Impure Wilhelmina

Impure Wilhelmina returned 3 years after “Black Honey” with a renewed line-up & a new album which showcases the new elements on the band’s sound in general. Michael Schindl, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist talked to Grande Rock about the band’s new sound, the line-up changes and their future plans among other things. Also bass-player Sebastien Dutruel has added a few personal touches to the interview.
Impure Wilhelmina band pic

Hi Michael, I’m glad we’re given the chance to talk about your new studio album “Radiation”. It is remarkable indeed. Kudos!
M: Thank you! We are very proud of this album, and pleased that it is so well received.
What has changed in your sound/music style and in the band since “Black Honey” and which were those things that inspired you to write the music and the lyrics for the new album?
M: The line-up has changed. We recorded “Radiation” with a new guitarist and a new bass-player. Diogo (guitar) and Sebastien (bass) both brought a breath of fresh air to the band. I think that the rhythm section is more solid than before, which give us a more clear and simple sound.
As usual in Impure Wilhelmina, the music was written during a long period of time. Some parts even before “Black Honey”, and the last ones a few weeks before entering the studio.
I don’ really know from where my inspiration comes, but I know when I am inspired. But I must say that the period of time where the creative process of “Radiation” took place was not easy for me, and I think that this can be heard on the record, especially in some lyrics.
(i.n.: check out the track by track analysis)
How do you think that the band’s sound has evolved over the years? Did you always have in mind to sound the way you sound today?
M: It has evolved with the line-up changes and because I wanted Impure Wilhelmina to be more and more melodic. But I didn’t have in mind how we sound today, because when I was younger I thought I was not able to sing as I do now. It took a long time to improve my voice and our musicianship in general. But this does not mean that our older records are bad. Every musician could tell you the same about the improvement of his musicianship. And one of the best compliments we hear about our music comes from people who appreciate us since many years and tell us that the music has evolved, but that the spirit of Impure Wilhelmina remains the same.
Well, do you prefer the clean vocals or the extreme ones? Was this change of singing inevitable due to the music change?
M: As I say, I wanted to do something more melodic, and maybe I’m less angry than before. I think the real change took place between “Prayers and Arsons” and “Black Honey”, in which there is almost no more extreme voice at all. I actually prefer to sing, but I’m still listening to a lot of extreme metal, so it means that I like both. I don’t know if it was inevitable, and maybe I will scream again here and there in the future. But the problem is that the mix of clean and extreme voices is very tiring for me when we play live, and by doing this I may lose my voice very quickly on tour. For this reason we don’t play a lot of our old songs live.
Do you think that this sound change of yours over the years has made the band more pealing to a wider audience than before?
M: No, I think quite the reverse that it raises some confusion. People don’t know how to classify us, are we still playing metal? Post-hardcore? Pop-music? But never mind, we must continue to do what we feel.
You also took a big step by singing to Season of Mist… was this something that caused you some kind of pressure for the new album?
M: No, we had entire artistic liberty for this album.
How did you come up with the title “Radiation” and what does it declare?
M: I sing about the “Radiation of the Sun” in “Child”, so this title comes from here. It describes our music, the wave, something warm, vibrant, but also dangerous.
Do give us a hint about each track…
M: “Great Falls beyond Death”: A song about fatalism, fanaticism, ignorance, and fear of death.
“Sacred Fire”: This song starts with the idea that I’m a misfit in a peaceful world, and ends with the finding that the whole modern times are fucked up. I love the line “immortal at the heart of winter”. Until now, nobody noticed this reference.
“Child”: The message of this song is that you can’t be happy when you’re older than 13.
“Torn”: Another song about the feeling to be an alien in this world.
“We Need a New Sun”: A song about human condition. The fact that we’re all awaiting something higher to get through the pain that we feel.
“Meaningless Memories”: Almost an instrumental track. I like this structure, and the song is very nice to play live. The lyrics speak about my anger as a child and the fact that I did not really get rid of it in my adult life.
“Bones and Heart”: A song about some relationship problems that I had to go through. Fortunately, it’s the past. The lyrics were very easy to write, because it almost happened like this. I’m not very proud of myself when I recall this. I hesitated to put this song on the record, or to change the lyrics.
“By Ravens and Flies”: Same as “Bones and Heart”, but with a more metaphoric approach. Probably my favorite song of the record.
“Murderers”: A song about the struggle between darkness and light that unfolds in the heart of each human, with some religious references.
“Race with You”: Pure love song.
I must say that when I write lyrics, in most cases I don’t really think about the meaning of the song. So, the hints I give here are taken from thoughts I had while re-reading the lyrics.
Where did the recordings take place and who took care of the album’s production, mixing and mastering this time?
M: We recorded “Radiation” in Geneva, with Serge Morattel, who recorded four of our other albums. A collaboration of 15 years. Mixing and mastering were done by Raphaël Bovey, who has already worked with us on “Black Honey”.
How has your fans response to the new tracks been so far and what are your touring plans for the New Year?
M: We received warm responses about the new album at our shows, and we will continue to play live in 2018. A tour is scheduled in March/April, following the tour we made in October.
How would you describe your music style to someone that hasn’t heard of you before?
M: Maybe something like “Intense, melodic and melancholic heavy-metal”.
What are your expectations from “Radiation” and what do you wish to achieve with Impure Wilhelmina over the years?
M: Being signed to Season of Mist gives us the opportunity to be exposed to a quite larger audience than before. They do a very good promotional work, and this helps us to gain some recognition. But we are still working with the network that we established during the years, for example for the booking process. But more important, we hope to continue to express ourselves with our music, in a highly inspired and inspiring way.
Time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Impure Wilhelmina initially?
M: It comes from Bram Stoker's “Dracula” novel. I came up with this name more than 20 years ago. If I had to choose a name for my band today, I would probably pick something simpler. We have countless examples were our band name is poorly written!
What do you think of the “free downloading & the free streaming issue” of our time? Will that help music generally or not?
M: Internet in general is just a tool that you must learn to use correctly. Not very easy to handle by the way.
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
M: “Modern”.
Are “social media” a “compulsory part” of music biz these days or bands, artists & labels can do without them as well?
M: I think you can’t do without them, because you can’t do without communication.
Top 3 mystery movies of any era?
M: Stalker
S: Eraserhead
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
M: Another difficult question. I’m proud of the records I wrote. Of course they are not perfect. I hope to take part of some great records in the future.
Fill in the phrase… “Atmospheric Metal wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
M: I do not know. I think that every type of music can be described as atmospheric. Maybe because the sound is the vibration of the atmosphere. This is what “Radiation” means too. And the atmosphere can be a gentle summer breeze, or be extremely devastating.
If you had the opportunity to invite any famous person, living or dead, over for supper whom would you choose and why?
M: H.P. Lovecraft, to unveil some of the mystery about his personality.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
M: Mid-sixties, so I could create heavy-metal.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
M: No idea. I was first thinking about a masterpiece, something exceptional, but in this case it would not be very representative. So, why not an average album from an average artist. For instance “Radiation” cheeky, or any record randomly picked-up in my record collection.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
M: I watched the first 3 seasons if I remember well. I don’t know, there are too many characters. What I can say is that I don’t want to live in the Seven Kingdoms, but I don’t really want to live in our world either, to be very honest. I think that this can be heard in my music, and sometimes I think that if I had lived somewhere else or in another time, or even in an imaginary world, I would have created something very similar to Impure Wilhelmina to express how I feel. It’s a bit pretentious and naive at the same time, but I want to believe that my music has something of universal.
S: A white walker riding an ice dragon.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife/life partner is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
M: It is very important to choose your friends and life partner the way that the situation you describe here does not happen.
That’s all for now! Thank you very much for talking to Grande Rock. Wish you the best for the future. Thx for the music too… take care!
M: Thank you, all the best!