The Dutch folk metal band Heidevolk recently released Wederkeer. Guitarist Mat Snaerenslijper gives us the lowdown on the band’s newest members, the new record, touring and other topics.
Chad Bowar: You’ve had several lineup changes since Vuur van Verzet. How did you Daniel and Kevin come to join the band?
Mat Snaerenslijper: Back in 2018 the band was searching for a new guitarist. Since I was a big fan of the band I reached out to the guys and did an audition. The audition went great but the guys needed some time to think about which guitarist they wanted to choose out of all the auditions they had. All of a sudden Koen called me after a few days and asked me if I was available to help them out on their 2019 European tour. My answer? Of course! That’s when I became a session member of the band and in 2020 I joined as a full member.
During the 2019 tour Kevin also joined as a session member since Joost couldn’t do that tour back then. After Joost left the band, Kevin joined as a full member. When Lars left the band we needed a new singer. We did auditions and Daniël blew us away straight from the beginning! That’s when we knew he was our new singer.
Were the lineup changes part of the reason for the five year span between albums?
Lars and Joost just wanted to create new paths for themselves and of course the pandemic affected both guys’ decisions. Nonetheless we respected each other’s decisions and we parted on good terms.
How did the pandemic affect the band?
It was a difficult time for all of us. Outside of the band, we all have jobs. Where one no longer had a job and came to sit at home, the other had almost no time left for the band because his work demanded too much from him. This of course meant that there were other priorities for a while and we needed time to focus on ourselves, to return to ourselves. Of course we tried to work on the new album as much as possible during that time, but that was hardly possible in the beginning because we couldn’t even be in one room with everyone due to the pandemic restrictions. From the moment we had a complete band again we started working hard on the new record to finish it before 2022 came around. It all worked out in the end and in January 2022 we started recording at Sandlane Studios with producer Joost van den Broek.
How did the songwriting process for Wederkeer compare to previous albums?
For me this was the first time I helped writing for the new Heidevolk album. We decided to write this album with as much input as possible from everyone in the band. Vuur van Verzet was mostly written by Rowan and the other band members fine tuned their parts. We wanted a different approach on this album. We tried to write together in the rehearsal room as much as possible, nice and old school. Unfortunately, this was not always possible due to the pandemic. Fortunately, we found solutions in recording our parts at home and sending them to each other. So it has really become a combination of those two: Together in the rehearsal room and writing parts at home.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Mostly the big impact the songs on the new record had on me. And how smoothly the recording went in the end, we were really well prepared. The pandemic has been a tough time for most people, and unfortunately I was among those. Many songs really have a deep meaning for me, much deeper probably than actually intended when the lyrics were written. “Wederkeer,” for example, is such a song.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Vuur van Verzet?
As mentioned before, as far as I’m concerned, you can really hear that it has been a team effort and you can therefore hear everyone’s individual qualities in the songs. Of course we have remained faithful to the sound of Heidevolk.
What lyrical topics do you address this time around?
We still sing, of course, about Germanic mythology and folk tales. With this album we took the runes and we went to see what these runes mean to us. Since they are multi-interpretable, they can have a different meaning for each band member. Take “Hagalaz” for example; for me that really means conquering the storm (the pandemic for example). For others it may mean letting go of the old and embracing the new.
How was the video shoot for “Wederkeer”?
Cold, verrrryyyy cold! (laughs)( I think it was -4 degrees cold when we shot the video. In the end it was all worth it and the video turned out super cool. All thanks to cameraman Maurice, actress Rosan and our own fire specialist Fabian.
How important are videos in the promotion process?
I don’t think they have that much of an impact as they used to. But they are still very important tools to promote your new music and let people not only listen but see what the songs are about. But as I’ve said, since MTV doesn’t really put on videoclips (or even support metal) anymore, they don’t have that much of an impact. It used to be a game changer when your video went on the MTV rotation list. Sadly those days are over…
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
Of course we pay attention to them and it means a lot to us. But then again, people always have different opinions on your music than the opinions you have yourself. And that works both ways, positive and negative. I don’t let it get to me too much. But, they can be helpful from time to time. It lets you know what totally rocks or what you could have done better, and both can be really great lessons.
You have some release shows coming up. Do you have other shows/tours planned for this year?
Yes! We have a lot of summer festivals coming up, biggest one yet being Graspop. We will also go to Mexico for the first time in 10 years, and words can’t describe how excited I am for those shows!
With seven albums now under your belt, how challenging is it to come up with a set list for a tour, and do you change it up from show to show?
It is a challenge indeed, so many choices! There will always be songs on the setlist that won’t change, but we like to mix it up from time to time. But yeah, with 12 new songs out it’s going to be a hassle for sure. (laughs)
With Joost’s exit, nobody remains from the debut album. Will you still play songs from it?
Yes. For us, it doesn’t seem weird at all. It’s all about the legacy and honoring the work the former members of Heidevolk wrote. But, I have to note that Rowan was there from the beginning. He wasn’t the bassist back then but he used to do choirs back in the day on their very first release. After that he joined as a full time bassist. So it’s not really true that nobody remains from the debut album.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I love cooking! It clears my mind on a busy day. And if you nail it, the pay off is really good. Besides that I like to game a lot with friends in my spare time and I’m also a huge football fan! Fav team: Liverpool!
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Too many names, but to name one: Alcest. I’ve been a huge fan of those guys since 2019. Still have to see them live one day, hopefully soon!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Come catch us at one of our shows this summer!
(interview published March 8, 2023)
Watch Heidevolk – Wederkeer Video