Interview: For All We Know

Recently For All We Know announced three concerts. DutchMetalManiac’s Glenn van der Heijden spoke with the mastermind behind For All We Know Ruud Jolie about those concerts, For All We Know’s music among other things.

For people who don’t know For All We Know yet, what is it exactly?

For All We Know is my side project. I used to call it my solo project, but that might be a little too narcissistic. It’s my side-project, I first had the idea 12 years ago. It wasn’t until 2009 that I started recording the first album, which was released in April 2011.

Maybe, it was supposed to be a one-off project. I always said that the moment I am on my deathbed, I want to hold at least one album in my hands that is absolutely mine in the sense that I do a lot of albums. The albums of Within Temptation are really successful and I am really proud of that, but those albums don’t feel like my own necessarily.

The same goes for Maiden United, even though that I produced those albums and rearranged all the tracks with my good friend Joey Bruers. Those aren’t my songs. In that sense, those albums never felt like they were my own. That was the primary goal that I had with the first album of For All We Know. To have a CD in my hands with tracks I composed myself.

The secondary goal I had was to recoup those expenses so that in the end it would have only cost me time and calories, since I invested my own money in it. I succeeded in both goals, that’s why I decided to do another album three years ago. That album was released last September. For the project of For All We Know I have the complete honor to work with some of the best musicians that I know. First of all, there is Wudstik on vocals, he is a really good friend of mine and an amazing musician. He is a super singer, great drummer and he plays some fine guitar and keys, so he’s really allround. Then we have Kristoffer Gildenlöw, he used to play in Pain Of Salvation on bass. We have Léo Margarit on drums, he also plays in Pain Of Salvation, but for the upcoming live gigs that we are doing in March, Stef Broks is going to sit behind the drumkit. He is from Textures. Then we have Marco Kuypers on the piano and Rhodes, Thijs Schrijnemakers on Hammond. For the live gigs I needed another guitarist, since there are a lot of guitar tracks. Bart Hennephof, who also played in Textures, is going to join me on stage.

Sounds like a brady bunch! How would you describe the music of For All We Know yourself?

Well, I tend to describe it as atmospheric music which is very melodic that can range from super quiet nice Sunday morning vibe to pretty heavy, hysteric, Friday night binge-drinking kind of stuff. It is quite diverse, there is a huge dynamic range. I am a huge fan of melodic music and I tend to incorporate as many nice melodies and harmonies as possible.

You succeeded in that. Were there any musical influences that you thought of when writing for For All We Know? Can you tell something about that creative process?

The creative process took a long time, because I am influenced by the things I listen to of course. For instance, the aforementioned Within Temptation, but also bands like Porcupine Tree, Sigur Rós, that kind of stuff. Whenever I came up with a piece of music that reminded me too much of something that I know, I would bin it. From the twenty ideas I came up with, maybe I used only one. These days it is very difficult to come up with some original stuff, but in my opinion, I succeeded. Of course, there are always similarities to other stuff, because that is inevitable I think. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It certainly isn’t a bad thing. How did you come in contact with Wudstik? I saw him at the Maiden United gig in Amsterdam and he is a great performer.

I saw his Myspace profile. Myspace is from ancient times it seems. I think that was around the time that he was working on that 01011001-album of Ayreon. I listened to his music. His Myspace page only contained Dutch songs, but in his biography, he stated that he liked Dream Theater a lot. He also liked Pain Of Salvation and other prog metal, which sounded interesting. I was writing some songs for some demos for a German band and we needed a male vocalist. So, I decided to invite him to my studio to sing those demos and to get to know him a little bit. We hit it off and I sent him a demo of a very old For All We Know song, one of the first ones I wrote. It had my demo vocals on it and a couple of days later he sent me his version with his vocals. It was amazing. So, I sent him some more and he liked it. The rest is history.

You said it was important for you to make an album that is completely yours. How much of your personality is in For All We Know’s music?

I think 100%. Now For All We Know is a little bit more well-known, but when the first album came out I got the comment of “hey, this doesn’t sound anything like Within Temptation” pretty often. I make the comparison to a chef who is working in the kitchen of a restaurant and who has to prepare a dozen different meals every day for five days a week. There’s maybe a little bit of creativity there, but not that much. In the weekends when he goes home, he has some friends coming over and he’s going to cook a meal for his friends, do you think that the chef is going to make one of those dozen meals that he has to make the rest of the week or is he going to experiment and makes the food he really likes?

That’s really a good analogy.

That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like his job at the restaurant, because I love being in Within Temptation and I really love Maiden United. But like I said, For All We Know is really mine. Some people also expected some more shredding, some more heavy super difficult guitar solo stuff. First of all, I can’t do that anymore, because back when I was 17/18 years old I was practicing 8 hours a day, then I could do so. These days I am not interested in that anymore and I just don’t have time to practice that much anymore. Also, like I said, I am more into melodies these days. That’s also why maybe some people thought that it was supposed to be a bit more shredding/difficult stuff. I really like to write nice songs and the guitar parts need to gather the needs for the song in particular, not so much playing difficult stuff, just for the sake of playing difficult stuff.

I really feel you. So, it’s really important for you to do something besides Within Temptation?

Exactly. The last Within Temptation gig was in the end of December 2016. We’ll be going into the studio for the next album next week. That means that I would have had fourteen months off from Within Temptation. I could have done fourteen months of netflixing or whatever, but I like to keep myself busy and I like other music. I really need it, I would go insane if I would only do Within Temptation. I would lose all fun in it I think. The fact that I spend some time on For All We Know. In October we will be touring again with Within Temptation and I am sure we are super excited about that again.

When I listen to For All We Know, you said it already, there’s a mix between heavier songs and the calmer, almost melancholic ballad sort-of songs. How do make the decisions about the balance between the different tracks on an album?

It’s a pretty natural process, I think. Because it wasn’t as if I was sitting behind my desk before I really started working and worked out that balance. So far, it’s been extremely natural, which is a good thing. It’s not forced or anything.

On the first album you have Sharon den Adel as a guest vocalist. On Take Me Home you have We Are the Light with Anneke van Giersbergen. Did you immediately know that you wanted those guest vocalists for the albums?

With Anneke it was pretty funny. I did not intent to have any guests on the second album, because I wanted it to have a bit more of a band vibe on that one. So I thought that I didn’t need guests, because the songs didn’t fit that much for guests. The song with Sharon den Adel, Daniel Gildenlöw and Daniel Wilsmith you are referring to, Keep Breathing from the first album, is a canon, different vocals intertwining and stuff like that. That was a natural idea of me to use different singers. For the song, We Are The Light, that wasn’t really my intention. Until we were recording the vocals and mid-sentence Wudstik stopped and said that Anneke van Giersbergen would sound amazing on this album. I hadn’t thought about it, so I contacted her. She was keen and wanted to do it. Again, the rest is history.

So, essentially it was Wudstik who came up with that idea?

Yes, it is. I am really happy with her performance on that track.

It’s very nice. There are three For All We Know shows scheduled in March. Those are the first shows ever, what’s the reason behind that?

There is nothing more exciting and rewarding than when you see the people enjoying your music. I really like it when people tell me that they love the albums. That also motivates me to start working on a third album someday, but I really want to experience of watching people enjoy the music. What’s more exciting than playing live on stage with your own music? That’s the reason. Of course I knew that Within Temptation wasn’t going to do any gigs that soon. So, I had some free space in my agenda, because it is difficult to schedule certain things that don’t have to do with Within Temptation once we are touring again. I have to prioritize that. I knew that March was pretty open, so I decided to give it a shot. Last time I had to cancel the gigs, that was in May 2011, which was one month after the first album came out. The reason for that was, again, that I knew that May was my only free month before Within Temptation would start again. The ticket sales were so disappointing that I decided to cancel them all. Now me and Joey Bruers, who booked the shows, said to give it another shot. If people still don’t show up at the gigs at least we tried it again. I am doing everything within my power to promote these shows and I hope that some people will show up. I don’t expect any of the Dutch shows to sell out, that isn’t my intention. I hope it’s going to be really nice and that I will see a lot of happy faces.

I will show up for sure. You said that it’s great to perform live. Do you find it difficult to plan around Within Temptation sometimes?

Once Within Temptation is at full speed again, then I know that I don’t have a problem with not planning my own things that much, because that is just part of my job. The only thing that frustrates me is, like last year I had a full year of no commitments whatsoever except for the commitments that I created myself, so the For All We Know commitments, but I was in control of that. For the rest, I didn’t have anything to do, which was great in a way. I still teach two days a week at the Metal Factory in Eindhoven. Now, I just told my girlfriend yesterday, I got another offer for an album recording. I just did the Carré-show with Maiden United, that was pretty busy. Next week I’ll be doing the new Within Temptation album in the studio. I am preparing the For All We Know live gigs and I got another studio offer. So everything comes at the same time. That is frustrating, sometimes you’re lying on the couch being bored out of your skull and sometimes you just don’t have enough hours in one day to do everything.

So that makes it even more important to do some stuff which is completely your own, because then you can fully commit to what you want to make, instead of looking at the big picture, right?

Yes, you totally understand my point of view.

I was wondering myself, the guitars on the albums sound pretty warm. What kind of gear do you use for For All We Know?

For the heavy guitars I use my Mayones Regius models and I use the Gordon Smith a lot as well. The Telecaster, maybe a Strat. For the amps I use the Fractal Audio Axe Fx II 99%. Maybe 1% the Kemper Profiling amp. But I haven’t used one real amp at all, which is pretty insane that you can do that these days.

There are three shows scheduled in March. What can we expect?

That’s a very good question. We haven’t rehearsed yet, we are going to have our first rehearsal next week. We are going to play songs from both albums of course, about the fifteen or sixteen songs. I hope a good time. You’ve seen Maiden United and we tried to create a little party with Maiden United. Of course For All We Know is a little bit a different kind of thing, but I still hope that the relaxed vibe will remain during the For All We Know shows. That is really important to me.

I am really looking forward to it. Is there anything you want to tell to our readers?

I hope that they will check out the album. They can check it out on our website, it is on Spotify, Bandcamp (for the people who want to buy the music but don’t need the CD).

Do you know how the future of For All We Know looks like or do you just fly blind and see where it takes you?

Right now I am flying blind. Also, one reason is that I don’t want to put that much pressure on either myself or the whole project. The most important thing for me is that I will keep on enjoying doing it. Since it doesn’t pay my bills. If I am lucky I break even. It costs me money, which isn’t bad, but if it costs me money or doesn’t make me money than at least I want to enjoy it. The second that I stop enjoying it and I am not making money from it, then I am going to quit. Simple as that. I was at Wudstik’s place yesterday and I said like let’s do those March gigs. In April I will be done with those gigs and the Within Temptation album I guess. That’s when I will have time again to write new music for For All We Know. On the last album Wudstik wrote quite a bit and he has already written more ideas for songs than I have, so I really like the cooperation with him. We’re definitely working on a third album, but it will take some time before it’s finished.

Before I came in contact with Maiden United and For All We Know, I didn’t even know Wudstik, because he makes very different music than what I used to listen to. Sounds to me like he’s a really great performer and songwriter. He seems very relaxed too.

He is a super talented guy, it’s ridiculous. He is indeed relaxed. I just posted a silly blooper video on my Facebook and YouTube channel. I did some show announcements together with him. Of course, those weren’t one-takers and there were quite some ridiculous things going on. It’s quite funny to watch, because than you can see how we really are.

You told me about the wonderful guys you work with for For All We Know. Is it important to you that those are guys you can hang with and be spontaneous with?

Yeah, definitely. First of all, they are amazing musicians, but if I have to choose between working with the best musicians in the world but I can’t relax with them or this, I would prefer playing with lesser musicians but at least it is fun. Now I am in the super great position that I can do both, because they are all awesome musicians and they are super fun to be with. I feel extremely lucky.

I really want to thank you for this wonderful interview.

Well thank you for having me, it was a pleasure.

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