Interview || The One With Dom from Born From Pain

Dutch hardcore powerhouse Born From Pain released their latest studio album, "True Love", on February 15th. Following the release, we had a very interesting conversation with guitarist Dom Stammen, who detailed the influences behind the record and answered some of our rhetorical questions. Let's begin, shall we?

U: Your latest album, "True Love", comes almost 5 years after "Dance With The Devil".  What went on in your camp during this time?
Dom Stammen: We've been touring, playing shows and festivals after DWTD got released, something you would probably expect from any active band. Besides that we've started an attempt at writing a new record, but we've noticed we weren't too happy with what we've had, so we gave it a fresh start about two years ago. Things worked out more natural, had a better flow and the result you can hear on "True Love". It's not always easy to find the time you need for a creative process if you don't make a living with your music, we all have regular jobs next to the band Also, there's been seven albums out before "True Love", so it takes some extra time to create something new without repeating yourself over and over again. 

U: What would you say is the differentiation point between this album and your previous work?
D.S.: I wanna say the basic ingredients have been similar. Heavy, metallic hardcore has always been this band's foundation and I think you could say that about both "Dance..." and the new one. And yet it feels we got some more variety on "True Love" and maybe some stronger songs in general. It's hard to say what makes the difference sometimes, especially if you're strongly involved in the process yourself.
If we succeeded is up for the people to decide, but from what I've seen so far, most of them like it. The feedback for "True Love" has been really, really good and you have been no exception, thank you very much for your review, it's been a pleasure to read!

U: How is the creative process like for Born From Pain? Where do you draw your influence from?
D.S.: We usually come from different angles for new material. Some prefer to write on their own, others like the "live" situation at a rehearsal better. At the end of the day it doesn't matter too much. Any new song we try and play together to see if it could work out. If we feel strong about it, we'll then try to adjust and improve it where needed, before the lyrics and vocal lines get added to finish it up. That has been our approach ever since while I have to admit that we've all learned about the process more and more over the years. A few albums back it was all about the riff, these days you might have certain vocal patterns stuck in your head already and leave more space for them even before one word has been written for that specific song. 
Inspiration is a different story of course. Like I said, the first few attempts for a new record weren't good enough, so you start trying to find different and new angles. 

U: Is there a symbolism behind the phrase "Glück auf" in the intro for the album?
D.S.: Yes, the coal miners greeted each other with the phrase "Glück Auf". Literally it would translate into "Luck up(wards)". It implied they would always come back up safe after a hard day down in the mines. 
The coal mining industry was a driving force for both the areas the band grew up in (Heerlen,Netherlands) as well as where some of us live today (Ruhr area, Germany). On the record, it's a hint for what's to come up next: "Antitown", a "love song" dedicated to Rob's hometown Heerlen and the struggle the area has faced over the years of structural and industrial change after the last mines have been closed down.

U: What does "True Love" mean to you?
D.S.: "True Love" is an uncompromising feeling deep in your heart, something untouchable and something you would defend against all odds. It's a rare, a special feeling and you wouldn't know it until it strikes you.    

U: If you could cast each member of the band as a super hero, who would each member be? What superpower does your music have?
D.S.: Good question...I don't know if I could answer this for each individual, but as a band we'd probably be the Watchmen haha. A little rough around the edges and not always perfect, but good at heart and willing to fight the good fight!
The (old) Batman was smart, didn't need a lot of gimmicks and could punch you in the face real hard, that's our music's superpower right there haha!

U: Goethe believed that "none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free", a quote that remains relevant even 200 years after its inception and which can be interpreted in many ways. How would you interpret it? What does freedom mean to you? And finally, do you think that humanity will change its ways?
D.S.: I'm not exactly sure, but I think Goethe implied the lack of freedom on a more personal, emotional level. Can we really decide for ourselves who we love and who we don't love, who loves us and who doesn't. At least that's how I always interpreted this specific quote. 
However, I've seen it being used in political/economical discussions, rallies etc. and it makes sense if we're talking western, capitalistic society. I don't think anybody oppressed by a totalitarian regime would doubt they're enslaved to their leaders, however the answer would be quite different in modern Europe or the US. I wanna believe we are more free and have more opportunities to do whatever we want to than let's say in earlier ages in our history. But with modern technology taking over our daily lives (and some of our jobs) it's hard to predict what's gonna happen to our so called freedom and how governments will (re-)act once we're traceable for any of our actions. Orwell's 1984 seemed like a horror story when released, today we deliberately install little machines in our homes listening to any of our conversations 24/7, just so we don't have to get up and change the thermostat on our heaters or push the light button. This might sound like a stupid example, but I think that's the point where we give up our freedom that many before us fought for. If you think this through for just another 10-15 years of technological development it gets real scary, i.e. once Artificial Intelligence will be an accepted (or maybe even mandatory) part in all our lives. But I'm drifting off here, sorry. This is an almost philosophical discussion which I don't feel fit to answer. I really don't know if humanity will change its ways, and if so what paths the change might lead to.

U: If you could have a one-minute phone conversation with a younger you, what age would you call and what would you tell yourself?
D.S.: I think I've always been a little hard on myself, for many different reasons. It probably started early on in my life, so I'd call my younger me at maybe 6 or 7 years old. I'd tell this guy to enjoy life, childhood, youth as much as he can, because we all know it won't get easier beyond that point. Basically something you get told by a lot of people, but maybe I'd believe my older self more than my parents.
Or do the more obvious thing and tell 18-year old Dom what stocks to buy, just to become incredibly rich 20 years later haha....

U: Your house is on fire and you only have time to grab 3 items before running away (pets and family are safe). What do you take?
D.S.: Espresso machine, my favorite watch, cash.

U: What is it about punk rock that keeps people young?
D.S.: Does it really? My body tells me something different haha...
Honestly though, it's probably the fact you never really wanna fit in with "the regular crowd" and stay young at heart, keeping an open mind to new things, travel around the world and be yourself. Sounds cliché, but that's gotta be it!

U: What is the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?
D.S.: The weirdest thing would be too private to tell haha, but we have a die-hard fan who's been coming out to our shows early on. He would take pictures with us, printed them out and brought them to the next show to get them signed by each member. So far, so good. Years later he showed us a picture of his "fan" room at home and it was a whole wall of just pics, merch etc. all related to Born From Pain. As much as I appreciate his dedication (he's still coming out whenever he can), it still feels weird to me since we're not Metallica or the likes. Cool, but weird for me personally!

U: We are done, thank you for your time. Would you like to add anything before signing off?
D.S.: Thanks a lot for this fun interview and your review once again (I've read some more on Unraveled and had some good laughs, "Never have I ever" is always fun haha...)!
Everybody go buy, listen to, stream or steal "True Love". Thank you! [ed -Thank you, mate, appreciated!]

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