Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel Talks New Album ‘Hydra,’ Musical Collaborations + More
Within Temptation fans are highly anticipating the release the band’s brand new record ‘Hydra,’ which arrives in North America on Feb. 4. The disc features numerous guest vocalists including Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner, rapper Xzibit, former Nightwish songstress Tarja Turunen and ex-Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones, who offers vocals on the single ‘Dangerous.
Loudwire recently spoke with the band’s frontwoman Sharon den Adel about recording ‘Hydra,’ teaming up with the aforementioned eclectic vocalists and much more. Check out our interview with Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation below:
What does the title ‘Hydra’ mean to you personally?
It represents a few things, from a music perspective for us -- every head is a character and the character stands for a different side for us musically like the melodic part, the bombastic part or the symphonic part. Now we’ve added new elements to our music with one song but again another character, it’s a rap combination with our kind of music. It’s stands for new things and also the past.
Lyrically, ‘Hydra’ stands for facing your demons and to embrace your fear and move forward. There will always be a certain issue in life. A short example of this is the song ‘Covered by Roses,’ which is about the passing of someone but also carpe diem and making the most of now and the memories you do have together. You’ll celebrate this person’s life still, they’re apart of you and you’ll take them with you.
What an eclectic mix of guests on this album. Talk about working with Tarja Turunen, Howard Jones, Xzibit and Soul Aylum’s Dave Pirner.
Well I’ll say, you’ll never know what you’re going to get when you ask someone you don’t know. There’s so many collaborations on this album because we didn’t know if it would go over well. From a music perspective we thought, “Okay there might be one or two that might not work out somehow.” We got lucky and they all worked out somehow, sometimes a lot of things just work and it goes the way you were hoping for. We looked at the songs when we wrote them [and thought,] “What could we add now to the song now that the album is finished?”
Dave Pirner for instance, it wasn’t the question whether we were going to put it on the album or not, we love the song. We didn’t want to go too far away from what we originally do, we like to experiment a lot but this was really on the edge. We tried to make as less limitations as possible to see if it works or not but also it reminds of us Soul Asylum in a way. It’s got melancholies but at the same time it has uplifting guitar playing like this ‘Runaway Train’ kind of song, it has the same kind of feel to it.
It was a very difficult thing to find him [Dave Pirner] actually because he’s not really into social media and those kinds of things which we had hoped to find him on. We found him through other people eventually and it took a while to track him down actually. It took us some months maybe we didn’t ask the right people but we had to start somewhere. When we did meet him, he’s such a nice guy, very friendly and he liked the song, the rest is history.
We had met him and you don’t know someone so how do you break the ice? How do you get to know each other? We took him to Amsterdam and explored the town and the day after that we had the ‘Dangerous’ video with Howard Jones and he [Pirner] was still there so he went to our museums and he came back and it was a really good time, we had fun working with him.
Is there any artist you dream to work with that you haven’t had a chance to work with yet?
There’s such a list of people I would love to work with but the thing is you need to have the right song. There are so many people that are talented and that you admire but when the song is there, then you might think of that person.
How was the recording process of 'Hydra' for you?
If you compare it to the first album we ever did, which was a long time ago, we got more time for it which is very nice. We had two or three days for a song and I remember with the first record ‘Enter’ and I tracked my vocals in one day I think for all eight songs. [Laughs] So that was a major difference, so I would write lyrics one day and finalized it, then the demo and then the main lead vocals and backing.
Were there memorable moments while recording a specific song that stood out for you?
Yes, well every song has a different story of course. I think the song ‘Edge of the World’ is more close to me because it’s a more personal song and it has a long track record. I wrote this song with this guy I think in 2009 and the song was written in a totally different form. It appeared on the record because he called me and was like, “Do you remember we had this day in Amsterdam and we wrote this song together.” I always try to write with different people because if you write on your own or with the same people more or less the same things come up and that’s fine. When you work with other people you learn from each other.
Anyway the song came out and it started more like a grunge kind of song. What started me with heavy music was the grunge period. I was really a grunge girl. So we’re like, “Oh how cool we wrote a grunge song” and it changed to more of a piano kind of song. He called and was like, “Do you remember this song?” and it was a special song to me. We met each other again in Amsterdam and made this song out of it, it’s more psychedelic and we lowered the tempo. Musically things change a lot, it just became a really special song and I’m really proud at how it turned out.
After 15 years of making music as a band, how have you evolved as a musician with each new album?
I did new things. I think the change started with ‘The Unforgiving’ album, the one before this one. We felt like we had to let go of all boundaries of our musicial style. With ‘The Heart of Everything’ two albums back, we finalized our symphonic style, we tried to make it sound better and better. With ‘The Unforgiving’ the previous album, we let all boundaries go.
We thought if we let this go maybe we can grow again because we were stuck at a certain point. When we did that it was like a no brainer of course and it gave us more room and we listen to all types of music. Any kind of rhythm from any kind of music could inspire us and we came up with the most extreme kind of thing. These last two albums have been so much easier to write than ever before.
[The albums] from ‘Enter’ to ‘The Heart of Everything’ were very difficult for us to write, we had a lot of blockades musically and we were stressed because of it. Sometimes you didn’t write for certain periods of time but also the clock is ticking away. For the past two albums it has gone so smooth, it amazes me still. You don’t realize that you setting boundaries for yourself makes it harder for yourself. It was an eye opener to just start writing and not to think about anything and in the end it still very much turned into a Within Temptation album with different angles and perspectives.
Watch Within Temptation's Video for 'Dangerous' Featuring Howard Jones: