Officium Triste have released their third and best album last May. Besides that they are Holland's most active Doom band and have a great live reputation. Enough reasons for doom-metal.com to ask a few questions. Vocalist and front man Pim invited me over to his RotterDoom appartment, where we were joined by bassist Laurence, his girlfriend and Pim's cuddly cat Plato. Below is the result of my pleasant conversation with one of the most honest and down to earth Doom bands around.
Who wrote what on the new album?
P: I wrote all of the lyrics and the music was provided for 80-90% by Martin (the drummer -writer). Later we all arranged the music,
adding a riff here and there. The album is a band product, but the base material is mostly written by Martin.
I understand you used a new studio this time.
P: Johan, our guitar player, is interested in recording techniques and he bought several pieces of equipment,
to which we as a band also added a few things. The most important thing is our portable hard disk track recorder.
A large part of the music was recorded in our rehearsal room, namely the drums and several guitar parts. We also
recorded a few things at Johan's place at that time, in his attic.
You've also spent a longer period recording for this album, what do you think are the pro's and con's?
L: We didn't actually spend more time recording, the recordings were spread over a longer period. One good
thing about that is that there isn't as much pressure on you as there normally is. The fact that we recorded in
our own environment also made things more relaxed. Not having time pressure is a more pleasant way of
P: There was a little time pressure from the label (Displeased Records -writer) in the form of a deadline for the
final product. All in all I think we spent 2,5 - 3 weeks of absolute time on it, spread over a period of a few months.
I also found it a much more pleasant way to work. I mean, when you go into a studio, you know how much money
it costs an hour, and you have to lay down your parts as quick as possible. This time though, when we weren't
satisfied with something, we just did it again. That is much more relaxed, which is important, because some of the
bandmembers - I'm not naming anyone - have a little trouble performing under pressure and this way,
that wasn't a problem anymore.
In the future, we will keep on recording in our own studio, instead of somewhere else.
There is a vast difference in production quality between The Pathway and Reason. Are you satisfied
with the result this time?
P: Yes. When we had just recorded The Pathway we were satisfied with it, but that's because you've just been
in the studio for a week and a half, you've heard the songs loads of times, and after a while, you can't really
listen to them objectively anymore. After six months or so, when things settled a bit, you start to scrutinise the
album and you realise there are things you just aren't really happy about. Looking back, we made a wrong choice
with that studio, but we can't help that anymore. When you record an album by yourself, you control everything,
because you know how you want it to be, but when you use an engineer outside the band, he's bound to influence
the music one way or another, and I think that was clear last time. He was a nice guy, but he didn't understand
the result we were aiming for in terms of sound. It sounds muffled and muddy, and it could be a lot better.
We are still 100% behind the songs on The Pathway, in terms of composition they are good songs, and perhaps
we should record it all again in the future. I mean, we have our own studio now, and there are a few songs
which could be more special with a better production, so perhaps we'll do that sometime.
Which songs do you think would be most appropriate for such a treatment?
P: Personally, I'd like to re-record "Divinity", because that's the song that is the most lacking in terms of production.
Guitar effects were omitted and such things.
L: I'm not really that fond of working in a studio, but to be honest, I'd just do they entire CD again. Why not, right?
It's hard for me to pick a song, so I'd rather do the whole album, but that would be so much work, I don't think that
One thing I noticed about Reason was that you didn't use your clean vocals anymore. Is there a special reason
P: The reason is that I felt that grunts just fitted better with the songs we came up with for Reason, as far as
atmosphere, emotion, etc. are concerned. There was no place for it this time. There is a bit of clean singing on it,
by the way, if you listen well.
Indeed, as backing vocals, right?
P: Yes, that's one of the things that in hindsight could have been better about this album. The backing vocals could
have been a bit louder. But I haven't given up on clean vocals or anything, I'm sure I'll use them again on future
L: It just didn't feel right this time. I think they will return, it just depends on the way the songs are made up.
About the backing vocals, that would have been my next question. They are audible, but you say yourself that
they could have been a bit louder.
P: Yes, that's one of the things that was left this way because of the deadline for the final mix. It's a small thing,
but I don't think it is disturbing. It's one of those things you always have. When you are 100% satisfied with an
album, you might as well quit, because you've made the perfect CD for yourself.
The backing vocals are a mix of Martin's and my vocals on the song "The Sun Doesn't Shine Anymore" and that
combination was quite good, the way it followed a grunt part. It doesn't really stand out in the mix, but perhaps
it's nice when it isn't immediately apparent and you don't really hear it well until you listen with headphones.
If you look at it in the way of discovering new things after a few listens, it's really nice.
Another thing that caught my attention were the rumours that this album would be greatly influenced by
Shape of Despair. What do you think about that, and where does that come from, as it isn't that apparent to me.
P: Yes, I know where it comes from. It has to do with a certain synth line that was written by Martin and it
reminded us of Shape of Despair, because they also use much synth backing. In that period Martin and I
listened to Shape of Despair a lot and we told Displeased, "hey, we've got a song that sounds a bit like Shape
of Despair". That remark was blown up a bit and quickly went round in the scene. I said it in an entirely different
manner, but it is brought in the open in a way that makes people think we have seriously changed our musical
direction. I can't deny it is a new influence for us, because it's just a great band with great music, but that's it.
Are you still satisfied with Displeased Records?
P: It's better now than it was in the Pathway-period. They are promoting us more and I think they are really
satisfied about the new material, so we notice they are doing a lot more for us. We have nothing to complain
about. It's still a label that wants to make money by selling music. Not much to say about that, really.
The reviews have been quite good so far. What were your expectations about that?
P: I didn't expect it to be so positive. We were convinced we had recorded a good album, but there are so many
good bands in the Doom/Death genre, as I'm sure you know, and I don't think we are that good a band, compared
to the others. I think we are hanging in the middle a bit. The reactions, also in greater magazines like Rock Hard
and Rock Tribune, were very good. Quite overwhelming, to be honest. But that's something to be happy about.
L: It's not something I bother myself with a lot, but now that Pim is putting reviews online on the forum I notice
that the reactions are mostly good, with high grades and such, some very high. That was extremely surprising.
Do you think that this album will open a way to a wider audience for you?
P: I hope so. The good thing is that now that we are getting high grades, magazines will ask you for interviews
more often. I mean, we have been busy for ten years, made three albums, but we had never been in Aardschok.
But now we have been. Some reviewers even compare us to My Dying Bride, something I can't complain about.
They are the top selling band and regularly sell out venues that hold 1000 or more people. The moment that the
people who like them, but don't usually dig deeper into the underground scene come in contact with our album
through those reviews and buy it, it becomes better and better for us. Perhaps those people will show up at our
own gigs as well to see what Officium Triste is all about.
Because you are celebrating your 10 year anniversary this year, I'd like to dig into your past a bit. To start
with, where does the name come from?
P: Johan pulled it out of a Latin dictionary. I might as well tell how the band started too, now we're at it. In 1990
Martin and Johan, who are brothers, wanted to start a metal band. The bought some instruments and got to it and
started a Death Metal band. Near the end of 1992 their singer left the band and their bassist at that time, who was
a friend of mine, asked if I wanted to join, so I did. We were called Reincremated and it was rather simple Death
Metal, not really special or anything. After a while we found a second guitarist in Gerard, who is still with us today.
After a while the music wasn't really our thing anymore and we decided to start Officium Triste. We were greatly
impressed by Paradise Lost, Celestial Season, Anathema, My Dying Bride, you know. We also wanted to play
heavy melodic Doom/Death and we were looking for a fitting name, so that was it.
You decided to disband in 1998, but reformed again later, how did that go?
P: It's kind of a weird story. The bottom line is that there was too little communication within the band at that
time. One of us wanted this, the other that, but we didn't really talk about it too well, which leads to irritations.
At one point, the balloon burst and we called it quits. Johan, Martin and I continued with about the same music and
within a short time we got together with the others for a beer again and we found out we had made a wrong
decision and should talk things over before taking such rash decisions. The exact details are nobody's business,
of course. It's been a good lesson for us though.
How did you join the band Laurence?
L: I hung around with Pim at that time and also came to the Baroeg and at one point they asked me if I wanted to
join to play bass with them. They were at the brink of parting ways with their old bassist, because of the same
communication problem, right?
P: The bassist at that time wasn't really progressing as a musician and wasn't really a metal head. He also
had another band with which he rehearsed friday nights. The Officium Triste rehearsals were on saturday
and week after week he made the same mistakes and such things, but it didn't improve. After a while we had
enough of it and everyone was clear about it. Finding a new bassist is always tough though, but we knew Laurence
to be a good drummer, guitarist and keyboard player as well and got along well with him. So we asked if he
wanted to join and he did.
What were the best moments for you in the past ten years?
P: Best moments? That would be several. Our first big show, opening for Anathema in what was then Noorderlicht,
that was amazing to experience. Same thing applies to our opening for Candlemass in 013, Tilburg, that was another
high. That goes for you too, right?
L: Yes... and Doom Shall Rise. That was quite an experience. 2 days of festival and we sprung out as the small
Dutch band there. That was beyond words.
Also a nice location, right?
L: Yes, what was it?
P: We played the first DSR, which was in a sort of gymnastics hall. Last time it was in a chapel, which was a lot
cooler. But what Lau meant was that we were the only Doom/Death band, among the 'True'/Traditional bands
(you know the discussion going on), we were just the odd one out, but I think the audience was ready to hear
a different sound at that moment. We also played quite well that night, even though listening to the recordings
it sounds horrible, I don't think the audience hears the little mistakes you hear as a bandmember. That was a great
show to do though. The best moments in general are the shows and the audience reactions. Those are the most
How do you feel about the anniversary gig, last june?
P: That was great. In any case, because we had a good turnout, even though there were many other activities
in the region that night. We played alright.
The Baroeg is an important place for you. I understand you also do work there?
P: That's right. I organise things now and then. I've been acting the DJ for about 11 years and writing articles for
the magazine and now and then I can bring over some Doom bands. I've organised the Dutch Doom Day twice now,
for example, and the third one's coming up september 19th. It's just one of the places in Rotterdam where a
metal lover can go. You used to have De Blokhut, but that doesn't exist anymore. Geronimo and Nighttown as well,
but that all went downhill, so rather quickly you end up at the Baroeg as the place to go. It's become a sort
of home base in my own city. We also have played 10 gigs in 10 years now.
What are other venues you like to visit with the band?
P: Uhm, anywhere really, as long as there's beer...
So no special preferences?
P: 013 is nice, Veenendaal is a place where we've had good response. Last time in Groningen was OK. The
Frontline in Ghent is always nice, in spite of it being a pigsty... I mean, the venue isn't top
of the bill compared to places in the Netherlands, but it's always a great audience.
You obviously enjoy playing live, have you ever though about releasing a live recording?
P: We've recorded a lot of things over the years, but that's more for ourselves. I don't think the time is right for
something like a live album. When I find the time, I'll rummage through my material for songs that we think
sound good and perhaps make a few MP3's for our website or something. Recordings from '95 and more recent
things and such, just a mix of things. It's an idea I've had for some time, but I haven't got around to doing it.
Speaking about a collection, I see you have a significant record collection. How did that start?
P: Well... I don't know. I guess it's an addiction. Hard music became a passion of mine and you just want to hear
as much music as possible. So I started tapetrading and buying CD's and vinyl and it gets worse and worse .
I can't help it, I just like it. I have a reasonably broad taste, in metal it ranges from Doom to Grind, but also outside
of the genre there are styles I like and own music from.
Are there any things you especially like to collect?
P: I like vinyl. That's the most fun. It's fun to put on a record, to flip it halfway, the cover is nicer than a small booklet
P: Not everything is available on vinyl, but I alwasy choose the vinyl version why I can. Sometimes I buy the CD as
well, because that's easier when you're DJ'ing and stuff.
Do you also have a special collecting passion, Laurence?
L: Yes, but for me it's movies. Of all the shelves Pim has of CD's I perhaps have only two of those, the rest are
movies. I love DVD's and such things. You just had a question about live recordings, I think it would be fun to make
a live DVD or something. Pim doesn't really like that, he doesn't like being in full view , but that is my
A videoclip as well, perhaps?
L: Yes, that's nice, but that requires a lot more work. It's easier to start with a concert. But that's also a good idea.
Is the vinyl passion one of the reasons you re-released Ne Vivam on vinyl?
P: Yes, it's released by Badger Records and Erik, the owner is also a vinyl freak. From the moment he heard the CD
version of Ne Vivam he was impressed and his intention for Badger Records was to release special recordings
on vinyl. We fell in that category because Teutonic Existence Records, where Ne Vivam came out, doesn't exist
anymore and the CD is very hard to get. So he had the idea to release it on vinyl, and we thought it was a great
idea and we cooperated. We remastered it for that release and the rest was the responsibility of Badger Records.
We had nothing to do with the cover, etc. Normally we don't easily let others do such things, but I trusted him,
as he assured me it would be a limited release with a stylish cover and not too colourful, and I think he
P: Because Ne Vivam was a bit too long for a LP, which is about 20 minutes on a side, we had the idea to also
release an extra single with it, with "The Happy Forest" on it, which isn't on the LP. I don't think that's a great
loss as the song is widely misunderstood and doesn't really fit in. In the end, the single didn't see the light of
day, but for the B-side we re-recorded "Mountains of Depressiveness" from our first single, which has also been
unavailable for quite a while now. That's also why Lau is on the cover of the LP, even though he didn't play a
single song on it.
Are there any plans for releasing the single in the future?
P: There has been some talk about using that recording, but nothing has come from it. "The Happy Forest" stays
buried, we won't use that again. The new version of "Mountains of Depressiveness" will feature on a compilation
on Slowmo Music. Otherwise it would be a waste of the recording, as it's a special, rather good version.
L: We also recorded that in our own studio.
About the lyrics on the new album. I personally feel it has become a lot doomier this time.
Especially the theme of Reason. How did you get the idea of using this theme?
P: I don't know exactly. I quickly realised that I wanted to use a certain theme for the lyrics and that was the
communal question: why? It basically surfaces in each of the songs, so that's why we named the album Reason.
Everyone can figure the details out for him or herself, I won't explain my personal train of thoughts. But that is
the recurring theme, although it isn't really a concept album.
And the subjects, well, you can hardly sing about happy things with this kind of music, so you quickly go in the
direction of, for example, psychological and relationship problems. These things can be found in the lyrics.
What are the doom highlights of 2004 so far for you?
P: That's hard. Don't know really. Perhaps they still need to come. I'm very curious about the new Shape of Despair
and the new Evoken. There were good records, My Dying Bride's latest was good, but if you ask me personally,
I like the old work better. I mean, it's an MDB record, no more, no less. They haven't improved, so for me their
best is behind them. They could create a new highlight, of course, but then they would have to make a
different kind of record, I think. Morgion have also made a beautiful, tranquil album, but if I compare the three
albums I still like Solinari best. What else?
In the recent past, I love While Heaven Wept, Reverend Bizarre... besides that...
L: The only thing I bought was by Suffocation, I'm not someone who buys a great deal of CD's.
P: Doomshine! That last one is amazing. Highly recommended, really a great record. Especially because
Solitude Aeturnus are taking their time with new material, Doomshine is the perfect replacement. That would
be the highlight for me so far.
Do you feel that Doom is the best way to express yourself, or could you also do it in another style?
P: I think I could.
L: I don't think so, at the moment. Only since I joined OT do I know this style, but I feel at home in this style.
I don't think I could have the same feeling with another kind of music.
P: I could just as well play in a Grind band, I think.
L: That's not the same feeling.
P: No, but that doesn't matter. I don't think my feeling is that important. I mean, you have so many different feelings
in your life and each feeling has its own expression, you know. I can also express a feeling by writing a book,
for example. It doesn't have to be music. I think it's important that when you are in a band, you look for the style
that everyone is comfortable with, and in our case, that's Doom.
What forms of art, besides music, do you enjoy?
P: Books. I love reading. Absurdistic things, like Dukovski and uhm... what's that fool's name, the Belgian?
Brusselmans, that's cool. But also Fantasy, Tolkien is totally hip at the moment, but I think David Eddings is
a brilliant writer, I own all his books. I can really entertain myself with those things.
L: For me, it's movies again. Not that I pay much attention to who makes the films, but more how they are made.
I like the Tolkien movies, they really appeal to me. I like Thrillers, Horror, but Fantasy too. Especially the way
worlds are created that you can't stumble onto in real life. I like the fairy tale-like things.
To finish off, what will the recent future bring?
P: First of all, we are playing Stonehenge festival, a small but cosy festival in the Netherlands, mostly Death Metal
bands, Pungent Stench, Dismember and some smaller Dutch bands. After that, the Autumn of Doom festival in
Germany on 9-11 with Count Raven, Reverend Bizarre, Well of Souls, The Dreaming and after that we take a
small tour of a week with Reverend Bizarre and Well of Souls in Germany. We end at the Musketeer of Death
festival in The Frontline, and the day after RB and WoS play the Dutch Doom Day III, but we won't play there.
Besides that, we decided to start working on new songs already, because we feel that three years is too long
a period between albums. No concrete songs yet, but some concepts. Perhaps we will also go to Ireland next
february to hang out with the guys from Mourning Beloveth and do some shows there.
Visit the Officium Triste bandpage.