Charlotte Wessels (Delain)

Delain have come a long way since starting out as a studio project 10 years ago. With their latest album Moonbathers, being the best of their career and with a sold out UK tour just completed, Mick Burgess sat down to talk to lead singer Charlotte Wessels about Moonbathers and a look back over their 10 year history.

You’ve just completed a run of 8 shows in the UK. How did they go?

They went very well. We went to some new places this time and met a lot of new people and we also played London and Manchester again and had massive shows there. It was a great experience for us.

You’ve now toured the UK a few times now. What do you enjoy most about coming over here?

We get our biggest, regular headline shows when we come to the UK, somehow it really works for us. I have the feeling that our songs really resonate with the crowd and get such positive responses when we come to the UK. Everyone is super nice to us. What’s not to like about the UK?

Have you noticed the crowds getting bigger and more enthusiastic each time you come over?

Yes we have especially in London, Manchester and in Glasgow too. We’ve always played at The Cathouse in Glasgow, which is a lovely venue but our crew is quite pleased that we’ve outgrown it. We are seeing the crowds grow. It’s going really well so I think people must be bringing their friends. I think the tour we did with Within Temptation a couple of years ago really helped too. Their audience has always been really good to us maybe because Martijn who was with Within Temptation in the early days is with us. We know that if we perform with them it’s always a great experience and we are always welcome. They play in large venues like Wembley Arena too so that’s amazing.

Merel Bechtold has been added to the line up since I saw you opened for Within Temptation in the UK. How did she become involved in Delain?

We were playing with the idea of adding a second guitarist for a while and there were a few gigs that Timo couldn’t make and she filled in for him. We did some larger festivals where we thought it’d be fun to have them both there so we did a few shows with them both on stage and it just clicked so she grew into the band quite naturally. We did want that extra punch live too. When we write we don’t think about how we’ll play it live. Our first thoughts are to write a great song but as we have performed so much live together that I think we automatically write songs that are better suited for a live performance. If a song sounds better with 26 guitar tracks then we’ll do that but then it can be a challenge when we come to play it live. We are a Symphonic Metal band and we do have some orchestra tracks but we don’t want to get to that point where we have to put backing guitars on so having two guitars allowed us to play some songs that we couldn’t play before live as it just didn’t work well enough with one guitar.

What songs in particular can you now play that you couldn’t really before?

Here Come The Vultures really came into its own live when we added a second guitar and another one was Lullaby from The Human Contradiction. We’d never played that one live before but when we had two guitars it suddenly fell into place. I think it also gave an extra punch to the songs we have been playing live and enabled us to add some decorative patterns that we had previously been unable to do.

You have also brought in Ruben Israel on drums. Why did Sander decide to leave?

Sander decided to step back at one point and we knew Ruben after his band supported us and we knew he’d be right for us and he’s fit in so well. He’s an incredible drummer and a great person. We’re still in touch with Sander though and when Ruben couldn’t play a couple of shows in the summer Sander stepped in to help us out. We didn’t break any ties or anything it was a very organic transition.

Your latest album Moonbathers was released in the summer. Are you pleased with the reaction?

It’s been very positively received from both the critics and from the audience. We notice it live that people have been singing along to the new songs and also we’ve noticed the comments on-line and realise that it’s becoming one of their favorites. We’re very happy to see that.

What are Moonbathers?

For me it’s a metaphor for those that find comfort in the dark. A lot of the lyrics were rather morbid when we started out and that was a challenge as I wanted to put in some positive elements. When I feel bad for some reason I always want to listen to sad songs.

When did you start work on the album?

Straight after the release of The Human Contradiction. We don’t really pause. Maybe there was a couple of months in between when we did a few shows but usually we just continue writing new songs.

Did you change your approach to songwriting now that you are a 6 piece band?

Not really. It’s always been myself, Martijn and Guus Eikens, who is a guitarist but he doesn’t play in our live shows but has always been involved with us. Once we have the main melody and structure in place everyone usually makes a contribution to the arrangement and everyone works on their respective part. It hasn’t really changed that much, in fact it hasn’t changed at all as we’re still the main songwriters.

There’s a great cover of Queen’s Scandal on there. Who’s idea was that?

That was Martijn’s idea and I wasn’t really on board to begin with. I thought that it was Queen, they are giants, you just don’t touch that. I think the fact that it is one of the lesser known songs made it OK for us to consider covering. We went to Brain May to ask his permission and he gave us that upfront. He listened to our songs and liked what he heard. That was the final step for me to commit to recording the track and having the confidence to do it once Brian had given us the go ahead. I’m not sure if he’s heard our version yet but I hope he likes it if he has.

Chrysalis-The Last Breath is a beautiful ballad. What’s the story behind that one?

We were approached by a script writer from L.A who really liked our music and he asked if we could work with a script he’d written. I was in a position where I could really relate to the main character and I felt that it was something we could do and Chrysalis is a result of that. It’s a very sad song but one that I felt needed some light at the end of the tunnel which was not there in the song which is why we have The Monarch at the end of the album with the lyrical resolution to Chrysalis.

There’s some real contrasts on the album with Fire With Fire and Pendulum being pretty heavy and the likes of The Hurricane being more melancholic. Were you looking to cover a lot of ground musically when you started making the record?

The contrast is what we look for in our music not just between the songs but within the songs too. On this album I do feel that it’s an album of extremes and I think that’s because we recorded the album in three different parts rather in one sitting which is the traditional way. So we wrote and recorded the album at different times and different places and I think that allowed for very different moods and atmospheres in the songs.

Hands of Gold features Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy. Why did you decide to bring her in for this song?

We worked with her on our previous album and it was very positive. She’s a great artist and a great person altogether so it’s wonderful to be able to work with her. There was a grunt part of this song and we knew when we’d written it that it’d be a perfect part for her so we asked her and she was happy to do it for us.

The last verse features a couple of lines from Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Why did you choose those lines for your song?

A lot of the song was an ode to the Gothic literature that I really like and at one point I was working on the tracks and a moment later I was reading some poetry and I thought it was such a great fit and I decided to go with it. Sometimes I have to put it in a different jacket and create something that’s been inspired by something I’ve read but apart from changing one word to make the rhyme fit, it’s just as it was originally written and was so perfect for the song.

You are currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of your debut album Lucidity. Does it feel like 10 years have passed since you released that?

On one hand it feels shorter as 10 years sounds such a long time but on the other hand it feels like a long time as I’ve spent my entire adult life in this band and started when I was 16 or 17 years old.

You’ve now re-released it to mark that event. Have you remastered it or have you added some bonus tracks too?

We have and we’ve added some extras too, to make it more of a collector’s item.

The album was originally recorded by you and Martjin with a host of guests including Sharon from Within Temptation, Marco from Nightwish and Liv from Leave’s Eyes. Was the Delain originally conceived as a studio project?

It was just planned to be a studio project but as soon as it was released we were all very excited and Martijn was doing much better physically as that’s why he had to stop playing with Within Temptation and there were a lot of requests for live shows from the fans and the label and we thought we’d give it a go and make it and band and see what happens. Ten years later and here we are.

Did you ever consider re-recording the album with your current line up?

No. I love those songs on that album for nostalgia but I hate the way I sing them. My voice doesn’t sound like that anymore. If I recorded them now it would sound very different. When I listen to certain songs, I don’t really care if they are a better singer now, I get attached to them the way they were originally done. I don’t think I’d be doing the songs justice because even though I can do more now doesn’t mean what we did back then wasn’t good.

On the 10th December you will be playing a special show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam to mark your 10th anniversary. What have you got lined up for that?

We have guests, a very special setlist and it will be a very nostalgic evening. I’m really looking forward to it but equally I’m scared shitless.

You’ll be recording the show for a DVD and CD release. When do you hope to have that out?

That’ll be out on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD, download and vinyl. We’re doing it through Pledgemusic as we wanted to involve our fans as they are the reason we’ve been able to do this for 10 years. We could have gone with a label but we thought this would be a very nice way of creating this project with the people who support us. We had half of our goal in the first day and made our goal very quickly. The response has been amazing. I think maybe we were a little naive in setting the goal too low as we did need more but people are still pledging so it’s been really good.

I bet the whiskey tasting sessions that you can buy as a pledge have been popular?

There can only be a few people coming to those but the one we’ve had so far was wonderful. Otto and myself are really, really fond of whiskey and we’ve been to many whiskey festivals together and have become acquainted with how to make whiskey. I think part of the fun of the campaign is to sell something that’s not mass produced but more personal we thought we’d share this passion of ours and offered the tasting sessions.

On an earlier campaign you did Bowling with Delain. Why didn’t you do that this time as it seemed such a cool idea?

It was all part of the same campaign. We did a few bowling sessions which were a lot of fun and we’ve also done the whiskey testing sessions, or I take over your Instagram account for a day and I’ve also written over 100 handwritten lyrics so there’s loads of perks that people can buy as part of this campaign.

As part of the campaign you’re raising funds for the Sophie Lancaster Fund. Why is that charity so close to your heart?

We have been working with them since we released We Are The Others and I’ve always been impressed by the hard work that they are doing. They have achieved so much working with the Manchester police and working in schools especially in the current cultural climate where working against prejudice and hatred is very important.

You’ve recently made a guest appearance on The Puzzle by Dark Sarah, an album put together by Heidi Parviainnen from Amberian Dawn. Is it just the song Aquarium that you sing on?

I do, I just sing on that one song on the album. I was asked if I wanted to play the part of an evil siren mermaid and I said of course, I’ll go for it.

Have you approached your singing differently for this part compared to the way you sing in Delain?

There were some grunt parts that I did and I do sometimes do those in Delain too but every song asks for a different approach as it all depends on what story you want to tell and for this one I had to be evil so I was evil.

You did the Phantasma, The Deviant Hearts album a couple of years back. Do you have any plans for a follow up?

We don’t have any plans for a follow up soon but I did really like the end result so who knows in a while if someone says let’s give it a go again we might do another record together. At the moment we’re busier than we’ve ever been with Delain so I don’t want to take on any other commitments just yet.

Now that you’ve celebrated your 10th anniversary, what have you got planned moving forwards for 2017?

Well I’ll be spending some time with my family for a while and we’ll also be doing some Lemmy tribute shows too. We’ll also be working on the DVD and will have that out towards the summer. We also have some US dates coming up and we’ll be playing at some festivals and we will also start writing for the new album. We’ll just continue with this crazy schedule that we’ve had over the past few years.

Delain’s new album Moonbathers is out now on Napalm Records

For more on Delain visit


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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