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ARTIST PROFILE: MENDEL BIJ DE LEIJ

Name: Mendel bij de Leij
Band: Aborted
Location: The Netherlands
Link(s): https://www.facebook.com/Mendelian/,
and www.instagram.com/mendelian

How and when was your interest in music sparked?
My dad raised me with a lot of Bach when I was around seven, also played a bit of drums and a lot of piano/organ. But the true spark hit me when i saw “Plug in Baby” from Muse on TV when I was 11 or 12 years old in 2001. That made me “borrow” my stepsister’s acoustic guitar and try to play that riff. It had the rock elements I heard from Red Hot Chili Peppers which I really liked, but it also had this amazing Bach influence which I always loved.

Was playing guitar always your first and only choice or did it start with something else?
I played a lot of piano and organ which my dad learned me some basics of. I was determined to be fully able to play Bach’s BWV 565 Toccata and Fugue in Dm. Unfortunately I didn’t get passed the Fugue, when that thing started things become mental, especially since you’re using four limbs: both hands on the keys and both feet for the pedals.

Speaking of guitar… What guitar players inspired you growing up and what players do you think stand out in today’s metal scene? 
Growing up I listened to Muse and learned everything from Origin of Symmetry and Absolution, still love those albums. So Matthew Bellamy has a huge influence on my playing style. Besides that I went into this huge metal/neo-classical phase. Malmsteen and Michael Romeo/Symphony X were huge influences and the Speed Kills from Michael Angelo Batio and John Petrucci’s Rock Discipline made me a more technique-focused player during those days. When “As The Palaces Burn” from Lamb of God came around, man, that influenced me a lot. Especially “Ashes of the Wake”. The production on that album is amazing as well. I could go on like this for a while, but some honorable mentions are Greg Howe, Anders Björler (The Haunted, At the Gates) and Avenged Sevenfold (Aborted fans probably gonna hate me for that last one, but I love that band, haha!). Though I have to say that I admire Emil Werstler’s music/playing style. That guy made me rethink my approach and how I look and my phrasing – you can definitely hear that in my playing now, hehe! His new project called Verlorener is amazing and original; that first song on that album with the german title, I could listen tot on repeat for days. For players that stand out these days I think no one can ignore Tosin Abasi. Amazing artist. Guthrie Govan and Rick Graham are mental – love their “feel”. Truly breathtaking. To be honest, i don’t look for new guitarists or bands a lot. I do have to say that the bands Shining (NOR) and Leprous have a special place for me. There’s something about those two bands that’s beyond amazing to me, truly feel their vibe. I remember seeing Shining opening for us in Mexico City in 2014, it was truly one of the best live performances I have ever seen in my life. I was stunned. The energy, the vibe, the heaviness – stunning. 

The band was formed back in the mid-nineties and has since become an institution in the extreme death metal world. You joined the band in 2012. What was your relationship to Aborted before becoming a member?
I was a fan since 2004 when I saw them on MTV Rock Zone with their “Dead Wreckoning” videoclip and later JB (ex-bass player) joined the band in 2007-2008, I believe. When Sven’s side project “System Divide” needed a new guitar player, JB introduced me to audition for a U.S. tour, but I didn’t get the job. Later they did a small EU tour and picked me since i lived in the Netherlands. The vibe was good, so I joined SD. A year later, Aborted had a line-up change and needed a fill-in for summer, and i filled in for two weeks. The vibe was really good and Sven asked if I wanted to join Aborted, which for me was a no-brainer.

Tell us about some of your personal highlights with the band since joining.
Aborted has been like a family to me, so that by itself is a highlight. All together we have this vibe (there’s that word again) and a sense of humor that’s pretty unique in my opinion. We’ve built this bond through the years and ups and downs, which means a lot to me. I’ve been able to tick off all my bucket list countries that I wanted to visit: the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. All amazing experiences, like seeing my uncle in New Zealand whom I haven’t seen for 17 years back then. Best highlight: Being able to drive Walmart fat carts and eat Ben & Jerry’s afterwards.

You are involved in several other bands and solo projects. Tell us more about what you have going on outside of Aborted!
Besides Aborted I have my solo project called “Mendel”, which has been my main focus after we had finished “TerrorVision”. I’m coming up with a new solo EP which focuses more towards film score music and Asian/Middle Eastern influences. Very, very excited about this. Besides that, we have “Oracles”. Currently too busy with Aborted, my solo project and my main job (mixing & mastering bands at my business MbdL Productions). Besides all of this, I’m also focusing on writing pop/rock music for a new project.

What Toontrack products do you use on a regular basis and where in your creative process do they come in?
I’ve been using Toontrack for a long time. I remember DFH2 and one of my faves is Drumkit from Hell (too bad I lost the 9 DVD box set). Currently, I’m using Superior Drummer 3. It’s phenomenal and I’m not saying that because of this interview. I adore it, I use it together with the Metal Machinery and Progressive Foundry SDX expansions. On my new upcoming EP, all drums are Superior Drummer 3 with the Metal Machinery SDX. when it comes to drums, I’m not a preset/quick fix mixer. I love to work/start with unprocessed material and build it up from there.

Worst ever moment on stage?
The dream gig at Wacken Open Air 2017. During the last song, my strap lock popped out of my strap. Something that never happens, never has happened…but of course had to happen during my dream gig.

…and best ever moment on stage?
Too many for one to stick out, to be honest. My favorite moments are when we are really enjoying ourselves on stage and when the crowd is really into it.

Big festival or club show – what do you prefer?
As much as I prefer the vibe on festivals, to walk around etc., I have to admit that club shows feel better because there is a better connection with the crowd – except when you play in Texas because of the 10000 degrees and no AC.

Name one piece of gear you can’t live without in your studio (and it can’t be the guitar or the computer!).
I can not live without my Kemper, it’s my secret tone unit. I even made bundles for the Kemper called The Ultimate Profile Bundle (1&2).

GEAR RUNDOWN.

Studio computer: PC i7 8700K, 16 GB DDR4, 2x SSD, ASUS Z370P MB
DAW: Cubase 9.5
Main guitar: Carillion Custom Legend of Zelda, Fishman Fluence Keith Merrow Pickups
String gauge and tuning: B standard, 013 – .017 – .026 – .036 – .046 – .056. (Elixir strings)
Amp of choice: Kemper Profiling Amp (Custom Mark V profile)


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