Interview || The one with Caro Tanghe from Oathbreaker

Many of you may recognize Caro Tanghe as the wild maenad who fronts Oathbreaker. When she’s not in the zone and screaming her lungs out, Caro is a down-to-earth sweet and lively girl with a very soothing voice. Yours truly caught up with her before Oathbreaker's mind-blowing performance and asked her our usual weird questions.

© Yngwie Vanhoucke
U: You released Rheia in September and it created quite a stir; apart from the positive reviews, the album was also included in many yearlists, although it had been out only a few months. Could you see it coming when you were writing it?

Caro Tanghe: No, we didn't expect to have such good reviews. Obviously we calculated [if] we wanted to release it in spring the year before, or at the very end of the year. September is such a weird month; it's close to the yearlists, too far from summer festivals, but we had a tour with Skeletonwitch in the States. It seemed like the right timing to release it then and immediately go on tour instead of waiting to see if we could do a headlining tour. Everything fell into place.

U: What's the writing and recording process like for you?

C. T. :The writing process is very tough for us. For me personally, writing lyrics is very hard. I like to write but I have to get into a certain space where I don’t get that often. I need pressure; I’m a very last-minute type of person. It’s hard for me because I don’t push myself to write because I don’t like to go there but then, it’s almost too late and I have to so I’m like “fine. I’ll do it”. Writing a record, musically, is a process that takes really long for us. Gilles, our guitar player, writes most of the music and comes up with those riffs. He basically [writes] most of it on an acoustic guitar, on a couch, and I try to sing without amplifying it –just him and me. Then, we take it to the rehearsal space and we convert it into a more heavy-sounding song. You can hear it when you think of the dynamics in the music; the clean parts stay really clean and we try to keep it as beautiful as possible. 
[Caro gives me a defeated look, asking if I want her to discuss the recording process too. Just a little, yes.]
We recorded the album in San Francisco. We felt we needed to record somewhere else than in our hometown, otherwise I don’t think we would ever finish recording… It’s really hard to get everyone in the same place, everyone’s working or has something to do and then you just push and nothing happens. When you record somewhere else, you are there for a limited time. Before we fly out to do something, we make sure we’re ready and prepare more thoroughly. When we went to San Francisco, most of the record was finished; we tried some different vocal things where certain things didn’t work as we thought they would and we tried piano parts but the basics were done. We recorded with Jack Shirley, who has recorded with Deafheaven, Loma Prieta. He recorded a bunch of really good things and we liked the way he worked. He records everything analog, to tape, and the base of the album, the instruments, were all recorded live at the same time; then he takes the analog and transfers it to digital format so you build from that. To us, the biggest difference to working like that was, first of all, that it’s super fast because you don’t have to do things separately, so you save a lot of time. Then, the feeling is different. It’s very hard to go with it; we were used to recording everything digitally… With analog, you have to filter what you want to be picky about. It feels a lot more real and I feel that “Rheia”  needed the realness. This is the most honest record we’ve ever written; the lyrics are honest, everything is very pure, and we wanted to keep it that way.

© Maron Stills
U: If you could cast each member of the band as a villain, who would each member be?

C. T. : A villain?? Oh that’s a tough one… I think –he’s gonna hate it but fuck this- Wim, our drummer, would be the Joker. He’s a funny guy, he’s…

U: …slightly paranoid (laughs)

C. T. : (laughs) slightly, slightly. It’s more of an impression than who they really are. I could be the girl from “The Ring”. I’ve heard it so many times I can crawl out of a television screen. [ed. – I don’t want to picture that] I’ve heard a lot of comments that I look like her, so…

U: It’s the hair. Maybe you would if you wore as much makeup as the actual actress does.

C. T. : Maybe.. Maybe.. Oh this is all terrible! Gilles doesn’t have a bad bone in his body… This is hard, I don’t know!

U: I'll spare you this time. What super power does the music have?

C. T. : I think, because we have so many dynamics, sometimes I imagine that during the clean singing parts I would lift off the ground. Levitating would be great.

U: What is the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?

C. T. : People often ask me, since I’m a girl in this genre, if I have weird people stalking me. I don’t, but there was one guy in Germany who would kill me if I ever went back. He wrote me a bunch of things on Facebook with pictures of himself and pictures of his dick... He was just crazy. He threatened to kill me if I went back to Germany but then I found out we had friends in common so I checked with them who the guy was. In the end, he told me his account was hacked but he never told me, he told someone else. I mean, if your account is really hacked, you apologize to the person you offended and he never did. I have screen shots and everything, I’m holding onto it in case he appears again. [ed. –that’s my girl!]

U: If you could have a 1-minute phone conversation with a younger version of yourself, what age would you choose and what would you tell yourself?

C. T. : I have a lot of ages that I would want to call myself to remind me of things… I think I would call myself at age 10 and I would tell myself –this is gonna be deep, watch it- to value my family more, and to think [things] through. Think of negative and positive things more than focusing on negative things, I guess…

© Arne Desmedt/Cardinals Media
U: What’s the best tour prank you’ve ever pulled?

C. T. : We prank our soundguy a lot because he’s an easy target… We recently pulled a prank with our merch guy! He’s a terrible person to get ready in the morning and it’s really important for us to get all in the van and start driving. I love it when everyone’s on time but he’s never so [we warned him] to be there or we would leave –and that’s what we did. Every morning he’d get in the shower 5’ before we had to leave and then he showers for 30’ while we’re waiting in the van. One day we had enough of it so we just left!

U: If there was one problem you could swipe off the face of the earth, what would it be?

C. T. : There’s a lot of problems in this world, it’s hard to choose just one… I think it would be poverty.

U: What is one song that needs to be played LOUD?

C. T. : Every Motorhead song should be played loud! It has to, it’s Motorhead!

U: Final question: what do you want the band’s legacy to be?

C. T. : I don’t wanna sound pretentious, but I kinda love it when people tell us that we redefined the genre of hard music. We had a couple of reviews [stating that] we pushed the boundaries of the genre in itself and I would love to continue doing that. I would love it for us to keep growing. If we keep pushing the boundaries of what metal is supposed to be, then that would make me happy!
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