-- Beyond The Labyrinth gets shredded --
The Art Of Resilience, the fourth album from the Dilbeek-based hard rock hybrid Beyond The Labyrinth, was one of my favorite releases of 2017. And when I got invited to come over the band’s end of year show at Partymakers Gent, I knew Christmas would come early this year. And yes, it was an awesome show! But before the party got started I sat together with BTL to talk about their plans for the coming years, the making of The Art Of Resilience and of the music video Someone Watching Over You and I compare Geert Fieuw’s likeness to that of Brian May! It’s a kind of magic!
Pictures taken by Geert Lippens where noted.
BMS: Hello there, it’s the end of the year so tell me how 2017 went for Beyond The Labyrinth?Geert: 2017 was the starting year of Beyond The Labyrinth’s rebirth. Our latest album, The Art Of Resilience, became a huge success and we now want to do plenty more live shows.
BMS: Yeah, I’ve read that tonight is BTL’s first show since 2013. Why did you take such a long hiatus?Geert: The guys and me took a sabbatical in order to decide what direction the band would be going. In this day and age it’s challenging to reach out to potential fans, record labels and promoters. So we eventually decided to go write a kick-ass new album and to just have fun doing it. And that new album eventually became the Art Of Resilience.
BMS: I’ve got to say, the Art Of Resilience was one of my favorite releases of 2017. It’s a large, rock-solid (hurray for bad puns!) and very diverse album. Tell me something about it.Geert: The main theme for this album is about keeping your head up through tough times. To never give in to fear or despair and to remember that a situation is never entirely hopeless. To leave the past behind and focus on building a bright future. As for the song-writing, I’ve written most of the songs myself (Sjoerd and a few of the guest musicians did some writing contributions as well) and I tackled one song at a time and eventually me and the guys ended up with a huge list of songs from different subgenres. There’s radio-friendly rock, heavy metal, gothic rock, psychedelic rock and more but we still managed to maintain a consistent theme and identity throughout the album! Although some of our fans call us a progressive rock band we rather see ourselves as a rock band with a progressive mindset. For us it’s all about making you leave your personal comfort zone and experience things you haven’t experienced before. In other words, to go beyond the labyrinth!
BMS: Now that’s a spot-on description! For The Art Of Resilience you worked with several guest performers. How did you put that all together?Geert: For most of the songs we’ve had our base lineup of Dominic, Michel and Sjoerd doing bass, drums and keyboards respectively. The only exception being the song If You Believe which only features guest appearances. The track has Tommi Manninen from Finnish Southern rock band The Milestones on drums, American guitarist and songwriter Tar Lynch on guitar, Bob Goo from Welsh rock band HangFire on bass and David Reed Watson from Kill Ritual on vocals!
BMS: And now you’ve got a new full-time singer in the form of Dragan Stanley. Hello there, Dragan! Tell me, how did you join this gang?Dragan: I’ve been friends with Geert for over twenty years. We’ve never played together before but I’ve had earlier experiences as a rock artist, playing in underground bands such as Midrange, SubHuman and Divni San. So when I had heard Geert was looking for a permanent BTL singer, I suggested to do a couple of rehearsals together. We were both very pleased with the end result and after successfully practicing with the entire band the decision was unanimous!
Geert: I’ve been a fan of Dragan’s work since the beginning so I’ve always wanted play together with him. And I can’t tell you how pleased I am that he’s now joined BTL’s ranks. He has a long vocal range and he makes all songs we’ve made thus far his own!
BMS: What are the future plans for Beyond The Labyrinth?Geert: Up till Summer 2019 we want to play as many high-quality shows as we can. We also hope that by that period we’ll have enough material written for a new BTL release. This time, however, we’re planning to have all five of us contribute to songwriting. I myself have already heard some great stuff from everyone in the band so I’m fully confident that we can all help in creating awesome new songs! And we also think about recording a song with Dragan on vocals as well as making a music video for that particular track. However, we’re not yet sure whether we’ll be taking an old BTL song or a brand new one.
BMS: So, what other things do you do aside from playing in Beyond The Labyrinth?Dragan: Me and a couple friends play in a rock n’ roll band called Primal Stuff. And aside from that, I’m a hard working man!
Geert: I’m currently working on a rock opera dedicated to the life of Nikola Tesla. In addition I’m a video creator, recently I edited the music video for the FireForce song The Boys From Down Under and Sjoerd and I both shot and edited the music video for the Rolling Stones cover Gimme Shelter done by FireForce as well. In the past I also worked on music videos for Magic Kingdom and Wizz Wizzard. However, for the next year and a half onwards I’m going to solely dedicate my time towards Beyond The Labyrinth both in terms of audio and video.
Michel: I’m a full-time family man for my wife and two children.
Sjoerd: I play in a 1970s hard rock cover band called Wolfman Jack.
Dominic: Currently I’m working together with my former band Everglow to add the final touches to their upcoming second album. And like Sjoerd I also play in a cover band, mine is called Goosething. And like Michel I’ve got a wife and two children. We’re getting married next year!
BMS: That’s great news! Congratulations! Say, Geert, you look a bit like Brian May from Queen!Geert: Let me guess, it’s because of my long curly hair and the fact we both play guitar and write rock songs. Remember my friend: too much love will kill you!
BMS: That being said, tell me something about your supporting band for tonight. The young German rock n’ roll act the Handsome Dogs.Geert: How about my friend Lars, the Handsome Dogs’ drummer, answer that question for you?
Lars: Sure thing, guys! Beyond The Labyrinth and the Handsome Dogs got together thanks to our mutual friend Tommi Manninen who worked on BTL’s latest release. Thanks to Tommi we became friends with Geert as well and he was very pleased with our style of hard-hitting rock music so that’s how we ended up being tonight’s supporting act. As for the Handsome Dogs, we’re planning to bring out our debut album next year and we’re going to have BTL as our supporting act as a means of returning tonight’s favor. And, fun fact, our bassist, Jens Münster is Belgian. He currently lives in Trier, close to the Belgian border.
BMS: Ah, Trier. I’ve visited that city several times over the years. Beautiful place!Geert: And, fun fact, Chitral Somapala, who was our guest vocalist for the Whitesnake inspired track ‘Can’t Get Over You,’ (featured on The Art Of Resilience) lives in Trier as well.
BMS: Now let’s talk about Beyond The Labyrinth again. Tell me something about the music video for Someone Watching Over You, one of the tracks from the Art Of Resilience.Geert: The song Someone Watching Over You is literally about someone watching, motivating and protecting you. Like a husband loving his wife or a mother protecting her child. However, I believe that when you’re in a rock band and you want to create a music video, it should be darker and edgier. Therefore, we turned Watching Over You from a song about love and care into a song about intimidation and threat. As a homage to gritty gangster movie directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino the entire music video is made up like a cheesy B-movie crime drama with a gang of mobsters kidnapping a girl and forcing her to have the mob boss’s face tattooed on her arm.
Geert: You know, the scariest part was actually recording the entire opening section of the music video in which the gangsters are driving towards the tattoo parlor. After all, we were sitting in a 1956 Chevrolet, dressed as gangsters from that era, armed with realistic looking fake guns, with a crying girl in the back, and none of us were carrying our ID papers. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any police officers, otherwise we would’ve had a lot of explaining to do. But everything went smoothly and we ended up with an awesome music video with you can see at the end of this interview!
BMS: And I can tell you it’s a thing of beauty! So, it there anything else you guys would like to add to this video?Geert: First off, I can’t emphasize enough how pleased I am to be surrounded by the current Beyond The Labyrinth lineup! Not only is everyone here highly talented but everyone’s also just as highly motivated! I can already tell you here and now, Stijn, that this is the BTL lineup I want to keep until the day I die!
Sjoerd, Dominic, Michel and Dragan: And we’re very thankful to be part of your team, Geert! And now we’re ready to rock this place!
Lars: And so are the Handsome Dogs! What more can I say? Give Beyond The Labyrinth all your support as they more than deserve it!
BMS: And my support they will get! Time to cram ourselves into a picture!
Beyond The Labyrinth - Someone Watching Over You