Future Nightwish singer Floor Jansen was already well on the way to becoming a symphonic metal star when she first made waves with Dutch group After Forever. The band's vocalist from 1997 to their eventual dissolution in 2009, Jansen played an enormous role in getting After Forever's name out to the masses with her powerhouse vocals lending a sense of scale and bombast to the band's already powerful mix of gothic, progressive and death metal elements.
Hammer caught up with Jansen to discuss her years in After Forever, their debut album Prisoner Of Desire and if she feels a reunion could ever be on the cards...
You joined After Forever when you were only 16. Did you already know that this was what you wanted to do?
“No. Think of a bunch of teenagers that wanted to play music, and think before the internet. I liked metal. And I wanted to sing in a metal band. That was my ambition; I used to play guitar and write my own acoustic songs, then I played at parties of friends. And one day when I did that, somebody said, ‘I know a bunch of guys that have a metal band, and they are looking for a female background singer’, and that was After Forever. And so that’s how I joined.”
What were those early days like?
“We had this old-fashioned tape recorder in the middle of the room, so if we had an idea, we’d record it on that, and the rest we’d just remember. For the first I don’t know how many years, the thing was; if I can remember my vocal lines, they’re good. If I can’t, they weren’t worth it! That is how the songs came to be. We rehearsed twice a week – we were absolutely serious.”
How did you feel, going into the studio to record your debut album, Prison Of Desire?
“I remember feeling aware that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at the same time, really sure of our band. I think we had teenage cockiness, which we needed. They had this tiny room, which was 10 square metres with bunk beds, where we all slept. And I still smoked. I smoked for a couple of years, heavy tobacco even. That really feels like another life!”
Your voice still sounds great!
“The smoking wouldn’t have affected me so fast, but the lack of technique was something else. I had never had a vocal lesson in my life, not then, and not even when we started recording [2001’s follow-up album] Decipher. So everything was done on a feeling of how you do it, and to try to imitate others and create my own sound. I have had flute lessons for many years, and I think that helped me get the breathing techniques. I’m naturally gifted with talent – I have my parents to thank for that, I suppose!”
What was it like recording the song Beyond Me, with Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel?
“Exciting. Because I really looked up to Within Temptation in those days. They were the big brother. They came directly after The Gathering, with [1997’s] Enter, their first album. And I remember thinking that was really cool. Sharon is a few years older than me, which nowadays doesn’t really matter anymore. But when you’re a young teenager, it does impress.”
Is there any chance at all of After Forever reuniting?
“No, not as far as I’m concerned. I’m very content with where I am. It’s good to leave things in the past. Many After Forever albums have been re-released, unfortunately without my consent. But now the latest [self-titled] album will be re-released next year and all members were involved, which is a huge difference. So that’s something I can heart-warmingly recommend to fans or nostalgics. Something’s coming.”
A 15th-Anniversary reissue of 'After Forever' is expected in 2022
For more symphonic metal, see our 'Top 25 symphonic metal albums' feature