An exciting new metal band from The North, with an emphasis on huge riffs, soaring melodies, ridiculously catchy hooks and the production to back it up.
A nice introduction from a band I didn’t know. But when a Dutch singer introduced them to me I was very curious and listened to their music. And that was not so easy. Something with chapters and every chapter has three different songs. But when I heard them al I was very happy. And I wanted to find out something more about them.
So thank you Tamara Bouwhuis and Steve Moore. And here is the interview:
First of all can you introduce the band members? Who are they, which instrument(s) do they play, musical backgrounds etc.
Tamara Bouwhuis is the voice and face of Whiteabbey, and fronts her own band called Dim Crimson. She is an amazingly talented vocalist and Whiteabbey marks a move into heavier material for her, which works very well with her mastery of a range of vocal styles.
Stevie McLaughlin provides all the male vocals and lead guitar for the band. He is well known on the metal scene and features in Tim Ripper Owens’ European touring band.
Myself, Steve Moore, played the rhythm guitars, lead guitar, bass and keyboards for the recordings, as well as acting as producer and studio engineer. My main band is Stormzone, which recently released our seventh studio album called Ignite The Machine on Metalapolis Records. We were lined up for lots of great festivals and tours this year, including Rock Fest Barcelona, but the pandemic has understandably postponed most of them until next year. I also have a band called Fireland which has been going since 2003 and has toured in the past, but is primarily a studio project these days.
Ruddiger Spree plays drums on the Fireland project and he made a guest appearance on the Whiteabbey recordings too.
The name of the band is Whiteabbey. Can you tell us what this means, is there a story behind the name?
Trying to find a band name is difficult these days, especially if you want a single word – they’ve all been taken already! I’ve always thought it’s odd that American bands can just name their band or songs after places names in the USA and they sound cool, but if I try the same thing with place names in my own country it generally sounds terrible.
So after a bit of thinking, I spotted a road sign to a little village on the coast, just north of Belfast – which gives away the answer to the following question! As someone who knows the place well, I needed to take a step back and look at the name as if I had never been there, and think about the original meaning of it too. The name Whiteabbey for anyone locally may conjure up a certain image that may not immediately seem to suit the band or the style of music, but for everyone else, hopefully it brings to mind an actual abbey. Which really did exist there in the past, and the inhabitants wore white robes, hence the name.
I can read on your page “a band from the North”. Can you tell us where you are from?
Tamara is from The Netherlands and the rest of us are from Northern Ireland. “The North” was a reference to how some people refer to Northern Ireland, as well as to us all being in northern Europe. It’s also a bit of a reference to Game of Thrones, which inspired our track “North“.
What can you tell us about the music. Chapter one, two and three and in every story there are three other parts.
The first song to come to life was “Story” which presents the idea that events in your life can be viewed as pages, which can be segmented somehow into chapters – whether that’s by relationships or career moves or some other markers.
A lot of people may not realise that recording a full album of music is substantial undertaking, and when you have a day job and a family, as well as a main band that takes priority, it can take a long time just to write, record, edit, mix and master that much material.
So the idea of doing a few songs at a time and releasing them as a chapter was born. More by chance than design, some of the song rhythms and structures featured the number three, and it just felt right that each chapter should contain three songs. And when we had three chapters finished and released, we felt that represented the first “volume“.
It sounds a little pretentious, but it had more to do with keeping the project manageable for everyone involved. If there’s a mountain of work that needs to be done for a whole album, it can be quite off-putting. When it’s broken into bite-size chunks, it feels easier to sit down and make a start on it.
Hopefully the same thing will apply to anyone listening to the songs. Trying to convince someone to give up an hour of their life to listen to an album can be quite difficult. Giving someone a playlist with three songs every now and then, might be an easier way to introduce people to the band.
Who wrote the music and the lyrics?
I wrote all the music in a short space of time, originally just for something to do in between other projects. I had finished the Stormzone album and were essentially waiting for it to be released. I had also taken a few other studio projects, including a full album worth of cover versions, as far as I could myself. I’m not much good at DIY and I don’t really like to sit around doing nothing, so I ended up writing 9 pieces of music in a few months.
Writing lyrics was (and still is!) very alien to me, as I’ve mainly worked with singers who prefer to write their own lyrics. But at this stage, I didn’t have anyone else involved and trying to find a singer who would be willing to write lyrics for 9 songs, might have been just too big an ask. So I spent a lot of months writing lyrics and recording demos with my own vocals. I don’t have a good singing voice, and I don’t mean that in a shy kind of way – I genuinely do not have the kind of voice that anyone should ever be forced to listen to! (Tamara deserves some kind of medal as she has had to listen to my singing more than anyone else ever!)
The original idea for the project was to have a different singer on every song, as that spreads the work around and also might help maximise the audience for the music. I spoke to a couple of dozen different vocalists (both male and female) and the vast majority were very keen to be involved, but were just very busy with their own projects at the time.
The one singer who did immediately get back to me, and then followed up a few days later with actual recordings, was Tamara. The track was “Leaving” and hearing her vocals on that track was an absolute revelation – like the realisation that this is exactly what all the songs needed. At the time though, there were other singers who had said they would record vocals when they got some free time.
After a few months of waiting and not receiving anything else, I finally approached Tamara, at first about doing a few more songs, and later about just doing them all! And I’m delighted that she did as I can’t imagine Whiteabbey without her voice now.
What will be the next project?
Chapter Four is in production right now and will be released “when it’s done“. With no record label, there are no deadlines and we can set our own timetable. I tend to write pretty constantly so I have a few ideas kicking around for Chapter Five already. Each chapter from this point on will have its own visual identity in the accompanying artwork and videos, and as chapters are compiled into volumes, they will combine to form a coherent entity, both musically and visually. Again, I’m sure that sounds like pretentious nonsense, but it’ll all make sense when it’s done – and hopefully be pretty cool too.
Will there be an album?
The first three chapters have been put together into Volume One which is available on all streaming platforms and online music stores right now.