Dance With Dirt

author TL date 27/06/13

When I went to Nordic Noise Festival last month I came home with a good deal of positive surprises. One of them was the quartet Dance With Dirt, whose sound struck me as a mix of Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes, and who won the prominent Danish band competition "Karrierekanonen" last year (Grateful nod of the head here, to our photographer Kenny for recommending checking them out). They impressed me so much in fact, that I quickly decided to ask them to play at Rockfreaks.net's 10th Anniversary, which is happening in August. But that left me with the problem that like me, there are probably a good deal of people who have yet to hear of Dance With Dirt, so to bring everybody up to speed as soon as possible I thought "what better way than to interview them?". I guess the only better way would be to review their recently released debut full length "We Are Dance With Dirt", but that will wait at least 'til tomorrow. For now you guys can read below what came of my first ever chat with the band:

Dance With Dirt are:

Kristoffer Veirum (guitar) - Jess Gertsen (drums) - Magnus Jacobsen (vocals/guitar)- Jonathan Lyby (bass)

RF.net: To begin with, you guys are going to be a relatively new acquaintance for most of our readers, so it'd be cool if you could tell us who you are in the band, and how long you've been at it?
Magnus: We've been together since 2007 in the traditional rock setup. I sing and play guitar, Jess here plays drums, Kristoffer also plays guitar and then we have our fourth guy Jonathan who plays the bass and who's absent right now because he's still at work in the cantine of a bank down in Aarhus

RF.net: I think I may have met him while drunk at Nordic Noise actually..

Jess: I'm sure you have! He's the kind of guy who says high to everybody, so I wouldn't be surprised!

RF.net: Can you tell us about how you got together to begin with?
Kristoffer: Well it started out by...

Jess: [starts coughing violently ]

Kristoffer: Wow, excuse my friend here. We've been drinking some coffee with whiskey in.. Because we're a rock band we think it's important to drink a lot of whiskey, but Jess might have had a bit too much in his cup!

Jess: [gets things back under control]

Kristoffer: Okay so Jonathan and I wanted to start a band, so we put ads everywhere - the libary, the bandbase website, newspapers - because we'd already played with everybody in our hometown Aalborg. And then one day in November 2007 Jess and Magnus actually arrived on the same day. It was funny because the day we were trying out.. At the time we weren't very well-equipped - wait, that sounds wrong [laughs] - Anyway we didn't have a PA, so we couldn't actually hear Magnus singing at all, but he was sweating SO MUCH! We'd never seen anybody sweat that much in a rehearsal room, so we agreed that with that much sweat, it had to be good, so we too our chances and told him "man, you got it!"

[all laugh]

RF.net: You say that you'd already played with everybody in Aalborg. What kind of things inspired you to make this new band then?
Jess: Well the plan has been to make a contemporary rock band which has its roots in traditional rock but isn't afraid to look forward at the same time. That was what we agreed upon, although it did take some time, because I think we started out with our rock roots as the common ground, which you'd be able to hear if you had our early EP's. Fortunately those are quite hard to get though [laughs]. I think we accomplished the mission moving on though, but we did have to take a while to gel first, which I guess started happening on our second or third EP really.

RF.net: The reason I know about you guys is because I saw your show at the recent Nordic Noise festival. Can you guys tell us a bit about how you experienced the event as a band?
Magnus: Well it's the Target crew that's behind Nordic Noise, so we were of course proud to come to this event hosted by our label. We felt like we were a part of it and that we had to represent not only ourselves, we also had to represent our label - Because while Target were hosts, not all the bands that played are on Target. Far from it actually. So we followed the event from the beginning, and with the event's ambition to prove that there's a spark of life in the Danish rock scene, we were of course really proud to be presented as a band people could put hope for in that sense. We were genuinely excited about playing, also because Pumpehuset has a reputation as a venue and it's somewhere that you want to get the chance to play.

For me personally though, and probably for the other guys as well, it was a pretty unfortunate thing though, to see that the Danish rock audience aren't any more dependable.. We thought that the event and the venue had enough strength to really pull Copenhagen's rock audience, but that didn't quite seem the case on the Saturday when we played. I heard that supposedly it was a bit better the day before though. On the other hand, we're a band that tries to make it about who's there rather than about who's not there..

Jess: When we played, I also got the sense that there were a lot of people from the industry and from other bands, and it would've been cool if there'd also been some more people who'd just fooled around drinking beer.. As it turned out, we had to manage that ourselves [laughs].. But on the other hand it was cool to see that our colleagues that had played well, they came down and seemed to think we played well, and it was cool to meet the people in the rock scene that is there.

I really liked being a part of it. I thought it was a great event and you know - things always end up different from what you expect. But for me and for us it still a milestone to play in Pumpehuset that we were stoked to "take down".

RF.net: Okay so you guys also recently claimed a winning position in the annual band competition "Karrierekanonen". Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to participate in this, and maybe why you chose it over other competition options like Emergenza for instance?
Jess: You want the honest answer or the politically correct one?

RF.net: Well, you can decide what's put in writing really [all laugh]

Jess: Well the honest answer is that we just took the shot for the hell of it. We've done that every year actually..

Kristoffer: Yeah we'd just gotten our new songs back from the studio so..

Jess: The cool thing is that opposed to a competition like Emergenza which is a little "World Championship in who has the most friends", where bands that drive a busful of fans to the show win it by crowd vote.. - Compared to that it was cool that it was people who are used to evaluating upcoming music that qualified us.

RF.net: How have you felt that you've been among this year's winners then?
Magnus: Ohh well you feel it obviously on the inside, like "holy shit, we've got something here!" Of course we've always believed so ourselves but it's nice to get the confirmation that outside of just your own friends liking what you do, suddenly somebody from P3 radio or Smukfest is saying it's awesome. That's a giant endorsement to feel all of a sudden.

Jess: And then there's the networking.. Getting to play in the cool venues that we have.. The years we were just ordinary participants in the competition it didn't do anything for us at all, but now that we've won things have actually started happening.

The weird thing is that a lot of your friends think that you've sort of "made it" if you win Karrierekanonen. I've had to explain those people that actually it's more like where you really get started. Obviously we're still a very small bands, but we can definitely tell that we've taken a giant leap upwards in the year since we won the competition last summer. Last year we got to play the upcoming stage at Smukfest and at Spot Festival. This summer it's a cool stage at Nibe Festival, the P3 stage at Smukfest, the Rock For People Fest in Czech Republic and "Den Grimmeste Festival" here in Denmark. Feeling things developing that way is really cool.

RF.net. You released your debut full length this year. After the first few months how do you guys feel about the finished product and about its reception?
Jess: Well we've had great reception, we just wish more of it came from south of the border, because that's where things are happening. Reception has been fine, but Rolling Stone Germany had our record as "Album Of The Week", and things like that make us think that we need to look beyond the borders of this country. It's fun to play in Sønderborg for instance or in Tisvilde or whereever, but when you go to Hamburg or Berlin you can just feel that there are people there that really want rock music. So the reception especially in Germany has been really encouraging.

RF.net: Writing a record like this one, can you tell us how you guys work on songwriting? What I mean is that plenty of bands actually have one or two primary songwriters, who come in with most of a song written with acoustic guitar and lyrics in their bedrooms, and then other bands come together with each of their separate parts in the studio and try to puzzle things together?
Jess: Well, we always start with the drum beats

[all laugh]

Jess: Well all depending on how developed an idea is, "Mac and Kris" will come in with some ideas for riffs or some bits of A, B or C parts, and then we built starting there. We have tried starting with a drum beat but that's damn hard! Anyway then the discussion starts, and we're pretty hard on each other. We're very good at telling each other straight up if we don't think something works, because we've agreed that it's extremely important to be honest with each other.

Magnus: Yeah and we're obviously becoming better and better friends, and that helps..

Jess: Yeah because it's harder telling somebody you don't know that well if something they've done isn't working. So in that sense building the friendship also helps build an honesty that allows us to say what we need to each other. We have this sort of exorcise where we write our music in a basement and down there you can almost kill each other, but when you come upstairs you have to hug it out, so that what happens in the basement stays in the basement.

Otherwise you could easily take things too personally. It's easy to do that when somebody doesn't like your drum part and you know that you're the best drummer in the band. It's a tough process, but we have the philosophy that if we make something that all of us likes then we know it must be good.

RF.net: Having managed your first full length then, which plans for the future of the band can you reveal so far?
Kris: Well I guess we can reveal that we're going back into the studio. We're going in with Kellermensch guitarist Sebastian Wolff to make a "Greatest Hits" EP with some singles on it, which we hope will be relevant if P3 give up on trying to be Voice radio. [laughs]

RF.net: All new songs then?

Magnus: Yeah, these "Keller sessions" are going to be new. We've gone a year now playing the songs from the album, especially playing them a lot the past six months of course, and that's been great but you reach a point where you're almost bursting to get to do something new. So we have this joy over some of the things we've been making now because.. I mean you can hear that it's us, but there's definitely something brand new there! We have this guy Tobias Kippenberger from The Floor Is Made Of Lava as sort of a mentor, and we asked him what we could do about the future, and we talked about how it could be pretty cool to go back in time a bit and play around with the single format - To go into the studio and, instead of recording a mixed bag of things, rather just try to record the strongest stuff we have with this guy who recently did the latest Floor Is Made Of Lava record and did the two latest Kellermensch records. Those are parts of the Danish scene that we feel have something to offer and that we feel sound like there's some development going on.

Jess: And he has a really cool sound.

Magnus: He has a cool sound indeed.. So we thought why not? We have five days with him and we get done what we get done.. Hopefully two or three cool singles that we can send to our friend in P3, this guy Klaus - he was the one championing us in Karrierekanonen so we hope he still likes us.

Kristoffer: Actually it's his birthday today, maybe we should write him! [all laugh]

Jess: Creatively we're also very good at writing, so we really want to put stuff out! The record is already six months old and we already feel like that's a long time. We're getting restless because we can almost write one new song every day..

Kristoffer: Two actually..

Jess: Two! So yeah we really want to get things out there and that's why we're doing this thing in August.

RF.net: I guess when you're motivated it's also a good idea to strike when the iron is hot, no?

Jess: Exactly! .. No actually we never thought about that AT ALL! [all laugh]

RF.net: Well to round off this interview, the last thing I want to do is ask you if you want a chance to recommend something that you feel more people should be listening to?
Magnus: Well I think the first thing we need to say is the one record that's been playing the most in our car for the past month and that's the new Queens Of The Stone Age record. That's one of the best records in a long time and we've looked up to those guys for a long time.. From day one basically, also getting inspiration in writing our own music. So people shouldn't heed any of the weird reviews that record has gotten, they need to make up their own minds and try to really listen to some of the truly beautiful melodies there.

I'd also like to talk about some guys that we've played with a lot, who are putting out an album in September. I'm talking LSD on CIA who also played at Nordic Noise. Like us, those guys are thinking about rock as something that can be something new and something more than what everybody has already heard before.

RF.net: Yeah they were excellent at Nordic Noise so I'm really looking forward to that record actually.

Jess: Yes, we've gotten to preview it actually so we can vouch that it's going to be a good one.

RF.net: Any of you two others want to name some things here as well?

Jess: Well I've only really listened to a bit of Kaiser Chiefs recently, but I'd like to follow up on what Magnus is saying about supporting LSD On CIA.. Because I think the Danish rock scene is a bit too retrospective. I think rock needs to look forward a bit more, which I think Queens Of The Stone Age and for that sake also LSD On CIA and ourselves are trying. I think that's the way things need to go.

Magnus: I want to name one more! Actually, I'm also really looking forward to the new album from White Lies! That's going to be a great one I think and there's tickets out for their Vega show and everything. Man that's going to be awesome!

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