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Cryptosis interview (11/2022)

With: Laurens Houvast, Frank Te Riet
Conducted by: nikarg (in person)
Published: 20.11.2022

Band profile:


This interview would have taken place in Athens, where I live, but that particular weekend I had planned to travel to Thessaloniki for the 63rd Film Festival that was taking place over there. Vektor from the USA, Cryptosis from the Netherlands, and the Greeks Desert Near The End were playing on November 11th in Athens and on the 12th in Thessaloniki, so I got to see them in the north part of the country, at Eightball club. Since I was going to the show anyway, I thought I could also do an interview. I got an immediate positive response from Laurens Houvast, Cryptosis’s vocalist/guitarist, and met with him just after the band’s soundcheck, and bassist Frank te Riet also joined us a little later. Here’s what we talked about.

Laurens Houvast
Nik: So yeah, this interview is for Metal Storm webzine and I don't know whether you've heard of it…

Laurens: Yeah.

Nik: It's been around since 2000.

Laurens: Yeah, yeah, I saw the review of our debut, I think, when it came out I saw it.

Nik: What did you think of it? Do you remember it?

Laurens: I remember it, but I can't remember what you wrote about it.

Nik: It's okay, let’s start with that. I introduced the band and said that, you know, you used to be Distillator and then you kind of rebranded to Cryptosis, which is like also a thrash band, but a lot more technical and progressive. Do you want to say anything about this, like how you decided to make that change?

Laurens: Yeah, it was basically something that went kind of natural. So, I think we started out as Distillator in 2013, and, you know, we had some kind of idea in our head that we wanted to make thrash metal, like purely old school, like Slayer, Destruction, Sodom, like, very straightforward thrash, like old school, '80s style. And, at first we thought it was awesome and good. But over the years, we just kind of felt that we were… we were like stuck in some kind of corner. We wanted to do something more than that. And I guess after some time we just thought it was going in a direction that was not like entirely thrash, but also like a lot of black metal and death metal and some atmospheric stuff and if you take a look at our logo, the Distillator logo, the name... like everything... it was dripping trash, you know, and I think yeah, we wanted to do something more than that. So, we started to think about maybe we change the name because it's, it's not a good fit anymore. You know, like we don't, if we want to build our name, and become like, more well known, we don't want to give the wrong impression to people that are not familiar with us, but expect some 80s thrash metal band, and we play something completely different. So yeah, I think 2018-19 we already went in that direction. And yeah, then we finished the current album, Bionic Swarm, and we... we looked at each other and we just said like, this is not Distillator, you know, this is something else and we have to do some kind of rebranding. We weren't tied to a label, and we just went to our management and said, like, this is our new album., please ask around. This is a band, this is a new band. Without a name, just a new band, see if people are interested in releasing it. And then we came in contact with Century Media Records and they were very interested in talking. And we actually got the first contract with them without even knowing our new name.

Nik: Okay. And a contract with a big label, as well. I mean, Century Media is one of the biggest labels around for metal.

Laurens: Yes, yes. Yeah, we were kinda, you know, we did our best of course with the album and we hoped to get such a good partner. But yeah, we were kind of surprised that Century Media, which is one of the biggest like you said, they were interested.

Nik: Is it actually good to be on a big label, you know, with many bands, or do you think it's better to be in a smaller label because they may pay more attention to you? What's your experience?

Laurens: In my experience, we never had such a good contract with any label so far. So, it was like... I always thought that the bigger labels, you know, they have some leverage, like, they will sign you but you have a shitty contract or whatever. But they were really fair and gave us a good budget to record video clips, and, you know, make a nice artwork for the album and do recordings and mastering and mixing and stuff like that. So that's a huge advantage because small labels don't have this kind of budget. And they also have like this huge promo power, because a lot of people, other bands and festivals and, you know, promoters they're following this label and you get picked up somewhere, in areas you haven't been before. So, we are now in Greece!

Nik: Have you been here before? With Distillator maybe?

Laurens: Oh, no. It's the first time.

Nik: Okay. I'm actually going to come back to the label later because there's something else that I want to ask.

Laurens: Sure.

Nik: You have been on the road since... if I'm not mistaken, since October 5th. And I was impressed to see... I actually said that in the email to you that I really appreciate you taking the time for this face to face interview, because I saw that you're actually playing almost every single day since then and you must be exhausted.

Laurens: Yeah, we started October 5th, yeah. And then we played 26 shows in a row without a break. Then we had two days off and then we had five shows, four in the UK and one in Ireland. Then three days off before Athens.

Nik: So, the last shows are... Athens last night, Thessaloniki tonight, and Istanbul tomorrow. How has it been?

Laurens: Amazing. Really great. The first part, we were in a huge bus with 20 people inside, you know, with beds and everything. A nightliner. And we were touring with, you know, Vektor, and there were two support bands from Switzerland, Comaniac and Algebra. Really great bands, pretty cool guys, yeah, we had such an amazing time. And now it seems like ages ago that it was happening, but it was only like two weeks ago. But yeah, that's been really great. Like, we've been to countries that we've never played before. So that was amazing and we met a lot of great crowds. We played a lot of packed venues. Paris, Lisbon, Milan. The Spanish shows were really good, the French shows were really great.

Nik: Which show did you prefer the most? Which one had the best audience?

Laurens: So far it was Athens, actually.

Nik: Yeah? I actually live in Athens, but I flew yesterday to Thessaloniki for another reason and I really wanted to see both you and Vektor but couldn't be there yesterday. So, I am looking forward to tonight's show.

Laurens: Yeah, Athens yesterday was crazy. It was really crazy. And Milan, Italy was also amazing.

Nik: Yeah, the Mediterraneans are like that.

Laurens: Yeah… Spain… Portugal… France was really good. And the Netherlands was actually also surprisingly good. And Netherlands, like, we don't get this a lot in the Netherlands. So that was good. Germany, to be honest, we had some good shows, and we loved everybody who showed up. But there's too much going on in Germany right now. It's like, people can choose between three or four shows each day of the week in a 50-kilometre radius.

Nik: Because everyone's playing there.

Laurens: Everybody's playing, everybody's touring and Germany is like the main target. So people are like, yeah, I can go to this show, this show, this show, this show... Well, I can't go to everything... So I have to choose and also don't have so much money because we're kind of in an economical crisis right now. So yeah, every promoter and booker said that it's just crazy times, there's so much to do and, you know, with economical crisis... It should have been twice as much people... or three times as much.

Nik: How are you getting along with Vektor because, you know, you're the two main bands on this trek. Did you know them from before?

Laurens: Yeah, yeah, they're shitty guys.

Nik: Okay. [we're both laughing]

Laurens: No, no, we've been friends since 2015. We toured with them with Distillator and, actually, we were on a European tour with Angelus Apatrida from Spain. We had an amazing time and we kept in contact and that's why we also did a split together. You know this?

Nik: Yes, yes. You had two songs each in it.

Laurens: Yeah, we did the split and then we kind of started planning a tour.

Nik: Yes, this tour was supposed to take place in 2021.

Laurens: Yeah, yeah, May 2021. As you know, because of the pandemic and all this shit. I mean, it was postponed like one and a half year, so that was really, yeah, it was really something. And it was supposed to be just us and Vektor. Just the two bands. But then, at the end, we got two support bands and then we got a nightliner and I think it's better like that. I like travelling in a nightliner way more than in a small bus. It's more convenient.

Nik: So, I'm coming back to the label thing. I'm going to address the elephant in the room, but I don't want to put you in an awkward position.

Laurens: Ask me anything you like.

Nik: You were label mates with Vektor for only a day. That was a bit bizarre. I don't want you to comment on what has or has not happened. I just want your opinion on social media and how it has affected your lives in this sense. And also, if you think what actually happened, if it affected negatively your tour.

Laurens: I don't know. Ahhh… We didn't see any protesters. You know, like people shouting or trying to pick a fight or stuff like that. We didn't see any negative comments, any negativity so far. All the shows have been only positive. And you know, of course people ask some questions about it, you know, and it's the power of social media, I guess, that people, you know, if people start, you can say something. And it's, you know, if it's true or not true, it can have so much impact. You know, it's really something that's, like, possible these days. It wasn't possible, like 10 years ago… or less possible, let's say that. Now everybody has social media and maybe like 15 years ago, it must be in like a magazine and you read it or online magazine or something like that. And now someone can put something online and people share it and people get in this kind of vortex of information. And that doesn't necessarily have to be true. And this is the main thing, you know, like a lot of people get, you know, stuff like this before they can, you know, like, defend themselves. I think it's... I think it's a really... I think it's kind of fucked up. It's really fucked up.

Nik: To be honest, what really surprised me is the fact that people kind of expected David [DiSanto] to actually post something online like a response. And if you don't post the response, then it automatically means that you're guilty or something like that. That's what's more surprising to me, that you kind of have to give your own version of the story online. So, to put your own personal life out to the public.

Laurens: Yeah, and if you don't want to do that then you're on your own. Because people will make their own truth, you know, and if they only hear one side of the story, they think it's true. You know, if it keeps getting repeated, people think this is the truth.

Nik: I agree with you. I was not there so I don't know what happened and, to be honest, it's not my business, but I think what is really fucked up is the fact that you actually have to put your life out to the public eye because everyone wants to be the judge of everything in a way.

Laurens: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I know David doesn't like social media and he decided to not… to not respond to that. Because, you know, yeah, we shouldn't go into detail. Yeah, because I don't want to say stuff... but it's really... it's really fucked up. It's a really shitty situation.

Nik: Yeah, okay. Do you think that maybe fewer people came because of that, to the shows?

Laurens: I don't think so. I also believe that a lot of people didn't even know that it was going on. Just went straight past them.

Nik: So, okay, so you had an album in 2021. You couldn't promote it back then and you're just finishing promoting it now. Do you have anything else in the works?

Laurens: Yeah, we already started working on a new album. And we'll get back to it as soon as we return. So it's going to need some work. Yeah, we're really excited to start writing again. And hopefully, people will like it.

Nik: Do you have any idea of what it's going to sound like?

Laurens: Well, it’s definitely going to be a bit more experimental. Also, if you check out the last Distillator album and Bionic Swarm... this is also like a different thing. But we wrote Bionic Swarm while still being Distillator. And now we have to write a second Cryptosis album, while we are already Cryptosis. So, like a different angle, and we want to, you know, experiment, and…

Frank Te Riet
Frank: [joins in] Yeah, it's also why we chose to change the name. To be able to explore different paths in music than we already did. We can write an album with a clean slate now.

Nik: Who writes the music?

Both: We do.

Nik: And the lyrics?

Both: Also.

Nik: The two of you?

Laurens: Yeah.

Nik: What is the process? Music first, lyrics second? Or the other way around?

Laurens: Music first, lyrics second. But we leave room for lyrics.

Frank: Yeah, we have, like, I collect… in my notes… a lot of different subjects, and themes, and ideas that we gather along the way, like, it’s a collection of years of, like, bits and words and sentences. And then we have a song and it feels like it might fit to this particular theme or to this idea. And then we match them and start writing lyrics. So, we have lyrics that match the vibe of the song or maybe even, you know, make it stronger.

Nik: Okay, I remember reading that you like Black Mirror, the TV series?

Frank: Yeah, yeah, all of us.

Laurens: Yeah, Marco [Prij, drummer] as well.

Nik: Okay, yeah. I love the Black Mirror. I think it's one of the best series ever made. You got extra points in my review because of that.

Laurens: Yeah. The Black Mirror series was a really good inspiration for us actually. We wanted to… everybody can write about, you know, like aliens or outer space or something like that. That's cool as well, don't get me wrong. But we wanted to do something that people do less, I guess. It is very realistic, but then also the dark side of technology. And it fits the music.

Nik: It is kind of futuristic, but it's like the near future, kind of… and that's what's most scary about it, I think.

Laurens: And that's why it's so interesting to write about.

Nik: Yeah, also very interesting. Right, what's your favourite episode?

Frank: The one with the bees.

Laurens: Yeah, the one with the bees was really good.

Frank: My least favourite was the movie. Like, for me personally, it was a bit like shit. The series was good and the movie was a bit of a turnoff for me, personally.

Nik: Was there a movie?

Frank: Yeah, full movie, like a two-hour movie.

Nik: Okay, I didn't watch that. I don't know it.

Frank: Don’t do it. [we all laugh]

Laurens: I thought the one with social credit system was…

Nik: Yeah, man. That's amazing.

Laurens: …with the points, you know, and the ratings and you cannot go in here because you don't have like 4.5 or higher. It basically already works a little bit like that, you know?

Nik: Exactly.

Laurens: So that was really realistic and like really putting on a magnifying glass.

Frank: Also the one that people are living in some kind of big building and they can't get out, you know. The windows are like, just like, whatever they want. But all the time there’s commercials and they have to pay to not see any commercials. I mean, we have YouTube, right now, as well, but, like, super extreme.

Laurens: Yeah, this guy who rides the bike all the time. He gets points or something. Yeah, and then he can do this kind of like, American Idol thing.

Frank: It’s the same episode.

Laurens: Yeah. And then you can get your ticket out of there or something.

Nik: It's definitely inspired, I think, and it looks familiar. If you ask someone how they imagine the future or if they can see something like this actually happening, they’d say yes.

Laurens: Yes, but in the end I think that lyrics are still a little bit overrated.

Frank: I don’t think so.

Laurens: You disagree with me [looking at Frank]. I think -and Frank as well- we think that lyrics are really important and that you don't write such kind of bullshit and put it on a record, you know, you have to be… you have to stand behind the lyrics and you know, like, we are always writing a concept album, lyrically, and musically, as well. But, at the end, it's about… it's about the groove.

Frank: Yeah, from a musician's point of view, but you have to add depth to what you are doing, because otherwise it's like, it doesn't make any sense. Why do you record an album, you know, if you don't have anything to say? Like fast food product. We try to do, like, serious stuff. And, you know, if you have an interesting message or an interesting imaginary world that somebody that's listening to this can replace, you know, this world inside their imagination, then…

Laurens: Actually, we were already into this kind of serious subjects and not really sci-fi, but we were in this kind of serious subjects also with Distillator, but it doesn't sound anything like it because you're Distillator, you play thrash… people probably think you're singing about drinking beer and eating pizza. And that's also why we changed the name… to turn into something more, like, I don't know, intelligent, I guess, or something of, like, a little bit more depth, you know, something more worth listening to or… more unique.

Nik: It definitely sounds more clever. Not that thrash is stupid. I mean, I love thrash, I grew up with it. But, the type of thrash that you are playing now, it sounds more clever and I think it takes more skill, in a way… from a musician's point of view.

Laurens: Yeah, we think so, too. So, we are really behind this change. And, to be honest, it was a leap of faith at the start, because we didn't know what people think of it and actually, if you change your name… people are like, yeah, I know Distillator, but who are these guys?

Frank: You're basically gonna have to start over.

Laurens: You got to start over again. And that was something you know, we worked seven years for Distillator, and we kind of built a name and we were like, yeah, I don't know if you have to start all over again. You know, like, man, do we want to do that or…?

Frank: But when Century Media was interested, we were like, alright, we also sent all the material, I don't know if Laurens already told you, but we sent out the album without a name and then they got along and we were like, okay, if there's a moment to do it… if we don't do it now, then we are never going to do it.

Nik: If you talked about bands or music that has influenced you, what would you say? Artists or bands that have influenced you in what you're writing now.

Laurens: I think there's a lot of bands that actually influence us. It’s different for you than for me [looking at Frank].

Frank: We listen to a lot of different stuff, like he's more into technical guitars [referring to Laurens]. Marco is more into simpler stuff, like Motörhead, like this kind of more drum-oriented…

Nik: Who doesn't like Motörhead?

Frank: Yeah, okay, you know it's not intricate, you know, like he can play drums very well but no, I imagined he would be more a fan of Tool, you know, bands like that. But that's more like our thing.

Laurens: Yeah, we like Tool, Opeth, Coroner, Megadeth, Symphony X, Death

Frank: I also like to listen to drum and bass, like the ‘90s drum and bass, electronic music, I go to a lot of techno raves. So it's like a mix of everything. And then everybody puts their own thing to this and we mix it and there is the Cryptosis sound, you know.

Laurens: Yeah, but also a lot of Dimmu BorgirRush

Frank: Yeah, Rush as well.

Laurens: Progressive stuff… symphonic stuff. We try to integrate this in our in our music as well. It's like, you know, like atmospheric… big-sounding, you know, we are a three-piece so we had to kind of come up with a way to sound as a band that is not a three-piece.

Nik: How easy is it to do this live? I mean, it’s not easy to recreate the sound of a studio album.

Laurens: Yeah, we both play stereo. That's something we… so, we use actually one amp more than, more, more or less all the four- or five- or six-pieces. So, we play four amps in total. I play two guitar amps through a splitting. He does it as well [referring to Frank]. But one is bass, like everyone is using, and the other one goes to a guitar amp, and this effect pedal of a mellotron.

Frank: That’s where all the big orchestral sounds are coming from.

Laurens: Yeah, and he can use it at the same time or he can use it as bass, we can switch it with the pedals.

Frank: Yeah, we can switch basically every option.

Laurens: Yeah, it was kind of, I don't know, it was kind of inspired by Rush... I guess. A little bit.

Frank: It was a long, long way to figure it out. You know, because first we tried to experiment with distortion pedals and it never really worked. And then one time I saw Geddy Lee with this massive bass pedals and I was like, man, that's really nice, but not super handy, you know, to take on the road, because we already have so much stuff in the bus and we’re always fighting for space... I just bought this pedal, which was like this big and I was like, just buy it and took it to the rehearsal room and they liked it. And...

Laurens: Marco wasn't a fan of it at the start. He was really sceptical...

Frank: Yeah, Marco didn't really like it in the beginning... but after we played...

Laurens: That's more or less like a lot of prog bands, like for example Dream Theater or Symphony X. You know, there are five guys or, you know, four, if the guitarist is also singing… like guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. So, that's basically what we have right now, more or less. So we have a second guitar amp with this pedal, which sounds like… more like... it’s not exactly a keyboard, but it's more or less like...

Frank: Like an orchestra. But the only thing is like I can't play a bass line and different orchestra lines. So, we use a lot of like chords to get this big sound. And there's room for guitars and drums to stuff between that… In one song, “Mindscape”, we have some choirs also recorded with this pedal, but we put it of course on the sound system to have the same vibe as on the album.

Nik: Because many bands in order to get the same sound as in the studio, they get a live musician, you know, for tours, but you manage to do it...

Laurens: We don't need it.

Nik: You don't need it…

Laurens: No. It's like, if I play a solo, of course there was a second guitar line on the album, because it sounds way better. But yeah, I think live… we see a lot of shows also from this tour and… you don't miss it. At least, in our opinion.

Frank: I also think it's stupid. You know, like metal bands should have two guitar players. I mean, Pantera has one guitar player and when he's playing a solo, there's just only like a super thin bass line. And nobody ever complains about that. But when we started to do a three-piece thrash, everybody was like, yeah, you need a second guitar player. And we were like, dude…

Laurens: Well, at the start we didn't like Pantera and it was like really…

Frank: Yeah, okay, in the beginning was a bit different. But like people were saying that like every time, like for years. We were like, Nirvana doesn't have a second guitar player, [band]Motörhead[band] doesn't, Destruction didn’t, Sodom… all these classic three-piece bands. Rush...

Laurens: Yeah. So we were like, yeah, we can do this. You know, we have to just come up with a way to how to do this best and this is a really good way for us to do it.

Nik: Guys, can I just ask... Is it rewarding being a professional musician? I mean, financially?

Frank: Start looking for a job. [all laughing]

Nik: I'm not a musician myself.

Frank: If you’d ever consider it... Haha, don't do it.

Laurens: We make money, but we can’t make a living out of it.

Nik: So you also have other jobs?

Laurens: Yeah. Yeah, Marco is a session drummer, recording drummer, he does drum lessons also, and his dad got a construction company. And he sometimes does some hours there as well. And… Frank is… Frank, say a bit about yourself.

Nik: If you want to. You don't have to...

Frank: Yeah, I am doing freelance graphic design and I am trying to build like a design studio with some people from my area. That's basically what we do for festivals, for bands, but also for companies. National small companies.

Nik: Graphic design, you said…

Frank: Yeah, graphic design, animation, a bit of video these days. Stuff like that.

Nik: [at Laurens] Do you want to say? Or…

Laurens: Yeah, yeah, I’m working at a company called Polaroid... it's a photography...

Nik: Yeah, yeah, I know them, they’re very well-known, haha.

Laurens: It's based in my own town, actually… Enschede in the Netherlands. We produce all the film photo in the world... in a factory... and I am like part of the quality team… so, retaining quality of production… trying to increase quality... and also to optimize process in the factory. I don't do it full-time of course because it’s too much to combine it with the music but...

Nik: Yeah, I get that. Okay, we probably need to wrap this up because you’re going on stage soon. [the first band, Desert Near The End, had already appeared on stage for a while and we could hear them playing downstairs].

Laurens: Yeah, sure.

Nik: Is there anything you’d like to say to Metal Storm readers?

Laurens: It's… it's… like... Greek?

Nik: No, no. It's international. World-wide.

Frank: [laughing]

Laurens: Fuck! Yeah, I think… to the people who don't know us, check us out. Bionic Swarm… it's our debut album as Cryptosis, and if they're more interested, they can check out our old stuff as well. There... we're writing a new album, we're finishing up the European tour, we have some other shows, in the Netherlands… and also other in the works… international stuff, festivals. So maybe if people have time, or like wanna check us out, they can do that… we're on YouTube, Spotify, we also have a web shop with shirts, CDs, vinyl, hoodies, everything!

Nik: Great! So, go buy!

Laurens: Go buy it! We need your money! Hahaha

Nik: So that you can be full-time musicians and nothing else.

Laurens: Yeah, yeah, yeah! Please buy everything! Don't disappoint me!

Nik: Alright, thank you very much both of you for taking the time for this interview. Enjoy the show tonight!

Laurens: We will, we will. Definitely.

Nik: And tomorrow in Istanbul. You deserve to rest after that, I guess.

Frank: We had a long ride.

Laurens: Really long ride.

Nik: And we're looking forward to what you have in store next. Like, album-wise.

Laurens: Yeah, I’m also really looking forward to that.

Nik: Good. Thank you, man.

Frank: Cool. Thank you.

Cryptosis really killed it when they went on stage a few minutes after this interview. Do check them out live, if they are in your area, and you won’t regret it.

Posted on 20.11.2022 by Only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud!


Comments: 5   Visited by: 103 users
20.11.2022 - 15:10
Nocturnal Bro
Great interview! They seemed very nice and talkative, and I liked the chemistry between Laurens and Frank. Their 2021 release was my pick for Thrash AOTY, so I'm looking forward to more!


Nik: Is there anything you’d like to say to Metal Storm readers?

Laurens: It's… it's… like... Greek?

Good news, guys! I guess we're all Greek now!
20.11.2022 - 15:48
You missed your opportunity to claim that Metal Storm is Greek. But then Greece already has so many other important things; we have to be nice to Estonia.

I got a little nervous at the beginning because I was the one who wrote that Distillator review, and I was not, you might say, particularly adoring of it. Looking back, though, I think I gave it a fair review, and Bionic Swarm was a much better album; in fact, I was genuinely a bit shocked that it was coming from the same band (in a sense), because it was so much more inspired. The bones were clearly there in Distillator, though, so it's interesting to see them talk about why they changed their name to Cryptosis; it seems like they realized that they weren't playing in a style that was really right for them, and given the difference between Summoning The Malicious and Bionic Swarm I think it's clear that their assessment was correct and they made the right call in moving on.
"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
20.11.2022 - 22:18

It was an enjoyable interview because both were really nice guys. If Marco had joined, I would have asked him about that In Aphelion record.
21.11.2022 - 14:30
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good to read,
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
24.11.2022 - 12:18
Ball Fondlers

He's right about the shows in Germany. I went to see them with Vektor in Munich, and Moonspell were playing next door (This is at Backstage where they have 3 stages). Moonspell pulled a bigger crowd.
The next night I went to Panopticon and Geoff Tate was at the same venue too.

Saying this the gigs in Munich don't always get that many people (when they don't clash), but they get bands anyway. I'd guess other parts of germany pull bigger crowds.

Cryptosis were pretty good too, but Vektor blew them away as could be expected.

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