The first thing I noticed about the album was the massive booklet that came with your new album, ‘Contra Rationem’! The lyrics are laid out in a very cryptic manner, tell us about the design and how it fits the ‘concept’, if you will, of ‘Contra…’!
The way the lyrics are printed is to make contact with the person who is holding the booklet. At first, one will twist and rotate the booklet to ‘unravel’ how to read the lyrics. The lyrics are literally ‘Contra’ and need to be read from a different perspective… The last couple of years I’ve been into photography a lot. Incidentally, the other guys got to see these pictures I made of dead rats and they suggested to use them for the album. These rats symbolize little ‘Judasses’ that corrupt the status quo. “CR” is all about viewing reality from opposite angles and breaking down fixed ways of thinking. I did the lay-out with the great help of Thijs van Laarhoven (guitarist Severe Torture) and I’m very glad the way things turned out. It’s great to be able to keep things authentic.
How was the recording process for ‘Contra…’? I see in the liner notes the band produced the album, was it meticulously crafted in the studio or hammered out in a day or two, capturing more of a live feel? Why?
We always produce an album ourselves because we know best what we want. As usual, we were well prepared, we hate wasting studio time on figuring things out. We always record the drums, guitars, bass and vocals separately because this gives the best results. However, we did not really use alot of the digital tools. Most drums and guitars are one-takers. Not simply because we are able to play our music properly, but we like our music to sound like it was slammed on ‘tape’ from the heart. We took less than 10 days to do the job, which is plenty to record and too little to get ‘second thoughts’ about things, which is good. We had our sound engineer Gail Liebling mixing the album for us and he did a terrific job.
It took us some time to get together on the same level though. We had to explain that we did not want a ‘perfect’ mix, this was unusual for Gail.
Tell me about the songwriting process on ‘Contra…’. Did Centurian start with a preconceived notion of what kind of album to make? Does the band write as a whole or as individuals?
I write all lyrics/music at home. Together with Seth I rehearse the songs in a rehearsal room to make the songs ‘work’. Seth creates most of the vocal lines. We wanted the songs to be clear and comprehensible, so we stripped any unnecessary elements. After NOX, I wanted to write catchy, short songs, but without losing the weirdness and aggression of course.
The last Centurian release was 2001’s ‘Liber Zar Zax’. Why the gap in the band’s history? Is it different now working as Centurian after ten years as Nox?
Meanwhile I was occupied with NOX obviously. The biggest difference is that we have Seth behind the drumkit now, so we can work much faster. The band is more reliable now, more solid. Also, somehow we get more exposure with Centurian than we got with NOX.
Give us a brief but brutal history of the band, if you will! I am interested in ‘how’, ‘when’ ‘where’ and ‘why’ the band formed…
The first band I played in was Hammerhawk, an old heavy metal band. Somewhere in 1996 we shared stage with Inquisitor and I was amazed by their drummer (Wim van der Valk), I really liked his intensity and blastbeat oriented style. I got to hear that Inquisitor needed a second guitar player so I called Wim and he invited me for an audition.
I figured out the Inquisitor songs and rehearsed them together with Wim, but without original Inquisitor guitarist Erik Sprooten. At that very time Erik just joined Ancient Rites. I showed Wim my own material and that very first rehearsal we arranged ‘Of Purest Fire’. At the second rehearsal Erik was present and informed us that he was leaving Inquisitor to focus on Ancient Rites. I guess at the third rehearsal we decided to change the name of Inquisitor into Centurian because the songs I came up with were different than the Inquisitor songs. Also, we let the bass player go because he did not fit in anymore. So we needed a singer (the original Inquisitor singer was already out) and a bass player. Seth reacted on an advert we placed in a metal magazine. He was active as a drummer in Severe Torture already, but he had ambitions to sing as well. Seth was the right man for us as he had a big vocal range and the brains to understand the music. After some months Seth dragged Patrick (Boleij, bass player Severe Torture) to the front. Centurian was completed.
In December 2000 Seth and Patrick left Centurian to focus on Severe Torture. We got Oskar van Paradijs on guitars and Jerry Brouwer on vocals/bass in return. We knew both from the band Zi Xul. In 2001 Centurian split because Wim wanted to focus on family life and I wanted to focus on NOX. In 2010 we got Seth doing drums for NOX. With Seth on drums and a return to my Centurian-esque way of writing we decided to change back the name of NOX into Centurian.
What are some of your favorite moments from the writing or recording of this album? Why?
I’d say what I like most is working with Seth. It’s really easy working out songs with him. He really knows what he’s doing and I don’t need to explain a lot, I only need to play my guitar and shut up.
What elements in ‘Contra Rationem’ are new for Centurian? What about the album marks a new sound, direction or attitude?
The new album is more diverse, more compact and simply better than the previous albums. Also, I think the new songs have more depth and feeling.
How does your local area influence your sound? Why?
It doesn’t. I live in my head wherever I am.
What emotions or messages does Centurian want to spread with ‘Contra Rationem’? I am not certain, but I believe the rough translation for the title is ‘against reason’ or ‘against rationality’? Please elaborate on your vision, lyrics, etc.
There is not one ultimate truth. There is only chaos, no matter how much we try to reason things out. Believe nothing, dare all!
Is there a specific philosophy that Centurian aligns with? Satanism, Thelema, Agnostic, etc.? How does these labels or philosophy influence your art?
Centurian aligns with common sense, instinct, magic, looking at reality from different angles. Personally, I am not intellectual about art, I follow my gut feeling.
What plans does the future hold for Centurian? Shows, tours, etc.?
At this moment, we are to play 2013’s Neurotic Deathfest and Brutal Assault.
The last words are yours!
None who turns his back on death can be alive.