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TOUR 101 with Carnation

Early 2013, guitar player Jonathan Verstrepen created Carnation to show his appreciation for the old school death metal legends from the ‘80s & early ‘90s. Vocalist Simon Duson, bass player Yarne Heylen, guitar player Bert Vervoort, and drummer Vincent Verstrepen were summoned to complete the band, and it didn’t take long until the chemistry between this quintet hit critical mass.

They recently announced that they will perform at the majestic Hellfest Open Air Festival 2022 in Clisson, France.

Next year’s edition will mark the 15th anniversary of the festival, which will be celebrated across seven days in total, featuring an extensive line-up of legendary acts.

Metal Digest had a chat with the band about getting back on the road and how to stay sane on tour.

Welcome to Metal Digest!

How is life on your side of the world?

At first, thank you for having us here! In the past year and a half, things changed a lot. I must admit that you get a little used to this way of living because there is just no other way to go. But it really bothers all of us when the ability to perform our music for an audience is taken away! Although we haven’t played many live streams, we’ve still been busy writing new songs!

 You did a live stream for The Galaxy Sessions back in April. Was that the first time you performed online? How did it feel, compared to a real-life show? Pros and Cons?

Well, the first time we performed at a Livestream was back in July 2020. It was a Belgian Livestream festival. Performing on a live occasion without any response from the audience felt quite uncomfortable! At those moments you realize how important the chemistry is between the musician and audience! Having a certain connection with your audience while performing live, makes you go in some kind of flow, where you don’t have to think much about what you’re doing anymore. The Galaxy Sessions were a little bit different. We were set up in a circle towards each other. There was certainly no ‘live performance’ feeling this time. I guess we all felt a little more nervous. Being in one of the greatest studios of all time, you just wanna make no mistakes at all! The ‘Pros’ of all this, is the way you actually record in a really great live room with your favourite gear! The only ‘Cons’ I can think of, is the lack of connection with any audience. We all feel great with the way it turned out and are so stoked to release this one on vinyl soon!

So, you’re finally getting back on the road after having to cancel a bunch of highly anticipated shows due to the pandemic. What’s your pre-tour prep like?

We sure come together every week to rehearse and decide which set-list we’re going to perform. Also, something we probably all hate is packing the merchandise and counting all items in our merchandise stock.

How do you reduce the mental strain and pressure related to traveling and touring?

I think the best way is to distract yourself from the long hours on a tour bus. I’m sure we all do, in our own ways. Listening to music, reading books,…  If you travel in a night-liner bus, it’s easy to get through your day. You have a lot of comforts compared to travel in a mini-van. Of course, it’s not always like that. When we toured Brazil, we had to travel in a mini-van for mostly 9 hours a day. Having only one driver, who’s falling asleep during these long travels and no way the roads were going to be great anytime. But it’s always fun when you’re still able to tell these adventures, haha!

How do you stay sane while being stuck on a tour bus with a bunch of musicians and no personal space?

In between the band members, we don’t really need much personal space anymore. We’re all really good friends and love hanging out with each other. We don’t make too much trouble being on a bus altogether!

There’s still a life to come home to after tour and I guess you have to make sure things run smoothly while you’re away and that traveling won’t put a strain on your relationships. Any tips on maintaining a close relationship while touring?

One of the positive things about this modern way of communication is the ability to do video calls! It’s a way to get anything close to your loved ones when you’re far from home.

The other thing you should have trust in each other!

Touring is an excellent way of connecting with your existing fans. But how do you build a new fan base in each town you visit?

The live performance itself should be a way to reach out to new fans! We also make sure to hang out with the crowd after the show. It’s always fun to hang out with different people in different cities and cultures!

Let’s talk gear: What’s in your essential tour kit?

On tour, we’re not always able to decide whether we use our own gear or the rental backline. If we’re able to decide, we all make sure to take our favourite ones! Jonathan and Bert (Guitars) can’t go without their beautiful Mayones guitars! Jonathan plays the Mayones Setius series with some HM-2 effects & Bert uses the Regius one with a Boss Metal-Zone effect pedal! They both go really well together! What’s also a huge part of our sound is the Cathedral cabinets, which are Made In Belgium! They are huge! Yarne plays his Dingwall ABZ bass. The low-end created by this monster really compliments the sound of the band! I (Vincent) play my Tama Starclassic Bubinga drumkit with some beautiful Paiste cymbals! Simon on vocals uses the classic Shure SM58!

Expectations VS Reality: What’s a common misconception about the tour life?

The most common one is the ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll’ idea of touring.

I’m sure it goes that way for some bands but most of them are not just partying all the time! Our goal is to perform music, the best of our possibilities! As I mentioned before, when we travel or have to wait long hours, we distract ourselves by listening to music or visit the city, buy some records or anything. Visiting record stores is what my brother (Jonathan) and I mostly do! Of course, there are parties going on as well. But only after shows, if they happen.

And last but not least, how do you look after your wellbeing on tour?

Make sure you have enough time to rest before a show. Some of us go out for a jog when we have some spare time. I personally make sure I’ll eat enough healthy food and don’t drink too much when on tour.  

Thank you for the wonderful interview.

 We’ll see you on the road,

Chelf | Metal Digest.

Simon Duson – Vocals
Jonathan Verstrepen – Guitars
Bert Vervoort – Guitars
Yarne Heylen – Bass
Vincent Verstrepen – Drums

For more on CARNATION, visit the band’s official FACEBOOKINSTAGRAMWEBSITE, and YOUTUBE.

Come on in!

Metal Digest is an online music magazine specializing in rock and metal. It is aimed at the mobile market, who can get their fix whilst on the go. Whether you walk, drive, fly, sail or teleport make sure you do it with Metal Digest, bitesize heavy metal rock and metal news, reviews and interviews for when you’re on the go.

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