This interview with Seth was done way back in September 2000 at one of CENTURIAN’s gigs in the Netherlands. Seth was still a member of CENTURIAN and SEVERE TORTURE at the time, so it’s partly a bit dated by now. But what the heck – there’s still enough information’s to discover, so read on what Grandmaster Steven Willems found out for you about both bands…
When did you actually get interested in music and especially Metal?
"When I was like 9 years old, I started to play music and listened to tapes that I got from my dad. I had no idea what was on those tapes, but it was stuff that I thought that was pretty heavy like ACCEPT for example. That’s also how I started to play drums, just by listening to tapes through headphones and try to play with the music. And at a point, when you listen so much to music, you also want to discover as much as possible and you want to listen to much different styles of music. That’s how I got more and more interested in Metal, also through Thijs who’s playing guitar in SEVERE TORTURE, he’s a nephew of mine. Thijs and I, we went to school together and I remember that at one time, he came to school with some tapes of IRON MAIDEN. Bertus, Thijs and I started playing Metal when we were like 15 years old, mainly METALLICA covers at that time, but in the end it always got more and more heavy and we really went for the brutal direction. Some other people came, some went, but we actually always kept together as a trio and started to play Death Metal, much influenced by the older bands like for example DEICIDE. But concerning real Metal, I think I was already 14 or 15 years old when I really started to be very busy with it."
Were you actually still involved in INQUISITOR?
"No, when I joined CENTURIAN, the band wasn’t INQUISITOR anymore. SEVERE TORTURE is actually my first band, I formed that band myself. But at one time, I called Wim because CENTURIAN were looking for a vocalist and they put an ad in Aardschok magazine. Rob was also already there, so they were with two people and I joined as well. That’s when I also heard that they changed the name into CENTURIAN because it was more like a new band and the style of CENTURIAN was pretty different from the style of INQUISITOR. INQUISITOR was more in the Death / Thrash vein while we really wanted to head more into a real brutal Death Metal direction in the vein of bands like MORBID ANGEL or KRISIUN. Wim is also a big IMMORTAL fan and I think you can also hear that in his way of playing, and that’s how I ended up in CENTURIAN. But SEVERE TORTURE already existed long before I joined CENTURIAN."
But CENTURIAN was the first band you made professional recordings with and also your first band with a real release?
"Yeah, that’s correct. The recordings of the CENTURIAN demo was a very pleasant experience because I had never visited a studio before. Rob and Wim write the songs for CENTURIAN, Rob already had some lyrics and I contributed a bit in there as well. We already had written some songs for SEVERE TORTURE and we had some plans to record and release something, but in the end CENTURIAN was first. But I remember that I was really very proud the moment the first CENTURIAN demo came out. Only half a year later we were in the studio with SEVERE TORTURE as well, the band which I formed myself as I said earlier before, which is somehow still something completely different."
Why did you also re-recorded the INQUISITOR song ‘Damnation For The Holy’ for the CENTURIAN demo?
"Well, when I did the audition to sing in CENTURIAN we practiced some INQUISITOR songs because that was at the time the stuff on which we had to work further, although CENTURIAN was a completely new and different band. But we didn’t want to forget INQUISITOR totally, because Rob also joined INQUISITOR as a guitar-player, and that’s also the main reason why we re-recorded that song in a new version with CENTURIAN. Wim’s drumming on that song was already very fast and due to my vocals, the song also sounds a bit different and gets another character. Rob has also a quite different way of guitar-playing, so…"
What was the main reason to record the MORBID ANGEL classic ‘Blasphemy’?
"That was an idea from all of us, Rob and Wim had already been playing ‘Blasphemy’ a few times before. I also thought that if we would record a MORBID ANGEL song, it had to be ‘Blasphemy’, it’s a really brutal song. It’s also a cool tribute to MORBID ANGEL, because in my opinion they are still one of the most important bands in the Death Metal scene. It also suits the character and the ‘image’ of CENTURIAN, we still play the song at each gig of ours. Trey of MORBID ANGEL heard our version once and he liked it. I know Eric Rutan best and he really liked it, he also has all the CENTURIAN releases."
When did you actually prepare for your debut album?
"That actually started straight after the recording of the demo, we just continued writing songs. Because of the demo, we signed to Full Moon Productions since they wanted to release an album of ours and that’s when we really started writing songs. Now, we also have already a couple of new songs for the next album, it continues all the time. When we recorded the first album, we already had some experience because of the demo-recordings, and the main thing we wanted was an improvement of the sound. That’s actually also our main goal for the next album, because we were not 100% satisfied with the sound we got on "Choronzonic Chaos Gods". A lot of people said that if they listened to our demo, they had the impression that CENTURIAN is Death / Black band and since I’m not exactly a big Black Metal fan, this was not our goal or our purpose. Most of the time, I don’t care to which bands people compare us to or whatever, but we had all in the band the same opinion, namely that CENTURIAN is a Death Metal band. The sound on the demo was also maybe a bit blacky, my voice on the album is also less high. I think personally that when I joined CENTURIAN, my vocals were not that good, I couldn’t keep this deep kind of vocals very good, that’s why I sang more in the higher regions. Nowadays, I manage to control everything more."
When you read the lyrics of CENTURIAN, most of them deal with what you could describe as ‘hate against Christianity. Don’t you feel limited this way, always deal with this one and only subject?
"It’s not that CENTURIAN is a band which is only against Christianity. CENTURIAN is actually a band who worships the absolute chaos, we would simply love to destroy everything that walks around. We really want to go back to complete chaos. At the moment, we live in the Netherlands, a country which has a good life-standard. Nevertheless, everything still gets ruled by Christian rules or laws and because of that, I can’t do what I want. When somebody does something to me, I can’t kill him, although I feel that I should be able to do that. I think murder is a very natural thing, it happens everywhere. When two animals fight with each other in nature, they fight till death. In the Netherlands, they would put you in jail (not only there… ; -) – S.W.). There are so many useless people walking around in the Netherlands, and I have to pay for them. I see these things really very spiritual, I talk about these kind of subjects also very much with Rob and a lot of lyrics get inspired by that. People walk the earth with a certain function and some people don’t have any function. Metal is for me the perfect music and I think that there are a lot of useful people walking around in the Metal scene, that’s also a reason why I like the Metal scene so much. That’s why most of our lyrics are based on chaos. I think a band should have a strong concept, I also don’t like bands who switch their concept, I think they should start a new band then. If you look at a band like DEICIDE, you know exactly what you can expect, and I think that’s really good…"
Is it true that the cover of "Choronzonic Chaos Gods" was painted in blood?
"That’s right, Rob made that painting in his own blood. I think it’s really cool, I thought it was a very original idea. Rob cuts himself from time to time, so… It was also a very spiritual experience for Rob, since he painted it in his own blood, it really makes a bond. I think it gives something extra to the CD. Some people don’t think it’s a beautiful cover. I have also seen better ones, for example the SUFFOCATION covers. But since he made it totally by himself, I don’t think the major point is if the lines are all drawn correctly and that kind of stuff."
Throughout your career, you already played quite some gigs, were there any special ones for you?
"We played quite some gigs which still really mean a lot to me, the highlight is still the Milwaukee Metal Fest in America, that was absolutely fantastic! I had never expected that we would get such a splendid response from the crowd there. It’s really strange to me that the people really knew us there, since we had never played there before. I guess it had to do something with our American label, Full Moon Productions, they must have promoted us over there quite a bit. We also played a very cool show in France once with INHUMATE, a really cool show with KRISIUN in Eindhoven, the one with MARDUK in Rotterdam, we also had a few really cool shows with SINISTER. It’s always cool when you can play with a somehow bigger band, but as long as the atmosphere in the hall is good, you can really play a very good show cause it really gets you going. Two weeks ago, we played at the CD-presentation of PURGATORY in East-Germany PURGATORY didn’t play themselves cause their drummer was ill and hospitalized, but the other members were there, and it was just one big party! As long as the atmosphere is good and there’s some good heavy beer-drinking, I’m having a good time!"
You switched not that long ago from Full Moon to Listenable Records.
"That’s correct, I hope we will be able to go into the studio at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year, the studio has to be free also, we don’t know about that for the moment. I hope the recordings will take place real soon, cause the album should be out April next year. Listenable also really wants that, so we can play at a lot of festivals in the summer. On the next album, we really hope to be able to improve the sound, cause that could have been better. The songs themselves are a bit faster and the album itself will also last not that long as "Choronzonic Chaos Gods", I think that album was too long. I prefer albums who last 35 to 40 minutes, 43 minutes was just a bit too long, some songs were just too long. We really want to go on tour since tour-wise not that much happened with the first album. Full Moon put all their money in the Milwaukee Metal Fest and I’m still grateful for that, but we would like to move on and get bigger. That’s why we switched to Listenable."
When we come back to SEVERE TORTURE, you said earlier on that SEVERE TORTURE existed already before CENTURIAN. Why did it take you so long to release first demo then?
"We are not very fast songwriters and we also had some problems with the line-up. We wanted to go a bit more in the direction of American-sounding Death Metal. Our original vocalist / guitar-player didn’t like that idea and so he quit. Then Jan and Eric joined the band, Eric joined Sinister later on, and we just started writing songs at that time. We had like 2-3 songs ready when I joined CENTURIAN. When the demo was out, we sent it to almost every magazine and everyone we knew. In the end we went for The Plague, which is a sub-label of Hammerheart. We first signed to Wilko of Fadeless Records, but he started working at Hammerheart and changed the name of his label into The Plague. The album will be released on the 9th of October, they already sent a lot of promo’s around, we also sent a lot of promo’s around to the people we are in touch with. There are so many people around the world we correspond with and I try to send everyone of them a promo. With SEVERE TORTURE, our ambitions are really high, but to get somewhere, you also have to invest a lot of time in it and work hard for it. It costs us quite some money, we don’t live in a big house but very cheap, but that’s not a problem for me."
CENTURIAN as well as SEVERE TORTURE are both really extreme Death Metal bands. Where’s the biggest difference for you personally?
"I would say that CENTURIAN is more a band in the vein of MORBID ANGEL and SEVERE TORTURE is more a band in the vein of CANNIBAL CORPSE. Wim and Rob, especially Rob, come up with riffs all time. When Rob comes to the rehearsal-room, he has written 2 new songs. Wim is a drummer who really likes to play straight-forward without mercy, I like to experiment a bit more in my drumming. CENTURIAN sounds as a unit, the structure and sound of SEVERE TORTURE has more variety in my opinion. I like both styles of Death Metal, so it’s no problem for me."
You handle the vocals in CENTURIAN, in SEVERE TORTURE you play the drums. What do you prefer?
"That’s a mean question (laughs). I like to play drums, I play drums already such a long time. I like to sing as well, because then you have to face the audience and you can interact with them. That’s something completely different but I really like both. It’s just as if you would have a blond and a brunette as a girlfriend, that’s cool as well (laughs), but I guess it’s more difficult to keep them both by your side."
Patrick plays bass in SEVERE TORTURE as well as in CENTURIAN. Do you prefer to play with people of which you know what you can expect of them?
"Well, I know what Patrick can play. It’s also not that easy to find decent musicians in the Netherlands. I also don’t have any idea who I would prefer to play bass. Since both me and Patrick play in the same bands, it’s also easier for me to give everything in both bands. When you play with someone, you have to get along, I guess the idea about the music must be in the same vein as well, and it’s not that easy to find someone like that. You have so many bands where there a few die-hards in the line-up and where the other members see the band more as a ‘fun’-project to have a good time. I don’t think bands like that will ever get really far. When you want to get somewhere, you must have people in your band who also really want to go for it. When Eric left us to join SINISTER, we had a feeling like ‘Shit, what are we going to do know?’, there’s nothing that’s more annoying than line-up changes. But we got in touch with Dennis and I think we’re now stronger than ever."
The only release that you have out for the moment besides the demo is the rather limited "Pray For Nothing" 7". Do you like things like that, limited items and do you collect them yourself as well?
"I think it’s cool, they could have made more copies of it, I don’t care. It’s just that Damnation Records approached us and proposed to release a 7". We liked the idea and we went for it. In October, our album will be released but as you just said yourself, we didn’t release anything after our demo came out, so the 7" was an ideal item to release in between, so that people keep hearing our name. We also sold some live recordings on tape of a show of ours, but we only made like 30 copies or something of that recording, so… I also collect rare items, I really like that. I really like to buy albums on vinyl that I like, for example the DEICIDE albums or the latest MACABRE album, picture-discs. Soon, the new NILE album which looks really cool will be released as a picture-disc as well, I’ll definitely buy that one when it comes out."
You also did a rather small tour not that long ago together with DAMNATION, how did that turn out?
"That was our first tour, it was very low-budget, but still I had a very good time. We also got along very well with the DAMNATION dudes, it was a very cool experience. When you play a couple of days in a row like we did at that time, you also start to feel the songs in your fingers. The thing I remember the most is the boozing (laughs). But I also noticed that you can still have quite a fanatic crowd these days sometimes, especially in Czechia, that was really cool. We also played on a rather big festival in Czechia recently which was excellent."
You already mentioned it earlier before, your debut "Feasting On Blood" will be out soon. What can you already tell me about it?
"It’s our first album, the 2 songs of the 7" will be on there as well as 2 demo tracks, ‘Severe Torture’ and ‘Baptized’, all the others are new songs. We recorded the album at Franky’s Recording Kitchen and it shreds! The producers Bertus Robbie (of DEADHEAD) really helped us a lot. Bertus did a lot concerning the triggering of the drums while Robbie also did an excellent job."
Are there any other concrete future plans?
"We will be part of a CANNIBAL CORPSE tribute album, we will record ‘Perverse Suffering’ somewhere in the beginning of October. Other bands which will participate in that tribute album are DYING FETUS, FLESHGRIND, CENTINEX, MORTICIAN and some more. We play ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ quite often at live shows and we would have preferred to do that one, but that one was already taking. CANNIBAL CORPSE is one of our fave bands so… Once the album is out we have to go on the road to support the album."
Latest news: Patrick and Seth have both left CENTURIAN in order to concentrate on SEVERE TORTURE only in the future. They are still friends with the other members of CENTURIAN though. A new and limited 7" of SEVERE TORTURE will be released, which contains two unreleased tracks that got recorded during the recording sessions for "Feasting On Blood".