THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
Belgium…well, that are French fries, beer, waffles and….music? There are good Belgian bands around and I’m not saying this for the sake of patriotism, mind you…it’s for the love of music and this love I found for a new band called Gentlemen Of Verona. It’s honest rock ‘n roll that grabs you by the throat, if it is because of Debbie’s screaming vocals or because of the great garagesound or the mix of both of them it’s up to you… Anyway, The Original Sin was proud to sit on Debby’s lap (kind of….)
AND TELL US DEBBY, ARE PEOPLE FROM VERONA GENTLY PEOPLE?
What a strange start for an interview, but anyway… Last summer we were in Verona and it was a very nice surprise. Everything’s great, the food, cosy streets, gentle people so nothing but praise. One strange thing though is that they don’t trust you if you’re a stranger. Everywhere you look you see some cameras that are filming the registration numbers from the cars and if you stay the night at a hotel you better give your registration number from your car to the hotel owner as otherwise when waking up your car might be gone. But I guess everyone’s having their own curiosities in life….
YOU ARE A NEW BAND BUT ALREADY TWO ALBUMS MADE, SO YOU’RE WORKAHOLICS THEN?
Are we workaholics? Who knows… Anyway for us it was more than clear that the 2nd album had to be made. We are already around for 3 years so that makes one record per 18 months, I guess that’s not bad at all… Look, we don’t see writing songs as a job we have to do, it just happens. Even if I must add that we had to introduce something what we want to call “writing sessions”. We play so often that it happens that there’s no time left to do rehearsals or writing any new stuff. We used the deadline-technique. How it works? Well, we took our agenda and marked a date by telling ourselves that the song had to be ready by then and we noticed that if we worked under pressure that it helps.
THE FIRST THING I HAD IN MIND WHEN I HEARD THE BAND WAS THAT YOUR SOUND WAS VERY UNBELGIAN….
Well, that’s a nice thing to hear! When we listen to records ourselves, we always can hear differences between Belgian releases and non-Belgian. You can hear that in the way they are recording, the mixing of the mastering. It all sounds too clean. Too polished. When we recorded our album, we wanted it to be like on American garagerockrecords. No problem to sound dirty and raw. During the mastering and the mixing it was important for us to avoid they cut out the imperfections. It just had to bang!
OK, BUT BECAZUSE OF YOUR UNUSUAL SOUND, YOU ALSO MISS A LOT OF PRESS-ATTENTION…
It’s not easy to get presscoverage in Belgium as you know that most magazines are just floating with the stream. Today all spotlights are aimed on bands who make poprock. Folk and retrostuff are also doing it well these days. Is it frustrating thing? Not really as it gives us the freedom to do our own thing and not caring if a song will do it on the radio or not. We just care about the quality of the song, just like our big examples. Do you remember when they played Grinderman, Iggy Pop or Jon Spencer on the radio? I can’t…
ME NEITHER AS I DON’T HAVE A RADIO…. BUT THE REVIEWS I SAW WERE POSITIVE THOUGH…
Those positive reviews are great but they are time related as well, I mean they appear when the album got released and then it’s over, so we think what people say about our gigs is as important as well. If a organisator books us because some friend of him told him we’re an exciting band then such things please us too. A good review is awesome but you have to prove it on stage, and we do!!!
THERE HAS BEEN COLLOBORATIONS FROM FAMOUS PEOPLE, DID YOU ASK THEM OR HAVE THEY COME BY THEMSELVES?
Because of work we knew Willy Willy and Frankie Swaenen (both famous Belgian rockmusicians-ed.). They thought we were making good music and when we met each other it always happened that we end up talking about Gentlemen Of Verona. When we were making on one of our songs we had a pianoriff in mind but no one from us could play it properly and we decided to call Frankie who happens to be a drummer but he knows how to play piano as well! After some takes the pianopiece was recorded and Willy Willy added some great guitarsolo to that…everything went perfect. They knew what we wanted and thru that you see they are real professionals. It was a strange experience as when we were kids we went to see The Scabs and we had posters from Willy Willy and Frankie hanging on our wall and now these people were playing in our studio!!! And just because they wanted to, just because they liked our stuff…
I NEVER SAW THE BAND ON STAGE BUT WHEN I HEAR YOUR CD I THINK YOU MUST BE AWESOME AND IF I SEE LIVEPICS FROM DEBBIE WELL…
When we’re on stage, we give ourselves 100%. During the gig we got totally lost in the music, just the stage matters and it’s a strange experience. The day after I see myself totally covered with bruises and I wonder where they came from but having a quick look at the pics that are taken, I solved the mystery quite fast…
IS THERE A BIG DIFFRENCE BETWEEN THE LIVESOUND AND THE ONE ON CD?
In fact not. Maybe, there are some extra guitars or some added arrangements but all by all it’s the same. The basic tracks on the cd are also live recorded. Everything was on tape within 4 hours, but something like that can only be done if the band are perfectly trained and we know each other.
WELL, DEBBIE, I COMPARED YOU TO PJ HARVEY TOO, JUST LIKE MOST REVIEWERS…NOT BORED OF IT?
Honestly yes. Okay the way are voice sounds might be similar but that’s more like a compliment. I think our new album is more like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Iggy Pop, Urban Dance squad and Rage Against The Machine.
“BRUTALLY HONEST” ISN’T THAT A REFERENCE TO BANDS WHO JUST MAKE ROCK’N ROLL JUST TO BELONG TO SOME SCENE?
Not really. The title just refers to the way we deal with music. What you se is what you get, just exciting rock’n roll without any marketing trick.
JESSE HOFF BUILT A GUITARAMP ESPECIALLY FOR YOU, HOW COULD YOU CONVINCE SOMEONE SO FAMOUS?
The man saw us on My Space. He liked our music and sent an e-mail with his compliments and after googling him, it seemed he was the guitardoctor from people like The Black Crowes, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton or The Verve. We sent him a mail asking if he had some tips about some guitarsounds and before realising it all, Jesse started working on amp that was especially built for the sound of our band. We went to London to pick it up and he spent the whole afternoon with us by demonstrating the amp and refining it. The sound fitted Gentlemen Of Verona in a perfect way. Also on stage the amp has lots of success as after each gig guitarlovers are coming to have a look at it and that’s understandable… Jesse wrote the word “Lajzy” on it which refers to his own nickname Lazy J. And I found out that Pete Thownsend from The Who is using such a Lazy J-amp too so as a reference that counts I think !
YOUR RECORD IS RELEASED ALL BY YOUR OWN, HOW DOES IT FEEL FOR A BAND IN TIMES WHERE PEOPLE ARE ONLY DOWNLOADING?
Downloads are the future. Our first record has been exclusively released by the Belgian downloadlabel THE WAB. We have nothing against the fact that our music is spread through the net. We decided to press a cd as we knew that a lot of people, among ourselves, would be pleased with a disc, the cover, the lyrics… For those who think that’s all useless there’s still the downloadversion on I-Tunes.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND PLEASE STATE WHY…
I don’t have a certain fave album or so. I love lots of different things, sometimes I like classical music and at other times I like alternative rock. The only thing I want is that it is a bit dark though. A record I played over and over must be “Broken” by Nine Inch Nails, another one was “Fever To Tell” by The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s.
WITH WHO WOULDN’T YOU MIND TO BE ALONE WITH IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 8 HOURS AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN?
With MacGyver, as I know that with him the elevator would work within 5 minutes. To thank him I would buy him a beer, hoping that I would meet Nick Cave at a pub.
THE LAST WORD IS YOURS….
Brilliant so we can make some adverts! “Brutally honest” is available on www.gentlemenofverona.com or at gigs. If you prefer mp3’s you’ll find us at I-Tunes. So gimme yer money and buy it now!!!