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Present Danger

The Dutch metal band Present Danger is already in existence for about twenty years and they are both active as a Metallica tribute band as well as with their own material. The band made a great impression when they did the support slot of the second performance of Five Finger Death Punch in the 013 and not very often will a support act have been treated on such an enthusiastic response from the audience. Because of the fact that they intend to release a new CD with own material any time soon, we paid a visit to the “man cave” of guitar player/singer Thijs de Jong, in which he and his brother Martijn de Jong provided us with all the information about their band.

By: Sjak | Archive under heavy / power metal

The band Present Danger was founded in 1996. Can you tell me how you got together and what the intention that you had back then?
I was six years old when I started playing guitar and Martijn started playing drums when he was fourteen years old. Of course Martijn and I wanted to start up a band and together with Joost and Gijs the first line-up was a fact. Our goal was just to play gigs and have fun.

Which bands were your main inspiration back then?
Metallica was of course one of our main influences, but also acts like Pantera, Nirvana, Sepultura, Green Day, Pearl Jam and Biohazard. Our intention was to write our own material, but if there was a lack of inspiration we started covering Metallica songs, because that was the band which inspired us the most.

You recorded a couple of demo’s during the early days. Can you tell me which ones and what the intention was that you had with those?
The first demo tape was at first purely meant to capture our own songs, but because we already had quite a following we decided to sell this tape as well. There were only hundred tapes made and those are all gone, so it has become quite a collector’s item. In the beginning everything was for fun and playing as many gigs as we could possibly could. We weren’t really busy with building a career yet.

Can you tell me how the song writing process in the band looked like back then?
We’re not a band that is continuously jamming in the rehearsal room to create our songs, in general we work best when somebody comes up with a basic idea for a song, which we can work out together. When the basic framework is there, we will start jamming to finalize the song in most cases. That has always been our way of working and that hasn’t really changed over the years.

What are typical ingredients that need to be present in a good Present Danger song?
We don’t write according a specific formula, so it’s hard to say what is really needed for a good Present Danger song. We don’t limit ourselves to a certain direction, the only requirement is that the song needs to have a guitar solo! The songs just needs to have the right feeling for us.

In 2000 a self-financed live-album was released. Why did you decide to do this as there was no official studio-material on the market yet?
That was the result of a band competition that we had won at Paaspop Den Hout. From the winning band the live-recording of that festival was going to be released.

What did this live-album do for the band?
It gave us quite some recognition as a band and as a result we were booked more often for live-shows.

In 2003 the first studio-album ‘Nightmares’ hit the market, did this bring you again a step further in your career?
This was an important album for us as it was our first studio recording with own material. The album did quite well because our fan-base had grown quite a lot and everybody wanted to have this record. It also had a positive impact on the rest of our merchandise.

When was the idea formed to start performing as a Metallica tribute band and what was the thought behind that move?
As I said earlier, we always played Metallica songs when there was a lack of inspiration to write our own material. At a certain moment we had a complete set of Metallica cover songs. We got an invitation to play at the Mezz in Breda only performing Metallica songs. That was a very intense happening and therefore we decided to continue with this next to playing our own material. A little bit later Joost registered us as a contender in the “Clash Of The Cover Bands” competition as a Metallica tribute band.

In 2008 you won this big competition as the Metallica tribute band. What did that mean for the band? How did it affect your popularity in the scene?
Winning this competition really caused a breakthrough for us as Metallica tribute band. We got many offers to play gigs and we played in about every town in the Netherlands that you can think of. This really got the ball rolling for us as a band.

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In principle you were a band that played their own material, but you overnight became more famous as a Metallica tribute band. Doesn’t this bring any negative emotions?
Yes, it does and maybe it wasn’t smart to present ourselves as a Metallica tribute band under the same name as that we used when we played our own material. Maybe we should have chosen a different name for the Metallica tribute band, but we didn’t expect that this would become such a success. But on the other side, if we’re booked as a Metallica tribute band on a big festival under the name Present Danger, people are also going to check out your own material, so there are both advantages and disadvantages in using the same name for both entities.

Still you felt the urge the keep on writing your own material as well, as in 2012 you released your second full-length studio album with ‘Face The Truth’. Why is that?
A lot of people liked us as a Metallica cover band, but there were many others that liked what we did with our own material as well. That motivated us to keep on writing our own songs and we decided to record another album to fulfill the request that we got from a lot of people.

Have you already written any new material for a possible next album?
Yes, five songs are fully completed and we have some more ideas which need some more attention to make complete songs out of them. The disadvantage of the popularity of the Metallica tribute band is that your time is limited for writing your own material. Therefore it takes a little longer before new songs see the light of day, but after the holiday season we’re really intend to make much progress with our own material.

Do you already have a planning for when the new album will be released?
We are very cautious with planning dates, because we don’t always live up to the planned dates. Everything depends with how busy we are with certain other things as well. Probably we won’t be able to make it this year anymore, so cautiously I will name 2018 as the year in which the new Present Danger album will be released.

Are you going to release that new album as an independent release again or will you start looking for a record deal with a label?
If we’re able to find the right label with the right deal, then this certainly has our preference. If however we can’t find the label we’re looking for or if the conditions are not to our liking, then we will make it an independent release again.

Is the new material in the same vein as what was placed on ‘Face The Truth’ or have you made some changes in your musical direction?
In general you can say that what’s on ‘Face The Truth’ is a good representation of the style that the new songs are in. We have written a song which is much heavier than anything on our previous album, but style-wise we keep doing what we’ve always done.

You did a short tour through the US on an invitation from ‘Rock For Vets’. How did that fell into place and can you tell me something about the experiences you had back there?
Of course that was a fantastic experience for us. It was indeed an invitation from ‘Rock For Vets’ and we have performed there for all those veterans. We also visited the NAMM, we had several meetings and we did quite a few shows as well.

You’ve been in the business now for more than twenty years and you’ve accomplished quite some things already, but what were the absolute highlight for you and maybe also some lows?
Highlights are of course our opening show for F5DP in 013 just recently, the Bospop and Graspop festivals, the US tour and winning the “Clash Of The Cover Bands”. An absolute low was of course the accident that we had in 1999, but maybe that made the band even stronger. Another tough period was when Joost and Gijs decided to leave the band.

How did you get their replacements in and do you feel that you have the ultimate line-up now?
Absolutely, everybody shares the same passion and motivation and that’s really important if you’re trying to make the next step. Both Michael and Raymond were friends of ours and knew what was expected from them when they joined. Things immediately fell into place and it’s like they have been in the band forever.

Good to hear that you’re still eager to take the next step, but what are some of the dreams that you still want to accomplish?
Above all we want to make a truly great album with own material and create the real breakthrough for Present Danger with that.

Okay, I would like to thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to express to our readers?
Buy our albums and come to our shows! We will give you the great evening that you’re looking for!

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