Meddlefan recently got to have a bit of a chat with a man who is truly God like to many of us here at TMW (and everywhere else no doubt), that being Pim Blankenstein whom if you don’t already know is the lead singer of Netherlands based Melodic Doom/Death stalwarts Officium Triste. Yep, that’s him above far left. What an honour, we are not worthy! Well, obviously we are, so read on and enjoy!
Hello there Pim, I really appreciate you taking time to do this interview with me.
You are welcome.
Can you share with the readers just where you grew up?
I grew up in a city called Gorinchem about a half hour drive from Rotterdam.
And Whereabouts do you currently call home?
Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
You have a fantastic catalogue of music. How do you keep creating such brilliant albums?
Thanks. We try to be as reflective as possible on what we create. Therefor a lot of ideas get binned once you realise it isn’t good enough. In the end we only use material that all 6 of us are satisfied with. Once you enjoy your own creations it is good enough to put it out in the open.
And may I ask just what inspired you to start writing music?
Music is just awesome and isn’t it a kid’s dream to be on stage for an ecstatic audience. So, seeing bands on TV planted the seed so to speak.
Who would you say where some of your major influences while growing up?
From a personal perspective I can say that the classic metal bands from the 80’s have been vital. Stuff like Maiden, Saxon or Dio. What influenced us as a band are bands such as Paradise Lost, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Celestial Season, Katatonia, Type O Negative but also Dismember, Metallica, Winter or Edge Of Sanity.
Who would be some of your influences today if any?
We basically use the same influences as 25 years ago but of course other inspirations came along the way. Shape Of Despair for instance and also some Indie Rock or Shoegaze found its way into our music. And movie scores. Hans Zimmer for instance.
Can we talk about the writing process for each album. Who comes up with the ideas both musically and lyrically, Is it one person?
A couple of you, or is it a group effort. There is no defined way how we compose. It can be a group effort where we write a song in the rehearsal room together. Sometimes one of us has an almost finished song that only needs some re-arranging. Or one of us has a (couple off) riffs that we use as a starting point. So basically we work on everything together. I write most of the lyrics and on a few occasions someone else has added bits and pieces to the lyrics.
After listening to the latest, I couldn’t help but get an overriding sense that all of the songs seem to intertwine into a concept, that being of course misery and sorrow because you are a Doom/Death band, but also because of a constant sense of regret for actions intended or not seems to occur. Am I looking to deeply into things?
There’s no real concept or red thread. Basically all songs stand on their own even when some share similar topics. To me it basically comes down to the feeling I get from the music. From there on I get an idea for the lyrics that always should go hand in hand with the music. From that point of view lyrics fairly soon deal with the miserable part of life. There’s no deep thoughts involved. Even with this kind of music it all boils down to entertainment. One should be entertained listening to our music.
How did you end up singing with Transcending Obscurity Records, It seems a perfect fit.
Well, Kunal got in touch with me back in 2015 and while talking we worked out a deal. We actually didn’t sign anything. It is a gentleman’s agreement where we licensed our material to him to release. So far all worked out okay. There’s always room for improvement, but we can say that this is by far the best label we have dealt with.
Officium Triste is not your only band, would you care to share with the readers some of the others you are or have been involved with?
Currently I only have Extreme Cold Winter on the side, which is a studio band. I was asked to join them in 2011 I think it was. Anyway, my mate AJ (The Beast Of Revelation, Temple, Beyond Belief, Throne) mentioned he had started this band with Seth (Chtulhuminati, Severe Torture, Centurian, Nox, Voodoo Gods). I joined and we did an EP. We are currently working out the final details on a full-length. Other than that I was in The 11th Hour, which is on ice now. And I have done 3 songs on 3 albums of Clouds. Next to that I have done some guest appearances here and there. I used to be in a Classic Rock band too doing covers.
You all called it quits around 98, then changed your minds and decided to continue on , can you fill us in with a bit of that story?
We had just released our split with Cold Mourning and basically things weren’t going that well. That basically had to do with a lack of communication. We didn’t talk enough about stuff and that led to irritations. We had a good talk around 8 months later or so and then we decided to start up again. Nothing really interesting I think.
You are pretty much a Veteran in the field of Metal, what is it that keeps you inspired?
The love for music. Plain and simple.
What are your views on the state of the Metal scene these days after asking the above. Do you think it is better now or do you think technology is ruining everything.
Pretty much everything has been done so you get to hear a lot of rehashed stuff, which is fine as long as the deliverance is passionate. Some bands come up with new ideas by incorporating other styles, which is good. Metal is still around after 50 years and it won’t go away. So, the genre is alive and kicking. I wouldn’t say it is better or worse. Times have changed for every one compared to the 80’s. As long as people still enjoy Metal and new bands get started I am good with that. Remember that music doesn’t go away, so there still is a way to get to hear gems from the past. And technology only made that easier. I’m not a person that says that everything was better in the past. It is what it is. Adjust and continue. And do what you want, not what others say.
Do you miss the tape trading days or think that the internet is a boon for this type of music.
The tape trading days were cool and I got a lot of contacts from those days, but you can still talk to like minded people from allover the place. It is a lot quicker too. I am still trading vinyl and so on with a few people around the globe so in a sense it is still the same. It is about contacts with like minded people and that hasn’t changed as far as I’m concerned.
Apart from Metal, what else do you listen to when you get a chance to unwind.
Within Metal my taste is already wide but I listen to a lot of other music too. I like Indie a lot, like New Wave, Shoegaze and stuff like that. I like Punk Rock and Hardcore and I’m a sucker for 80’s Hip-hop. Other than that I really like to read and watch series and movies to unwind.
What would you say is your favourite beverage if you had to choose one?
Beer, especially hazy NEIPA’s.
Do you enjoy hiking and climbing?
Not much to climb here in this country. The Netherlands is as flat as can be. Or you have to like to climb trees, but I’m too old for that. Hiking is okay, but I don’t do it that often.
Did you go to college? If so what type of degree did you pursue?
Yes, I am a trained geography teacher.
Have you ever dabbled with musical instruments and if so which one or ones?
I am the singer but I bought a bass guitar in my teens. Learned some basic music on a wooden flute in my pre-teens though.
Time for a few lighter questions if I may, do you like creamy or chunky peanut butter?
Do you or did you ever skateboard?
Used to have a small plastic board in my pre-teens, but that was just a faze. I always was more interested playing football (or soccer as some might know this).
Who would you say is your favourite character from the horror genre?
Do you like to read comics or do you prefer novels?
I like comics to some extent, but I guess no one outside of Holland and Belgium will know those comics. So I prefer novels.
Any favourite novels you care to mention? Have you read the Dune series perhaps?
I haven’t read that series. I totally like the series written by David Eddings.
In your opinion, where is the most majestic place you have ever been?
That’s a real difficult one. I’ve been to many places and there’s always something cool to each and every one. I do consider myself as a city person and therefore I’d say a city such as Berlin is quite majestic in my book.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Let’s no go there…
What is your favourite food?
Don’t have a favourite. Variation is key.
Are you guys planning on doing any touring in the foreseeable future?
No plans, We are basically a band that likes to do weekend shows. Mini tours so to speak. There is some stuff being worked on, but in the current situation in the world nothing seems to be certain.
What venue would you like to play if you could play anywhere in the world?
I always thought Red Rocks amphitheatre in Colorado would be cool.
Are you guys working on any new material at the moment?
Yeah, we have just started working on a new song. We just released our album and usually we take some time off, but we have plenty of ideas so we are already in writing mode again.
Well that’s a wrap. Again, thank you for taking time to answer my questions mate. I appreciate it a lot, and I’m sure the readers will too.
Thanks to you to for this interview with some interesting questions. Much appreciated.
And that’s all folks! Tune in again soon for some more Meddlefan malarky, and many thanks from us all to Pim for being a great guy! If for some plainly ridiculous reason you have not heard of Offcium Triste yet, follow the links below!