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Interview with Thomas Zwijsen

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Thomas Zwijsen, is best known for his unique classical and flamenco arrangements of iron maiden and various rock, metal and pop songs. He will be launching his third album, Nylon Maiden II in Dubai at the Music Room, on November 7th at Metal Assylum Presents Thomas Zwijsen Live in Dubai. Rock Era reached out to him to find out what he has in store for you…

You explore the beauty of Iron Maiden’s music eliminating the ‘metal’ – combining your love for metal and flamenco. Can you tell us more about how you came about with this style?

 

The start of Nylon Maiden was quite simple. I was in a guitar shop trying out a new nylon string, and I played the intro of ‘Wasted Years’ on it. This sounded awesome so I arranged the whole song and put it on YouTube. The overwhelming amount of views made me decide to make an album in this style. I try to keep my arrangements “metal” by not making the acoustic version boring. For instance: all my arrangements are in the same key as the original, and in the same speed (of even faster).


We know that many rock/metal artists come from classical music background, but it’s rare to see the reverse, who are your influences for this style?
Actually I went from classical to rock to latin/jazz to flamenco, and now I’m using all those styles at the same time. I started taking classical lessons when I was very young. My parents forced me to do this, so obviously I hated it. Then I discovered Iron Maiden and started playing electric guitar. After a while I realized the classical guitar has more possibilities, so I went back to classical and auditioned the conservatoire to study classical guitar.


We are so excited that you are launching your album in Dubai. Will you be playing any of your older released tracks?
I’m very excited too! For sure I will be playing songs from all my albums. I’ll be playing the new arrangements off of Nylon Maiden II, but I’ll be playing the big hits as well like ‘The Trooper’, ‘Fear Of The Dark’, ‘Run To The Hills’, and more.


Your original track, Perfect Storm, is an amazing collaboration featuring members of Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Europe and more. Can you tell the story behind this?
Thank you! The composition of this track went surprisingly quick. I had one little idea and got together with my drummer Nathanael Taekema. He is very good with odd time signatures and beats, and I’m usually thinking from a harmonic/melodic point of view. We got together (with some Belgian beers) and finished the entire composition in one day.
I had some guest musicians in mind that would suite this track very well. By that time I had no idea that all of them wanted to join this project! I think I owe many of it to social media - a great way to spread your music and contact musicians, even famous ones. The result; a 9 minute long flamenco metal opera!


How did you build your relationship with Blaze Bayley? How did you feel your first time jamming with him?
When I was making my first Nylon Maiden album I thought it would be awesome to play one of the Blaze era songs, since I’ve always liked Blaze. He played a gig in Antwerp close to my house and I simply went there and asked if he wanted to join this album. I was lucky some of his family lives in Belgium so it was easy for us to get together and go to the studio. We recorded ‘The Clansman’ and a few days later (at New Years Eve) he phoned me and asked if I could come to England to make an album with him. Of course I took this opportunity, left the conservatoire, went to England and made the album. After this we went on the “King Of Metal” tour together. This tour was 66 shows in 3 months, so we had a great chance to get to know each other personally and musically. We’ve been working together frequently ever since and are heading to South America in December for the next adventure.


Which is your favorite Iron Maiden song? Is this the same as your favorite song to play?
It’s VERY difficult, but my favorite Iron Maiden song is ‘Dance Of Death’. On my latest tour, “The Master Guitar” Tour, I was with 2 other guitarists and we had an awesome arrangement for it (it’s on YouTube). When I’m doing solo shows or shows with Anne Bakker I’m really enjoying ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘No Prayer For The Dying’, and ‘Judas Be My Guide’… I think on my new album my favorite arrangement is ‘Journeyman’.


What does collaborating with other musicians and the art of transforming tracks mean to you?
I really love playing solo guitar, but sometimes it feels just great to share my creativity with other musicians. On the album it’s important to have some variation and I think we have just found the perfect balance! Especially Anne, who will join me in Dubai, plays an important role in this album. Of course on the previous album it was amazing to work with some of my musical heroes like Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) and Kee Marcello (Europe).


Why Nylon?
It sounds more warm and beautiful than anything else. Also not many people are playing it these days, so I think it is something new, playing metal on a Nylon string :)


Why are you releasing a tab book?
Every day, I get a people on YouTube asking me for tabs. I usually never write anything down but the demand was so high that I decided to make a tab book. The tabs itself aren’t enough to learn to play these arrangements, so the tab book comes with video lessons as well!

 
What message would you like to give your fans in the Middle East?
I had a great time last time I came to Dubai, so let’s try to make it even better this time! Here’s my video to welcome all of you!


Interviewed by: Natsky D.


Stay tuned with Thomas Zwijsen through his:  

- Website.

- YouTube

- Facebook.

- Twitter.  

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