Textures | Interview with Stef Broks

Since the release of their debut ‘Polars’ in 2003, Holland’s Textures have been gradually building a strong reputation as one of the most challenging and skilful acts in the metal scene, which now culminates in their most recent release ‘Dualism’. A record that marks a few firsts for the band, it’s the first album featuring new vocalist Daniel De Jongh and new keyboard player Uri Dijk, and it’s their first effort for Nuclear Blast, following three records on Listenable Records. Scratch the Surface communes with drummer Stef Broks to find more about Dualism.


First of all, I want to congratulate you on the new album, “Dualism” is an amazing record and in my opinion it’s your best work to date. Is the band happy with the final outcome?

“Yes definitely. It took a lot of time and effort to craft this record into the shape that we wanted. Right in the middle of the writing process our former singer Eric and former keyboard player Richard decided to quit the band. Luckily for us there was a guy available in Holland who could match up to Eric's vocal skills.
So, for three years we worked our asses of, built a new rehearsal space, built a new studio and finally here it is, ‘Dualism’. This is Textures 2011, stronger than ever.”

Have you got high hopes for this album?

“We have a new label, the big-shot Nuclear Blast and we have the same booking agent as Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan so hell yeah we have high hopes. Together with our management they’re pushing Textures to a maximum. One of the first results is this US tour with Periphery and all the interviews we have to do over here. It's amazing.
Our new video-clip already ended up in some charts and probably in Holland and Great Britain the album will hit the charts as well. We never could have dreamed about that.”

Do you think the band felt some kind of pressure, consciously or not, when you started penning the new songs given the high expectations surrounding the band with the recent signing to Nuclear Blast?

“No never, because there’s simply no reason to be worried. We always release songs that are completely how we are ourselves. And we only release them if we are 100% confident about them. Just like with new record ‘Dualism’, this is Textures 2011 and ‘Silhouettes’ was Textures 2008. They are statements to those very moments.
The art that we create is the combination of Bart, Jochem, Stef, Daniel, Remko and Uri! We are not ashamed of being ourselves and that's why we have no worries about releasing a record. Simply because being ourselves is our only true way of being. If people don't like the music, that's a pity but we have show our true face. It's take it or leave it thing, but luckily most people stay hahaha.”

It took you guys three years to follow up “Silhouettes”, couldn’t you have made the new record any quicker? Was it a difficult album to piece together?

“That was the departure of the Eric and Richard and the joining of Daniel on vocals and Uri on keys. At first it felt like a slap in the face, you know. We were friends for such a long time. We really needed some time to recover from that. But I'm glad that our artistic strife survived and kept Textures alive. Textures 2.0 haha”

This is the second time you had to look for a new singer and that’s always a trick position to fill in. How has these recent changes affected how you’ve approached this new record? Have the new members had an impact on record's overall sound?

“Daniel's timbre is very similar to Eric's voice. Daniel knows what the soul of Textures is and I mean that in a couple of ways. First of all, we knew each other already. Secondly, he was acquainted with the Textures material. But most important of it all, Daniel knows about singing soul. I mean, about bending a note like soul singers do. In that way Daniel is not a 100% metal singer who sings heroic anthems about knights or blood and death. His vocals have this expression that touches us just like Mike Patton, Maynard James Keenan or Phil Anselmo do. Some people call that blues, I call it soul. Hey, but let me be clear, for the biggest part Daniel is screaming and grunting the hell out of himself, so it's not clean all the way haha.”

Did it take a while to get used to the new members Daniel De Jongh (ex-CiLiCe) and Uri Dijk (Ethereal) style, or everything just clicked immediately?

“Socially there was a click right away. After some changes you get very aware of what you need in a band, musically and socially. Daniel is a very experienced man. With his previous band he did loads of shows around the globe, so he knows what he was up to when joining Textures.
On the other side, we were lucky that Daniel is from our same small country, Holland. Most Dutch people have the same kind of sober attitude and rough humour. I don't think Textures would have continued with somebody from another country. Speaking the same language is very important to us.”


When I was listening to “Dualism” for the first time I noticed some songs are heavily drenched in progressive overtones, it seems that your love for prog rock/metal is more prevalent on this new record than ever before. Is this something that you were looking for when the band begin the process of writing this new record or was it more or less a natural thing?

“We write songs very impulsively, what comes out is coming out. Sometimes that is an epic and clean song like ‘Reaching Home’, while other times that is a freaky, polyrhythmic ‘Singularity’.
We listen to so much stuff that we have influences from all over. Besides that, Textures always had a very big range of sounds, ever since our debut ‘Polars’. So, we don't think Textures has a very strict formula to work with. Of course we use a lot of special and recognizable ingredients or tools to create a song. And of course all band members have their own sound when they play. That is the soul of the band.”

Do you guys plan to explore the progressive side of your music any further?

“Well, to be progressive in when it comes to freakiness is not really an issue. For us progressive is way more important. We just want to create something new, something fresh for our eyes. At least for ourselves we have to make some progression in that way. To express that in freaky rhythms or riffs is just a tool to do that. To create interesting song structures and sounds is a more important tool.
I don't know in which way we will head. Music is always an impulsive and natural thing to us. Let's see in which direction we will flow.”

So, how does “Dualism” compare to the band’s previous releases, particularly “Silhouettes”?

“There are two big differences I guess. The first was that the whole writing process was cut down in two pieces because the dudes left the band. We needed some time to recover, you know. It was a slap in the face. You need some time to think about it before you strike back. I can assure you that we never felt knocked down. When we talked to each other the first time after the departure of Eric and Richard we immediately decided to continue our crusade for modern metal music. The fourth album is our way of striking back. So that said, everything was like what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger!
The second difference is that unlike the other albums, the songs were our main goal. That's the reason why the tracks are so distinctive from each other. Each song has its specific mood, tempo, sound and vibe. But in the overall, the album is more coherent than our previous ones. The sound and the overall track listing is one package with just different ingredients. Like a heavy, long dinner in a good restaurant haha.”

The album was once again produced by guitarist Jochem Jacobs at Split Second Sound. What’s the atmosphere in the studio been like this time?

“Jochem is always hyped up, a real workaholic. He never stops before the product is perfect. So every day he and the rest of us would set a goal and everyday we had to fulfil what was on the list. He is the owner of the studio so he can plan his own schedule, and most of the days that's Textures 24/7.
For the drums we took 6 days. Everyday we’d record from 10am till 17pm. Those were long journeys, but definitely needed to create the result that we wanted. In total the recordings took 3 months plus a week to mix and master it.”

Even though Textures are now signed to one of the biggest independent record labels in the music scene, it’s surprising to witness that you still have the DIY attitude that characterized the band’s whole career. 
The production duties were handled by guitarist Jochem, the album cover and layout was designed by former singer Eric Kalsbeek and bassist Remko Tielemans. Did the label gave you a green card to do it all by yourself?

“They are no majors so you could say they gave us carte blanche. The scene thrives by bands that are kind of stubborn and create their own sound and Textures has always been like that.
We just love to be creative with our music, the lyrics, the videos and the merchandise. The whole Textures package really.”

Tells us about the lyrical themes explored in this new record, what is the dualism you’re referring to?

“We are fascinated by the contrasts between man-machine, nurture-nature, dark-light, physics-brains and how we deal with that. Dualism is representative for the choices that we make, rational or emotional. Every song tells a person struggling with finding a state of enlightenment, of beauty or bliss. We wrote it down in a poetical way so that every reader or listener could find their own meaning in it. People have to invest some energy in listening to Textures to get the highest result I guess.”

Following the upcoming North-American and European tours, what is next for the band?

"We go all the way with this record. At the moment we are on the road in America, Portland, Oregon to be precise. After this 5-week tour we go to UK for 10 days, then our homeland Holland and some shows in France, Belgium and Germany. By the end of the year, maybe we’ll hit India again and next year....Europe and maybe USA one more time. Even Australia is an option.”

More info at: www.texturesband.com

David Alexandre

Pic: IamKat
Live Pic: Rahul Lal