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No Rest For The Pilgrims


Архив интервью | Русская версия

Don’t let anybody tell you that hard rock has been nothing but predictable and cliché over the past 20 or something years. Turn their attention to D-A-D, the Danish four-piece that has been turning hard rock inside out and spicing it with all kinds of weird ingredients throughout their career – and making each record unlike the previous one on top of it. As a result, however, not every hard rock fan is a D-A-D fan, and a lot of people just don’t “get” this kind of uniqueness and unpredictability. Luckily for the band, pretty much everyone “gets it” in their home country, where they have been a national phenomenon since the late 80s. But with a new record deal with AFM Records, and a new promising album, “A Prayer For The Loud”, they are set to return to many other markets that they have underworked for whatever reason. Shortly before the album release we had a very nice chat with vocalist Jesper Binzer, and he talked us through the latest events in the D-A-D camp.

As long as I’m calling from Moscow, Russia, I cannot but ask you about the concert you played here about five years ago. What was it like? How did you like the city and the fans?

Oh, it was a great experience for us, we enjoyed it so much. We loved the fans. There were 20 guys who were extra into D-A-D, and they carried the whole thing, and it was just perfect. One of these guys made black balloons, it was really a party. The thing about Moscow is that I’d been wanting for years to see Moscow, so when it happened, it was a pleasant and lovely surprise, and I’m looking so much forward to coming back.

Unfortunately I failed to make it to that show, but I made it up next year when I traveled to Sweden Rock Festival and saw D-A-D headlining the opening night. What memories do you have about that event? How was it like? Especially given that it was your first gig with a substitute bass player.

Sweden Rock is a really great festival. It’s a festival you wouldn’t miss. Whenever they ask if we wanna play, we surely show up. One week before that Stig (Pedersen) broke his arm, he fell on a very slippery stage during a hard rainfall, and we needed to do something in order not to… I mean, one of the main reasons to get a substitute bass player was actually the Sweden Rock show, because you don’t wanna miss that. Five-ten years ago it was a small glam rock festival, and now it’s turned into a real cultural event, it’s one of those places you really wanna play. The audience is always very sweet, it’s a pleasure to be there, but it was really strange to be there without Stig. That was a very strange summer. But on the other hand, we did it, Stig was with us, it was a great show, and everything was great.

As far as I understand, every D-A-D member is very much an integral part of the band. How would you describe the contribution that each of you makes to the band’s music and sound?

All through the years sometimes one guy can make half a song, one guy can write one whole lyric, but in the end everything is 25 percent for each, because everybody contributes pretty much equally. It’s pretty unique, and it’s also a bit hard, because we are now more than grown men, and collaborating is harder for grown men, but in the end it’s all worth it, because things become so much better and bigger when more people contribute. It’s been like a social experiment all through our lives – knowing, respecting your colleagues, but having to work to make it happen. First of all, you have to wait for people to come up with stuff, but also you always need to be able to pull your own stuff a little back in order for the community to rise, so to speak. It’s really a challenge, and it’s a slow process, but in the end we’re so happy with it, that there shouldn’t be any other way.

Your new album, “A Prayer For The Loud”, is coming out after quite a substantial break, you haven’t released anything since 2011’s “DIC NII LAN DAFT ERD ARK”. Did this break change the songwriting process in the band anyhow?

I think it did – in a sense. In the last maybe 15 years we in D-A-D felt this right to do whatever we want. It’s something that goes back to the old punk days – we don’t want to be told what to do, and the audience shouldn’t define us. We’ve done exactly what we wanted and we’ve enjoyed ourselves doing it, but this time around as time was passing, there was this more and more important that what we came up with wasn’t just some left-hand thing. It was to state clearly who we are. That is why we needed to narrow the stuff down, to shoot straight in a way this time around. People are saying that this album sound and feels a lot like “No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims” (1989), it has the same spirit. On my side, I can see that same thing happened back then – we really had to define ourselves. We said, “OK, we cannot have a piano ballad, we cannot have a reggae song, we cannot have all that stuff we fool around with. We need to make this very straight, very concise”. I think that’s what happened to the songwriting. We know that in order to make 10 good songs you need to write 50. That’s how it is, and it’s such an amount of… (laughs) We all look back and think how we can make it easier for ourselves, but everybody knows there’s no easy way out, it’s just go ahead and do it. If you stop halfway, you end up with a reggae song and a piano ballad, and that’s really not what we need at this point in time for D-A-D.

Even though the new album is not yet released, you’re already playing its songs live in Demnark. Aren’t you concerned that at least a couple of unreleased songs are already on YouTube all over the place?

Oh yeah, of course, but that’s the thing, that’s what is going on at the moment. The thing is that some of the songs were ready already a year ago, and we only played one new song last year, the song called “The Real Me”, because of the whole YouTube thing. But this time around we thought, “OK, it’s only a couple of months before the album comes out, and it’s gonna be the name of the game anyway”. And we already found out that time is not as important as we maybe thought, so if a song is out on YouTube two months earlier, I guess it doesn’t matter. With this new stuff, as long as you play something live, it will end up on the Internet in some ways. Maybe that’s just how it is now, you can’t hide it, and there’s nothing to do about it. You just need to do it well.

In general, how do you feel about these new media like Facebook or YouTube? Does it concern you that the distance between the band and the fans is becoming shorter, is it OK for you, or would you like to position yourself in a different way if you could?

It’s a good question, it’s good to think about positioning yourself in relation to the audience. But I’m very much for it – the shorter the distance, the better for me, I think. In terms of having to establish some kind of myth, I think, the magic is in creativity and in art, it’s not in the distance. But having said that, it’s hard work. All these social media platforms are really hard work. You need to do it, and I’m too old for it, deep down inside I don’t believe in it. But I can see that everybody is doing it, and it really works for them, so it’s like, “OK, maybe we should do it even more,” and we’re doing it. It’s hard work, but I really like the result.

Could you say a few word about the concept of the album cover artwork and title – “A Prayer For The Loud”? Is it just the name of a great song, or is there a deeper meaning behind it?

There’s always a deeper meaning, but it’s maybe not so concrete, it’s an artistic meaning. “A prayer for the loud” was one of the first lines that I wrote, even before the song. I was just being thankful that the audience showed up, and thankful for the whole rock’n’roll culture that people still believed in coming out, raising their fist and shouting along, that people are using energy to enjoy a rock concert and stuff. That’s what is inside “A Prayer For The Loud”, but when the song was made, it turned out to be like, “the church of blues”, “we’re living rock’n’roll”, and we thought, “How can we make fun of that?” For the time being there’s too much about choosing sides religion-wise, this religion thing is going too crazy, people are forcing other people into it, like “You have to be a Christian”, “You have to be a Moslem”, “You have to be…” It’s like, “No-no-no, stop it, stop it”. We took a powerful image and maybe not made fun of it, but tried to take the power out of it and put a goat’s head instead. We say, “Hey, this is our church, this is our religion”. That’s the concept behind the cover.

The new album is coming out via AFM Records. What are they doing differently, and what have they promised to do differently than your previous label, Medley Records?

I think these guys, they have been… not following us, not stalking us, but they have really wanted to make something with us for a long time, and I think it’s great to be able to do this. We are still on a smaller label in Denmark, because it gives you freedom, but you also need some muscle and euros. These guys, AFM, they are all over the world in a good fashion, and for us it was important to have the record out in Russia and everywhere else. These guys said they would do it, so we’re ready.

D-A-D have not had a live DVD since “Scare Yourself Alive” (2006). Do you have any plans to come up with a new DVD?

I don’t think so at the moment, but it’s a good thing to look into. We’re doing this tour in the fall, and it may be a good idea. You can’t make money out of it, but I think you can do something great with it. You could turn it upside down a little bit, do it a little different, so it’s not gonna be just a YouTube show, but something else from the D-A-D camp. I’ll look into it.

A few years ago you released your autobiography, “I Won’t Cut My Hair”, but it was in Danish only. Have you considered bringing it out in English or German?

Yes, I have. People have been approaching me, and it seems that they’re almost ready to release it in German or English, but then something falls through, I don’t know what it is. Now I have some good ties with some publishers, and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I’m gonna ask you about my all-time favorite D-A-D song, “We All Fall Down”, which is from the previous album, “DIC NII LAN DAFT ERD ARK”. Could you tell me the story behind it, was there any event that inspired you to write it?

What I put into the song, what I think defines it, is that you have to be forgiven by your closest people. I was thinking about my wife at that point, about not being able to be the one that I wanted to be, when either you’re too stressed, or you’re too tired, or something, and you fall into a hole, mentally, so to speak. That hole is something that I would turn around if I was able, but it’s beyond me, so that song is like, “Forgive me for falling into that hole and remember that we all do it sometimes”.

People in Russia, when it comes to Danish rock and hard rock music, they mostly know established bands with a long history, bands like King Diamond, Artillery, or Pretty Maids. But are there any younger bands, contemporary bands in Denmark that you consider worthy of people’s attention?

Yes, I think we’ve got some thrash and death metal bands coming out. There’s a thrash metal band called Baest, and they have the groove that I really like. Then there’s a lot of small bands that are trying to do something, and it is very interesting to follow what they’re doing. There’s a band called Tainted Lady, there’s a band called The Boy That Got Away, these are small rock bands, but they are very talented. Then there are old colleagues of ours called Dizzy Miss Lizzy who were big in the 90s, but they still make very good music, and they’re excellent players. There’s quality on our land.

You released a solo album, “Dying Is Easy”, two years ago. Do you have any plans to continue as a solo artist?

It was such a nice time, I really enjoyed it! It was nice hanging out with those guys in the band, it was nice to meet D-A-D fans and new fans on another level, it was really nice to have this outlet. But I can’t really juggle two things at the same time. I really have to concentrate, and I will love to concentrate on D-A-D for the next… I don’t know… 1,5 or 2 years, and then I’ll see what’s in the solo bag. But I really enjoyed it, it was life-saving for me to have that outlet. I’ll definitely do it again when I have the time.

Speaking of your projects outside D-A-D, I have just discovered a video that you did with Hej Matematik (“Ik Ordinaer”, 2014). Could you say a couple of words about this collaboration? It’s really unusual for you…

The guy who’s in Hej Matematik (Soren Rasted) is the guy who was in Aqua – do you know “Barbie Girl”? We were touring in Scandinavia with Aqua, and he had this project with his cousin (Nicolaj Rasted), and he just asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, “Of course! Let’s have some fun!” It’s good sometimes to hang out with some other musicians and to do something different, and I enjoyed it a lot, because all I had to do was sing like Billy Idol.

Yeah, I noticed the similarity! (everybody laughs) I also noticed that while the other guys are singing in Danish, you’re still singing in English, as always in D-A-D. What’s the idea behind it? Is it like you’re not going to sing in Danish ever?

Exactly! I think so. At least it has to be in my own project. I don’t know… let me do my own thing, let me be me, so to speak. I have this thing that it has to feel rock’n’roll to me if I do anything outside D-A-D. It has to be with a headline that says “Rock’n’Roll”. To be able to participate in a pop song, I said, “OK, I can be the rock’n’roll part of a pop song”. I had a good time doing it, and I felt that I was still me in it.

With the new label that is quite international, and with the new album in which a lot of people hear overtones of your classic records, do you have any plans to return to such parts of the world as the U.S. or Japan, where you haven’t been really active for a long time?

Definitely. We have a lot of fans in America, and they write us all the time, “Come over, we miss you, how come it’s only Europeans that get to see your shows” and blah blah blah. At the moment, there’s the third wind going for D-A-D, people are calling us and inviting us to tour, and we did that in that large break between albums, we did a lot of touring. But suddenly you’re losing time, you need more time, and to be able to go to America for a month or so, there has to be a reason for it. I mean, I love to be on holiday and I love to play rock’n’roll, but there has to be some more that just playing rock’n’roll and having a holiday. There has to be a little more stuff going on. But whenever Japan calls, we’ll come, if America offers something like a tour, we’ll come, no problem.

A couple of years ago you said in an interview that D-A-D are very comfortable with having a solid home base, with being very established in Denmark, and pretty much independent outside of the country. But, in your opinion, are there any opportunities you missed in the course of your career that could bring you to different levels of popularity, different routes of development, etc.? Is there anything you would love to have done differently?

I think there’s a lot of things that you could have done differently, you could regret some stuff, but I’m pretty sure that if we had that kind of breakthrough that maybe Warner Bros. wanted us to have, some of us would have been on drugs at the moment. That’s a tremendous pressure. Looking at it now – that’s what we do as human beings: we’re trying to find meaning in what happened (laughs) – it really feels great to have this home base. We’re a big pop band, in a way, in Denmark, and we’re a normal rock’n’roll band outside of Denmark. Somehow I find it perfect – it’s great to be able to have big shows, make some money in our part of the world, and spend the money and give people a big experience, even if it’s just a club show. I actually enjoy this dynamics, but looking back, if we could have had some kind of mainstream career outside of Denmark, of course, it would have been great.

To wrap up this interview, could you tell me what’s next on the agenda of D-A-D? “A Prayer For The Loud” is coming out on May 31, but apart from that, do you have any plans for videos, live performances, festivals, whatever?

At the moment we’re in the middle of doing a video for “Burning Star”, and we’ll continue with doing a video for “A Prayer For The Loud”. We’re gonna play a lot of festivals in Denmark and Scandinavia, we’re gonna play Wacken festival in German, and after that we’ll tour all of Scandinavia and all of Europe up until Christmas. It’s pretty much laid out.

D-A-D on the Internet: http://d-a-d.dk

Special thanks to Irina Ivanova (AFM Records) for arranging this interview

Interviw by Roman Patrashov
Live photos by Natalia “Snakeheart” Patrashova
Promo photos courtesy of AFM Records
May 10, 2019
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