I’m proud to announce this interview with guitarist of almighty Celestial Season – today Pim Van Zanen is our honoured guest! Celestial Season was one of the first death doom in Netherlands starting in far 1991, they played classic stuff in “Forever Scarlet Passion” LP (1993), they’ve recorded astonishing experiment “Solar Lovers” (1995) and since then the band started to release very heavy and very solid stoner albums. They disbanded in 2001 yet reborn ten years later, and nowadays you can see them playing Roadburn-2012 and Dutch Doom Days Festival (20th of October!). Old fans may wonder – if the band writes new songs… It’s better to ask Pim himself.
Hail to Celestial Season! Who is on-line today?
Thanks Aleks! It’s Pim answering your questions.
Okay, hi Pim! Man, you’re all grown people, how do you deal with such band’s necessary aspects as rehearsals, gigs and song-writing deeds? How is intensive band’s life?
You are absolutely right there are a lot of activities to combine: family, work, parties, other bands and Celestial Season. Mix this with the fact we are living in different places in Holland, you can imagine it’s hard to meet and work together intensively. That’s way we chose to do a selective amount of gigs. We wanted a couple of nice, quality gigs instead of as much as possible.
What kind of feeling did you missed when you decide to gather Celestial Season once again?
We didn’t really miss a feeling, but felt like playing doom metal again. We also had the idea we played the music quite sloppy when we were about 18 years old. For example with Rob as a drummer, Solar Lovers could sound so much tighter. So we decided to focus on Solar Lovers first and play it with partly different members (all friends).
When the band re-united in 2011 it seemed that you only wanted to play few gigs, yet I guess that you started to write new material. What direction did you choose for this time? Is it old school doom death, more original stuff in vein of “Solar Lovers” or something that’s closer to stoner doom stuff as you played in the end of 90s?
I’m afraid we didn’t find the time yet to start writing new material. But the moment we have, it will be in the Solar Lovers style, of course a bit more 2012 / 2013.
Didn’t you try to mix both death doom and stoner as it was in “Solar Child” song for example? Power and distortion of death doom could be combined vey effective with stoner tempo and groove.
We didn’t do this on purpose, but yes there is a mixture of those styles when you listen to Solar Lovers. We have always played the music we loved and came up to us. In those days we listened to for instance both Cathedral and Kyuss and you can here the different influences.
I have to admit for me the most important song comes from the stoner period and is called Millenarian Drive (on the Chrome album). This song reflects how Cyril (the singer of that album) and I musically fitted very well. In my opinion his vocals and my guitar tunes mixe very nice on this song.
The song that’s the hardest to play live is Vienna. We never played it because we didn’t have a piano player and samples were less easy in that period. We did play it in our latest gigs, with Elianne on piano, but it didn’t seem to work out as well as we’ve hoped.
What is a current line-up of the band? How did it change since 1991?
It’s a mixed line up, with Olly, Jiska and me as the members from Solar Lovers, Jacques and Rob from the stoner period and George and Elianne as new members. There are to many changes to fully describe. It’s like a soap opera J.
I don’t like soap operas and the soap in itself ‘cause hygiene is only for a weak ;-) But I must ask this: where’s Stefan? Pim, didn’t you try to call him? He has such amazing growl!
I hope for your girlfriend that you do use soap once in a while J. I can imagine the question. The idea to play Solar Lovers came up from the idea to play doom metal again with the friends who are now in the band. Being busy our priority was to have fun and not to be as authentic as possible. We weren’t in touch with Stefan that much anymore (didn’t leave each other in great harmony when Cyril entered the band).
Although the music doesn’t show, we have always been a band having lots of fun with close friendships. In those days we were all young without responsibilities, so you can imagine it was all about drinking, partying and enjoying great concerts and music. A great period.
And can you mention some of your most funny or crazy accidents bound to band’s activity? You know all still expected tales about insane gigs, which end in crushed hotel apartments and similar stuff. True to say I’m not exception!
It’s good to hear you like to party as well, that’s one of the great things in life I suppose. I’m afraid those stories are fun when you were part of them. Of course a lot happened with nice girls. And a lot of crazy stuff with some of us being drunk. But to really explain how it was and what happened, you should have been there with us, I’m sorry J.
There are a lot. Studio time recording our albums, a European tour with Sadness and Nightfall, Dynamo festival in the Czech Republic, Lowlands festival in Holland, our European tour with the Mushroom River band and Hoek, et cetera.
It seems that stoner scene rises to the top nowadays as death doom holds same position as in the end of 90s. Do you watch for last trends of metal scene and what kind of music do you prefer nowadays?
I have to speak for myself, since I’m sure about the others. I do know there are many many new bands I don’t know about. And I still enjoy the cd’s from the 90s, like from Paradise Lost, Slayer, Sepultura, Cathedral, Kyuss, Goatsnake. Some newer bands I really like are Mastodon, Deftones, ASIWYFA, the Twilight Sad, Mogwai, Agalloch.
It’s not that important if a band is famous or not, it’s much more important if the members are nice and open to contact. We have had great fun and became friends with members of the Gathering, Anathema, Cathedral, Kyuss, Beaver, 7Zuma7, Suimasen. It’s amazing when you play together on a tour and a friendship develops. And great things come out of that, for example Rob is now married to Anneke van Giersbergen, Olly played guitar in Hermano during a European tour and Rob and Jacques have been playing with John Garcia at the Garcia plays Kyuss tour.
How did you get offer to re-release “Forever Scarlet Passion” on vinyl? What are your plans for future releases? If you have such plans of course.
Olly knows this guy and got contacted. We are happy with these kind of initiatives, although we have never earned anything from it. It’s a way to keep the music alive.
It was an absolute honour to play there again. We are very proud of Walter who we know from the old days and managed to build a very professional and attractive festival. It’s was great to play there. I do believe we were a bit of a strange band compared to most of the others, using the violin and all, but there were many people who enjoyed it and knew every song from Solar Lovers.
The band will take a part in Dutch Doom Days XI, what program do you plan to perform there? Will you play songs from “Forever Scarlet Passion” and “Solar Lovers” or something of later period?
We will play a mixture of Solar Lovers and some Forever Scarlet Passion songs, so no stoner rock. Especially at the Dutch Doom Days we should stick to doom J.
We’d be happy to come to Rusland. I can’t make any promises, but I do like to thank you and everything who reads this for your support!
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
Celestial Season | Official Page