Interview with guitarist Erik Sprooten
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 11, 2018
Dutch extreme Thrash Metal quartet Inquisitor formed in 1991 and put the Christian world on its knees with their blasphemous and evil Metal anthems right from the start. Their debut album, Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust, was released by the small Belgian label Shiver Records back in 1996. The band built a notorious reputation but sadly and unexpectedly broke up about a year later.
The winds of change (nothing to do with the radio-friendly hit song with almost the same title) brought back the flag-bearers of all things unholy and antichristian to re-crucify the Holy Man again; Inquisitor were back.
You can find out what happened next by reading the following conversation with the band's guitarist Erik Sprooten.
STIGMATA ME – I AM IN MISERY
Luxi: First off, my sincere congratulations on returning to the limelight with your follow-up album, Stigmata Me, I'm in Misery.
Erik: Kiitos! You're welcome! We appreciate that a lot. For us Stigmata Me, I'm In Misery marks the true return of Inquisitor.
Luxi: It's been 21 years since your debut album, Walpurgis - Sabbath of Lust was released back in 1996. Did you set the bar pretty high for yourselves with your debut?
Erik: It was about time to release a new album, wasn't it? I don't think that there was any pressure, but we didn't want to return with a "weaker" or less extreme album. It had to sound like Inquisitor which was no problem because the four of us playing this style together will sound like Inquisitor and we proved it again I think. We still do set the bar pretty high for ourselves, and we certainly don't go for less.
Luxi: Are all of the songs on Stigmata Me... new or are some of them older songs that you never finished before the band broke up in 1997? I ask because the songs on your follow-up capture the same vibe and feeling that you had on your absolutely kickass debut album...
Erik: Two songs, "The Witching Time of Night" and "I Am Sick, I Must Die" are, more or less, old songs which were kind of finished in 1996 but we rewrote and rearranged a bit and added new lyrics. The other ones are completely new. In several interviews I've mentioned that I believe that the four of us have a special chemistry which may explain the similar vibe and feeling you mentioned. We didn't exactly copy ourselves but added new elements to our familiar extreme style of Thrash Metal.
On the song "Hammering Rusty Nails" for instance, I play slide guitar parts, which is a new element for us and also quite unusual in Thrash Metal and in Metal in general. Although he was absent on our debut album, our (original) bass player Alex Bakker seems a bit modest about his own playing but Wim, Alex (Wesdijk) and I love the way he plays his bass, which certainly adds something extra to our style. During the early stages of writing a song, Wim is always very busy with ideas and arranging the songs. Alex Wesdijk listens to a very wide range of music and he sometimes proposes unusual musical ideas that definitely add something extra to the music. Most of the riffs come from me and Alex Bakker but everybody adds something to the music.
Luxi: The intro part of the opening track, "Castigate into Divine Apostle", sounds like Jesus Christ gets crucified again, sort of reminding me of how Vital Remains opened their sixth studio album, Icons of Evil, back in 2007. Perhaps just pure coincidence or is it?
Erik: I didn't listen to it that way, to me it sounds more like someone who's being whipped or castigated instead of the crucifixion but that's open to any interpretation, of course. I don't think that any one of us heard that album by Vital Remains so it's most likely a pure coincidence.
ABOUT COVERING SONGS
Luxi: You recorded two cover songs; Merciless' "Dreadful Fate" and Sabbat's "A Cautionary tale". Obviously, those bands are very important, either for you personally or for the whole band, right?
Erik: Those are songs that we performed live in our early days as well as at some shows after the reunion in 2014. "A Cautionary Tale" by Sabbat was probably suggested by our singer Alex Wesdijk. He likes Sabbat a lot and it was because of him singing along to the History of a Time to Come album that the idea arose that he might be a suitable vocalist for our new band (back then) which became Inquisitor. Alex is certainly influenced by Martin Walkyier (Sabbat, Skyclad, The Clan Destined). We recorded "A Cautionary Tale" initially only for ourselves during the recording sessions for the new album and didn't plan to release it at first, but it will be featured exclusively on the cassette/tape version of Stigmata Me, I'm In Misery, which has been released very recently. Back in the 90s I think that I was the one who suggested to cover "Dreadful Fate" because it's a great tune. I don't think that we are very much influenced by Merciless but their album The Awakening is definitely a great album. I'm curious to know what the members of Sabbat and Merciless think of our versions.
Luxi: Some of the keywords for this album are intensity, aggression and total uncompromising Metal mayhem. When you were putting the songs together for this record, was your intention to make as mercilessly brutal and unforgiving an album as possible?
Erik: Those words fit perfectly. Kiitos! We wanted and still want to create interesting songs and riffs which really excite us and that are mostly fast, intense, aggressive, dark, brutal, hysteric, restless and also quite technical. We want our songs to have an aggressive and/or energetic impact.
Luxi: Can you tell where all that relentless energy and rage in your songs come from? Punk/Hardcore music doesn't seem to be something new to you guys as there's a punky feel to your songs on this new record...
Erik: I don't really know where that energy comes from since we simply do what we do, and the outcome has always been very aggressive. It seems that this energetic way of playing is second nature to us. We very much like what we do, and I think that comes out in our music which we describe as extreme Thrash Metal. The vibe of our music I think is mostly thrashy but there are also hints of Black and Death Metal and other influences. I don't recognize any punky feel in our music because we are not very much into Punk. I'm not sure if Wim and our singer Alex Wesdijk listen to Punk or punky music at all but I like some Punk artists like Dead Kennedys and our bass player Alex Bakker sometimes listens to punky stuff and 80s Crossover Hardcore like D.R.I. and we both like The Misfits very much. On a musical level, Punk music doesn't influence us at all, but yes, some of those kinds of bands have a lot of energy, which is what we like about them. But I have to say that a lot of music sounds great when it's played with a lot of energy.
HAMMERHEART RECORDS AND PROMOTION
Luxi: I bet Hammerheart Records has done a lot of good for you guys thus far. How happy are you to be on this label's artist roster? What makes Hammerheart Records such a perfect label for the band?
Erik: I think that Hammerheart Records is doing a great job for us, and I certainly like the quality of their releases. It's clear that they take care of us, and sometimes even arrange gigs for us if they have an opportunity to do that. We have a good relationship with them. I have known Guido for a very long time and Jan of Sammath does a lot of promotion for Hammerheart Records and, as some people know, our drummer Wim also plays drums for Sammath so he knows Jan very well. We've got offers from other labels but Hammerheart Records is still the best option for us really.
Luxi: Videos are naturally an important part of the whole promotion chain. Is there a video coming up from Inquisitor and does your label offer some sort of a budget for doing one?
Erik: There are plans to make a promotional video, but I have no idea when there will be one. We have to arrange that ourselves with hardly any budget but we will find a way to make a proper video. After the re-release of Walpurgis - Sabbath of Lust, I experimented a bit with a moviemaker and the result became the DIY video of "Damnation for the Holy", but for a new song someone else has to make a great video for us.
ABOUT GIGGING AND BOOKING GIGS
Luxi: You have 3 shows coming up in the middle of March with the reunited Pestilence and Dead Head. Are you excited to share the stage with those Dutch Metal legends?
Erik: We are absolutely excited to play with Pestilence and Dead Head. These shows are arranged by Hammerheart Records and it's a great opportunity for us to play for a wider audience. Those three shows were supposed to happen in March but due to the passing away of a family member of Pestilence, the shows are rescheduled to the end of May where Inquisitor and Dead Head will play at two shows as support acts.
Luxi: When you play live, does it still give you a special feeling of being 20-or-so years younger; like a madly raging bull loaded with crazy amounts of testosterone?
Erik: I can't really speak for my bandmates, but I feel very, very confident on stage, much more than in my daily life. I probably change into a different persona on stage and I like that very much. I don't know if I feel younger, but I certainly feel great playing live in front of an audience. On stage I can let my inner beasts and demons unleash themselves (upon mankind).
Luxi: What other shows do you have on your gig calendar this year?
Erik: We are working on a belated release show in Harderwijk, which is more-or-less, our hometown. This was not possible earlier due to medical circumstances and the planning turned out be difficult but this belated release show will happen anyway. And some other gigs are not confirmed yet. Behind the curtains we are busy arranging gigs.
Luxi: Do you have your own booking agency or are you still forced to book your gigs on your own?
Erik: We don't have a booking agency yet so we try to get ourselves some great gigs by ourselves. Wim and I do have our contacts in the scene and some of them are certainly willing to book us. We depend a bit on goodwill sometimes. The gigs we've done so far, we arranged ourselves with people and bookers who were interested in us.
Luxi: Do you believe that the band may record a 3rd album next year, just to keep the band's name on people's lips? I guess the fans won't have to wait another 21 years the band's next outing, do they? ;o)
Erik: I'm not sure if we will record our 3rd album next year but we'll see. There's certainly no doubt that we want to record another album and that certainly won't take another 21 years.
METAL SCENE AND METALHEADS NOW AND THEN
Luxi: How well have you been received among metalheads since you regrouped in 2014? Do you think a completely new generation of metalheads has found your band?
Erik: From a personal view about the second coming, the four of us are cooperating better than during the old days and we acknowledge each other's strong and weak points more than we used to do. And we also put a lot more thought into our music. We didn't expect to reunite at all in 2014 in the first place but we feel good about it. Although we can't please everyone in general, I think that we are well received among metalheads. There are certainly some metalheads from a newer generation who discovered us just recently, but I can't express this in numbers. I also noticed that some people who never heard us before bought our new album Stigmata Me, I'm In Misery, liked it, and later bought Walpurgis - Sabbath Of Lust. So, the new album also stirs interested in our older material which is great too.
Luxi: The Metal scene has changed a lot since the mid-eighties/end of the nineties. Do you miss those so-called golden times of underground Metal when everything was somehow fresher and metal was meant to be the music of underground fans before growing its wings to become more mainstream and generally getting accepted by the masses over time?
Erik: The Metal scene has definitely changed but I still don't think that Metal is generally accepted by the masses, maybe a bit more than in the 80s. For a long time, there hasn't surfaced any new Metal band with a huge impact such as Metallica, which may be a bit worrying to some people but Metal is certainly not gonna die! I can't deny that some bands/labels in the current Metal scene operate in a very commercial way or try to become - more or less, kind of "mainstream", which is not always a bad thing but I prefer to listen to more "credible" Metal.
Yes, I kinda miss those early underground times but I've accepted that they won't return so I kind of adapt myself to the present. At the time it was great to send cassettes of Inquisitor all over the world in envelopes and receive personal handwritten letters but nowadays things work differently and, also a bit more efficient.
Luxi: The Netherlands has produced a remarkable amount of quality Metal bands for more than 4 decades. How would you see your country's Metal scene nowadays, from your personal point of view? Does it still excite and fascinate you as much as 2 or 3 decades ago?
Erik: Some of the great Dutch Metal bands from the 90s still exist like Asphyx, Dead Head, Pestilence, Sinister, etc. Too bad Mandator is not around anymore but who knows what the future will bring. Furthermore, I like Heidevolk and I always have great fun with them. I'm not a huge fan of "Gothic Metal" but Epica and After Forever (R.I.P.) are definitely great bands from my country. Another remarkable band from my country is Textures (R.I.P.). Their style is not really my cup of tea, but our singer Alex appreciates them. We still have a healthy scene and there are still bands who want themselves to be heard and some of them are doing fine. When I was younger, I was more excited but I honestly still enjoy the metal scene in my country.
CHRISTIANITY VERSUS ANTICHRISTIANITY
Luxi: Your band is known for its very controversial lyrical approach that is strongly against worldwide religious and stuff. Has this been noticed by fundamental religious groups? Do you view Christianity as one of the biggest hoaxes of the whole mankind?
Erik: Most songs on Walpurgis - Sabbath of Lust, definitely have bold anti-Christian content lyric-wise. Most of them are inspired from living in an area on the edge of the so-called Dutch bible belt. The lyrics on the new album are all written by our singer Alex Wesdijk and are more personal and less anti-Christian. As far as I know, we haven't really been noticed by religious fanatics.
I personally view the bible, the book, on which Christianity bases its religion upon as fiction. A few events in that book may be based upon or inspired by events that truly happened in ancient history but that doesn't mean that its complete content is the undisputed truth. Therefore, I don't view the bible as historically accurate. To me, the bible is just a boring book with too many pages written by people, nothing more nothing less. And I don't feel any reason to read it.
Luxi: When Inquisitor is no more, what kind of epitaph would you like to leave on the band's tombstone?
Erik: We were sick, we must die!
Luxi: Every story has its final chapter, so too does this interview. Thank you for your time once again, and all the best to all of you in Inquisitor. The last words are yours...
Erik: Luxi, thanks a lot again for another interview. To the readers I would suggest that they should give us a try and listen to our extreme Thrash Metal. Fuck the world! Stay metal! Support your local Metal scene and/or bands!
|Other information about Inquisitor (Netherlands) on this site
|Review: I Am Sick, I Must Die
|Review: Stigmata Me, I'm in Misery
|Interview with guitarist Erik Sprooten and drummer Wim Van Der Valk on June 7, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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