Always at the cutting edge of progressive performance spectacles, Dutch symphonic metal juggernaut Within Temptation recently put on what could possibly be the most epic live show we see in 2021… On July 15th and July 16th, the band performed The Aftermath – A Show In A Virtual Reality, a performance resembling a video game rock opera. The virtual reality show took place in the midst of the Apocalypse, amongst four different worlds, and had the band performing a dozen tracks from throughout their career, including their latest single, “Shed My Skin,” featuring German metalcore outfit annisokay. Although Within Temptation’s When Worlds Collide double-headlining Tour of Europe with Evanescence has been postponed until next year, they will be playing Kuopiorock 2021 in Finland this Thursday, July 29th. Within Temptation lead vocalist, Sharon den Adel, recently took some time to chat with me about their recent performance and some of the things that inspire them. Check out what she had to say to me, in addition to their performance of “Shed My Skin,” from their recent virtual reality show.
Izzy Cihak: It seems like you kept busy during the pandemic, as you have tons of new stuff coming out, so I have to ask how you’ve spent your days for the past year or so? How was the whole experience for you?
Sharon den Adel: We’ve been mostly focused on writing music. We’re really focused on our direct environment, family, sports, music, while writing songs. It’s actually a little bit similar as when you are at home writing a new album – because that’s the kind of thing that we do normally when we’re not on tour. So not a lot of things have changed, except for the restrictions related to Covid.
Izzy: I’m guessing that you had a lot of time to consume art during that period, so I’m curious what you’ve been listening to, watching, and reading? Did you mostly stick to old favorites, or did you discover anything new?
Sharon: We’ve discovered a lot of new bands, like annisokay and some other bands from the new core scene – which was a really new and inspiring genre for us. In the beginning of the pandemic I made a playlist “The Corona Quarantine Sweat It Out Workout” and shared the songs we listen to with others.
We’ve also watched a lot of series but there’s one that stood out for me: Shadow and Bone – a fantasy series with an epic setting.
Izzy: On your latest single, “Shed My Skin,” you worked with annisokay. How did this collaboration come about? What was it that made you want to work with them?
Sharon: We had written the new song, “Shed My Skin,” and it had a flavor of new core. annisokay is one of the coolest bands we discovered in playlists revolving around new core. We like Chris and Rudy’s voices very much and we found the songwriting really good and very melodic. We hoped that we would click and when we called them we found out they are really nice people, and we had an immediate connection. We are really happy that the song and the collaboration turned out the way it is.
Izzy: You recently had a really big virtual show, Within Temptation: The Aftermath — A Show In A Virtual Reality. How did this idea for a show come about?
Sharon: We were searching for a way to present ourselves throughout the pandemic and to figure out how to still stay in contact with our fans. We had done an acoustic show, but as a band that likes epic sceneries, acoustic shows don’t really represent what we want to represent, as we want to play our songs full force. That’s more our thing, so we were like, “Let’s do something that comes closer to what we normally do.” Then we got approached by someone who has made videos for us in the past, with the chance to make a virtual reality show and that was bull’s eye.
Izzy: You’ve become known for your very intricate and progressive live shows, so I’m curious if there are any artists whose performances really impress or inspire you? Or do your shows draw inspiration from outside the immediate realm of music?
Sharon: We always try to do what we love; we don’t really look at other bands, but when I grew up, I was impressed by shows of bands like Pink Floyd. Nowadays we draw inspiration from our past experiences, films and try to find something that connects with our songs and combined with new technology – such as for the VR show that we did. This technology will develop way more in the near future.
Izzy: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I have to ask your thoughts on the city. You’ve played here a number of times over the years. Any favorite experiences?
Sharon: What I remember is the area where I walked, there were a lot of industrial elements, red stoned buildings – which I really loved. I found a few really cool comic stores where I bought a lot of stuff. The area where I was in, felt as if it had a really creative vibe – I really enjoyed my day there!
Izzy: Okay, so this is kinda personal. I have a really vivid memory of seeing you in 2007, when you toured with Lacuna Coil, and you were playing songs off of The Heart of Everything I think before it was even out in America. It stood out because the songs were just so epic and elegant and you were playing in a completely packed and dirty little rock club, which I thought was such an interesting juxtaposition. Anyway, I was curious how you feel about that album now? I know you still play songs off of it.
Sharon: On that album we finally finalized the epic sound that we wanted for years. I think that we found it while making The Heart Of Everything, especially with orchestra. I really enjoyed and still enjoy that album very much.
I also remember that tour; it was one of the most fun tours we’ve ever done. We were playing hardcore rock n’ roll clubs and we had just had a lot of fun. It was great playing in smaller clubs where you can feel the energy from the audience 🙂 .
Izzy: Finally, and I realize this is a huge question but, considering that Within Temptation have been around for a quarter of a century now, what have been a few of the biggest highlights of playing in the band for you?
Sharon: Black Symphony is one of my personal highlights. It was the ultimate Within Temptation live show, with an orchestra, a choir and street theatre, lightshow, etc. We released a DVD of it 🙂 .
The VR show is also a highlight because it’s a new way of presenting ourselves in a new and technological way. It’s a step forward, but we feel that we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of the possibilities that will come in the future.
Headlining at Woodstock, Poland, that was amazing with at least 1 million people! It’s the biggest free festival in the world.
And, of course, countless concerts that are so special and memorable in their own way. Every tour has its beautiful and epic moments, but that US tour in 2007 was indeed special because it was our first tour in the US!