Interview: Corinne Van Den Brand of Acrostichon

Corinne Van Den Brand is one of the first women in death metal. She fronted Acrostichon starting in the late 1980's and continues to make new music with her bands Razened and BruuT. She growls, plays bass, and maintains a humble attitude. We were lucky to discuss everything with her from her musical upbringing to her equipment setups and current ventures. If you aren't familiar, please check out her bands. She is true pioneer!

What was your introduction to metal music? Was it a first concert? A band?

I started listening to heavy music when I was about 13. There were a lot of illegal radiostations back then and instead of doing my homework I was playing with my radio trying to find those radiostations. Recording everything they played on cassette tapes. Started with the usual bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead. But in mid 80`s bands like Metallica, Slayer and others started to get my attention and my love for thrash metal never stopped. My first concert was a dutch band when I was 14 or 15 . In the Dynamo club in Eindhoven which was the place to be back in the time. I immediatly felt like I found `my people`. The first big concert was Judas Priest I guess. Of course very overwhelming.

What was heavy music like in the Netherlands back when you were getting into it? Did you end up finding a scene?

The Netherlands always was great if you are into heavy music. But when I got into metal the majority of the bands played hardrock and that was never really my thing. But there were a few bands that I really liked in that genre like Vengeance. But when I really started to go a lot to gigs, thrash metal made a big entrance so I saw so many good bands from the beginning. And bands like Pestilence and Thanatos were there in the 80`s. I really liked Pestilence. And the town were I live is a real music based city. A lot of bands , a lot of musicians. Almost everyone I know plays an instrument or played in a band.

How did you choose bass/vocals?

My brother Jos hooked up with his schoolmate Richard and they started to play guitar together. I wanted to be a part of that too. That I could do it I already knew because I practised a lot by singing along with the cd`s and vinyl I bought. I could join because I had a car and that was very convenient because my brother didn`t have one and I could drive him to Tilburg every week. We goofed around for a while. I think that was 1987 or 1988. We called ourselves Geile Gerrit en de Gillende Gitaren. In English that would be Horny Gerrit and the Screaming Guitars. So we weren`t very serious at the beginning. We did record a tape but it`s filled with absolute nonsense. But the found a drummer and we decided to make real songs but we didn`t have a bassplayer in the beginning. The story how I ended up doing it is quite funny. Jos saw a BC Rich guitar in a shop and really liked it. He told about it when we were rehearsing , he wanted to get the guitar. Next rehearsal Richard took out his guitar and it was the guitar Jos wanted. Jos was of course a bit disappointed by that action but I said, don`t worry, we will find another one. So we drove to several stores and in one store they had the exact same model and colour BC Rich and we laughed a lot and bought it. But I saw they also had a bass BC Rich with the exact same colour. So, next rehearsal Jos took out his guitar and the expression on Richards face was hilarious. But the I thought...why don`t I buy the bass ? Just for fun. So I went back and bought it. A week later we entered the rehearsal room and I said : I bought a bass. I almost pissed my pants laughing, the look on Richards face...priceless...So, that`s why I started to play bass and that`s why we ended up with exactly the same BC Riches.

What was your equipment set up back then? Has it changed any since the Acrostichon days?

Like I said in previous answer, I had a BC Rich Warlock and Trace Elliott bassguitar stack. After a few years I bought a custom five string bassguitar, Armstrong design.

Who were you main influences musically back then? Did you have local musical influences or were they all from bigger, well-known bands?

I liked bands like Blessed Death a lot but in death metal my favorites were Autopsy , Obituary and bands like Repulsion and Terrorizer. And as for Dutch bands I think Pestilence was the main influence.

Acrostichon has aged very well! What was your vision back then with the sound of the band?

Thanks for the compliment. I don`t think we really had a vision with the sound. We just wanted to sound brutal. And that`s what I liked about the Dutch scene back then, all bands had their own sound. Gorefest, Pestilence, Dead head, Sinister, Thanotos, Acrostichon...we all sounded completely different.

What were, if any, problems you faced with being female in a death metal band? Did people accept you easily as the vocalist which was so uncommon back then?

Hmm, I can`t say that I had problems getting accepted. I already was `one of the guys`. But the focus in interviews or reviews was on me a lot and that annoyed the hell out of me.

We were a band and not Corinne and the rest. I don`t know how many times I said that back then. If I look back now it makes me smile. I don`t care about that anymore.

I enjoy myself making music and that`s what matters. But sometimes when you have to play somewhere and we arrive at the venue, people who work there think I`m the background singer or the merch girl or the girlfriend of one of the bandmembers. It still happens. I can laugh about it though.

Do you have a memorable show that you played you can tell us about?

We did so many great shows. So many memorable evenings. But unfortunatly my memory isn`t that good. I forgot a lot. But the first big gig we did made the biggest impression. With Carcass, Hellbastard and Gorefest. It was very crowded and I was nervous but we got such a good response I walked on clouds for days. We sold out all tapes and shirts we had. Got compliments from the guys from Carcass and it was just magic. They were watching us the whole time on the side of the stage. It was really overwhelming that night. Next day my brother and I walked somewhere in town and we both couldn`t stop smiling.

Tell us about your other projects you have going on now:

Besides Acrostichon I sing in a thrashmetal band called Razend. It`s really diverse played thrashmetal.The label thrashmetal doesn`t do it justice. It`s METAL. Influences from doom, powermetal to deathmetal . When I write this down we are just about to hit the studio for our second album. 10 very diverse songs and my singing goes from very high pitched to grunts and all in between. No boundaries , no limits. i`m very proud of what we are doing.

BruuT is my oldschool deathmetal band and I sing and play bass. What you see is what you get. No nonsense, in your face, oldschool deathmetal. It`s going back to my roots . Lots of fun to do. Nothing fancy, no 1000 notes per minute . But straight to the point songs with a lot of swing. We recorded our first 7`` which will be released in fall .

The Covering is a 80`s metal coverband and I do all vocals. We play songs from Queensryche to Morbid Angel and everything in between. It`s a lot of fun to do . Highlight with them was Graspop Metal Meeting, one of the biggest festivals in Europe.

What keeps you motivated to keep making music and performing?

The feeling it gives me when I`m on stage with my bandmates still gives me so much satisfaction. And also the creating part , someone comes with an idea and everyone adds his idea and at the end you have created a beautiful song. It still gives me a lot of pleasure.

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