DOOL's Here Now There Then became an instant classic and might very well be one of the most addictive records of the last decade. With a second album coming in April, DOOL doesn't seem to be leaving the stage anytime soon. Their impressive singer Ryanne Van Dorst can be intimidating. When she sings live, she petrifies you with her moody looks more effectively than Medusa. But when she comes to speak about her band and Summerland, one of our most anticipated record of the year, her warm smiles betrays her enthusiasm.
DOOL became quite popular in a very short time. How does it feel to be here, chaining interviews, answering the same questions all day long ? Do you still find it fun, or is it becoming tedious?
Yes, it's fun. I mean, I don't want to do this everyday, obviously, but it feels good to see that a lot of people seems to be interested in our creations, our band and our lives. It's an honor to be here doing this in France where we haven't played a lot of shows yet... We played in Paris twice, we had one show in Colmar and of ourse we played at Hellfest, which really helped obviously, and that's it. So that's kind of crazy to see all these magazines, but I feel honored in a way.
That's funny because I have the feeling that you're quite often here, since I had the opportunity to see you every year. You're touring a lot. Has wandering between cities became part of your creation process ? Did that help to write this second album?
Hmm.. I think so. But I think that wandering is what we stand for as a band : to try out different stuff and to grow as a person. You know, it's like this thing they say, you have to change to stay the same. You have to try so much stuff to build yourself. Instead of hiding yourself and locking yourself up in a house with a 9 to 5 job and stuff like that. You have to try things and not be afraid to be misunderstood, to face some taboos or to loose a part of your image by doing stuff people don't expect you to do. You have to be honest, and that's what DOOL is about. Sorry that was a very long side track ! But for this album, I must say that I think we took inspiration from a whole different place. If anything, being on the road for me doesn't necessarily help my creativity. For me, in order to find inspiration, I need to be kind of isolated and not distracted, almost being bored. I need that to get in touch with my subconsciousness again because we are always running and you never take time to stand still and to contemplate, like "ok, I've done this and this in the past two years", and really decompressing, trying to give everything a place because then you very consciously see what you're doing at the moment, you see what is going on and you get different emotions from that. Our process changed a little bit and I think in this change lies inspiration and creativity.
I guess you must be very impatient to play your new songs to an audience, because you only had a few until now!
Yeah ! I think we are mainly a live band and we are very proud of the two albums we made now, we think they're both really good... But I think we're even better on stage ! There's a lot of energy in this band and that really shows when you're on the stage. When we started in 2016, after just a few shows, we were already able to step on stage and have our little cocoon and be moved together. We don't want to party, we don't want to get high of fight or slam-dance. We want to be moved and feel something. I'm very curious to see the effect of our new songs on our audience, what is it going to do when we'll perform that.
When you released your first album, nobody was expecting you. But have you ever felt some kind of pressure for Summerland?
No. We don't feel pressure. I get this question a lot because people often say that it's very hard to make a second album... But I don't really care. Expectations is what disappoint people. Nothing is never like you expected, everything is full of surprise. Personally, I try not to expect anything, ever, and I think the rest of the world should do that, too ! I'm speaking for myself because the rest of the band is not here, but I always was a bit nervous with the previous albums I did in my life. You know, like "Is it good enough ? Is it gonna work ? Is it finished ? I want to change some stuff!". But in the very early process of demoing Summerland and rehearsing it, I felt very confident and was like "this is very good and I really fucking love this ! I would buy this album if I didn't make it myself !". Yeah, I'm very very proud and everyone was so enthusiastic to make something out of it from the first song that we wrote. And now too, in the wake of playing live : everyone is very enthusiastic and confident.
Did you have all the time that you wanted or did you ever get a bit rushed ?
You know we could have make an album already two years ago because we had some songs... But it wasn't done yet, it didn't feel right. We booked the studio when it was almost there and needed maybe a couple tweaks or an extra song. But we don't want to rush into making art because... why would you ? We're not a machine, we're not robots.
That's a good thing! But some labels or producers ask you do make a new album quickly...
They do ! But I'm like... (she's raising her middle finger). They knew that from the very beginning. I told Prophecy "ok, we could do a second album but on our terms, we're not gonna rush into it like these music production writing-camps blah blah blah"... No. It's not a factory. It comes from the heart, from a special place, and you can't force that. I think.
Let's talk about Summerland. What does Summerland mean for you ?
I came across the term Summerland while I was reading a book. I was reading a lot of articles and books about the duality between heaven and hell, like The Divine Comedy, old greek plays like Orpheus and Eurydice, or What dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. It's a book from the seventies, so obviously it was written by someone who knew the summer of love, if you know what I mean ! It's a kind of a light philosophical book about reincarnation and after life but set in a classical sense that one lover tries to follow his lover into death and in the afterlife to be reunited. First he comes into a beautiful place called Summerland where he feels welcomed and right at home, his old pet dog is there, everything feels familiar and he thinks this is where he belongs. You could compare Summerland to Nirvana from hindouism, or the biblical heaven. It's the ultimate afterlife where everything is perfect. But this Summerland is not designed by a god, or a church, it is created by the dead one, the person itself. So it's all very personal and linked to your own desires, your own needs, your own sense of beauty and your losses. I found it particularly interesting because I was wondering what it would be for me, right ? For example, I don't want forty virgins!
Twenty is engouh ?
No! I don't want virgins! I want someone with experience! You lived all your life and then you have to start all over again with virgins ? Please, no ! So that got me thinking until I asked myself why should I be waiting until I'm dead, why can't I have all this now, in this life, here ? What would that be, here ? What would be the closest thing to heaven, now, in this life, in this body ? Playing live is so special to me, with the bands we forget about time and space, we become one with the music, it's almost like a religious experience for us. So there is that. And also meditating, sex and use of psychedelic drugs... They're all very earthly things but in a way they're almost divine. A lot of the lyrics of Summerland are about that, about what my Summerland would be now, here, in this life.
You describe it as a very positive place... but the artwork is mysterious and scary, with all this red smoke!
Yeah, but Summerland is mysterious. Isn't dying mysterious enough? To me, this artwork is very beautiful, I like that sense of mystery that correlates to music. Our music can be very catchy and go in all sorts of direction, we try to play with this contrast between dark and light. It's exactly what we do with DOOL. Our first album was very dark but always with a little bit of hope and maybe it's a bit reversed with Summerland, it's more balanced. Sulphur & Starlight, our first single, has this almost funky chorus but there is still something mysterious about it.
Even if the album sounds lighter, it ends with Dust & Shadow, a very dramatic and intense track. What can you tell us about this song?
It's interesting because this song wasn't finished one week before we went to the studio. We were not sure if we were going to record it. I was working on it for a very long time, more than a year, and it was almost finished but something was missing. The guys said to me "let's just fucking try it" at the rehearsals... and they were right! Suddenly, everything clicked and the way they played it instantly inspired me and we finished it in two hours. It was done. It's very typical for DOOL and the way our band works, we really have this lust for playing together. It's almost incestuous in a way, the way we are together. So we finished it, we recorded it and we played it live in the studio, the four of us, and it was fucking amazing. I had this feeling that it would be the perfect ending because it's so dramatic and very melancholic and it gave me the chance to wrap the whole theme of the album in the lyrics. Basically, it's about a person entering the afterlife, and this person is in a sort of twilight where the past life is already becoming like a dream and the afterlife is becoming like reality and when he looks back he doesn't know what is the dream and what is real now. I think I'll just venture on, just keep on walking...
You also have a new video coming for Wolf Moon. Can you tell us more about it?
What can I say? It's not a secret but we don't want to spoil all the fun... We did record it last week actually. We grew up in the late eighties and nineties and were teenagers mostly and the last nineties, so we grew up with videos of TYPE O NEGATIVE, NIRVANA, ALICE IN CHAINS or SOUNDGARDEN and it's kind of an ode to this. There's a small story line but it's not a short movie. It's gonna be special and beautiful and there's a lot of work put in it to really make a piece of art.
Does touring let you some times to discover other bands on stage, like when you were at Hellfest?
I saw KISS for the first time ever, I'm a big fan! I've been listening to them for a very very long time and I really love them. I finally had the chance to see KISS and I had the best time ! I cried a couple time ! You could see the show from the backstage area and it was the perfect spot... I was crying almost two hours straight!
Cool! Is there anything you'd like to add?
I thing I made it clear already, but I think that people should come see us live if they want to really understand DOOL and Summerland. We'll come in France again in April and May, in Paris, Colmar and Toulouse. It will be interesting, we'll try to extend the show a little bit. Without going too crazy, we are really trying to take people in our Summerland this time...
I hope you don't mean doing something special like KISS?
No, that would be a bit too much ! But I like the idea of bringing something special on stage. I don't want to distract people from our music or the energy that we have on stage but I also think that we could add a little bit more and try out some stuff in the next tour...
We'll see that!