The Dutch hardcore/metalcore formation Born From Pain is around since 1997. In those 20 years they became one of the premier European hardcore bands. They’ve toured all over the world and shared stages with bands such as Hatebreed, Madball, Six Feet Under, Soulfly, Agnostic Front and Slayer. The band just finished their EMP Persistence Tour 2018 and Anton had a chat with founder and vocalist Rob Franssen about the past 20 years, their upcoming album and the future.
You just finished the Persistence Tour with Hatebreed, Madball, Terror and many others. How did it go?
It was a top tour! Great shows overall and a lot of friends we’ve known since ages on the bill. I think that for the heavier variation of hardcore, a billing like this couldn’t be better. The tour hardly had any lows, but if I have to chose the highlights I would like to mention our shows in Dresden and Oberhausen. Those 2 definitely took the cake!
Two weeks ago you released your new single and video called ‘Rebirth’. How is the response?
Well, 99% of all feedback was great actually! We are very happy ourselves how the song and video came out and I guess so are a whole lotta people along with us. Our last release was from almost 4 years ago, so it’s about time. We are currently finishing up the album, so it won’t be to long now 😉
Can you give some more details about your upcoming album?
We don’t have a definite releasedate yet, but will have over the upcoming weeks. Mid-2018 that’s for sure! Expect heaviness in the vein of ‘Rebirth’ and a lot of the Bron From Pain-trademarks you are used to. We are still discussing the title as well. There are 3 candidate names. Would this interview come a month later, I’d have all that info for you! Haha…
In the past you worked together with guests like Def P (Osdorp Posse) and Jan-Chris de Koeyer (Gorefest). Can we expect some guest musicians on the upcoming album?
It was so awesome to have those two on past albums! Gorefest was always one of our favorite Dutch metal bands, so when we approached Jan-Chris to sing on Crusader (which is on our War album) and he thought it was a great idea, we loved it. I think there was always a big mutual respect, so it worked out fine. The song turned out really great as well! Def P is THE Dutch rapper and, to us, synonymous to real Dutch underground hiphop. Our drummer Max toured with hiphop acts sometimes and happened to drum for an act that Def P was part of. So that’s how the connection came to be. We asked him and he was awesome about it. We always loved and respected Osdorp Posse for their role in Dutch hiphop and their album with metal band Nembrionic back in the nineties. Most of us like hiphop too and especially in those days metal/hiphop and HC often played in the same level venues and got mixed on bills. So it was great to have him on and we will most probably have a couple of guests again. I’m not gonna say to much about it now, because we’re waiting on confirmations, but expect at least 2 (maybe not so big) surprises!
And what about the production of the new album. Straight in your face with a melodic touch as usual?
We’re not gonna lose the slight melodic touch, but expect heaviness. The melody in our songs were never the sole reason for writing a song, but to further the dynamics and possibly make the heaviness and breaks come off harder even. Straight in your face will definitely be the thing though!
Born From Pain – Rebirth (2018)
Have you allowed yourself to be influenced by other genres for the new album?
Well, it’s hard to say. There is of course always an influence from something else or stuff you are currently listening to a lot, which is not necessarily hardcore or metal. Some might be subconscious or as obvious. So yeah, that will always be there, but we always have and always will be doing our own thing. I think there are a couple of important cornerstones to our sound, like groove, heaviness and a metallic vibe, without losing that hardcore feeling, because that will always be there. Even an album like “The New Future” that had electronic influences here and there, had those cornerstones of our sound.
What was the main reason to let “The New Future” sound totally different than the previous and later albums. I hear some stoner influences also.
You’re the first one saying it’s a stoner influence. Haha… That’s not a bad though, just never heard it before! Most people listen to it with half an ear, hear the electronic influences (which are in just 2 songs and just big in 1 of them) and say it’s a house/breakbeat record. That is so crazy to me. On that record we just let go of what is always expected of us and put some stuff in that we thought would add to the sound without losing the hardness. Maybe it would have been more apparent if the record would have been produced differently. I dunno… I only know that the record had the longest evaluation process for songs ever. A lot of rewriting, etc. I still like the record a lot. Most people don’t…what can I say…! That record marks a weird time period for the band though. Basically the break between the Metal Blade period and what came after. We really wanted to do this record on our own, without a label, so refused to re-sign with Metal Blade. We were kinda sick of industry bullshit and scene politics. Not that metal Blade ever treated us wrong, but we were just fed up with a load of things. We turned into a 4-piece around that time too. For about 1,5 / 2 years. Which is something I regret kind of… We always generated more power as a 5 piece on stage, even if it was just the look and feel of it. So we lost that a bit as well at that time, which was not good. I was in a weird period in my life too. So the record is different mostly cos of a lot of circumstances and us wanting something a bit different for a change.
What effect did the departure of Che (vocalist) actually had on the band in 2007? And musically?
The big impact was mostly on the performance situation. Losing a singer is never easy for a band. A voice determines a big part of the sound obviously. Che sounded a bit heavier, so that is obviously noticeable. We had a bunch of good friends filling in on tours that were lined up for the rest of the year after he left. Guys like Carl from First Blood and Scott from Terror helped out, which was great. I think it was more of a deal to the outside world than to the band itself. When Che left, the vibe in the band was not good at all and that got way better when he was gone. Don’t get me wrong, we all talk and it’s all good, but that combination of people was just not meant to be anymore at that time and it was better that way. So all good. Musically it had an impact on the voice sound obviously. The songs were always written by others, so that just was done the way it was always done. The voice over it gave that a different angle. We deliberately didn’t want an exact copy voice wise. It would make no sense. But yeah, definitely not easy at first, but since the last 10 years it’s like it has never been different than it is now.
I get the feeling that hardcore and metal are increasingly growing towards each other. Not just you, but also Pro-Pain and Hatebreed as an example. How do you see that?
That is something that has been happening over the last 12-13 years I think. Even with early 80’s crossover like Ludichrist, Crumbsuckers or Agnostic Front to a certain extend. For years now we have seen bands calling themselves metalcore, where some of the people might have a hardcore attitude, but play fullblown death metal. We always loved when it was very balanced, like with Hatebreed, Merauder, Stigmata, etc. It’s the heaviness of metal and the aggressiveness and attitude of hardcore. Both are heavy variations of guitar music, so I don’t think it could be avoided that it happened at some point. Both are strong underground scenes and interact and intermingle, so it’s unavoidable. But hey, I love that personally. I grew up on Iron Maiden, than Slayer/Metallica/Exodus/Kreator and after that Agnostic Front/Cro Mags and everything that came after from both genres. I’m not a purist like that.
You celebrate your 20th anniversary at De Nor, together with Madball last November. How was it like?
That was great! A lot of old heads came out. People I hadn’t seen in maybe 15 years were there. A lot of locals of course. I think the average age must have been over 35, haha… It was a great sold out night, with great people and an awesome vibe in our hometown scene where we come from. It couldn’t have been better. I am very thankful for all the support and love. Even after 20 years nothing has changed (except our age, haha…). Just great!
Do you see the age of the audience grow or are there also many young fans?
Overall at show there are a lot of young people too. The oldies do not always come out anymore. The young ones do. I am grateful for the fact that we are still a relevant band to a lot of young people. Makes me proud and proves to me that we are doing the right thing with this band. Much respect for all the young blood coming to shows, having a good time and also
checking out the bands that are double their age, haha… You’re always welcome to a Born From Pain show!
Twenty years is long period. Can you mention some highlight?
Hard… too many to mention… Highlights include touring the world, playing many big festivals, including Wacken, sold out club shows where the vibe is crazy and awesome, etc. I think an important highlight for me is that we are a band that is in it because of the love for what we do, stay true to ourselves and don’t sell our soul to be on labels or tours. We never got anything handed to us and worked long and hard to get all we have done. I think and feel that people see that and understand. That is the highlight of this band for me. Genuine respect from peers in bands and the people in the room. If that would not be there. I’d quite on the spot.
What can we, except a new album, expect more in 2018?
Festivals in the summer of course! We are also planning stuff for after the summer. A couple of confirmations coming up there too. Eyes open!
And what about the upcoming years?
Keep doing what we do and do it as best and genuine as we can. This band still has a lot to give!
My last regular question as usual: what’s your advice to young starting metal bands?
Be humble, be dedicated, have respect for those who came before you (and learn and listen from/to them). Be prepared to invest energy, blood, sweat, tears and money. Take any show you can get and be as tight and uncompromising as you can be. Be genuine. Don’t do weird moves, because you think people want to see them. Be yourself and believe in yourself. I see SO many young bands that think they are/do all of that, but complain when they don’t get paid 100 euro for their show they play 100km away from home, because now they have to pay for the gas themselves. Born From Pain played for maybe 4 years losing money almost every show. Were we idiots? No, we wanted to play show. Come what may, cost it what may. Earn yourself respect and a reason for others to pay you. There are a lot of opportunities for young bands to do a lot of stuff, if you are only willing to dedicate yourself and invest. If you really want it, you can get it. Believe me.