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Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel: “Everything is f**ked, but there are good things”

(Image credit: Press)

Sharon den Adel co-founded Within Temptation in the Dutch town of Waddinxveen in 1996. Since then, the band’s musical journey has taken them from symphonic metal to a more future-facing sound. The band’s last album, Resist, was released in 2019.

We are music lovers first and foremost

“We love all kinds of music in Within Temptation! Our heart and soul started with metal and rock, so the core of our band will always be that, but we will always have an open mind. And that has helped us also to develop throughout the years. What influences us? It’s dependent on what was most inspirational from other scenes that we picked up at that moment and tried to combine with our music. 

The internet can be savage

“I’m always thinking about what I put online. There’s a thin line of what you wanna show and what is too much. A lot of people are listening to you and following you on social media, so it’s worth thinking about what you put out there. Of course, I have my political views and stuff like that, but there’s also the question of what is your purpose in that; if you really want to express that much, or if you wanna just open up a discussion. It depends who’s on the other side and how they react to everything. I like to talk to people and see how they think. I wanna learn from them, and I learn the most from people who think differently than I do.”


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Everyone from Linkin Park to Iron Maiden has inspired us

“With Linkin Park, it was not the music, but more production-wise. When we did [2004 album] The Silent Force, we were very much inspired by them because of the way they were using loops, and the production was totally awesome, totally new, no one was doing that. It was so inspirational. But with [2011 album] The Unforgiving, we were inspired by the 80s – bands we grew up with, Metallica, Iron Maiden… you can really hear the influences on certain songs. In In The Middle Of The Night the rhythm is very ‘galloping’, that’s a big wink to our favourite bands.”

I love watching our crowds

“One night, I was singing Mercy Mirror, and one person was really going into his head, closed eyes, moving. Another one was screaming it out, singing every word with me, and another was just listening. There were kids, older people, such a mixture. It’s so nice how you can see that people can interpret one song in a different way. I like to look at people in the face when I’m singing. I’m onstage to get that connection.”

It was hard processing my father’s death onstage

“Sometimes it got too much, during certain songs I had to sing, ones that are very close to me. Sometimes it breaks you up on stage. I had that thing of, ‘I don’t wanna play that song because every time I sing it, I start crying,’ you know? It’s not something I want to show people. But, of course, it’s pure, the audience embrace it, and there’s a lot of respect coming from them at that time. It takes off the sharp edge, and that’s the beauty of it.”

Climate change scares me

“Not enough people are scared by it, and nobody really knows what to do about it. The thing I realise more and more is that we are all into this together, so if not everybody joins to change, eventually we won’t get to the goal that we all really need to get to. We need to get those degrees down, otherwise it’s gonna be really hard for certain countries, and in some parts of the globe there are gonna be islands that will be gone because the sea levels are rising! The world changes, and things are natural, but the rapid way that it’s going is scaring me. I’ve always been very sensitive to those kinds of things. I never thought it would become a problem so soon that my kids might experience it.”

(Image credit: Jake Owens)

The future can be positive

“We have this Dutch scientist, Boyan Slat, who invented a way to clean out the plastic in the ocean. He started crowdfunding it. And it’s like, ‘Why didn’t anyone else think of this? It’s a very easy solution!’ Because of all the media worldwide, he’s being hired by other countries to do the same thing. It doesn’t go fast enough yet, but it’s a step, and it’s something that I think is very positive. I think there should be more positive news, and then people will get more positive about the future and start thinking of solutions, instead of, ‘Oh, everything is doomed.’ Everything is fucked, but on the other hand, there are a lot of good things! In the Netherlands, they have the Good News feeds, and that’s really positive. I think there can be a butterfly effect. It could be beautiful.”

I don't follow advice

“I didn’t really get that much, and I always followed my own instincts, more or less. I think the lack of advice did get us into trouble, though, because nobody knew anything about the music industry! We just thought it was a hobby and we were being paid.”

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

“For me, I think it’s the most important thing. Otherwise you’ll always be in your own little world and come up with the same kind of things you’ve already done. Even on this album, I have actually worked with a British guy for the lyrics, because I’m not a native speaker. I learned so much from that, so that was really nice.”

Family keeps you grounded

“It’s also why I wanna go home after a certain degree of time. I love being on the road, but when I’m home… it’s like the world is upside down, totally different. I need it to ground myself again, and I have to get back into the rhythm of another kind of life. The kids need to go to school, the garbage has to be taken out, somebody has to cook the dinner!”

People worry too much

“Worrying about what other people think. Most people aren’t concerned about you. Most people live in their own little bubble, but people always think they have to keep up appearances because a lot of other people might think [something negative]. Of course, they have their opinions, but most of the time you can’t influence them.”

Nirvana got me into heavy music

“Although not directly into metal. It was such an important time in my youth, and they were the first band I really fell in love with. They were my favourite band, and still are. I never saw them live – I was supposed to go and see them at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, but my parents didn’t allow me to go! They have this live album, From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah, and it doesn’t sound that ‘good’, but I love it for that. It has a rawness.  They just translated the emotion of a certain part of the youth at that time. How misunderstood they felt. They could do nothing wrong in my eyes.”

I have got a really sadistic sense of humour

“Well, if you give me a chance. I have this spray I put in my mouth, just to keep my throat working onstage. I sprayed [one of our crew] with it, and he thought it was pepper spray! He didn’t know what I’d done, he was like, ‘Oh my god!’ Oh my god!’” 

Published in Metal Hammer #321