more in line with each other i think as well.
Do you think your Metal approach fits fans from all ages or it’s more oriented to the old headbangers?
NO certainly this is for all ages. And that is what we see live as well. We have our old fans in the audience but also the youngsters. Sometimes they come together with their parents haha. When we reunited it was already clear it was that way. When we did KIT for example many young metal fans, who are really into the 80’s stuff, knew about MARTYR.
Yes, you keep your cult status, that’s clear. Netherlands is a country with a long tradition in Metal, in your opinion, what is the position of Martyr on it?
MARTYR are THE Dutch Metal Legends. We are not the oldest still running metal band maybe, but we are the most stubborn for sure haha. We choose our own path, we do what we want to do and want to write and want to hear. First we need to like the material and be behind it 200% ourselves, and then of course we hope everybody likes it. MARTYR has a very well known in the Netherlands also due to our live shows where we always interact with our fans!
I couldn’t avoid to see in your Facebook that in May you are going to play in Belgium with underground legends Manilla Road. How do you feel about it?
Yes, looking forward to that one. We already played with them before at the Ages Of Meal Fest I think 3 years back or so. They are cool guys and also a legendary band. I hope the venue will be packed and will be cool to see and meet them again.
Apart of that, do you have other gigs scheduled for this 2016?
Mopst important is our release party which is scheduled for April 20 in De Helling in our hometown Utrecht. That will be a big party with a lot guests that also appear on the album like Marloes Voskuil from Izegrim, John JayCee Cuypers from Praying Mantis, Nick Holleman from Vicious Rumors, Gert Nijboer from Highway Chile to name a few. After that we will have the festivals as well, planning shows for Greece and other countries. So busy times ahead.
A true party, indeed! As a classic band of Ducth Metal how do you see the Metal scene nowadays?
The Dutch metal scene has some great bands, some big bands as well although they are mainly in the female fronted gothic area. In general I think we have too many different subcultures. For me that makes the recognition of a band too vague sometimes. Also too many bands copying each other, why is that? I think always try to be original, stand out. But again the metal scene over here is healthy when it comes to quality but when it comes to gigs it is an overkill. We got the chance to play quite a lot, but every day of the week there is too much that is offered and soon those major festivals are starting again. Meaning fans get tired to go to every show which is a decrease for the clubs when it comes to visitors and clubs can’t offer proper fees or close.
Come to Spain and we won’t miss your gigs hahaha. How can the fan get your new album?
Well, the album has just been released for a week now, so first promoting it, changing our live set (yes finally), shooting a second video for this new record for the song “Souls Breathe” and then hit the road!
Yeah, that’s the way! Rick, we wish you a great year of success and thank you for your time. If you wish to add something…
Yes, thank you for the opportunity. I want to thank all readers, listeners, fans for all the continuous support over all these years in this band. Just check out the new album, it is really worth it. We do hope to come to your country soon and give you the MARTYR eXperience. Meanwhile connect with us on social media, we like to be in touch:http://www.facebook.com/MARTYRONLINE or visit us on www.martyronline.nl