WildSpiritz IMS Interview - WE CATCH UP WITH THE GUYS FROM SPANKRAGHT
When heavy guitars meet pounding beats, Spankraght happens!
Spankraght describe themselves as several worlds coming together with different styles merging into one. Their mission is to entertain, and they do that with ease. They have been around since 2015 and have taken their time to get their sound just right. Heavy guitars and pounding beats which not only bring people together but allow them to both dance & headbang at the same time. Full marks for the album so we caught up with the guys for a quick rundown.
Is there an English translation for your band name and what does it mean?
Yes, there is, in English, it’s ‘tension’. The correct Dutch spelling is ‘spankracht’ though, we’ve replaced the c with a g to be first when googling the name so if you’d translate it to English, we’d probably be called Tenzion, ha-ha.
There are many complex layers within your tracks. How do you begin to put a song together?
Half of the tracks on the album were tracks that we had been playing since we started, and we just updated them to fit in with newer tracks. Those first tracks had drum tracks or synth lines as the base. On the newer tracks, we started from guitar riffs. We first wrote all guitars and then started adding the beats, the synths…. By doing this, we found a different dynamic in the tracks. These are far more adventurous and have more bends and twists than those written earlier. For example: “Hoop” is an older track whereas “Reset Mankind” is a newer one. The first one is heavy on synths and pretty straight forward, the latter a full-on guitar driven monster. Because we take our time to write and construct the tracks, many layers get built as time passes on. We let the song rest for a while, pick it back up and try to add an extra hook so that song becomes our favourite until we continue on another one. We like adding ‘ear candy’ for the listener’s pleasure.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to writing?
Inspiration comes from many things. Things we see happening in the world, movies, video games, etc. Music-wise we want our album to be like a 90’s first-person shooter video game. In your face, constantly on the move, twisting and turning, fighting your way through hellish environments to get a big pay-off in the end after the exhausting fight with the final boss! We’ve got a major DooM fan among our ranks and that’s where that vibe comes from. Also, horror films, 80’s cartoons, animes. A lot of violent stuff but always with a twist or over-the-top. If we go to see an action film, we want to have a thrilling ride. If we see a comedy, we want to be amused and laugh our asses off. Same with the music and themes we make, you need to be fully immersed and get a kick out of it. The album’s concept and story behind it was just a way to blend all the tracks together and give them a reason to exist next to each other. It also made it easier to come up with lyrics. We actually first had the album title and then we had to find a way to justify that violent title. That’s also a reason why we came up with the story of mankind falling prey to a force that’s out to punish us for our conduct throughout centuries. And it adds up to the whole immersing experience.
We reviewed ‘Thou Shalt Drown In The Blood Of Thy Children’ and gave it top marks. How long did it take to put the album together and did you have any problems along the way?
The album’s recording & mixing process took us about a year. We’re not full-time musicians so we had to do it when the time was there to do it. Every week we got together to record or mix or even discuss new plans. In between those sessions, there was editing, or we were contacting vocalists, sending out dummy tracks for vocalists, working on maps for the Spankraght DooM 2 expansion. It took a while but that way you get the chance to sometimes step back and take a look at what you’re doing and adjust where necessary. We’re not that band to book a studio for two weeks and be stuck with a deadline. We like to take our time and we’ve noticed that that way of working, suits us best and pays off, judging by the first reactions and reviews. We didn’t run into any difficulties or problems, sometimes we had to tweak some vocals a little bit more because of the sound quality of the sent-in files but overall it was a smooth and very pleasant process. It was a fun ride with lots of goosebumps along the way of everything coming together quite nicely. And top marks like yours give us the chills once more.
You have been together for five years now. What changes have you seen within the music industry in that time?
We’ve been playing music together for more than 15 years now, so we’ve seen the industry change a lot. Streaming has been the biggest change, allowing smaller bands and artists to show themselves too. People get to put together their own playlists and discover more things. In the 90’s you were stuck with what record stores and labels offered you. These days there is so much to choose from. But that also makes that everything is forgotten fast and people move on quicker. The art of making a nice product with a cool packaging and nice booklet is starting to disappear and that’s something we don’t like. It’s nice to have something pretty in your hands. Something that is made with a lot of love and care and built to last many years. We come from a time where you had to order a cd in the shop and wait for it to arrive. Sometimes weeks or months… Eager to get it and when it finally arrived, you were happy, and you played that music until you knew every lyric line by heart. We want our listeners to get something that’ll last and be with you for a long time.
But we’re living in times where everything has to go fast and you need to be the coolest in Instagram, get more streams, be popular for the sake of being popular. We’re not saying there is no quality anymore, it just harder to find it because of all the white noise surrounding it.
Your sound has many genres attached to it but where would you put yourselves and can you describe yourselves with just one word?
We’d like to put our music in the industrial metal section. It’s a good starting point for people. That way, they know they’re in for electronics, chuggy guitars and synths. Along the way, they’ll discover there’s more to it than just those things. We used to call ourselves industrial dance metal but removed the dance. You can still dance to our music though but without dance, it has more of a bite to it.
In one word: Exciting.
What made you choose to go with your particular style?
This is the music we want to hear, and we think there’s not enough of. There are bands that somewhat do what we do but differently. And the combination of beats and heavy guitars doesn’t always work. For some, too much guitar. For others, too many beats… We’re going for a good balance between the two, enough heaviness for the metalheads with enough ear candy on top for those who need their hooks. And it came naturally, it just happened. We quickly had our sound and style. It has been there in our previous bands but now it has finally matured, and we have found what we’re good at.
What is the music scene like in Belgium right now?
It’s a big scene with lots of stuff happening in many genres. Can’t say we’re really into everything that is going on, but there’s a lot of cool stuff to discover for everyone. Pop, rock, metal, alternative… And many artists that start off on their own by releasing their music themselves, there’s a lot of DIY mentality and it pays off.
Will you be touring this year and are there any plans to come over to the UK?
No plans to tour. We’re working on our live show and hope to play some cool shows, but the setting has to be ok. We’re not that band you can just put in a pub and start playing. We want our shows to be special and with only two guitars and a laptop, you need to have a PA system that can do what you want it to do because else it can sound horrible in no time. We’re also in costume and with masks and we’ve got our self-built light rigs with us so we’re going for a full-on experience. So, we’d like to play in the best setting for us to bring you the best possible show. If the demand would be there and we’d feel it’d be worth to take our stuff across the pond to the UK, we’d be happy to but only if we could guarantee a show that is up to par with what we want to bring. Who knows… ????
You are very much a band that stands out. What do you think you have done well to allow you to do this and what advice would you give to those that are just starting out?
At one point we just started doing what we wanted to do and we didn’t restrict us with any limits or boundaries. And that’s the advice we would give: just make what you want to make, don’t try to copy others. Make what feels natural to you and take your time, also be harsh on yourself. Always think on how you can improve your work and try to aim high, there are always ways to get where you want to go. We too have budget and time restraints but there are ways to work around them, just take your time to find the right path.
You have been getting excellent reviews across the board. Are you happy or surprised?
Happy but not really surprised. It might sound arrogant, but we knew we had something good when we finished the album. After all those months of working on it, we’re still listening to it and not one time have we thought: “If we had done this so or so…”. The album feels complete to us, so we were confident it was going to turn out ok once it was out in the open. The first reactions we got from friends were very good, even overwhelming at times.
But we know that that one review is coming, that one review that ‘ll put us back on the ground with our two feet. So, we’re very happy and enjoying what people are writing but we’re getting ready for a slap in the face. Ha-ha.
There are still a lot of reviews unpublished but if it keeps going like this, we will be very happy. We just wanted to make something that ‘ll hopefully last and be around a long time after we’ve left this planet. Everyone turns to dust in the end and will be forgotten but if you could just find that one way to leave your mark… Bring people joy and make them forget their everyday lives, take them on a trip they’ll remember for a long time.
Your fan base is building. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Stream the album, buy the digipak cd just for the packaging and the booklet or spread the word to promoters. Let the name Spankraght circulate. Draw other people into our music so we can set up a show that’ll do the music justice and make an even better follow-up to this record. But most of all a massive thanks for just checking us out and taking the time to listen and drop a line on Facebook or whatever. We like hearing what they think and feel and what our music does to them.
‘Carnivale’ is the latest single. What can we look forward to next?
Nothing much. We’ll just wait and see how the release and the reviews turn out. If we would do a video, It ‘ll have to be a very special one. One that can wow people and blow them off their socks. But that requires a lot of money so we’re not doing any videos for now. On March 1st we will be releasing the 6 level pack for DooM 2 with custom textures and the album tracks as soundtrack so that’s another way to promote the album and gives people the chance to experience our music as it’s meant to be; kicking ass and with a lot of adrenaline. And that’s another way to give our music a life beyond just an album on a shiny disc.
We’ve been so busy with the album and everything around it that we’re now just enjoying the ride and we’ll see what opportunities will pop up and then plan our next move.
Apart from the music do you guys also work full time?
Yes! And a family with children and mortgages to pay. With this comes responsibility so another reason why we can just start touring because there are bills to pay. Would be nice if the music could someday pay those bills…
What do you like to do to relax?
Playing music is a way to relax from work and loud kids, ha-ha. But we’re also fans of fine beers so we often sit down with a good strong beer and just enjoy the moment. And when we get together, we share our beer tasting experiences and thoughts. Many of Spankraght’s plans were conceived with a good beer.
Off the back of your album, what do you see as the future for Spankraght?
Cool shows, hopefully Graspop Metal Meeting one day. Even if it’s just one time only. Just playing a massive show like that… Oh man, that’d be great!
But most of all, continue making the music we want to make without watering down. We already know that the next album will have to top this one and we’re going for nothing less.
Having a good time and give the audience something they’ll remember for a long time.
Any final words?
Don’t do drugs, kids. Play DooM instead!
- Original Release Date: 21 Feb. 2020
- Release Date: 21 Feb. 2020
- Label: Spankraght
- Total Length: 40:04
- Genres: Hard Rock & Metal - Rock
- ASIN: B084GF81VQ