Interview: Alex Brandsen [2011]

Nico sits down with the “Dutch Drumming Machine” Alex Brandsen, talking about Cryptic Age’s tour and other things.

Nico: Good evening, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’re a drummer in two bands, Ravenage and Cryptic Age, how do you find it drumming for two bands? Is it something that’s naturally easy for you or have you, at times, struggled with it?

Alex: I really enjoy being in two bands, because even though Ravenage and Cryptic Age are relatively similar, I can express different styles and a different overall feeling in the two bands, with Ravenage being more straight, aggressive and fun drumming and Cryptic Age being more subtle, symphonic and ‘intelligent’ if you will. I generally don’t have any problems with drumming in two bands, although I did accidentally started drumming a Cryptic Age riff at a Ravenage rehearsal once…

N: That must have being embarrassing. Speaking of Ravenage, you’re due to tour with them [and Cryptic Age] later this year on the “Warhorns over Aengland” tour. Are you excited about it or are you feeling nervous?

A: Very excited! Really looking forward to touring with Nothgard, and doing some gigs outside of Yorkshire. Not nervous about it really, the nerves usually only kick in 10 minutes before a gig!

N: That’s usually the worse time for the nerves to kick. You recently played Metieval Requiem with both Cryptic Age and Ravenage while sharing the stage with Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad. How was it for you personally to share the stage with two big name bands in the underground metal scene like them?

A: It’s of course a great honour to play with big bands like them, especially Skyclad, as they practically invented folk metal.

N: Speaking of folk metal, Cryptic Age are unique within the folk metal scene due to having a female vocalist. Since the scene is more male-orientated, do you feel that this might be help Cryptic Age become more known?

A: Well there are a couple of folk metal bands that have female vocalists (e.g. Arkona), but the thing that makes Cryptic Age special in my opinion is that Jenny’s got a very wide vocal range, and sings entirely clean. We don’t use any harsh vocals, and that is quite unique I think. I definitely think this is something that works in our advantage, and may well get us some more fans along the road.

N: Cryptic Age recently released the “Homeland” EP. Is there any sort of concept or theme running through the entire EP?

A: Well there isn’t an overall theme or concept to the album, but most of our songs are based on either fantasy and/or mythology, especially Manx mythology and folklore.

N: Is there any reason for the influence from Manx mythology and folklore or is it just something that occurred naturally?

A: It definitely came naturally, although the main reason for the Manx influence is that Jenny is from the Isle of Man. We didn’t really have any influences or themes to go on before writing the songs on the EP. The first part of Homeland (sung in Manx Gaelic) was originally going to be a 1-min intro to the EP, and by then the lyrics of Homeland hadn’t been written yet. Then we put it at the beginning of the track and when we did that the rest of the lyrics about Jenny missing her homeland fell into place. We’ve sort of kept the mythology thing going ever since. Also, instead of writing songs about Norse mythology like most folk metal bands, Celtic mythology comes more naturally to us because it’s closer to our origins, and gives the songs a unique twist I think.

N: Well, Celtic and Manx influences certainly are refreshing for some who are bored of the whole Viking based form of folk metal. Just a few more questions now. Before joining Cryptic Age and Ravenage, did you play in any other bands?

A: I was in a mathcore band for a couple of years when I was still living in the Netherlands, but had to quit that band because I moved to York for my degree back in 2009. I didn’t play in a band for a year, but when I finished my masters in the summer of 2010 I wanted to play live again, and started looking for a band. I found Cryptic Age on gumtree, and soon joined Ravenage as well via Tom, who just joined as their new bassist.

N: You certainly don’t look like a mathcore drummer. Regarding Cryptic Age, are there any events you’re looking forward to partaking in with the band? Aside from the EP release show.

A: We’ve got the Metal 2 The Masses final coming up on the 24th, quite excited about being able to play in front of the Bloodstock judges, and really hoping to win it of course. And then there’s a gig with Old Corpse Road in September, which I’m really looking forward to, as OCR are one of the best local black metal acts out there in my opinion.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you and the rest of Cryptic Age then. Final question, are there any bands from both the UK and Dutch underground metal scenes that you’d recommend that our readers check out? Or at least keep an eye out for? Also, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today, Alex.

A: Except for Old Corpse Road mentioned before, I’d recommend giving Onheil a listen, a blackened metal band from the Netherlands. For a band in the local underground scene, I’d recommend Lost Effect, a melodic metal band from York, who will be supporting us on our EP release gig this Friday.

Cryptic Age will be performing at Stereo in York tomorrow night [15th July] with support from Windrider and Lost Effect. £5 OTD. Doors open at 7.30pm

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