In high spheres of Holland with Parkside

"The Netherlands, the other country of cheese." You may remember this beaming the Holland Cheese Industry put in heavy rotation through our TV sets in the ’90s to try to sell us gouda, maasdam and other strange colored milkwares.
At Indie Rock Mag, we’re far from trying to sell you anything, but don’t be surprised to read too here and there in the near future, that Holland is the other country of independent rock. Indeed, after Alamo Race Track and their short revised and corrected history of American rock out in 2006, now is Parkside’s turn to make our sensors go wild since almost two years, with their feverish and convoluted Belgian-style pop, schizophrenic English rock and German electro.
The Belgian scene, schizophrenia, creation, communication, freedom... many subjects on which singer and guitarist René de Wilde gives us exclusive answers, two months after the release of Cables (read our review), which should at least provide the group a well deserved beginning of recognition in this wonderful year 2008.

Indie Rock Mag : Who does what in the band ? Are there predefinite responsabilities for each and every one of you ?

René de Wilde : As for who plays what instruments, you can find that in the CD. But I think your question is more general. We don’t have defined responsibilities. Every one can do what ever he wants. But there are some differences in how we individually approach music. Bram and Rob are more focused on making sounds and soundscapes. Bram is also very much into rhythmical programming, with own made sounds. I am more focused on songwriting and songstructures.
Our songs are a combination of these elements.

Indie Rock Mag : As soon as the first notes from The Disintegration Service open your new LP Cables, one thinks of Notwist, then dEUS, but after a few seconds we get lost, because each and every time we believe we could spot an influence it vanishes by itself. Your music is kaleidoscopic, it seems impossible to encircle all its facets. If you had to describe the Parkside universe in a few words, what would they be ?

René de Wilde : This is a very difficult question. Two words that come to mind : Complex and Sensitive. Oh, and Fantasy and Dreams and Love and Sadness and Hapiness and Fun. Ha! It’s a difficult question…

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Bram van den Oever

Indie Rock Mag : In your tracks, there are anyhow a certain number of very disparate influences, that you don’t hesitate to claim however (I think about Radiohead or the Flaming Lips), but they never prevail to the singularity of your songs. Is it difficult to be a great music lover when you actually make some yourself ? When you are compared to such artists, do you take it as a compliment ?

René de Wilde : When we are compared to bands we think are good, yeah, that doesn’t feel bad at all! And it’s actually not difficult at all to be a great music lover and making music ourselves. We are making music because we love it! Maybe I don’t understand this question in the right way?
As a music maker, I think you’re always (consciously or unconsciously) influenced by everything you hear. But the music we make is a product of how we are as a person and the things we meet in our lives. We don’t want to sound like this band or that band. We just create and let it all happen. No frontiers or limits.

Indie Rock Mag : Listening to Cables, we can’t help but thinking about dEUS, Zita Swoon and the Belgian scene that ensued. Do you have affinities with this scene ? Is there a real independent Dutch scene ? Do you feel close, in spirit, to a band like Alamo Race Track, for example ? If yes, do you think this scene could go the same way as its Belgian counterpart and manage to impose itself on Europe ?

René de Wilde : We think high of the ‘Belgian scene’, in terms of quality music. But (speaking for myself), I don’t have affinities with any scene. There are a few bands and artists I very much like. But they come from totally different genres and places. I don’t believe in ‘scenes’. They seem temporarily and I think they can be very ‘narrowing’. However, I do believe in having a good time with bands we like.
As for a Dutch scene, I don’t see it. But I’m quite sure that a lot of other musicians in Holland DO see it and that they would tell you a totally different story on this matter.

Indie Rock Mag : Even though you’re able to show the greatest melodic clearness, your tracks are generally complex and twisted. Would you say your music is rather considered or instinctive ?

René de Wilde : The first ideas for our songs are always instinctive. But in working them out, I think Cables has become rather considered as well. We spent a lot of time on this album (about 4 years).
The consideration mostly regards the sound. Not the complexity or the twists. They come mainly instinctively.
We are now working on a lot of new songs, and we feel a bit like just throwing them out much faster, we don’t want to ‘hang out’ that long in the same songs anymore. It feels good and fresh!

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René de Wilde

Indie Rock Mag : Schizophrenia seems to be an important constant in the lyrics from your songs as well as in their building, which shows particularly unstable and shifting. In fact, if melancholy prevails on most of them, some rage spasms can happen every time like in A million scientists. Does it reflect your personality ? Is it tied to your way of feeling things around you, to your state of mind at the moment you wrote or recorded Cables ?

René de Wilde : Exactly. The way you say it in the last sentence of your question : at that moment. We are talking about the period 2003-2007. In our lives, there were some deep lows and some big peeks as well.
Unstable, yes. Our music can only reflect ourselves as a person. We cannot sing about things that are not close to us. I see a bit of a shift however. We are a bit older now and both Bram and I are a bit more happy and stable nowadays (Rob always has been the more stable guy, well, that’s how it seems anyway). The fun of making music, and life in general, is becoming more present in our music. When we are rehearsing, or on stage, we want to have a good time (in our own way).

Indie Rock Mag : René, you left Amsterdam and dumped your job to settle in the countryside and live off your passion. Is music a way to find a place in society or, on the other hand, to live freely this assumed maladjustment you sing in The Disintegration Service ?

René de Wilde : I don’t see making music as a way to find a place in society nor to live freely and maladjusted.
It’s just something I need and want to do. To me, making music and falling in love are the greatest things in life.
As for society/maladjustment : there are a lot of things I don’t like about our society. On the other hand, I need this society to live my life. So I’m just trying to find my way in it. Create my own little world in which I’m happy. In the last couple of years I learned a lot about myself. One thing I learned is that I don’t need that much to be happy. My music, one or two good friends and maybe one day a woman, that’s all. No need to be part of things anymore.

Indie Rock Mag : To end up with comparisons, the guitar riff in the middle of Changing Colors reminds me Tortoise for this adventurous and untamable side, which is symptomatic of the freedom spirit that characterizes the entirety of Cables. This freedom, is it what you seek to get through music ? On another hand, would you like your music to help free people in every day life ?

René de Wilde : Good you mention Tortoise! We think it’s a great band. Yeah, I suppose making music gives a feeling of freedom. The freedom to express your feelings and thoughts. It can be very liberating.
It’s usually when there’s something on my mind or chest, when I grab my guitar and start playing/writing new songs.
‘Free people in every day life’ : those are very big words. But if people get something out of our music, that’s great! No matter what, if it makes people dance or cry or happy, it’s really cool if we can touch a few people with our music.

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Rob den Otter

Indie Rock Mag : On records, your music is particularly hybrid, there is, as a matter of fact, a good part of electro and the crafted production gives a sort of an almost dreamlike unrealness to some of your songs. Do you try to render this on stage, or do you play them in a very different way ?

René de Wilde : We’ve been trying to stay close to how we sound on our record. And did not play the songs in a very different way. But I think that our live-sound was a bit more ‘rough’ and ‘Rock’ kind of like, than how we sound on Cables.

Indie Rock Mag : Since Dick (your bass player) and his drummer-brother Mark left, Parkside gathered around the original trio. Will your way to retranscribe your tracks on stage depend on this or will you engage additional musicians ? Do you think that it will influence the evolution of your music in the future ?

René de Wilde : For now, we don’t have plans to engage additional musicians. One of the consequences of Dirk and Mark leaving, is that we sound more electronical now (a drum-kit and a bass guitar automatically makes you sound more ‘Rock’). We are also working in a different fashion nowadays. When there is a rough new idea or song, we take it into the rehearsal room immediately. And then we see how it developes. We are more focused on what we can do live now.
We started writing and recording the songs for Cables, before Mark en Dirk were with us.
We asked them to join us to start playing live. That made us trying to sound like how we recorded the stuff.
Now, in this ‘new’ approach we have, I think our live sound and how we sound on future records will be more similar. So that’s a bit of an evolution.

Indie Rock Mag : We know you now for a year and a half, thanks to Myspace, and we follow your career. Did Internet really helped you to break out in the Netherlands and in other countries ? Do you perceive this communication medium as an integral part of the music future ? Or is it still on a local level and particularly through concerts that you’ll manage the best to make yourself know ?

René de Wilde : I think that internet and myspace are a big help in getting your music out there. It’s really cool to be interviewed by French music lovers and to have people from a lot of different countries ordering Cables and to be on the radio in New Zealand, all thanks to Internet. Also, if you approach a venue to try to play there, they always ask for a link to your website or myspace, so I think the internet has become the main platform to present yourself. Of course together with playing live on stage.

Indie Rock Mag : Do you have a good media coverage in the Netherlands ? More generally, what is the place given to indie rock (taken on a very large scale) in your country ?

René de Wilde : The media coverage over here is not bad at all, there are some good magazines and radio and TV shows covering indie music. We are not that big and well-known yet, but who knows, in the future...
In general, the border between indie music and charts-music has vanished a bit over here. That’s a development of the last 16 years or so. I think Nirvana was one of the first indie bands to get really high in the charts. And nowadays, you hear relatively unknown Dutch indie acts as GEM and Moke and LPG in big commercials for companies like Motorola and some other big ones.
So, things in music and media are shifting and developing.

Indie Rock Mag : Do you think of a tour after the new album comes out ? If yes, will it be limited to the Netherlands or will we have the luck to see your play, at least in Paris ?

René de Wilde : Yes, we want to tour again, with all of our new songs! We kind of did a tour with all the Cables songs, before the album came out. It’s a bit the other way around, but we like to play all the new songs, see how they develop, playing them live, and then throw them on a record, and then get on with more new stuff. And we would love to play all over the world. Paris? Hell yeah!

Indie Rock Mag : Eventually, could you give us a few hints to follow concerning Dutch newcomers (or not…) that you particularly like and who are still unknown outside the Netherlands ?

René de Wilde : One name comes to mind : Spinvis. He’s already well-known in Holland. You can find a lot of his clips and songs here.

Big thanks to René De Wilde for his receptiveness. And also thanks to Casablancas and Lloyd_cf for the translations.

Interviews - 13.11.2008 par darko, RabbitInYourHeadlights

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