Eddie Mulder en Gert van Engelenburg (Leap Day)

“As musicians we are all influenced by the great bands of the past”

(July 2011, text by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures by Arthur Haggenburg)

On the 29th of February 2008 a number of Dutch musicians established a new progressive rock band. They decided to name themselves Leap Day. Their first album Awakening The Muse (2009, see review) was a very mature debut album and recently their second album Skylge's Lair (see review) saw the light of day. For me a good reason to catch up with two band members: guitarist Eddie Mulder (EM) and Gert van Engelenburg (GE), one of the two keyboard players.

When did you start thinking about writing songs for the successor of your debut album?

EM: “We started writing songs for Skylge's Lair immediately after the completion of our debut album Awaking The Muse.”

How do you write songs and who takes the final decision about the compositions that will make it to the album?

EM: “We write songs in several combinations to advance variations in our style of music. All together we decide which songs will make it to the album, so it's a group decision though the remarks of Derk Evert Waalkens, being the band's producer, might have a heavy weight on the subject.”

GE: “Well, since we have four band members writing songs, the writing process differs a lot. I for one like to start with the lyrics first - which is mostly a contribution of someone else - from where the music evolves. Usually the music or the lyrics present an idea that grows in my head and then I start working with one or more themes. When I think the song has finished as a demo, we all look at it as a band and during rehearsals the song gradually develops until we're all satisfied with the result.”
Eddie Mulder

Was it easier to record the second album rather than the first one since you were more experienced?

EM: “It wasn't necessarily easier, but since we had that first experience we had a clearer vision about what we would like to add and what to avoid.”
Gert van Engelenburg
GE: “Well, as far as the production is concerned we've learned a lot from our first album and of course we used that experience during the recordings of Skylge's Lair. However, despite the experience it didn't make things easier because our self-criticism forced us to take more time for the recordings.”

Did you record songs you didn´t use for the album?

GE: “No, all recorded songs were used without any left-over. However, we've got some demo material written over the years that's still gathering dust on the shelf, but these demos didn't grow enough to end up in the recording studio.”

Do you have complete artistic freedom from your record company?

EM: “Yes, we do have complete artistic freedom as long as we can come up with a certain quality.”

GE: “No strings attached! We have complete artistic freedom, both musically and everything concerning the booklet and cover art.”

What does Skylge's Lair, the title of your second album exactly mean?

EM: “It seemed a nice and memorable title to us. Of course it's the title of the song Gert wrote. There's no special meaning, but the title appeared when Gert and his family where on a holiday on Terschelling, one of the Frisian isles in the northern part of The Netherlands. Gert actually wrote Skylge's Lair over there.”

GE: “Yes, that's just what happened. 'Skylge' is the Frisian name for Terschelling. Two years ago, I spent my holidays with my family over there. I wrote this song on this beautiful isle and when we had to pick an album title for the second album Skylge's Lair seemed the most challenging name. We thought it would be pretty surrealistic to place such an imaginary lair on the cover of the album.”

Weren't you afraid that the international market could have some difficulties with a title like that?

GE: “Not at all! People want to know what the title means, so we have a story to tell. Curiosity is a habit of mankind.” 

EM: “We now know that it certainly raise questions about pronunciation and meaning, but it also means we got ourselves an original album title.”

Would you roughly explain the lyrics of the songs to our readers?

EM: “Of course we will. The Messenger was inspired by a story from a book about regression therapy. The story appealed to me and so I reworked it to become the text we used.

Walls is about coming out and not being afraid to let your personal wall come down.

Home At Last is about a couple of tours I did in the nineties when joining a German show. These tours lasted for two and three months. This song describes the feelings you have when you finally return.

The Willow Tree is a bit melancholic. It's about nature as well and about the strange familiar feelings you can have when you're near trees, rivers and the sight you have.

Time Passing By is a melancholic piece as well, but more from the view of people you once knew, the passing of time, getting older, perhaps more mature and the wondering why.

Humble Origin is an instrumental, but the way the melodies run made me think of humble, though not simple people! People who won't say a word too much, who think more then they say.

Road To Yourself is about choosing your own ideals and don't think about how the government or employers do things. That is, according to our singer Jos Harteveld, who wrote the song. For example just make the kind of music you enjoy most yourself.”

On Walls I heard some influences from bands as Yes, Pink Floyd and Camel. Do you agree?

EM: “Of course all of us share those influences, but perhaps some comparisons are made a bit too often...”

GE: “As musicians we all are influenced by the great bands of the past. So it's obvious that certain matches can be found. However, our music has a face of its own. We never try to write a song in the vein of whatever band you come up with, nor trying to sound like it.”

Leap Day:

(left to right)
Peter Stel:
bass guitar
Derk Evert Waalkens:
keyboards, backing vocals
Jos Harteveld:
lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Eddie Mulder:
lead guitar, backing vocals
Koen Roozen:
drums, percussion
Gert van Engelenburg:
keyboards, backing vocals

Leap Day has two keyboard players in the band. How difficult is it to decide who plays which parts. Can you explain how this process proceeds?

GE: “If you have two guitar players in a band, you pretty much have the same problem. Usual the musical parts are split in a solo guitar and rhythm guitar. Well, we do the same. Most of the time, Derk Evert Waalkens plays the chords and the layers while I'll play the arpeggios and solos. However, we like to switch roles from time to time. We also write the songs this way so each role is crystal clear.”

After the final notes of Time Passing By, I got out of my chair to eject the CD out of the player. However, suddenly I heard somebody making some noise on an electric guitar. Who came with the idea to use this funny gimmick?

EM: “It wasn't me, though it was fun doing it!”

GE: “It was Derk Evert's idea and we've put it together during one of the mixing sessions Derk Evert and I had.”

Both album covers haven been created by Henny van Veenendaal. Can you tell me why you have chosen this artist?

EM: “I guess our drummer Koen Roozen came up with this artist.”

GE:  “Yes, that's right. Koen knows Van Veenendaal and asked him to do the job. We were all familiar with his work he did for Silhouette and Us. Since we were very satisfied with the result of Awakening The Muse he was asked again for Skylge's Lair.”

Your demo-CD contains the track Awakening The Muse. Why didn't you include it on one of your albums? 

EM: “We didn't consider it to be appropriate at the time, but that doesn't mean that it's a lost song.”

GE: “ Awakening The Muse was the first song I wrote for the band. Eddie had just joined and this guitar-oriented instrumental had to bring us together as a band and it worked out that way. When we put together the first CD it seemed appropriate to name the CD after this song even though the song itself didn't make it to the album. But every now and then it's included on our set list when we play live and who knows it will end on a CD after all.”

Leap Day went to Poland lately to do some live shows. On YouTube I saw some footage of some unforeseen accidents that happened. Would you please tell us a bit more?

EM: “Oh, yes, that had something to do with the door of the trailer we hired for our equipment which made up for some hilarious moments...”

GE: “Yes, indeed. We had a trailer stuffed to the roof with our equipment with a broken lock. So when we started to drive the door opened and we had to stop in order to close the door again. After three stops we managed to close the lock, but then we couldn't get it open again. So we had to use our equipment to demolish the door. It came off entirely and after each gig we placed the door back in its hinges. That was attended with some hilarious moments...”

How did the Polish audience react to the music of Leap Day?

EM: “Very well! Actually we all long for going back again. The Polish people were very receptive and enthusiastic as far as our music is concerned.”

GE: “Two out of three gigs were totally sold out. We're not used to that in The Netherlands. We got great response to our music. There were even some guys who came all the way from Ukraine just to see us play. It made us speechless!”

You shared the stage with a band as The Watch. How was it to tour with them?

Leap Day on stage (30-Oct-2010 Utrecht)
EM: “They're professional guys with a professional attitude so we were very amicable towards each other. Of course you have the practical hassle of changing the stage, but that's part of double or triple performances.”

You also recorded some live shows for a possible release on CD or DVD. Do you have any plans to release a live album or a DVD?

EM: “Well, depending on the quality of the material and on the view of the record label Oskar, there might be a sort of live release probably next year.”

GE: “We're aiming for a live release somewhere early 2012, but nothing is certain yet so we'll wait and see.”

What else has the future in store for Leap Day? Anything you want to share with our readers?

EM: “We're already writing on our next project.”

GE: “Yes, we certainly do, but things are growing slowly. We've already written some great tunes, but there's still a lot of work to be done. So patience is the word...”

Thank you for answering my questions.

EM: “You're welcome and we all wish you a lot of success with the website.”

More info about Leap Day on the Internet:
       Leap Day Website
       review album 'Awaking The Muse'
       review album 'Skylge's Lair'
       review concert 7-Nov-2009 Progfarm
       review concert 30-Oct-2010 in Utrecht

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