While at Culture Collide festival in Los Angeles, Larry Heath had the opportunity to catch up with two members of Dutch alternative rock band De Staat. Dominated by vocalist by Torre Florim, the interview covered the general scope of the Dutch music scene, and the recording process for De Staat's new album Machinery was like one big party.
You guys are off to Reykjavik in a couple days and then back to New York. How are you guys going to get through the next couple of weeks?
We just do it. There’s not really any special formula [laughs] – we get these gigs through mysterious ways. We’ve got a lot of good people working for us – I mean you have to make sure every gig is a good one yourself – but we have a good team around us. Like we play cities like Reykjavik, which is insane – it’s our first time there, the Iceland Airwaves festival.
How is L.A treating you?
Yeah, it’s treating us nicely - it’s a really easy city to be in. You just have to walk a couple of blocks and you can get a thousand different kinds of food and drinks, as long as you speak English you can do everything here. I don’t think you can really talk about it as one city though – you have the whole separate areas, you can’t really speak of L.A as being one thing.
So far it’s been treating us great – everyday hot and sunny!
What’s the music scene at home like at the moment?
It’s getting better and better to be honest – it used to be kind of shit, but now we have a lot of cool bands coming up. It’s used to be more of a competition of some sorts, but now everyone is working together and trying to improve themselves. Trying to make new stuff that tickles the balls and the mind! It’s a great scene, I mean Netherlands is a really small country – every city is like an hour drive away, so it’s really easy to get to know all the other bands around which is really fun.
If you play like 15 festivals a year you will easily get to know all the bands that are there – it’s a really fun scene to be in. Our country really supports music to a certain point – we’ve got a great atmosphere to play in.
You guys have a second album out now [Machinery]. Could you talk about the recording of this LP. I know the first one [Wait For Evolution] was pretty much all you – you wrote and produced it. How did this change with the second album?
Well it’s kind of, well – the cool thing about the first thing is indeed that I wrote it myself, it started out as like a project – it was just something I wanted to do and it just became this whole thing. So then we formed a band, all these guys – they were guys I already knew for quite a long time from some other bands. So we started to play the first record and all the songs from the recorded started to sound ten times better.
So I quickly realised that it was really important to play all the stuff that I wrote together, and the songs could only get better because of the way all these guys play and the input they give, and that I give them in return – so that’s kind of how we made the second record: I wrote a lot of stuff before we recorded it then we started to play them together and the songs all changed and evolved – so the changing of the songs was part of the recording process.
Everyone has their own style and their own way of interpreting a part, so the sound of the five of us was really essential in making this record.
The cool thing was, at that time, we would all live in the same house, so we would go to bed at night and wake up in the morning and find a new demo or a changed part constantly. It was a really fun, creative process. We lived in this big farmhouse together so I had a little studio at one side of the house and the other side was the kitchen, in between is where we all slept – so it was like one big camp. The whole record was made there. It was a lot of fun, and then eventually we went into the studio and recorded the whole thing in eight days.
So now the band has a large range of music to perform to audiences now – are you guys really enjoying the fact that you have all these new songs to play?
Yeah definitely – when we had one record we didn’t really have a lot of options to change the set. We just changed the songs all the time, like some of the songs had these parts where we could just jam on, so we just did that. Now we have two records so we can change set-lists more – which is great.
Have the records been officially released in Australia yet?
No, not yet.
You could probably get it on iTunes thought, right?
I’m not too sure actually, I don’t think it’s on itunes yet but we definitely want to release it there [Australia] someday, we are trying to release it in England, then Germany, and eventually the States – but you’ve got to start somewhere. If you just release it everywhere at once it’s impossible to track [laughs].
If you’re doing well in the U.K it’s easier to get to all the other countries – the music scene is really focused on the States and the U.K, that’s what they say anyway.
What’s an Aussie band that we should really check out, Larry?
When you’re in New York there’s a folk band called Boy & Bear playing, they are just killing it at the moment. Gotye is another great performer to check out.
Oh, we know him [Gotye], he is number one on the Dutch charts at the moment! ‘Somebody that I used to know’ or something – it’s a cool song, a great video clip, with the painting and the pretty girl naked [laughs]
Ah yes, Kimbra! She is amazing! Alright, well thank you guys very much for your time!