domingo, 5 de janeiro de 2014

Interview: Thomas Zwijsen - Acoustic Versions of Iron Maiden, Tour With Blaze Bayley, Opera Flamenco/Metal and a Lot of Talent!

Perhaps the name Thomas Zwijsen was still not as well known, but after the success of views of your videos on youtube, and then by its partnership with Blaze Bayley, everything is changing, and this talented guitarist/composer, who cites as his influences names ranging from Yamandu Costa (famous brazilian guitarist) until Dream Theater, has been gaining more and more admirers and has been drawing increasing attention, including here in Brazil, where he is on tour with Blaze, and will last until february.

Leveraging the passage of the tour here, we talk with Thomas to know a little more about your career, the partnership with Blaze, the "Nylon Maiden" and your new album, which will be released in April, and will feature many guest stars ! Check out the main parts of the conversation with this talented musician, who started very young in music, and will certainly have a  road full of successes.

RtM:Well Thomas, for the fans know a little more about your career, tell us when you started playing, and who encouraged you early on?
TZ: When I was a kid my father was building his own classical guitars at home as a hobby, so there were always many guitars available in the house. When I was about 9 years old my parents sent me to music school. One of my greatest influences then was John Williams.

RtM: What about your musical background? 
TZ: I went to music school and then to the conservatoire of Rotterdam, where I studied Brazilian guitar and Latin/Jazz. After that I went to the conservatoire of Arnhem to study classical guitar.

RtM: And what your main influences in the music?
TZ: I’m influenced by many musicians and bands. Some of my favorite guitarists are Vicente Amigo, Pedro Javier Gonzalez, Yamandu Costa, Paco de Lucia, John Williams, Steve Morse, Janick Gers, etc.. I like bands such as Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Helloween, Edguy, Europe...

RtM: You have a project, called “Nylon Maiden”, where you play Iron Maiden songs with classical guitar. When the idea for this project came about and how Iron Maiden came into your life?
TZ: Iron Maiden came into my life when a friend showed me the Powerslave album.
I was listening to punk bands like The Offspring at that time, and just got my first electric guitar. When I heard Aces High for the first time I was blown away!

The Nylon Maiden idea started when I was testing a new guitar in a shop. I played the intro of Wasted Years on a classical guitar and tried to add some bass parts to it.. suddenly I arranged the whole song and put it on YouTube. The amount of views and comments was (and is) overwhelming, so I continued doing this.

RtM: And the partnership with Blaze Bayley? How it Started?
TZ: I went to his concert in Antwerp and asked him.

RtM: And he already knew your work? And did you remember what was the first song that you compose with Blaze?
TZ: Yes, somebody showed him before, his old manager. The first song, no idea! That's too long ago.

RtM: Was to the "King of Metal Album"?
TZ: Yes, it was!

RtM: You are preparing a new album. What could you tell us about it? Will be only unreleased songs? How many songs will be in the album, and it will be acoustic?
TZ: The album is almost finished! The title is “Nylonized” and the pre-sale will start in January. There are 12 songs on the album, containing classical solo guitar arrangements of bands like Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Rainbow, Dream Theater, The Who, Iron Maiden, as well as some surprises (even a classical guitar piece from Paraguay). 3 of the songs on the album are composed by me.
One of the songs is a 9 minute epic, featuring many special guests. This song can be seen as a flamenco/metal opera.

Live in  Santo Ângelo, Brazil, With Blaze and Anne Bakker
RtM: You mentioned you have many guests at this new album, singers, keyboardists and guitar players. What could you tell us about the guests? Talk first about the singers, I heard about Danny Filth, and I’m think it will be an album full of surprises and with many musical nuances, like heavy songs, classical songs…
TZ: Yeah, I’m surprised by the amount of guests myself! I think there are 15 guest musicians on the album. The other singers are Damian Wilson (Threshold, Ayreon), Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden), David Readman (Voodoo circle, Pink Cream 69). Also jazz singer Tess Gaerthe is joining me on one song. Fretless bass is played by Lehmann, who also played on the King Of Metal album with Blaze.

RtM: And the guitarists? You talk about some of your heroes.
TZ: A very awesome guitarist on the album is Ben Woods, from the band FlametalAnd speaking of guitar heroes, yes! Kee Marcello from Europe is playing some insane solos!

RtM: And Keyboardists? I think I heard about Derek Sherinian.
TZ: Yes, Derek is playing piano and keyboards on 3 tracks! Derek has been one of my biggest musical influences in the past years. I have every album he ever played on and absolutely love his work. For me this is a dream coming true!

RtM: And who else is involved in the production and composition of this album?
TZ: A very important person in the creation of this album is my drummer Nathanael Taekema. The 9 minute epic flamenco metal opera song is a direct result of a jam session with him. Every time we get together to compose/jam something very cool comes out. 

He is very good with odd time signatures, while I’m more focussed on melodies and harmonies. This combination works just great! Also very important in the process is Raoul Soentken, the mixing engineer. It’s a pleasure to use his beautiful studio and his knowledge of the
software really helps a lot! 

RtM: Almost everything is finalized then?
TZ: At the moment he (Raoul) is finishing the final mixes, while I’m touring in Brazil. The album will be mastered by Maor Applebaum, who works for bands as Sepultura, Adrenaline Mob, Halford, etc. We like the songs on this album so much that we absolutely want to go for the best in terms of sound quality.

Also important in the production is Sam O’Doherty from Yellowdog, he is in charge of the communication with all the guest musicians.

Thomas with Road to Metal Team
RtM: Do you have a release date? Do you have contact with some label to release it?
TZ: The release date is 11th of march. Pre-sale will start in January. People who pre-order the album will have their names in the booklet! The album will be released by Yellowdog/Blacklake.

RtM: And about this tour with Blaze Bayley? You have traveled long distances!! But sure it is worth your while! I noticed that the reception is being great.
TZ: True, at the moment I’m doing a 30 hour travel! A few days ago we played at Feliz Metal festival in the Amazone. All these horrible drives and flights are absolutely worth it. The fans in Brazil are just unbelievable. It’s exhausting, but I could do this every day of my life, no problem..

RtM: I liked the idea that simultaneous tour, with acoustic and regular show. How did the idea to do it in this format come from? Most, I believe, prefers plugged show, but after watching the acoustic, I'm sure will leave satisfied, because it is different and bombastic! The show in Santo Ângelo was amazing!!
TZ: Thanks! I loved the show in Santo Angelo. Many people prefer the electric show, but after they’ve seen the acoustic they say “oh, that’s the best show I’ve ever seen”. In Brazil the fans seem to really appreciate the acoustic shows. For me it’s more challenging and musical, playing all the guitar parts, bass and drums in just one guitar. The electric shows are very cool too, I open the show with a Nylon Maiden set, and then the band comes on the stage and we do a full show.

RtM: To divulge your work, I think this tour it’s being great. And I believe you will come back to promote your new album. What do you think?
TZ: Yeah I’m pretty sure I will return! In March I start a solo tour in Europe to promote the new album, and in April starts the Master Guitar Tour (, I’d love to bring these project to Brazil too, because it’s my favorite country to play!

RtM: Well Thomas, thanks for your time, enjoy the tour, the Brazilian beauties (and the heat too!!) and all the friendship, I think you have made many new fans and friends here! And I let this space to you to send a message to Brazilian fans!!
TZ: It’s difficult to find the right words to describe how awesome the Brazilian fans are. On this tour I met the most nice, crazy and cool people ever! When I’m looking back at videos from my Nylon Maiden sets in Brazil, I notice that most of the time the fans are louder than I am. They make the concert.. it’s just great!

Interview by: Carlos Garcia
Photos: Road Team and Artist Divulgation

Related Links:
Interview With Blaze

Official Web Site

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