Jelenes: Tapping The Vein are working on new songs, my first question is obviously : how is it going? Could you please tell us about your next album? Will it be a logical follow-up to your previous LP 'The Damage' (released in 2002) or will it be different from 'The Damage'?
Mark: I think musically it will be different. different beats and some songs are heavier. it's hard to say though, we keep rewriting some of the choruses. for me, i think some of my guitar sounds will change by the time we start recording. we'll see.
Eric: It's going slowly, but pretty well. Itís an interesting mix...some of it is much heavier and some is much lighter. There seems to be more of a focus on the band and less of a focus on the electronics. †
Heather: It is stressful but I am getting much more excited about it. The songs are coming together the way that they should now. Hopefully, the finished product will be something that we can be proud of.
Is there a release date?
Heather: We wonít get a release date until the recording is finished.
How do you usually compose a song? Is it music first, then the lyrics, or lyrics first then music? Do you always use the same method or do you just let things come as they are?
Mark: We let things come as they are. for this cd, most of the songs have been music first.
Eric: Usually, we all write separately then bring our ideas to the band. Sometimes Heather will already have lyrics and a song idea. If Mark or I have an idea then Heather's lyrics come second.
Your bass player Joe Rolland announced in August this year that he was
leaving the band. Does his departure change some of your plans for this new record?
Mark: Not really. everything will just get pushed back a bit.
Eric: No...not at all.
Heather: Eric and I have been through this before. Everyone has priorities and sometimes those priorities change. So, what do you do when someone says they are through? You just keep going. As long as the rest of us are still on the same page, we go on.
Have you found a replacement for Joe?
Mark: We are looking at a couple people that have auditioned. haven't made a decision though.
Heather: We have no replacement for Joe yet. We have some people that have come forward and offered assistance so that we are able to get the recording done. That will work for now.
I guess having a member leaving the band especially when writing and
composing a new album creates more pressure. Did you, the remaining members, feel more united in this situation or did you feel the need to have a break from TTV after Joe left in order to ponder the band's future?
Mark: I miss Joe, but it didn't stop any of us from writing or coming up with new
Heather: There was no pondering about the future. Joe decided to leave and as unfortunate as that may be, that is life. He had good reasons for leaving and says he is happy with his decision. SO, we are very happy for him! It did unite us in a sense because we realized that the three of us are still equally committed to TTV. The writing process was not affected whatsoever.
Eric: I felt we were more united. Heather, Mark and I are anxious to begin recording the new material and feel very positive about the band.
Your lyrics are always very sad, melancholy, and at times desperate in my opinion. Heather, you said that your lyrics are always true stories! Does writing lyrics act as a kind of therapy for you? Is writing necessary for you?
Heather: Funny you should put it that way because I have said before that writing is therapeutic. It is a necessity, absolutely, for me. Let me clarify, though, that the experiences are not always mine. As a matter of fact, more of the songs were written for other people that I am close to. †
There is a constant in your songs : the intensity of emotions. One can feel this intensity on your cds, but even more when you play live. Especially you Heather, your voice is stronger and more powerful live than on the albums. Do you need to be in a particular state of mind to reach this depth?
Heather: well, thank you for the compliment! I know what you mean about live versus a recording. Itís always more powerful live I guess. We are hoping that the next album captures more of the intensity. I donít actually need to be in a particular state of mind before I start singing because as soon as I start the lyrics, I am where I need to be. I donít know if that makes any sense but as soon as I sing the first words, it sets the tone. I am telling a story and acting it out in a way. Trying to get the audience to feel what needs to be felt.
Where are you more at ease : in a studio or a on stage? †
Mark: It depends on the sound. if i'm recording and i'm comfortable with the engineer/producer and i'm getting good sounds, i'm good to go. same with live performance. but, if for some reason the sound is not good live, it makes you a bit uncomfortable. i truely love both environments though. when you record, you are creating something you believe in and when you perform it live you're sharing what you've created.
Eric: I enjoy both but would have to say the studio.
Heather: Opposite for me. Panic in the studio because I think I sound horrible. Live, FEELS great so I think it MUST sound good, right?? Whatever!! That is why I donít particularly care to hear live recordings of the band. I like to remember it the way I THINK it happened!
Are you the kind of musicians who experiment all the time with new sounds, new techniques, who spend hours and hours in the studio? †
Mark: Yes, usually in our personal studios. i'm always experimenting with my guitars, amplification and effects too.
Eric: No...just me, really. I demo the band, program and experiment before we enter the studio. We spend hours and hours writing demoing so the recording process goes very quickly.
Heather: Yes, this is correct. The studio goes very fast for us. Well, at least for the guys. I take the longest, by far.
People usually make comparisons with other bands, trying to categorize. In the case of TTV one can discern some influences but not to the point of making definitive comparisons. The same goes for Heather vocal style. Is being categorize something you try to avoid by all means?
Eric: You'll never avoid it, even casually. If you hand a friend a CD
they've never heard, the first thing you say is, "I think you'll like it. Sounds a bit like Opeth." ...or whatever. We don't purposely strive for a certain sound or style. I think it's interesting to hear people's comparisons. They're always different...and always a compliment.
Heather if you allow me to make a comparison with another female vocalist, I would say that you get close to Janis Joplin. (Note : Janis could sing all types of music : from rock stuff with harsh, aggressive tones, to ballad with a soft, high and clear voice, via blues songs with a deep melancholy, full of emotion voice.) What do you think about it?
Heather: I wish! Well, thatís an amazing compliment and thank you for that.
When did you first start playing music and singing?
Mark: When i was in 7th grade.†
Heather: Iíve been imitating other singers from probably about 5 or 6 years old. My mom had an Elvis Presley album that I used to sing to and cry. A song about his dog dying or something is all I remember. Iíve been in a band since age 15, non-stop. Not the same band, of course. Band to band to band until Tapping the Vein. At least ten or eleven bands, I think. I donít even remember all of them. Someone came up to me once and said ďHey, man, remember me? I used to play drums for you.Ē And I was standing there thinking, ďWho the hell is this guy?Ē
Did you feel at that time that you were 'made for this job'?
Mark: Totally. to this day i think it's the only thing that interests me to the point where i would never want to stop.
Heather: yes, I mean i hoped so.
Do you believe that a passion, in your case music, deserves all sacrifices?
Mark: I don't know if it deserves all sacrifices, but a lot of sacrifices have been made to tour, record and be a full time musician.
Heather: I guess we all feel that way because each one of us has sacrificed everything for this band. Each one of us lost our jobs and places to live. I didnít even think twice about it. I told our manager I would rather lose everything now and know I tried. Iíd rather be destitute and scrubbing toilets to survive than suffer with the knowledge that I was too afraid. †
The music industry is a harsh world, with a lot of concurrence, what keeps you going on playing and writing music? Have you already felt despondency, moments where you thought 'ok i give up'? †
Mark: Sure. i've felt that way many time, but i'll never stop. i can't.†
Heather: The only time that I feel like giving up is when I cannot finish a song. I feel like I canít say things the way I used to or translate an event into a song. It is like a panic attack. It is the worst feeling in the world. Then I feel like giving up just because I feel I am wasting everyone elseís time. †
I've noticed that your fans are genuinely touched by your music, which
creates a real emotional 'shock' in them. You are very respectful of your fans, often thanking them for their support. Isn't it difficult at times, hearing and reading words of praise, thank yous etc, to keep your feet on the ground?
Mark: There are too many things that counter that, which keep us humble.
Heather: I could never ever be anything but firmly planted on the ground. Ask anybody! I think some people get further faster and maybe forget who they are. All I know is I am nothing and nothing more than that.
Eric: Not at all. I'm fairly confident in my musical ability but I am a
humble person. I'm grateful to be making some sort of positive connection with our music. So many musicians have had the same effect on me.
It's inevitable that some people will misinterpret or over-analyze your
lyrics, attributing you words or ideas or a personality you've never
intended to mean/be or didn't even think about. However you all seem to be very down-to-earth and lucid people. Is it the kind of things one learns being in a band?
Heather: Hmmmm, not sure about this question. Most people that write about the lyrics seem to have a very good idea about the intention of the song. Or at least what they have interpreted is very close. It is not really about the ďmeaningĒ of the song. Itís more about the emotional state that it puts you in. For example, one of the songs conveys desperation, letís say. So, there are a hundred million reasons that someone would feel desperate. Death, loss, money, age, anything! Since the lyrics are not specific (ig: ďyou broke my heartĒ) one song can translate many ways. Is this what you mean?
Last year you've toured Europe. Have you noticed differences between the European audience and the American audience? What was the reaction of the European audience to your music?
Mark: The European audience was great! i hope we get to tour Europe again. some countries i liked better than others. for the most part, Europeans seem to be more diverse in the sense that the same music fan will go to a dance club one night, see a metal band the next and then go see a goth/industrial band on another occasion.
Eric: To me European audiences seem to have a much better time at shows. They seem much more enthusiastic and more open minded to different styles. American audiences seem spoiled and overly critical. Overall our response was very positive.
Do you have any plans concerning the 'conquest' of the European market or do you concentrate more on the American one?
Mark:† I think we'll mix equal parts.
Heather: I love playing in Europe. I am hoping that we are there again as soon as the CD is released. Concentrating on America seems futile. How can you concentrate on something that big? We have driven, in a van from coast to coast many times. If you switch drivers and do not stop, it takes about fifty-one hours. And that is just side to side!!! Not top to bottom!!! Without major radio and TV it is impossible to reach that many people. Yet, we try!
You've played on the same bill with quite a lot of bands, amongst which
King's X, Paradise Lost, Lacuna Coil to name but a few. With which band have you appreciated the most touring? And why?
Mark: I want to say kings x because i listened to them in the early ninties and then to get a chance to tour with and befriend them was a real treat for me. each tour had it's own unique thrill though. i mean with pl, was our first european tour and lc was a new band that we started listening to that was real similar to our style of writing, so that was a well matched bill.
Eric: That's really a difficult question. We have to be one of the luckiest opening acts. The bands we toured with were so nice to us and are so talented. They treated us with so much respect and we developed a genuine friendship with all of them.
Heather: Every band we have toured with has been wonderful. One exception and I wonít name names but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! They were RUUUUDE!!! And MEAN and thought they were Rock Stars, WHATEVER. (laughing) Seriously, we are eternally grateful to every band that has allowed us to support them live. You canít choose your favorite because they were all good to us. With that said, we spent the most time with Paradise Lost. Three weeks in the US and six in Europe. Their fans were good to us, they were good to us, we got to see lots of Europe AND (drum roll) no driving. We got to share their bus. THAT was the best part for me! I actually got to sleep instead of driving 10 hours overnight to the next gig. SO, if I had to choose it would be PL. †
Are there any bands or artists you'd love to jam with?
Mark: Too many to list.
Eric: Wow yea...TOO many.
Apart from music and working hard, do you have any hobbies?
Mark: Sure, i have a guitar business that offers service to anyone on tour or who needs tek work while they wait. i've been modifing guitars for a long time. i started at ibanez guitars years ago. the site is:
Heather: no time for hobbies!
Eric, you are a Clive Barker fan : is there a book by this author you would
recommend in particular?
Eric: I'd have to say "Imajica" or his "Books of Blood."
If you could be a novel's character who would you like to be? And why?
Eric: Lestat de Lioncourt from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. A vampire AND rockstar...what more could you want?
And if you could be another person (dead or alive), who would you like to be, and why?
Eric: Trent Reznor. I wouldn't say "be" him but, more so, have his
Could you please give five adjectives that describe your personality?
Mark: Type A, funny, charming, sensitive at times, insensitive at times.
Heather: Cynical, terrified, generous, impulsive and hopeful. †
Do you believe in something?
Heather: I believe in nothing. †
And now the last question. It's a question we ask every band we interview for the first time. It's called the 'Game Of The Tower' !!!! Imagine you are on the roof of a very high tower. Waiting for you there are three bands. You must kick down two of them saving only one band! For you the three bands are Nine Inch Nails, Paradise Lost and Linkin Park. So...who are the victims?
Mark: Nine Inch Nails and Linkin Park
Eric: The victims: NIN and Linkin Park.
Heather: After much consideration, I will save Paradise Lost!†
Thank you so much for this interview!!