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Belgian Goth webzine Dark Entries did an interview with Raf. Here, you can read the English translation of that interview

Introduce Ahráyeph, if you will?

Ahráyeph is a project from the Leuven area in Belgium, which emerged from the ashes of gothic metal band Crucifire, a band that never got beyond its first demo, by the way. That was in 1996. After a musical detour or two, and because some of my friends felt that the music we made back then was really good, I rebooted the whole thing around the turn of the century. But because I wanted to axe the metal influences and because many people thought I made metal because of the Crucifire name, I changed it into Ahráyeph.

Where does the name Ahráyeph actually come from? It sounds like the name comes from the works of Lovecraft or Crowley, or from old mythology. On the other hand : googling the name only results in info about the band.

Hahaha! Yeah, it does sound like that, but it has little to do with mythology and more with creative spelling. But it is nice that the name invokes certain associations, because even if they are rather subdued, there are mystical aspects to Ahráyeph.

Just like e.g. in Elusive, the Ahráyeph members have a metal background (e.g. Ancient Rites). What compels you to start a Gothic Rock band from a metal background?

It's a pity Elusive has split up recently, by the way. I would have loved to see them live. But anyway, I think it's a bit of a misunderstanding that my background is steeped in metal. At least, that's not how I look at it. As both a musician and private person I've always had an eclectic taste. I grew up listening to Post Punk/New Wave/Gothic as well as metal, so in that light it does make sense to start a Gothic Rock project. It also ties in much more with what I want to express musically. If there are any metal influences to be found in Ahráyeph songs, it's because I want to express a certain emotion – metal sounds angry, after all – and not because I wanted to write a metal song at all cost.

Can we call you the Belgian Fields Of The Nephilim?

You can, but you don't have to, hahaha! I think it would be too much praise and although I won't deny this band has had a very big influence on me, I feel there are significant differences between both bands; also on a musical level. I don't write lyrics about Nephilim, Sumerian mysticism or Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. Thanks to FOTN I've been able to study these subjects in depth, but why would I write about them if Carl Mc Coy does it way better, and I want to tackle other subjects? It would also be rather embarrassing to don a 'western' image live. I'm partial to Native Americans anyway...

Which bands inspire you?

Ehm... Aside of the 'usual suspects' like The Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Cure – and of course FOTN – my influences are, as I already told you, rather eclectic. A very important band to me is The God Machine. Also, the Sophia collective which God Machine singer Robin Proper-Sheppard founded after TGM's demise is a big influence, although it might not be apparent musically. Angelo Badalamenti's 'Twin Peaks' soundtracks, Nine Inch Nails, Anne Clark, Mazzy Star, Massive Attack, Hooverphonic, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, The Doors... You can tell my influences aren't very run of the mill, even if it's not always apparent in Ahráyeph's music. I had a discussion about one of my new songs with a Scottish friend the other day and the names 'Marianne Faithfull' and 'Bowie' were dropped. There you go...

Name a few of your favourite bands within and outside of the Gothic Rock scene?

I think I just did that, hahaha! I'm of course a fan of The Eden House, NFD and Last Rites. I also really dig our countrymen of Star Industry. Really nice chaps too; I hope we can play together somewhere down the line. A Greek acquaintance introduced me to Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble Of Shadows and I've been a fan ever since. Goethes Erben will also always remain a favourite. I also like listening to Cold Meat Industry bands/projects like Raison d'Etre. Of course, that also makes me a fan of my buddies in For Greater Good, and not just because we're friends, I assure you. Outside Gothic scene? Apart from the aforementioned bands, I'd like to mention Bat For Lashes; Nebelhexe/Hagalaz' Runedance, Tori Amos, both incarnations of Marillion (and, of course, Fish), Cowboy Junkies, Eva Cassidy, Dresden Dolls, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Slayer, Tool, The Gathering, Wim de Craene, Boudewijn de Groot, Zjef Vanuytsel... I could go on for hours, because there's so much good music out there and as you can tell I don't adhere to genres...

How is an Ahráyeph song conceived? Can you tell us some more about the song writing process?

That's always a tough question to answer. Usually it starts with a musical idea that I develop here in my studio, Rose Creek. You know how it goes : you're dicking around with a guitar or bass piece; you're playing around with synth sounds and all of a sudden you've got an idea which turns out as a song a couple of hours later. Sometimes I write a song from a drum pattern that pops into my head or a piece of lyric that emerges and evolves into a song. Writing songs is as diverse as life itself... What topics are Ahráyeph songs about? My observations about all the negative aspects of life, both within my own as in other people's. Ahráyeph is a healthy way for me to deal with that.

I once saw you play in Leuven with The Wounded and Cure cover band Curiosity. Ahráyeph was the surprise of the day. Any memories of that gig? Do you play live often?

That gig was a surprise for me and the band as well, albeit a very bad one. I'm afraid you saw our worst concert to date that day. We couldn't help it, because the band was really tight, but not having our sound engineer with us fucked up the sound both on stage and in the club. A missed opportunity, but we'll set that straight at the Gothic Festival.

Unfortunately we don't play live as much as I'd like to. Because of the other band members' private commitments it's not always as easy to confirm live dates. This actually has me considering building a musician's collective in the style of Sophia, so we can play at any time with whoever's available to do the gig. You'll see a different line up at the Gothic Festival than the one that was considered to be the 'real' band before because of this. And since our drummer Steve departed we're playing with a drum sampler, as it was originally intended. That actually makes it a lot easier to go and play somewhere, because you don't have to carry a drumkit along or request one from the organisation. And it frees extra stage space too.

What do you think of the Gothic Festival's bill? Are there any bands you'd like to see yourself?

The Gothic Festival's bill? Printed very professionally. But seriously : I have to admit that I don't know some bands, but there are several others that I do, like Blutengel, KMFDM, Apoptygma Berzerk, Oswald Henke and IAMX. Those are bands that I definitely would like to see. And of course I'm stoked to see DAF and Gary Numan, that goes without saying!

I'm of course very happy the organisation asked us to open the festival, because it means they're willing to give new talent a chance. But I would still like to see the programming to be more open to guitar oriented bands. The Eden House would certainly have fitted on this bill; Faith and The Muse want to get out on the road again, Last Rites only plays once a year these days and then only in the U.K., which is a crying shame... Now, it strikes me that the Belgian Goth scene is very electronically orientated and although I like that kind of music as much as guitar oriented music, I feel it's an impoverishment to focus solely on electronic genres. But that's a general criticism towards the scene, not towards the festival.

What can we expect of Ahráyeph at the Gothic Festival?

A mix of old and new songs and one cover for certain. Also, our gig will be more interesting visually, but I'm not going to divulge anything about that now.

For the Gothic Festival, Ahráyeph will be augmented by For Greater Good mastermind Izzy. How did this collaboration come to pass?

Well, sadly, Izzy can't make it to the festival after all because we play so early in the day. Instead, For Greater Good's Sam spontaneously offered to take his place. It illustrates how close the ties are with them. I got to know Iz at the to The Sisters Of Mercy dedicated Heartland forum and we instantly got on like a house on fire. Through him I also met Sam, of course and that was very much the same story. There's been talk about a collaboration, which we jokingly refer to as 'FNARGGH' for a long time now, but because everyone is up to their ears in their own bands/projects, that hasn't happened yet. Now we'll be sharing a stage together, so hopefully this will be a spring board for future collaborations.

Why should our readers come and see Ahráyeph's gig in Waregem?

Because we'll start the festival with a bang. And because we're good, of course.

(Henk Vereecken)

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