Dance with Dragons – About Escape Into Darkness

In two weeks, the debut album ‘Escape Into Darkness’ by Dance With Dragons will be released. This symphonic metal band, with no less than four vocalists, has everything it takes to perform this epic music live, without a backing track. We asked the band some questions about their inspiration, their new album, and more.

I read an interview online with Femme Metal Webzine, where you already talked about recording an album. That was in 2021. Why did it take so long for this EP to come out?

That’s correct, during the corona period, we couldn’t practice for longer periods, so we wanted to use our time wisely by making recordings at home. (Perhaps somewhat overconfidently) we decided to record all the songs and make an album out of it. Although we had no experience in this, we tried to do everything ourselves. Eventually, we realized that this was not going to yield the desired result and we called upon the help of Stijn Donders from Raiko studio. For various reasons, we reduced the number of songs from ten to four, so it became an EP. Eventually, with Stijn’s help and tips, we re-recorded all the drums and instruments, after which he took care of the mixing. And now we are happily left with a result that we are very pleased with.

Your band hasn’t been together for very long, but the core of the band (Pim, Wouter, and Kenji) have been playing together for a long time. How has the metal scene in the Netherlands changed over time?

Trends can also be observed in metal, and certain genres do better at certain times than others. For example, at the beginning of the millennium, “gothic” was a huge hype, thanks to bands like Within Temptation and The Gathering. At that time, it was easy for a metal band with a female singer to get gigs because every festival or community center wanted a “gothic band”. Now that genre is not popular at all anymore, and you also see little influx of young people among the audience. It’s largely the same people as 20 years ago who come to watch. Interestingly, the quality of the (unknown) bands in the genre has (perhaps because of this?) greatly improved in my opinion.

What musical inspirations do you bring to the stage? Is that inspiration very diverse or are you all on the same track?

Quite diverse, Sanne is a big fan of the symphonic metal genre, but also a fan of Queen since childhood. Wouter is inspired by bands like Nightwish and Amon Amarth, but has also been a fan of Pink Floyd since a very young age. Michiel draws inspiration from bands like Marillion, Nightwish, and Skyclad, and Peter from bands in the symphonic and progressive metal genres. Kenji grew up with music ranging from classical to The Beatles and still likes to listen to everything from pop to metal. Pim draws his inspiration from the music he is working on rather than his musical preference.

What does the writing process look like? Is it a collaboration in the studio, or does someone provide a track that the rest then adds their own input to?

We write together in the rehearsal room. Usually, Wouter brings in a basic idea for a song that we shape together. We don’t limit ourselves to our own instruments, but the composition is also a group process.

It’s a conscious choice for you to be able to play everything live. How difficult is that, especially as a symphonic/melodic band? I mostly see bands in this genre playing with backingtracks, sometimes even with (terrible!) backing vocals on track! How do you manage to do it?

We balance a bit between different genres, one song more of one, the other more of the other. That’s why we stick to melodic metal with. We write our songs so that we can actually play them live. Of course, we have the luxury of having no less than four vocalists, which gives us more options. In the studio, we did add some backing vocals and extra lines, but nothing that would be indispensable live.

There’s a lot of energy at your performances. I also see a lot of costumes and a well-thought-out concept when I watch videos and photos. Do you decide that together as a band or are there one or two people who take the lead on that? And which bands are your inspiration for that?

We make all the big decisions as a group. Often there are one or two people who are more involved in working out the concept. So Sanne and Wouter took care of the style of the outfits, and Pim, for example, worked on the stage decoration.

Can you tell us something about Escape Into Darkness? What can we expect? What was the inspiration?

The title of the EP comes from the lyrics of the song “After Dark”. We chose this because it thematically fits well with the songs on the EP. The four songs are also a good example of our versatility, with “Judgment Day” as a catchy sing-along, “The Key” secretly being quite poppy, “After Dark” being more symphonic and bombastic, and “Mortality” being nice and heavy with a lot of grunts. When we looked at the lyrics of these songs from a distance, it turned out that they often dealt with being trapped and wanting to break free. Apart from the limitations imposed on you by the world, by others, but also by yourself.

Will there be a music video too? Or will it only be music for now?

That is certainly the plan! We just had so much to arrange for the EP release that we want to do that later. In any case, there will first be a lyric video, but a “real” music video is still on the wish list.

What else is on Dance With Dragons’ bucket list? What would you as a band really like to experience someday?

Performing at a (major) festival or as a support act for a big band would be really cool. And it would be even more amazing if the audience there would sing along to the chorus of, for example, “Judgment Day” or “Mortality” at the top of their lungs!

The EP Release of “Escape Into Darkness” is scheduled for April 14 at Bibelot, Dordrecht. Keep an eye on Facebook or check their own website for more updates from the band! Dance with Dragons is also in our band database.

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