Iron Clad will take you back to ancient times

interview with Gunther and Rony, October 2005

Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
Iron Clad: Back in 1987, Sammy and Rony started Demoniah, together with Luc and Alain.
Many years later Sammy and Rony created Iron Clad. Luc also joined the band as their permanent bassplayer, they are reunited after 13 years. Gunther was the chosen as the lead vocalist...

How do we have to see Iron Clad? What is it and where does it stand for?
Iron Clad: Iron Clad started at the end of 1999.
Sammy and Rony started the songwriting in Flanders but Sammy moved to California during the first semester of the year 2000. This doesn't create any major problems for the music and recordings. The music could be described as Medieval Metal, 80s metal combined with Ancient tunes of Medieval ages. The lyrics are about dark, mysterious and adventurous Quests and Crusades. They will take you back to Ancient Times and let you relive the Legends and History of the Past.
Iron Clad has a wide background of different styles of metal melted into one, combined with Orchestral instruments, flutes and keyboards.

Concept is about Medieval times. Why is this so appealing to you? What makes it special?
Gunther: Of course I am into medieval history, my major fascination however is the ancient period. Ancient Hellas, Germania, Celtic civilization, Roman Empire etc therefore I think Rony, who writes most of the Iron Clad lyrics, is the right person to answer this question.

Rony: All of us are fascinated by Medieval Times ! Reading books, watching movies and whenever we have the time visiting castles, ruins, Medieval markets, medival city's, ... we cannot get enough of it. So for us it seems normal that we combine this theme with the music we want to play.

Don't you think there enough bands having this theme? What makes Iron Clad more special?
Doesn't matter for us if there are other bands ... we do what we want to do and that's combining Metal and Medieval Times straight from the heart!!!

Ever thought that there could be a parody band called Iron Clit?
Gunther: That wouldn’t exactly reveal “superb” taste but we don’t mind humour. So the jesters out there can feel free. It could even be a historically correct band name though, when thinking of the iron chastity belts that many knights made their ladies wear when leaving on a crusade to “keep out” noblemen who stayed home and who preferred a married woman’s bedroom over a far away battlefield...

You know when lived then, there would be no electricity. Can you imagine living in 2005 without electricity?
Gunther: No problem. We would play authentic medieval Folk. Besides, what you don’t know you can’t miss. Personally I equally like that style of music. I’m not only hooked on modern electric music. Of course we are aware of the advantages of the modern world we live in. And realise the kind of hard times the middle ages were: pestilence, superstition, inquisition, short life expectations. On the other hand life was less complex and more basic, closer to the essence of survival. And although corruption is of all times yet I have this feeling that common men were more sincere: community, tradition and culture mattered and they offered their blood to defend their values and lands. Today this sense of pride is lost. It was the golden age of Flanders. Today I live in an artificial country which was created in 1830 where the medieval banner of Flanders is almost a political taboo and people spit on their heritage. Back then more people were proud of their identity in modern Belgium people hardly care and often spit on their ancestry. Concerning the middle ages, I really love the architecture of that period, the art and literature.

You are best know as the vocalist of Ancient Rites. That band is also refering to old ages. So why active in Iron Clad?
Gunther: When I heard the music of Iron Clad it reminded me of the music I listened to in the early 80’s and liked the fact it was created by people who also lived those times. There are tons of revival Heavy Metal bands who never lived that age and somehow I note the difference. Iron Clad were only recording for themselves without any expectations or commercial intentions. A sincere nostalgic trip. I thought it was a good idea to take it a bit further and helped the band to find a record deal. But I don’t see Iron Clad as MY project. There are differences with Ancient Rites: Iron Clad is focussed on the middle ages. Ancient Rites are not, we do have medieval themes but also ancient history is represented. Musically Iron Clad is also closer to traditional Heavy Metal compared to Ancient Rites. The ESSENCE of the trip is similar but there are plenty of differences.

How is Ancient Rites doing these days by the way?
Gunther: Working hard: practising the new material which is quite complex. It is our intention to enter studio this winter.

Is it hard to divide the time between different bands? No strangulation in priority between the 2 bands?
Gunther: A few years ago LION’S PRIDE were founded and recently I joined LES VILLAINS. With these bands we play all over Europe and record as well. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. But I cope. Music is a passion of mine and I like to work on different musical fields: only way to achieve this is playing in bands of different styles. Time is more hectic but in my mind I feel more free, less limited.

Do you collect items from Medieval time? Is your house drowning in swords, armour and candlesticks?
Gunther: Diest where I was born and live is a medieval town. The son of Willem of Orange is buried here, many of the narrow streets are centuries old, old buildings, churches. We still have medieval organisations, gildens and medieval craftsmanship is taught. To top it all I actually live in a medieval fortified abbey. How much closer one can get to the middle ages? The church in my street was built in the early middle ages and the tavern on our corner is in medieval style, cars are forbidden. Historical figures like Van Gansen (the leader of the Boerenkrijg/Farmers revolution against France) and Emperor Charles de Great (Karel de Grote) stayed here within these walls. Here one can have the illusion to live in a different age. Many legends and history surround this place. Ideal location for someone like me. In summer one can find me under an old tree on an isolated spot near the city walls while studying ancient and medieval history, talk with authorities on local folklore and am involved with organisations that restore ancient Germanic and Celtic traditions. I don’t have a car anymore but ride horses.., no joke. Somehow I always end up cultivating arts of the past, it comes natural. I would like learn to work with owls and falcons, another medieval craft. Rony joined a medieval group and will soon start medieval combat techniques. His house is full of medieval paraphernalia, most of his free time he spends visiting castles with his family. We don’t close our eyes for the time we live in but think it’s important to remember where we come from, our ancestry. And our passion to cultivate this is sincere. Even without music we would be living these things. Recently I went to the country side of East Flanders and spend days with a farmer who had a huge flock of horses. I worked with him in the stables, placing the flock on the fields, riding horse. One day I would love to have one of those huge Belgian Brabant horses on my own. I was there when a mare was giving birth. Impressive animals. The farmers’ simple but noble attitude appealed to me. I learned many things about nature there, things I wouldn’t learn in the city; let’s call it a closer to nature wisdom. Also no room for luxuries and modern chit chat. His way of life/attitude must have been similar to how our ancestors lived. I often saw him smile about some of my modern ways... Was difficult to return to the MTV world of the city. Let’s face it: probably we are considered nutcases by most of the people haha! Don’t worry, there are people worse than us, I have a friend who still fights duels with a secret organisation. These fights happen between rivalry groups of Flanders and Germany. Duels are forbidden by law but they do it behind closed doors and have a doctor present. They do a special kind of fighting (a late medieval tradition) concentrated on the face to avoid mortal wounds (they wear helmets) but their cheeks and nose and mouth bear many scars, one of the rules is not to avoid the blade coming down or one loses the duel. There’s a whole philosophy of endurance behind it. Remember Otto Skorzeny? The German officer behind the impossible missions of WWII at the front, he belonged to a similar order, hence the scar on his face. Some medieval traditions don’t die out, only the masses don’t know about it. The world belongs to the madmen, my friend... Could be an interesting hobby for the Iron Clad crew...

Rony: When I think about it... everyone of us has medieval objects in their homes. Again the proof that medieval life is part of us!!!

Do you perform on stage in iron clads? Or any other visuals to strengthen the concept?
Rony: Iron Clad is no live band , we are a studioproject because our guitarplayer lives in America. Our dream was to record metal songs with a medieval touch and that's what we did.

Are you also interested in the paintings from Pieter Breugel and Willy vander Steen?
Gunther: Vandersteen is often mentioned as the Breughel of the 20th century due to comics like “Het Spaanse Spook” and “De Geuzen” as they describe our low lands under 16th century Spanish occupation, which in essence is close to Breughels magnificent art as the topic is similar. Only Breughel used a realistic style and brush, Vandersteen comical style and pencil. In essence they capture the medieval Flemish spirit very well. Yes I do have reproductions of Breughel in my home and I have a large Vandersteen collection... (his early works).

What would happen if Belgium is incorporated again by The Netherlands?
Gunther: Maybe we could finally hear our mother tongue again in Brussels which used to be a Flemish town. Breughel turns in his grave if he would know Flemish is no longer the number one language in Brussels! A city in Flemish Brabant turned into a Francophone bastion, made an independent region to justify it all. The revolution against the Netherlands was orchestrated by the Francophone bourgeoisie who wanted to gain control. In this process the Flemings lost. I think it is difficult for the Dutch people to understand the situation of Flanders in Belgium and why Flemish protest is so much on the rise here. We have linguistic/cultural struggles ever since 1830. The Dutch language was forbidden at schools, universities, court, laws written in French. Flemish soil turned Francophone, Flemish soldiers used as cannon fodder ordered in French. Even to this day some of this injustice continues: Francophone politicians still demand more Flemish ground. Our Flemish politicians sell out in order to stay in power. Well my friend, another example of something that wouldn’t have happened in the middle ages. In 1302 we still had the balls to fight back, no matter how few we were. What a bunch of pussies my people have become. Ancestors, rise from thy graves! Well at least the protest is growing stronger but I wonder what it takes until they awake. Imagine visiting a Dutch embassy in Athens and no one speaks your language! Visit your capital and they refuse to answer you when you speak Dutch. Or police puts you against the wall when visiting Luik asking “what are you doing here, you’re from Flanders”. Personal experiences. My feelings? Flemish Republic now. A peaceful separation like happened in Czechoslovakia. Nothing against the Francophone people, don’t misunderstand but each folk should be entitled to cultivate its own roots on its own soil, not being ruled by a foreign authority.

A new split release is coming out on NephereX. What can we expect? Any interesting guest musicians?
Rony: It will be a splitalbum with Lion's Pride a band where Gunther and myself also are part of. Guestmusician on this album is Eric from Ancient Rites. You can expect new songs from Iron Clad and one song from the first album. (Lost in a Dream) And from Lion's Pride some songs from the debut (Stand and Defend) and some new material including a Motorheadcover: Iron Fist. This album has again a Medieval approach and music that many people can feel related to.

Coming to an end and maybe you have something to say important or what happened to your long hair?
Gunther: I like two kinds of haircuts, long or very short. The shaved cut reflects my current state of mind. No nonsense, straight forward and ready for battle. In these times when image is so important for a band to sell and smooth talk to please the masses is necessary I felt like stripping everything down to the basics/essence. Times are harder, this is how I feel and this is how I look. It was almost a ritualistic deed. Quite personal. And finally I’m being left alone by the alternative people of the scene who always were lecturing me or told me I’m not anarcho/pc enough or who tried to sell drugs and took me for a hippie when I wasn’t wearing bullet belts or leather, to them I’m a hopeless case now anyway with this militaristic unsympathetic look. Good! Saves me a lot of unnecessary talk. And those who already disliked me now finally have an extra reason to complain...

Last rites?
Gunther: When will you form Iron Clit? We can tour together. ;-) Thank you for this conversation, all the best with BRUTALISM.
Interviewer: twansibon
Oct 23, 2005
Next interview: Intervalle Bizzare

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