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Deutsche VersionInterview mit Ulysses (19.03.2009)

CDs von Ulysses kaufenZur Druckversion dieses Artikels

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HH: Hi Sylvester! Congratulations to your new record! How are you?

Sylvester: We are doing quite well, thanks for asking. And thanks for the congrats on the album. At the moment we are very busy with the promotion of The Gift Of Tears, doing interviews and preparing for live shows.

HH: How are the reactions to your new record The Gift Of Tears? How much time have you spent in the studio?

Sylvester: The reactions are very good. Especially in the progressive rock scene the album is getting good feedback. The album had its release debute in the U.S. last November, now the album is available in Europe (through French Musea Records). It took us while to come up with a second album. In total we spent over a year in the studio. And before that we spent over a year on demos and trial recordings. I produced the album myself and had great help from Rene. We started the actual recording of the drums November 2007 and finished mixing/mastering the first week of September 2008. It took us a while, but we are very pleased with the result.

HH: How long did it take to do the songwriting?

Sylvester: Hmm, to be honest, we are not the type of band that comes up with a new song each and every week. Most of the ideas and themes are being introduced by myself and Ron (synths). Together with Rene we jam and give the ideas a structure. As a band we arrange the material based upon lyrics and vocal lines. Just like most jazz musicians we love to work from musical themes and we like to work them out, so that's why the songs are pretty long and it also takes a bit longer to write. A song like "Anat" took us almost three years to complete. We wrote this song based upon the (the real life) storyline of the lyrics and it asks for another approach. Some tracks like "How Much More" went a bit quicker. Overall it took us almost three years to come up with the material of the album. Don't worry, at this moment we are already working on new material. A new album will not take another five years, haha.

HH: I think not everyone knows about you, could you please tell us something about the band history?

Sylvester: In short, Ulysses ‘operates' from Ridderkerk a suburb of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Ulysses was initiated in 1998. I received a phonecall from Ron with the question if I would like to start a band. Soon we gathered a bunch of musicians and spent the first months jamming and finally ending up with some tunes that could be recorded. The first studio work dates from 2001 when we recorded an EP Eclectic. In 2003 we released our debute album, Symbioses (both are exclusively available through CD Baby). Between 2003 and now we mainly played shows and wrote new material. The rest is history, for a full biography check out the band website.

HH: What's the idea behind your band name and the album title?

Sylvester: The band name was chosen because it simply appealed to us. Ulysses is a mythological figure and also the name of one of the first sattelites, so future technology and ancient history in one name. Further more Ulysses as a band name had/has no deeper meaning. The album title on the other hand has. The Gift Of Tears is a representation of having the strength to deal with hard situations, to learn and adapt and at the end be a stronger and wiser person. During the songwriting period and recording all of us had some experiences that were not pleasant, but in the end made us wiser and stronger, that's why the title was picked for an album title.

HH: What are you songs about? Could you please tell us something about each song?

Sylvester: When we had enough tracks for an album, we noticed that most songs had the same thematic. Most songs tell real life stories and feelings of people in our close environment. It seems that we made a thematic album on purpose, but the fact is that it simply happened. When we were mixing and at the same time worked on the albumcover design, we suddenly noticed that we had a kind of thematic throughout the album. Example: The opening track of the new album tells how we can live our lives more meaningfully. "Family Portrait" tells us how we can achieve this by simply listening to the stories that people tell. This enables us to create more understanding and compassion in a society of individualism and selfishness. The tragic story of "Anat" is one such story that Ulysses just had to share. It portrays the ordeal of two young parents who unexpectedly lost their one-year-old daughter Anat to a brain tumour. This fifteen-minute epic tells their story from start to finish. It is a story that teaches us a valuable lesson, as will the other real-life stories featured on Ulysses' new album. Further more I can only say, get the album and read the lyrics in the booklet.

HH: What are your musical influences? Do you have any idols?

Sylvester: The musical interests within the band are pretty divers. We are all pretty much into progressive rock, the interests vary from Peter Gabriel to Opeth and from Pain Of Salvation to Nevermore. We don't have one particular band that is a big hero for us.

HH: Are you full-time musicians? Or do you have a fix job?

Sylvester: We wish... to be very realistic: it is practicly impossible to earn your money with the type of music we play. Especially with the sales figures going down due to piracy and a weak economy it is hard to earn a decent euro on music. We won't make any concessions on what we play, because the most important is that we believe in what we do, so making money can't be a priority, otherwise we are forced to play a more popular genre. We all have full day jobs, with - luckily - very flexible employers, hahaha. Besides my dayjob I also run "symbioses music" on which we released our latest album, busy busy busy.

HH: What about your plans for the future? What do you want to reach with the band?

Sylvester: As said, our first and most important goal is "having fun" and of course to have as much recognition as possible. We are working hard on doing as much as possible live shows in Holland and abroad. In the meantime we are already working on new material for a follow up on The Gift Of Tears. And also we are all busy with side projects, which are also very time consuming. Ron plays also in For Absent Friends and Mike and me participate in the Ixion project and some of us also teach music besides the dayjob and band.

HH: Thanks a lot for the interview! Do you want to say something in conclusion?

Sylvester: Thank Heavyhardes very much for your time and attention. Also I would like to thank you, the reader, for your interest in Ulysses. Buy more CD's and keep the records industry alive! See you on the road!


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