Amsterdam’s The Charm The Fury have returned after four years with their second album The Sick, Dumb & Happy, due for release March 17 via Nuclear Blast Records. Having already released two singles Echoes and Down On The Ropes, the band have deviated away from their metalcore roots into riffier, stompier territory.
We spoke to vocalist Caroline Westendorp about the band’s decision to move away from metalcore, what bands are influencing her band’s new direction, and why the world needs to take a look at itself before it’s too late.
Where have you guys been for so long?
“We’ve been working our asses of in the studio! When we first started writing the new album we felt rushed, like we need to hurry up, the fans expect new stuff etc. But that sort of rush will only have a negative impact on the creative process, and we felt like we had to reinvent ourselves as metalcore wasn’t something that felt right for us anymore. We took our time to listen to and return to our metal roots, and start writing until we found ourselves back with a ‘this is it’ feeling.”
What is the creative process behind the new record?
“This creative process has been insanely extended. We’ve spent nights and nights writing, killing our darlings, starting all over again, listen to influences etc. When writing the first record we listened to bands like Underoath, As I Lay Dying and Killswitch, and we were very focused on writing metalcore song structures.
But as we started writing the second album, we realised that the bands we used to listen to when we were younger – Pantera, Metallica, Slipknot – their stuff is timeless. They make great songs that are driven by one riff or hook, so we moved our focus away from the entire song structure thing, and started focussing on banger riffs, hooks, or even vocal lines that would just carry the entire song. And that’s when the entire creativity really came to life!
You’ve said you were done with the ‘metalcore stigma’, why?
“When we released [debut album] A Shade Of My Former Self, there were so many bands doing the same. We did it as well. We feel the genre has been played out, and on top of it all, the genre has this extremely negative connotation to it as some bands have taken the poppy choruses too far.”
How do you think your fans will react?
“We’ve put out two songs so far and the reactions from our current fans are very mixed. Some like it, others don’t like it at all – they want us to stick with what we’ve done before. But really, why should we make another metalcore record when it’s been done before? Where’s the renewal, the step forward, the musical progress? It’s funny, because back in the day it could really get to me if I read a bad comment about our record, but now I feel utterly careless, because I stand by this record.”
Are you a natural risk-taker?
“I guess all aspiring metal musicians are risk-takers, in the sense that they pursue a career in a genre that pays very poorly. You give up every sort of financial and social stability you can get in life for something that might never happen.”
The new album points the finger at society, how important is it to you to voice your opinions?
“It’s funny, because when I see someone like Corey Taylor hating on Trump, it strikes me how many people react to it with ‘Shut up, we don’t want to hear your opinion, we only want your music blah blah blah’. And that’s awful! Musicians have the ability to reach out to a bigger audience, to actually voice an opinion and make people think about the bigger picture and see different sides to it. Those are the people we rep about on the album, the people that are being spoonfed by the mindless imagery of the media, those only looking for their own short-term personal gain and not willing to look at the bigger picture anymore.”
How can we as a people stop being ‘sick, dumb and happy’?
“By being critical of the things that appear to be ‘normal’, and by not accepting the status quo at face value. So much of what we do on an everyday basis is never questioned. People tend to find it difficult to accept change into their lives and daily routines, but with new circumstances come new challenges – and inevitably – change. We cannot live our lives the way we did when there were about five billion people on this planet, and that’s going to require us to change some things that we may not like. But we need to face these challenges head-on and take a good hard look at ourselves if we want to avoid becoming fossils in a couple of decades.”
The US and UK have made some interesting decisions politically in the past 12 months, how does that affect you? What is the Dutch perspective?
“It feels so unreal – it really feels like the end is lost here. People are becoming more and more insane. Ruling out minorities that easily means it will only fuel hatred overall. It’s like fighting fire with fire.
“We have our small town version of Donald Trump: Geert Wilders. This goofy, blond-haired, insane guy who just blatantly discriminates. It’s scary that in a few months he might be in the position to have a concrete influence on our society, the people in it, and their environment.”
The Sick, Dumb & Happy is available to pre-order now.