Tom is a long-time friend and he is one of the musicians that has left a mark in my journalism career, nah scratch that in my personal life, by having a candid conversation with me about the phase I was going through and sharing his own experiences about the matter. So this interview is close to home, where he opens up about the health issues he had to go through.
Great to have you on LOMM pages again old friend.
Hello my name is Tom de Wit and I am the main guy behind TDW. I am releasing a new album on the 4th of December 2020 entitled ‘The Days The Clock Stopped’ and this is a progressive metal concept album that details my personal journey fighting with a bowel disease that near killed me when I was only 21 years old.TDW
LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
TDW: TDW originally started out as the name under which I wanted to write music myself. I started writing songs as an unexperienced dude at 14 years old with no prior musical experience and/or idea how to do it, haha!
Basically I just knew that I wanted to create a melodic, proggy kind of metal with my own voice on it and with a good dose of symphonic influences thrown in. I thought myself how to make music with the help of samples and computers originally and thought myself how to play guitars & bass. I took up keyboard and vocal lessons and basically just tried to find my way as a writer to express the thoughts and music that were in my head.
I am a highly sensitive person and I always had a million ideas and projects that I wanted to do, so I tried to put that source of creativity into my music. My attitude has always been ‘learning by doing’ so I released multiple albums over the years and basically learned more about songwriting, production and performance with each and every one of them. I released these albums on my own label Layered Reality Productions and all that has led to my current release ‘The Days The Clock Stopped’ that is coming on the 4th of December 2020.
Next to my work under the TDW name, I am also the lead singer and main songwriter/front man for the band Dreamwalkers Inc. This band originally started as the live band to perform the TDW songs with in 2016. I formed this band with musicians I liked and who I knew would be able to play the songs well. We played multiple shows in different lineups over the years and we ended up releasing a debut album with reworked TDW songs into band arrangements in 2019, with a live album following in 2020. Now in late 2020/early 2021. Dreamwalkers Inc has evolved into a full-fledged band that stands apart from my own TDW music of its own and we are now working on new material and a new release for late 2021/early 2022.
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you have been holding up?
TDW: Well, I have been lucky that I am used to working by myself and from my own studio, so in a way I have been able to keep doing all the musical things I had been doing before even with the lockdowns and extra measures in place.
So, the fact that I spent all those years, the money and dedication into building my own studio, has paid off in that I now was not hindered by the lockdowns, but yes the financial situation is felt by everybody.
To be completely honest, I decided quite early on in my career that I did not want to become financially dependent on my music and that I would focus on production work in audio, video and web design as my steady source of income, so the pandemic did not hit my musical work in that sense. Sure it’s annoying not be able to play live now, but that does not hamper my ability to pay my bills so to speak.
However, when Covid hit here in NL in March 2020, it did hit me financially on the work front as all projects that were planned were all put on hold. So I have to admit, I was a bit scared at first besides my fear for the virus itself as I am in the risk group. So it were interesting times, that’s for sure. But fortunately work picked up again and I was able to both have a relatively stable income and able to finish the album.
We still are not out of this covid situation yet, but I dare to be a bit more positive now and want to think the future will hopefully bring us better times.
LOMM: So we can say that you have had a productive time then.
TDW: Well in a way yes, because I did finish this album and documentary while the pandemic was putting a lot of people out of work and/or musicians out of options for a bit.
So, I do think that my work on this album and the live album we did with Dreamwalkers Inc in May of 2020 kept me going mentally through all this. It’s weird how that works.
Music has always been therapeutic for me and especially this album is that because of the concept for multiple reasons. But the simple fact that there was something stable to work on while the whole world was burning down kept me from not going completely bonkers, haha!
LOMM: Modern sounds are my thing J How about you? What does your genre means to you, why did you choose this genre?
TDW: I do like my share of modern music as well, innovation is important to me, but I also like taking influences from the past and blending those two things together.
See what happens when you take a modern metal guitar and throw in an old synthesizer or something like that. There are so much possibilities if you are willing to really expand your borders musically.
That’s why I love prog so much. I chose the genre because of the freedom it represents. I can literally go to any place musically and combine all sorts of strange things and it would fit in the progressive genre tag.
For me, being progressive means that music is free of genre limitations and expectancy. I can literally write a heavy, frantic metal track and suddenly throw in a piano ballad part halfway or just put some beats or orchestra parts in it and it would still make sense and be a part of the complete narrative. No other musical genre gives me that freedom, so that alone is reason enough for me to be in this category.
Also I notice that the progressive scenes from the past and present are ever evolving. There’s young people picking up their instruments and making progressive music that really inspires me and the others that have been doing it for many years.
Almost daily, new artists and bands jump out of the woodwork that do new crazy things and I think that’s amazing!
LOMM: How did your musical and thematic elements evolve in your career?
TDW: My primary drive to make music always comes from within my emotions and my thoughts. I write songs about subjects that interest me or things that I feel strongly about and I try to extrapolate my emotions through that music that then comes out.
I always wrote my music like that, but in the past I would always try to write about fictional characters that would go through certain things and they would feel things or express thoughts that would be connected to myself.
But I always comfortably hid behind those characters. Like, those characters were my avatars which I could use to tell my stories.
But it was with this new album, that I decided I had to do things differently…
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes / concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
TDW: For the new album ‘The Days The Clock Stopped’ I did not take my old approach to writing songs. Because for the first time ever, I am writing about myself and what I went through between my 19th and my 21st years.
For the first time ever, I am telling the world about my handicaps, how I almost died in the hospital twice and what that did to me both physically and mentally.
This album basically tells the story of how I was thrown into this bizarre situation and how my life was changed forever. The album has a first person perspective in a way, as I really dive into the deep depths of my mind and my body going through this and the music and the lyrics reflect that. It was quite an intense ride to get the album to the point that it is now, because I really had to look back to what happened 11 years ago.
I had a severe bowel disease called Colitis Ulcerosa and I had a version that was so aggressive, that they had to remove my colon and give me an ostomy. Basically, I will be handicapped for the rest of my life and that whole process of being in- and out of hospitals, thought me some pretty intense lessons about the finite nature of life and how things sometimes just happen without a clear reason.
This album chronicles my journey from the first fights with my disease to the very last time I was in a hospital and I had to learn to accept that I would never be the person I was in the past ever again.
Added to all this is my earlier mentioned high sensitivity that also had been one of my biggest struggles ever since I was a young boy. So basically the first 19 years of my life, I had a fight inside my head with my own emotions and from 19 onwards, the physical fight with my body was added to that. So all this influenced the albums’ concept and lyrics severely and created this dark concept.
I had people ask me if any of this was dramatized or not, but they would be shocked when I told them that every sentence of this is pure, raw, reality for me. There’s no romantization here. It’s all real.
I went through this, and I needed to put that somewhere.
LOMM: Are you happy with how your album turned out? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
TDW: I think this is a question I cannot fully answer right now, because I am always hungry for better work. I always can improve on what I have made and what I am doing, so I think in terms of what can be improved on, I would have to look back in a few months, listen with fresh ears and give a proper analysis.
However, I am proud of how the story has translated to this record. The story and the emotions within seem to fit this way and it accurately represents how I felt and what these experiences did to me all those years ago.
I also played this record to multiple listeners over the course of the production and even in the demo version I would get responses that this was not an ‘average’ record, but an intense emotional ride.
And I think that that is the greatest compliment you can get as a writer.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
TDW: So far, the reviews have all been very positive and everyone who worked on the album has really been very supportive and amazing about it. It seems that this record strikes a chord with people, as art should be doing.
I think that’s a good sign. It’s nice if you get good grades and all, but honestly I think the actual response from listeners and reviewers in their words says more than just the numbers.
However, there are still many more reviews to come in in the coming weeks so maybe it will be a complete shitshow around the release. Who knows right, haha!
LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
TDW: Actually I know that in 2021 I will be working on two big projects again. The first one will be a new TDW album that will become very special because it will feature songs based on ideas from my fans!
I did an extensive pre-order for this album, which ended on the 4th of December 2020. And I had multiple lovely people that ordered these custom songs, so that means that I basically have enough material for a new album ready to go which is really amazing!
I am planning to get that record out digitally somewhere before the summer of 2021. And if enough people want to see a physical copy made, I will see what will happen then.
Next to that, I will be the new Dreamwalkers Inc album which we already started writing music for. It will be a concept album that will be released in late 2021/early 2022 and it will be something completely different from what I am doing with TDW and that excites me quite a lot!
I love that Dreamwalkers Inc originally came from TDW, but has really gone its own way and has now become a different beast. I now have two creative avenues to work on and that feels like I am a kid in a candy store, haha!
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
TDW: Personally I am very much a studio guy, as I love creating and writing the most. TDW has always been a studio project in the basis and that is what it mostly will be. However, I know that there are people interested in hearing some of these songs live.
So maybe I will perform the material from the new album live once if a right situation presents itself like a cool festival or a stage that wants to host it properly.
Live performing for me has always been a bit of a scary prospect so to speak. Due to my handicaps and how my body functions, I always have a hesitation with playing live, but I do like doing it when the circumstances are right.
So with Dreamwalkers Inc we are now writing new material first for a studio album, but we do have plans to play live with that band again in the future, but right now due to covid happening, I don’t really know when that will happen again.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
TDW: For me, my primary motivation always is to write something that excites and stimulates me mentally. If I get goosebumps and adrenaline while making something, I know I am on the right track.
Also I want to make things that don’t sound like things I did before, so that is also a pretty important factor for me. I never really write thinking “Oh the audience might like that!” because I think that that would make the music less powerful and less honest. However, I did write my share of parts and choruses that made me think “It would be cool if an audience sang this along!” and it would always be cool if that happened.
But even then I did not specifically write it to make it the “sing along” bit. It just turned out to be that, once I was done writing. The moment you write something for the sake of pleasing an audience, I think it will just become something empty and hollow. It needs to have meaning for myself, otherwise I could perform and/or translate it to others I think. It would feel like lying and I am a bad liar.
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
TDW: Honestly, for me the fact that I have a musical career and that I have been able to make the music that I do and considering what I have been through physically, mentally and personally to get where I am now…
When I started out I could not make any music and had no idea. I learned everything from the ground up as a highly sensitive person with a body that had a hard time learning things physically. Yet I thought myself how to play instruments, write songs etc.
I formed my own label, I released multiple albums and now I am here releasing a very personal record and people are responding so well.
The fact that I was able to survive all these obstacles and still be here and do this… I think that is my greatest achievement. 🙂
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
TDW: If you guys liked what I talked about here and want to support my adventures, you can check out the music video for Death and her Brother Greg that we released earlier (At this link: https://bit.ly/TDWdeathgreg)
and you can also pre-order the album through my own website where you can get all sorts of cool perks like I mentioned before. The pre-order is happening here:
And you can also pre-order the new album on bandcamp here: https://tdwprog.bandcamp.com/
Thanks for listening/reading everyone! Love you all and stay safe!