Chapter I: Glass Tides
Want to know more about The Vault?
Instead of writing a standard "about us" text, we decided to answer
a bunch of standard, surprising and pretty random questions.
Just click on a question to view our answer...
Niels van Kessel
Played all guitar-, bass- and keyboard tracks on the album and also mixed the album
Ernst-Jan (EJ) Buijs
Played the drums on the album
and whistled on the intro track
Ooh boy, that’s a tough first question! We’ve had endless conversations about this and even considered to just start a new subgenre haha. What makes it extra difficult, is that the bands that influenced and inspired us are in genres that we feel are not really fitting them or are just too broad. A couple of our major influences are Coheed & Cambria, Muse, Mew and The Dear Hunter. These bands are all in the progressive rock & alternative rock genres and we think alternative rock is the genre that fits our music best.
Indeed. I think that we are sitting pretty safely in the “rock” corner, which doesn’t say much at all these days. There doesn’t seem to exist a specific flavour in the rock genre that we can easily attach ourselves to. This makes marketing a little more difficult but can be one of our strengths too. Both of us are not very interested in “dime a dozen” music that use the same sounds with the same structure and the same message. We like interesting musical ideas with a strong “vibe” or atmosphere and I think that shows in our songs.
It’s definitely not the fame & fortune or the “touring musician lifestyle” we’re after, which is also why we don’t mind that we’re not a full “gig” band at the moment. Our main goal is to create a solid concept with music that tells the story in a unique and interesting way. (and we need a lot more chapters to do that! luckily we have enough songs written for Chapter II and we already started the recordings!).
The ultimate goal is to diversify the way that this concept can be experienced. We would love to collaborate with artists, writers and even directors in the future to make the concept come to live. We want to create something more than just music. We want to create a new world.
Fortune is nice. Who doesn’t like to get paid for their work. But honestly I just want to have a blast making great music with my best buddy EJ and seeing our projects flourish in the world. Ignite a spark in some kids and expand their world a little bit, like our favourite bands have done for us. That’s the best outcome I can think of.
Even though this is our first album, we’ve been working on this project for more than 5 years now. It took a lot of writing, re-writing and also deleting music to find our “style” and way of writing music. We started this project after our first band “The Deep”, which we formed back in highschool, fell apart. So playing and writing music together was something we were familiar with but we had to completely recreate the way we wrote music.
Another big challenge was finding a lead singer and we’re so glad that we ended up asking our good friend and former bandmentor Mark Stevens. Mark & I also played together in the band Stone Golem for over 5 years, so this really was the perfect match.
From writing and recording to mixing and marketing the completed songs we are doing everything ourselves (excepting mastering). None of these things are particularly easy to do right. So we have had to learn how to do everything properly through trial and error. This is one of the reasons why it took a little while to complete.
As we stated in a previous question, we started playing together in our first real band formed in high-school called “The Deep”. After that band fell apart it was just to two of us so we transitioned from writing music in a rehearsal room to writing from behind a desk. This was first born out of a necessity but was (in hindsight) one of the best things that could’ve happened to us. We went from a “let’s just do that riff one more time followed by a solo” style of writing to writing music with an almost surgical precision and having a very clear vision of the end result in mind.
Fun fact: we used some of our old material in our new songs. We kept the best parts and completely rewrote everything else.
The songs have definitely improved a lot compared to the beginning and continue getting better. We are eager to finish the next album!
We wrote all of our songs in Niels’ attic and had a set time each week for over 5 years. We rarely missed a Vault appointment in all these years. Now the schedule is a little different and the meetings are often online, because EJ started living in a Van full time to travel Europe with his girlfriend and Niels moved to another city to move in with his girlfriend as well. Even though this makes writing consistently a little bit more difficult, we’re both very determined and always find a way to work on the music and the concept.
In most cases, we start with the lyrics and vocal melodies. We discovered that this is our preferred style of writing and helps to create more interesting music that complements the lyrics and therefore, the way we tell the story.
These days we have a much better picture of what we want our songs to sound like which speeds up the music-making process. For example, on the second album Ej wrote some lyrics with some simple piano chords and when he showed them to me we came up with a complete band arrangement in an evening.
I’m one of those people who completely tune out when musicians start talking about their gear. I play on whatever’s available and almost anything that makes a sound when you hit it with a drumstick. The only thing I really care about are my crashes, because they sound exactly how I want crashes to sound. These are a 19” Zildjian K-series thin dark crash and a 17” Zildjian K-custom hybrid crash (and yes I had to google that).
Fun story: we recorded the first album with a very cheap-ass Zildjian ZBT crash that came with my first (dominic howard) cymbal kit. We recorded the entire album with this ride and for some reason it sounded really nice in combination with the used mics (which is Niels’s territory as an audio engineer). When we started recording drums for Album 2 mid-2019, I noticed that same ride cymbal had a small crack in it, so I rented the exact same one from the rehearsal room we were recording at (@popcentrale dordrecht). For the gearjunkies: we recorded the first album on Ludwig fusion drumkit (which is about 800-900 euros).
I had been floating around between guitar brands until I bought a (very) used Fender Vintage Hot Rod '57 Stratocaster. Over the years that has become “my sound” and nothing else really fits me anymore. All the songs on the first album (and the second) were written with this guitar. I also bought a hagstrom viking just to have a different sounding guitar in the mix. For bass I actually just borrowed a yamaha bb414 bass guitar from a friend that seemed to sound great in combination with the GR5 “sledgehammer” pedal.
We met in high school. We both had guitar lessons from the same guitar teacher (mark the singer) and one day during economics class Ej was tapping his fingers on the table and I said he should take up the drums. And now, more than ten years later, we are here releasing our first album!
I still remember the first couple of rehearsals. It was before I started taking drumlessons, so I could only play the one beat Niels teached me in one of our lunchbreaks at school. haha, fun times.
I know right! This art was done by Nele Diel (nelediel.com) and all the different elements in the picture are inspired by events and character in our story. We sent her a horrible looking pencil sketch (see image below) with an explanation of the different elements and she just came back to us with this amazing piece of art. Honestly one of my favourite things about this project is that we get to commission other amazing artists to be part of it.
(as you can see, it was a good call to let our music tell the story ;) ).