Interview : John Coffey – Eindhoven, NL (10.11.13)

306095_10150641016456818_1960773172_nWarped Tour Eindhoven was the second date of the European leg of the famous Vans Warped Tour. Taking place at Klokgebouw in Eindhoven, the place was packed and busy as the festival was sold out. It was a long day with many beers involved, but luckily we managed to meet 2/5 of the awesome dudes of John Coffey, who represented with dignity their homeland! Here’s our interview with Richard (bass) and David (vocals).

–  Hello, could you first introduce yourselves?

Richard : I’m Richard, I play bass and a sing a bit.
David  : I’m David and I sing…I’m a frontman in John Coffey! (laughs)

– You played Warped Tour NL today, how was it? 

Richard: Well, I loved it. The show was great, the people were great, we did a good half and hour of songs, so yeah, fabulous!  But at the same time it’s Vans Warped Tour so it’s a special kind of thing. But we only do one show and it’s one hell of a show so it’s all for us. It’s been great!

– How does it feel to represent the Dutch scene at such a major event?

David : Well, that’s the thing, we drove up here and we saw this whole line of people standing and waiting to get in here, I mean, I’m so proud to see Holland like really big and loud music, I really love to see that.

Richard: I think it’s getting better every year. With more people getting into the more alternative part of music and that’s a really good thing.

David: Until the point where it gets mainstream! (laughs)

Richard: Yeah I guess so.

–  There are some really good European bands that will be part of this event, what are your thoughts on the European current ‘alternative’ scene?

Richard : I don’t know. I think we don’t really think that way as a band. We don’t belong in just one genre so we just like to play, we like to be as best as we can and play everywhere we can. And I don’t think of a scene, I don’t know about you…

David : Well, I think it’s just cool to meet all those people that like this music and I’m not really sure how the European scene looks like, I mean it’s different per country.

Richard : It’s really spread, it’s not unified or something like that.

– And about the Netherlands, how do you feel it has evolved throughout the years?

David: Progressed.  I think the metalcore genre – The Devil Wears Prada kind of bands- they came really big, you look around here, there are a lot of people coming out to see that kind of bands. Maybe we look kind of weird in that kind of music…

Richard: I think so, but at the same time you got amazing bands that play good rock’n’roll, power rock’n’roll. So that’s another kind of movement that’s going on in Holland right now and I’m just happy with that! We got the Speedfest here as well in two weeks, it’s like 5 to 6 thousand people coming, you got now the Vans Warped Tour, like how many people are here now? Thousands and thousands and it’s sold out! So that’s a good sign for the Dutch scene.

David: I’m really proud of that yeah.

– You are yourselves known for some crazy performances, how do you come up with such incredible energy? 

Richard: I think it happens. Just happens. If you make music where you can go crazy then you WILL go crazy. There’s a lot of energy indeed and David is a great frontman, he just takes people on and warm, makes them go crazy and we’ll go after that. It’s in our DNA to live that. And there’s a lot of bands that do that. If you want to do that, go for it, if you don’t, just don’t but it’s always possible to do it. Where does it come from? It’s a necessity. And it’s just having fun.

– You are set to release the ‘Unstached’ vinyl which is an acoustic version of your LP what can you tell us about it? Where does the idea come from? 

David: We didn’t want to bring it too big, it was kind of a joke. We were like, ‘Let’s do this’, those songs we made in Sweden, let’s do sort of an acoustic version, drink beer and have fun during the studio time. We were gonna produce with our friend Martijn Groeneveld, we were just like ‘Let’s do something together! Let’s do an acoustic album!’. So we unplugged everything, shaved our mustache off and then it just worked out, we just drank a couple of beers and played everything live.

–  So it was recorded live?

Richard: Yes, first idea  when we were sitting together with the producer, he said : ‘let’s do an experiment, let’s drink a beer and let’s record something’ and we were like ‘yeahhhhh!’. Then it evolved, we didn’t drink a lot of beers but we did record.

Does ‘Unstached’ refer to ‘Unplugged’ then?

David: Yeah, absolutely, 6 songs unstached!

That was smart!

David: (laughs) Thank you!

 

– Your latest album ‘Bright Companions’ has been released a year ago now and you recorded it in Sweden, how was this experience?

Richard: it was crazy.

David: We worked with Pelle Grunefeld and he was just the guy we wanted on a record. We were listening to bands, a couple of bands like Refused, The Hives and especially The Ghost Of a Thousand. We listened to their record and we were like ‘we want that sound! Who did this?’. So the Guys from the Ghost of a 1000 told us ‘Here’s the number, call him’. So we tried and he’s the kind of producer who can chose whoever he wants to work with, so he asked us to send a couple of demos, so we did and he was really enthousiastic.

Richard: It was 2 weeks. A part of it was magic and another part was ‘I wanna get out of here, man!’. Six guys in one appartment for two weeks? David only got to sing when it was dark, at the end of the day, in the evening. Sometimes, it was depressing actually. But on the whole it was an amazing experience.

– Would you renew such an experience?

Richard: I think we want that. But I think we want that because we only remember the good times.

David: Yeah, yeah exactly. I only remember Michael Bubble. It was November and that CD of Michael Bubble of Christmas songs had just came out and we played those songs in the apartment when we were eating together and stuff, so I remember those times, listening to Christmas music and enjoying time together

Richard: And also getting up at nine in the morning, walking to the bakery, then walking to the shop to get some cigarettes and really good Swedish coffee, cigarette/coffee in the outside. And then you go to a little basement which is called …a studio. To sit there all day. And you work and it’s magic and it’s not magic,  And then it’s dark at 3pm.

David: Yeah I woke up at 12 o’clock and then I walked to the studio, it was daylight, came out from the studio at 3 and it was dark already.

Richard: But there was one thing that made it special and it was that we were the five of us. And that was pretty much the last time we were only the five of us. Because after that we got our labels and our partners and we were never together. Or less. And that was a special thing. And we’re gonna get back at it because we’re gonna record a new album next year and it will be probably like this. Just the five of us. And I think it’s a good thing : it’s good to have a lot of friends to be with but it’s also good to be just the five of us and focus. And most importantly having time for each other again.

– The release has been crowdfunded, did you ever think you’d have such a great response from your fans?

Richard: partly. It was David’s idea.

David: We didn’t know what to expect

Richard: We all said ‘let’s tried it’

David: We just needed money so we thought ‘let’s see if people like John Coffee music enough to pay for that record’ and they really wanted to and we didn’t expect that.

– It must be overwhelming…

Richard: Yes!

David: Yeah, they really wanted to hear a new album.

Richard: At the beginning, David came up with the idea and we were like ‘Nah man, it’s not gonna work’ and he said, ‘yes, it’s gonna work!’. And he did it and it worked out!

David: It got us over the finish.

– So that was also motivating? 

David: It is.

Richard: It is motivating but the most important thing is that without the crowdfunding, this wouldn’t have happened because we need the money to do it. And when we finished it was good and I think we are able to repay for it now, with the things we did. Good times!

 

– What inspires you to write music?

David: He Is Legend! There are a lot of bands that we really dig energy-wise and performance-wise and I think all those bands make this record happen somehow. We love what they do and there are a lot of bands that made that possible.

Richard:  Like He Is Legend or Everytime I Die, the Ghost of a thousand…Me and my brother really like the eighties, Metallica, Christopher really likes the 90ies stuff, I was like more Nu Metal like Korn, it’s a good blend. Sometimes it doesn’t work out because everything gets together and it sounds shit, but other times we get all this shit together and think  ‘wow it was good!’.

– Do you have a particular writing / recording process? 

Richard: Most of the times it’s the guitar players coming with a riff or a bass line for a song and then going to the rehearsal room. Work really hard, look very angry, try different formulas like singing nights, guitar nights, drums and bass nights. Getting it together, look really angry again, like ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing!’, get mad at each other or something –or not- but sometimes we can really hate each other. Then sometimes it’s really explosive and in the end that’s what the music is, it’s the raw energy we want to create and it’s been created with raw energy. And 5 people who were really thinking they knew best. And then say they know best and then everybody knows best. And at the end of the line, you have a song. Also,  when the 5 of us agree, then we know it’s a good song, no matter what.

– What do you like most about your local scene? 

David: It’s honesty. Dutch people are honest, if they do like a think they’ll say it if they don’t they’ll say they don’t like it. There’s no ‘faced off’

Richard: From what I can tell, I think we’re honest. Normal guys trying to have a good time with what they do and what they listen to. The most important is like…You know when  a 16 year-old kid is like “omg this is great, they’re my heroes”, we should remember that we were also like that when we were younger. And that’s honesty I think

In the opposite, is there anything you would like to change in order to make it better?

Richard: I think I would like to see the platform for alternative music a little bit widerand in the end it’s like in every country, the industry decides for most parts and maybe it’s not a bad thing. You got the labels, you got the bookers and they always stay and the bands come and go. But what we would like to do is that being a part of making the scene wider, bigger and more accessible and if that’s the case, then we’re happy. We want to go to other countries we want to go to England, we want to go to France, Holland is small. If you go to America, they drive 4 or 5 hours to go to a show and that’s normal. We don’t do that here.

David: Yes, it’s very rare.

– What was your most memorable experience, individually inside the band? 

David: I think it was Lowlands festival in Holland. It’s a big festival in Holland that I really wanted to play, so for me the fact that we could play that this year, with my friends, get the crowd this loud…It’s gonna stay in my mind forever. That was a special moment.

Richard: But there’s a lot of them. For me I’d say Groezrock in Belgium was special. It was really overwhelming, it just got to me. And at Groezrock I cried! Me and my brother. It was crazy and then we got a little more drunk and we cried even more. But, getting back at the Lowlands festival : Ten years ago, I said to my friends ‘I want to play the Lowlands festival!’  And we never thought it would happen. Ten years later, we play Lowlands festival! And the best thing is just proving your classmates from high school wrong.

David: Yeah, that’s it!  That’s it! Sweet revenge, they all kept saying ‘it’s not gonna happen’ and we proved them wrong. Such a good feeling!

Richard: It’s a bit childish but hey, when you play in the band, you have to be a bit childish (laughs).

– What’s next for John Coffey?

David: It’s the new album!  We’re working really hard right now, like 3 days a week, writing process of our new album and…

Richard: A couple of shows in Germany and in Holland, one in Belgium on December. Then it’s gonna be a little bit of rest from the stage and concentrate on the new music. We’re really into that process right now. And when it’s finished, hoping to release the new album next year. So the period of harvest things is over and the period of sowing is here again.

David: Beautiful words.

Richard: In the end it’s always work, we never really take a break. But we’re in a cool band, so that’s cool. Free drinks forever!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

David: I need to get a new wristband, mine is way too tight right now. That’s the only thing. Because your blood pressure is lowering, that’s it for me.

Richard: And I wanna….I don’t know.

David: Want another beer?

Richard: Yes

David: Ok

Thank you very much!

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 www.johncoffey.nl

Mary
I have a tendency to seek for new sounds and humbly contribute to its living. I'm a dreamer, I live for today and take the time to appreciate every single thing that life has to offer.

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