Friday, 27 March 2015

INTERVIEW: Synergy Protocol

In one months time Synergy Protocol will be hitting the stage here in Sheffield as part of their Chaos Tour in the UK.  Synergy Protocol are a hard working progressive metal band from Holland with a strong desire to bring their intricate and heavy sound to our British shores.

Femetalism was honoured to be asked to support the tour and are looking forward to heading down to the Sheffield and Wakefield gigs.

Before Synergy Protocol get to the UK, they spoke to Femetalism about the band, the tour and their plans for the future in this extensive interview.

Can you introduce us to Synergy Protocol and tell us a little about each member?

Sure. But first of all we’d very much like to thank you for taking the time for us.

Synergy Protocol is, as we like to call it, a truly Progressive metal band. These days many Gothic-related bands call themselves Progressive. As female fronted band, we think we stand out by using a lot of odd-time signatures, pretty harmonies, lovely vocal melodies and most of all: our live-shows are very entertaining! No straddle-legged statues staring at the neck, but a lot of interaction with the audience, choreography and fun!

Wim Smits is the band’s founder and comes up with most of the weirdo stuff we bring forth. His pedigree was based in the 80’ies as member of Dutch thrash metallers Jewel.

Maarten Heeringa has been his partner in crime for close to 10 years now as guitarist, arranger, lyricist, and backing vocalist.

Mark Roelofs is a solid and sturdy guitarist that happens to sing pretty OK as well. He was dragged along by our youngest member Patrick van Mourik, probably one of the biggest drum talents in the Netherlands.

And of course there is our lovely Laura Guldemond, our justification to appear on your site. She has an amazing, versatile voice and looks damn good as well! These qualities were recognized before by Kris Gildenlöw and these days by Robby Valentine as a backing vocalist, but also in the Epic Rock Choir, as understudy for Magnus Eckwall during the Human Equation tour from Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon, on stage to be seen from September 2015 next to the likes of James Labrie and Marcela Bovio.

The band have had a long and difficult history to find the right people, but you now have a solid lineup. Can you talk us through how you got to this point?

O wow, Synergy Protocols first seed was planted in the late 90’ies. Wim tried to get SP1, as we usually call it, off the ground. Created some stuff that we play up until this very day, but still that didn’t last very long due to “Musical differences”.

In 2006 he met Maarten Heeringa, an extremely driven and flamboyant guitarist. Together they decided to go for a higher level. That implied they had to run through, well, maybe 100 auditioners, all without much success. Varying from drummers that decided to count their own way, whereas the rest of the world adapted the metric system for a few hundred years quite successfully, to singers that just wanted us to scream “Fuck the system, fuck the system”. Hilarious, but not suitable for us.

Early 2013 however, when they placed a very ambitious add on a website, Patrick responded. He brought along Mark from his previous band “Crossroad to Damnation”. These guys could play, were flexible and have a similar ambition level as Wim and Maarten.

Laura altogether has been on Wim and Maarten’s radar for quite some time already; she was a bit reluctant to step in as she was still finishing her study. But having Patrick and Mark on board, the time had come to ask her officially this time and although being somewhat reserved at first, she now has found her place within the band and has developed herself to be a self-assured and highly appreciated front lady.


Where did the name Synergy Protocol come from?

As many of our fans (being IT-nerds) know, a protocol, like HTTP, TCP/IP, is a way of communicating, call it a language. Synergy is of course the way that things work together. We aim to have many different influences, languages, “protocols” to work together properly in a way that it should appeal to many. Does that sound too intellectual? OK, then it’s just a cool name.

How would you describe your sound. How has it evolved over the years?

Therefore we have to explain how Wim writes the music. He does it in a way that a classical composer does: layered parts where all different instruments form one chord, whereas usually a guitar or keyboard is very capable of creating chords themselves. So here is the Synergy popping up again!

There are a lot of fingers moving all over the place that create a harmonic unity. However, don’t expect fast shifting power chords as in thrash metal. Or slow shifting power chords as in Gothic, for that matter.

When it comes to the keyboards, Maarten comes up with sounds for the notes that Wim handed over. As a big 80’ies disco fan a lot of the keyboard sounds are inspired by vintage gear, like Moog, Oberheim, DX-12 and Juno. Eventually when Synergy Protocol will find a capable keyboard player it is very likely the atmosphere and sound may develop further.

The melodies and harmonies, coming from Maarten as well – except from the songs rooted in SP1 - are kept rather simple, just in order to have it appeal to many, and therefore somewhat contrasting with the underlying music.

But most of all we think the sound is usually determined by the people playing the instruments. As the people have changed over the years, so has the sound. With these talented and characteristic musicians from SP2 we are pretty convinced we create our own distinct signature sound.

What have been your main influences or styles?

Although female fronted, Synergy Protocol is definitely NOT a Gothic band. It may sound a bit corny and we don’t pretend to be even half as good as them, but Dream Theater would be most obvious as a reference, even if it were because that is our common factor. But also bands like Symphony X, and to a lesser extend Opeth, Queensrÿche or Ayreon.

Personal influences are soooo different per individual. Laura listens to Within Temptation, but also explores hard core trance stuff and a lot of music that has those unreadable logo’s on their album cover. The latter also applies to Mark! He’s probably the most Death of us all. Mmm, that sounds a bit silly, but you catch our drift. Patrick also listens to Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation and more melodic stuff. Wim likes Rammstein, Toto and Anastasia and Maarten basically appreciates everything, maybe with the exception of ghetto-rap and tear-jerkers.


You released your Demo CD in 2014. Are there any other releases in the works?

We are very keen to record our debut album. Currently we’re working on raising funds ourselves. We are pretty much approaching our goal amount, so that is looking hopeful. But don’t get us wrong: we will not turn it down if a major or independent label would show up to support us reaching our goals, all options are open. As Patrick is still running internships, time is not unlimited. But we definitely plan to at least start recording it somewhere in 2015.

O, and within shortly there is a studio recorded videoclip coming up from our song “In the name of”. Maybe by the time you read this we have already released it through our Youtube-channel.

In April and May you are coming over to the UK for the Chaos Tour. What made you decide to tour the UK?

To be honest that was bit of a coincidence. We responded to a vacancy for a show in the UK, but as it was not profitable enough to take the trip for just one show, so we postponed that one. But still, the contact was made and we expressed our ambition to do a full tour, so that was arranged for us after all. A bit later than initially planned, but at least we don’t have to put the skid chains on our car.

What are you looking forward to most about playing here?

Everything! Playing for a new audience, in a different country with different habits, selling merch, getting stuck in traffic on M1, hanging around for over a week with this crazy bunch, frustrations over the wrong power adapter we brought, playing with “The Last of Us”, the local guys that will support us throughout the tour, living the touring life, sleeping on crappy beds and in dodgy hotels, meeting new people, having English breakfast, being a tourist, driving for hours, realising we should have brought an umbrella, yes, really… everything.

Will you be taking the Chaos Tour anywhere else once you’ve conquered the UK?

We most certainly intend to hit the road elsewhere in Europe. And beyond! Although the most obvious choice would be to go to Germany first, being our big neighbour, we have some contacts in Eastern-Europe. But Latin America and the Far East sound very tempting as well. Whether that will be before or after the CD-release remains to be seen, but one thing we can guarantee you: You haven’t heard the last of us yet!

What else is coming up for Synergy Protocol?

As Patrick said when he was asked where our ambition lies: “World domination!” Don’t know for sure but we suppose he means that he wants the world to know us. Domination sounds a bit… aggressive, if not kinky. Anyway: we definitely want the world to know we exist, one way or the other! Within Temptation, Delain and Epica prove that Dutch female fronted metal has a right to exist, so our prospects are good!

Beware: Synergy Protocol is coming!!!

Thanks guys for the great interview!  See you in a months time for your UK Tour - we can't wait!!

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.