Posted on January 10th. 2020
Questionnaire by Officer Nice on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Hello, here Rico from the Metal To Infinity webzine. I have some questions for you, hope you’ll like them.
Hello, my name is Ortwin Lietaert and I’m the band’s singer. Okay, shoot.
Officer Nice: Orthanc isn’t exactly a new band but I guess still unknown to our readers. Can you tell us more about the band and its history?
Ortwin: Orthanc started off as a four-piece in the early eighties. Brothers Marnick & Geert Serreyn played guitar & drums. Stepbrother Jean-Marc Talloen took up the bass and they found a singer only three streets away. His name was Chris Borny. They were named “ Devil’s Spawn” back then. They only played one or two local gigs, before Chris Borny decided he’d rather play guitar than sing, so he quit the band to learn to play the guitar. Not much later Jean- Marc Talloen moved to Ghent, so the Serreyn brothers had to look for a new singer and Bass player again. They found a bass player in Matthias Vanden Berghe who wasn’t interested in Heavy Metal at all but who was willing to help them out, until they found the right guy.
Thirty-five years later he is still in the band. (Lol) They tried out a bunch of singers and I got the job. We decided to attract a second guitar player and five years and three guitarists later Chris Borny rejoined the band as an axeman by then. We recorded a couple of demo’s, must’ve played a hundred gigs or more, won a Studio Brussel talent show along the way, but never managed to get a record- or even a distribution deal. By 1997 Marnick couldn’t combine his job and the music anymore and we decided to dismantle the band. The four remaining members recorded an EP under the “ The Colony” moniker but that never really got off the ground, so we decided to call it quits and get on with our careers and family life.
Officer Nice: Who are the members of the band and should we know them from previous bands?
Ortwin: Four of the five original members are back in the band. Only Chris Borny wasn’t interested to go through it all over again. Between 1997 and 2014 Geert drummed in Healer, Morehead and a couple of other bands, Matthias played bass in local blues- rock and cover-bands, and I was singer for Patriarch for a while. Only Marnick didn’t touch his guitar between 1997 and 2014.
Officer Nice: What made you decide to start all over again anyway and what’s the goal?
Ortwin: In 2014 my stepdaughter’s boyfriend wanted to surprise her with a festival with local bands for her birthday, and asked me if we would play there. I contacted the rest of the band, and Marnick, Matthias and Geert said yes. Chris couldn’t be convinced so Matthias’s son Vincent and a young guy called Robin David played his parts. This was supposed to be a one of thing, but we enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to go on. There’s no real goal. As long as we’re having fun and we don’t have to use a walking frame to get on stage, we’ll be going on I guess.
Officer Nice: You just released the “Carnival” album. What can you tell us about it? How were the reviews until now?
Ortwin: The album is like half and half old tracks and new material. We’ve cleaned up a couple of our old songs that were still relevant, and wrote a bunch of new stuff. The reviews up until now have been great. All 7’s or more. Nobody really tore us down, and as long people realize that we grew up with eighties Metal and are all over fifty, they know what they will get. I mean, there’s no point in us trying to copy Mastodon or Gojira – bands that I both adore – because they are the top bands this moment. That wouldn’t be fair. That wouldn’t be us. We grew up with classic metal. We play classic metal. We are classic metal. Even though some influences from things we appreciate pop up now and then.
Officer Nice: How about the song writing? Who was responsible for it and how did you work together before going to the studio?
Ortwin: Songs kinda grow during rehearsals. Somebody in the band brings up an idea – that might be a guitar riff, or a bass line, or even a hummed piece of music – and we start working around that. Some things stick, others don’t. Most of the time we feel pretty quick what works and what doesn’t. I write the lyrics during the shaping of the songs, which works pretty good, because I can say, guys, this piece has to be longer or shorter to make it work. Most of the time they give in. Sometimes they say fuck off and I give in. That’s life, I guess. Earlier on we had problems with letting a song go. It was never really finished, or good enough. By getting older we’ve learned that sometimes first ideas were best. That makes it easy to start recording. Because we know what we want.
Officer Nice: How about the time in studio? Any remarkable passages or histories you want to share?
Ortwin: David Ooms of Reddrum Studios is a dream to work with. We contacted him, he came to see a rehearsal, and said he was interested and liked what we were doing. We sent him a recorded rehearsal and our old demo’s, and by the time we got to the studio we had written down what we wanted every song to sound like. He made a few remarks what would work and what he thought wouldn’t. We respected his vision and he tried his best to fulfill our demands. It went like a charm. It was my first time working with digital recordings, which makes things loads faster than it used to. That guy is a wizard behind his recording table.
Officer Nice: What are the lyrics all about?
Ortwin: I think the lyrics pretty much speak for their-selves. I look at the world and write songs about what I think is wrong or annoys me. Religion that is being used to subdue people. Politicians that only do the job to benefit from the power that is given to them. And people that fuck up this planet for generations to come while this piece of rock is the only thing we have. One or two songs are pretty personal.
So if there is a song on the album that you don’t understand, it’s a reflection of what is going on in my fucked up brain.
Officer Nice: What can you tell our readers, musical wise, about the band? What were the sources of inspiration?
Ortwin: Matthias and Geert aren’t really into new music, while Marnick and I stil try to follow what is going on in Metalworld. But that certainly doesn’t mean that I listen to metal only. To me there is no bad musical genre. Every genre has it’s own virtuosos. Matthias is into jazz and other complicated stuff. Geert listens to whatever is on the radio. I think that Marnick is the only hardcore headbanger within the band.
Officer Nice: What can we expect from the band in the near future? Live concerts? A tour? New material?
Ortwin: We’re writing new material as we speak. People should check our Facebook page for updates on our concerts, or to book us. And yes please, book us. We want to play as often as possible. If people book us for twenty or more days in a row, we can call that a tour right?
Officer Nice: Is this album only available on CD? Where can our readers purchase it anyway?
Ortwin: Physical copies can be ordered on our Facebook page. And then about every streaming or download service has our album on it. Deezer, Apple music, Napster, Youtube you name it, we’re on it. Type “Orthanc – Carnival” and you will find it.
Officer Nice: There are rumors about a reunion of Erode To Greed as well. Has the one something to do with the other?
Ortwin: Nope. Not at all. When Chris Borny left the band back in the eighties, to learn how to play guitar, the first band in which he tried his skills out was Erode to Greed. When they disbanded, he came back to us. Except for Chris, and if I’m not mistaken, our first bass player Jean-Marc Talloen, the rest of the band has nothing to do with Erode to Greed. Chris couldn’t make time in his busy schedule to play with us again, so we were really surprised to hear he found the time for them now.
Officer Nice: After so many years, how do you look back to the Metal scène and what would you have changed if you would have the chance (talking about Orthanc)?
Ortwin: Earlier on Metal was “the” music of outcasts. One would attend a concert, and see people that were there the previous concert, and they would be there the next gig too. Everybody was really into it. Halfway through the nineties that changed. Metal went mainstream. Which was a good thing, because the crowds got bigger. On the other hand people seem less interested, like their attention span is back at toddler level. People attend concerts and talk with their friends the whole evening without really paying attention to what is going on. I miss the really interested crowds of the past.
Officer Nice: What’s your favorite album of 2019 and why?
Ortwin: “Devin Townsend – Empath” without a doubt. No-one can blend every genre of music together and make it sound like he invented it like Devin does. I went to see “Empath Live” in Antwerp. One moment it sounds like you are listening to a Disney soundtrack and the next your eardrums take a beating that not even Slayer can rival. Simply Brilliant. I smiled all the way back home and had the feeling that the entire concert was done for me personally. Musical geniality at it’s best.
Officer Nice: Any last words for our readers?
Ortwin: Pay attention, people!!! 😉