Interview mit Jeroen Wechgelaer von Haliphron

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HALIPHRON, which was only formed in 2021, may still be a fairly new and unknown band, but it features all sorts of familiar faces with current and former members of God Dethroned, Bleeding Gods and Izegrim. With „Prey“, the Dutch symphonic death metal combo has now released the first studio album. Guitarist Jeroen Wechgelaer tells us what it was like to start a new band in the middle of a pandemic, what the fascination for octopuses is all about, and much more about the full-length debut.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this interview! After more than a year of working on the project, how do you feel now that your debut album “Prey” was finally released?
Well, it certainly goes beyond our expectations! The reviews are great, we are getting awesome offers for gigs at festivals and with bands we could only dream of, the fans are liking it; it really is a rollercoaster these months, and things are getting better and better, so it seems. All the hard work we put into this record is paying off!

Porträtfoto von Jeroen Wechgelaer, Gitarrist von Haliphron
Jeroen Wechgelaer – © Sonja Schuringa

HALIPHRON was formed in 2021, so in the middle of the pandemic. How did this affect the first steps a newly formed band has to take, the dynamics, the development etc., and how did you perceive this exceptional period of time?
It sure was a really bizarre time. No gigs, not going to the pub, really depressive times for a lot of people (us included). We worked a lot at home, writing guitar tracks, orchestrations, composing. Before the pandemic, a band would go into the rehearsal room and work on new material (or at least practice it). There was one advantage to this whole situation; there was no real pressure, and we could work individually on the material at home, so we could put a lot of attention into the details of this record, and I think one can really hear that.

Back in August of last year, you made a social media post about your first band rehearsal ever, months after the formation of HALIPHRON. Would you like to take us back to that day, how you felt, how the whole band felt, what the vibe was like?
Jeroen: You paid good attention to our socials, good job! Our first rehearsal worked like a charm. It’s quite simple, when everyone does their homework and knows the parts they have to play, it will work perfectly from the first countdown of the drummer: and it did! The vibe was incredible, I mean; hearing all the parts coming together in a live situation is a bit different from working on a record. We all had a great time that day, and proud of the results during that first session.

Gruppenfoto der Band Haliphron
© Sonja Schuringa

The band consists of members who have known each other for a long time and built up a solid friendship, as your info says. But how did it come to this specific line-up? After all, there are presumably lots of friendships amongst musicians within the Dutch metal scene that don’t necessarily result in collaborative projects.
Oh, sure, there are enough friends with whom we could have started HALIPHRON, but from the beginning it was clear that this should be the line-up. Ramon is the founding member of HALIPHRON, and he already worked together with Jessica and David in Bleeding Gods. Marloes and I know each other from Izegrim, and we all know Frank from God Dethroned. So, Ramon had this line-up pretty quick together.

While HALIPHRON’s style is a departure from the sound of Izegrim, Bleeding Gods etc., what are the reasons behind choosing this specific genre, with prominent symphonic elements and bombast?
We all decided we did not want HALIPHRON to remind people of one of the bands we already played in. Bleeding Gods already had symphonic elements in it, but was more up-tempo, faster songs compared to HALIPHRON. Izegrim never had synths in it. So, this new style evolved when writing the song structures and David made the orchestrations on top of it. He did an amazing job to lift the songs to a next level. Actually, if you remove all the keys, choirs, and vocals, you actually hear a 90’s-related metal album. What I try to explain is that we don’t have a ‘real’ genre that we are focusing on, it’s more a mixture of different styles, which are layered on top of each other.

Haliphron Prey CoverartworkThe album concept is about being a hunter or being hunted. Why did you choose this concept, and was it predetermined from the start, or did it evolve in the course of the process of making the album?
Marloes always wants to have a certain theme to write about. So, when she started to do her research on lyrics and a main theme, she stumbled upon the concept of ‘Prey’. Where other metal bands write about war, horror etc., Marloes always has been interested in the wicked ways of the human mind. So, she started writing lyrics with the theme ‘Prey’, but from two perspectives; either you are the hunter (on the search for a prey), or you can be the prey yourself. Each song is a story on its own, we don’t have a concept album, but the main theme is in all the songs.

The title track is about a youngster who is bullied, while “Perfect Existence” is about a cult leader and his followers. What can you tell us about some other songs on “Prey”, and how do they fit in with the album’s main theme?
I will take two examples if you don’t mind! (laughs) The track “Unidentified Mass” is about a dark creature that lives in the depths of the oceans, to hunt there on its prey. Fun fact: we also created our band name from this song, as the Haliphron is one of the biggest octopuses that live in the deepest of the ocean. Our artworker captured our impression of this beast brilliantly on the cover.
“Killing Spree” is a different story, about a drug addict that’s being hunted by his evil drug dealer. In a way the addict is the prey, and the drug dealer is the hunter in this song. Makes sense, right?

I did notice the similarities between the band’s name, the creature with tentacles on the cover artwork, and the Cthulhu/Lovecraftian vibes from song “Unidentified Mass”.
Indeed, there is a strong connection with this song, the cover art and even the band name. It’s cool to see that all these elements come together, and that it is noticed by many people.


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Is there perhaps a song that means the most to you, do you have a favorite, and if so, why this one?
That would be “Prey”, as it got so many elements in it that we worked on. Deep grunts, whispering, from screams to talking. I did not create many guitar solos on this record, but I am pretty proud of this one, it fits perfectly to the whole mood of this song.

The song “Prey” is also inspired by a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye. Where else do you draw inspiration from, and what are your influences?
It is indeed inspired by the poem that Marloes tried to fit into the concept. This song is about someone who gets bullied so much that he commits suicide. He comes back as a spirit and now he’s the one that is hunting the bully. It really is a heavy subject, so we really tried to bring that across in this particular song. As far as inspiration goes, here the lyrics had to do a great deal with how the song turned out in the end.

Gruppenfoto der Band Haliphron
© Stefan Schipper

Do you already have plans for a second album, maybe even leftover ideas or songs from the “Prey” sessions that didn’t make it on the record?
Yup, currently we are working on some “blueprints” for the next album, but first we really have to focus on the release show and the upcoming gigs. That is priority number one, promoting “Prey” and playing gigs, doing interviews etc. But, as a musician you always have ideas in your head! (laughs)

So far, HALIPHRON is confirmed for three festivals, Copenhell, Eindhoven Metal Meeting and Metal Experience Fest. Do you have any plans or intentions to play live that go beyond (these) festival gigs – maybe even shows in Germany?
In the meantime we have some other shows confirmed, for instance two shows with Arch Enemy in France and the Netherlands, and another summer festival in the Netherlands called “Into the Grave”. Sure, there are plans to play more shows, absolutely. That is one of the main reasons to be in a band, isn’t it? Most of the festivals are fully booked now, so I guess there will be an opportunity next year. And we also play club shows, I mean, it’s not just festivals where we play.

I’d like to conclude with the traditional Metal1 brainstorming. What comes to your mind when reading the following terms:
Your current favorite album: Obituary – Dying of Everything
The last album you listened to: Metallica – 72 Seasons (yes, one of the curious people that had to check)
Something that makes every day better: sun, friends/family, beer, music
Summer festivals: Alcatraz Belgium
Within Temptation: good export product from our home country, but not my cup of tea
Your hopes for the rest of the current year: Gigs!! (laughs)

Again, thank you for your time! If there’s anything you want to tell our readers, the last words are yours.
Hope to see you all at one of our gigs. Don’t hesitate to drink a beer with us. (laughs) That is the most important thing, meeting new fans and friends. Thanks for your time and see you soon!

Gruppenfoto der Band Haliphron
© Stefan Schipper

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