Interview with Xeno: 'We're doing this together not only as musicians, but also as friends.'

 

xeno photo band

On October 30, the Dutch Xeno released their second album "Sojourn", first with the Art Gates Records label. Now we get in touch with the band who kindly tells us about the album recording process and the current situation of the band in these difficult times for musicians.



Hello, thanks for this interview, how are you?

Hey, we are doing great! Hope you're also doing fine.


On October 30th your second album "Sojourn" came out, I think it's the first with Art Gates Records. How was the reception of the album?

Yes, it is indeed our first album with Art Gates Records. The reception has been amazing so far! We're humbled by so many amazing comments and reviews to be honest. Also, the sheer amount of views on our videoclip and number of streams has blown us away. It's a good feeling to know that people are enjoying our music.


How about the experience of working with Art Gates Records?

It has been great. We released our first album without a record label and had to do everything ourselves. Now with Art Gates Records behind us we can reach so many more music enthusiasts.


You are a Progressive Death Metal band, but actually you play many styles including jazz. What are your main influences?

Every member of the band has a different background in music. We all write music and try to put as much of ourselves into it as possible. This is also why we have so many different styles woven together into our music. Sometimes it is a real puzzle to put together, but in the end we think it makes for very interesting pieces of music.


Even having only one album before you released "Sojourn" you have played with bands like Voivod or Carach Angren. How about the experience of playing with such important bands?

It was very exciting to share the stage with 'the big boys'. It brings many opportunities and we tried to learn as much as we can from them. The fun thing is, for us those kind of gigs are huge! But for them it is 'just' another show.



 

Four years have passed since your debut album, you have suffered the departure of some members of the band, but you are still there and now you have just released a fantastic album. What has been the balance of these years?

Thanks! A stable line-up is maybe the most important thing for a band. It took us a long time to get used to our writing styles and to combine them. But we believe that the line-up that we have now is very strong. We're doing this together not only as musicians, but also as friends. Nevertheless, making music as a group is never easy. Work, school, family, friends, relationships, everyone has his or her own life. Music is such a huge part of our lives though, we make it fit.


How was the composition and writing process for "Sojourn"?

We don't all live near each other, so writing can be tricky sometimes, but we have found ways for us that work. We were all able to do recordings at home, and we sent each other our parts so we could make demos for the new songs. We also work with a tablature program for extra clarity. 

When we were working on writing for the demos, we also played the material together at rehearsals and kept adding on it, even tweaking the last little bits when we were recording in the studio already. Inspiration and creativity have no agenda, many if not all artists will agree on that.


Did it take you a long time until the album was ready for release?

It took us roughly two years with the new line-up before the album came out. We started recording the demo tracks one year before the release, trying to perfect them. When we were happy with the demos we went looking for a metal producer. We found Roelof Klop and started working on the songs. After a couple of months we finished the album.


What message do you want to convey with the cover of your album? I find it very interesting

All the songs on the album are connected with each other. It tells a story. A journey. The album cover is the beginning of this story. Does the character go into the portal you see or not?


How is the pandemic affecting you right now?

The pandemic is affecting us pretty in a pretty big way to be honest. When you release an album you want to play as many live shows as you can to promote it. Every venue nearby is closed, so we're not able to book or play shows here. It really sucks, but there is always enough to do. We try to focus on spreading our music online, and of course writing for our next release!


Have you been able to present the album live in front of an audience? I saw the live / streaming you gave on your social networks when you posted "Sojourn" and it was a blast.

Yeah, the livestream show was a fun alternative! We hoped to do a proper album release show in front of a raging audience like we did when we released our first album, but alas... Even though we couldn't do a full release show with a crowd (we miss you), we're glad that we could do the livestream event.


What do you think of Live Streaming and that the bands are starting to charge for it? In your case it was free. 

We think it's a great way to support your favorite bands. The (metal) music industry is really struggling at the moment. Nowadays playing gigs and having a well-equipped merch table is a huge piece of a band's income, and we don't have that now.


Do you have closed dates for 2021? What band would you like to tour with?

We have no dates planned for 2021 so far. When the venues open again we want to play as much as we possibly can. I think everyone longs for live music, including us! We would love to do a tour with one of our inspirations, like Tesseract, Periphery, Opeth or The Ocean. We'll keep working hard and maybe someday we will get the chance.


Have you ever played in Spain?

Not yet, but we'd love to do it someday! We've heard that Spanish metalheads are great company!


For my part this is everything, I wish you good luck with the album and I hope to see you soon in Spain, stay safe.

Thank you very much!!

Thanks for the interview! Stay safe, and we hope to see you in Spain!