I would like to congratulate you with your most recent output 'Start From Scratch!', which has become a nice effort. Could you tell me about the recording process?
Thank you! We're very glad to have this new album finished and released. It's been quite a hectic period for us, getting all the labels together and arranging the release. As for recording this album, we've tried to take a different approach than we did last time, to keep things interesting. Besides that, we're not the same line-up anymore, so we knew things would be more or less different. We set out to record a more accessible record, leaving out some weird hooks and tempo-changes. We did work with the same engineer on this album, mainly because we feel he really knows what sound we are looking for. It's always tough to pinpoint the exact differences, especially when you've been playing those songs for a long time, but to make an educated guess: there's more extremes on this album. The faster songs are faster, the slower songs slower. Also, we recorded this album at a fairly small studio in Limburg, which probably added to the sound of it.
How did Chris Hannah of Propagandhi and Heleen Tichelaar of Midnight Menace get involved in the recordings of the album?
Heleen offered to do guestvocals when she heard we would be recording a new album. She plays in a band called Midnight Menace, and we did quite some shows together, and we all really like their band. We asked Heleen to come up with vocals for two songs, recorded them and we were immediately impressed and satisfied with the results. Chris was another story. We've all been listening to Propagandhi for years, and it would be fair to say that they left their mark on the sound of our band. After we had played a show with Propagandhi, the idea started to settle in our minds to ask him to help out. We emailed, and he told us he would be up for it. Chris has a home studio, so we sent him a rough mix of the song with an idea for his vocals, and within a few days he sent us his contribution. Needless to say we were very happy with the results.
'Start From Scratch!' is out on a limited coloured vinyl edition as well, 150 copies crystal clear with blue and white mixed and 350 x mixed blue, white and black. How vital is it to release your music on vinyl as well?
In the current punkrock scene it's very important to have a vinyl release. Punk kids still buy vinyl and seem to enjoy it very much. Personally, I prefer to buy my music on vinyl too. Not necessarily because of the sound quality, more because of the larger format. A vinyl record and it's artwork are really something you can hold and enjoy. To put things in a slightly bigger perspective, I think it is important to any band to have a physical release where the whole package adds value to the music. In this day and age there's no use in just putting out a CD in a sloppy jewelcase or a jacket sleeve. For that exact reason, we have the CD released in a digipack, and colored vinyl in a gatefold, with what we consider to be beautiful artwork.
You could be classified as a political punk rock trio so I guess the lyrical content is as important as the music and arrangements for a band like Antillectual?
Definitely. With Antillectual, we've never been singing about relationship breakups (okay, maybe way back somewhere), partying or other personal things, there's other bands that do a better job there. Even though a lot of our lyrics come from personal experiences, we feel they should always be about something beyond just ourselves. So that makes us a political band probably. Most times, people ask us if our lyrics are more important than the music, and that's not really the case, so thanks for asking in this way. It's indeed a 50/50: no songs without political lyrics, no songs without decent music and arrangement.
Is there a lyrical red thread throughout the 'Start From Scratch!' album?
Our new album is not a concept album or something like that. But you could say that most of the songs are related to the crises we have been facing the last years. Both the financial crisis, a moral crisis related to that and the current globalization resulting in the shifting of world powers. All these crises or changes form a unique opportunity to overthink the way we are dealing with things around us and decide to start doing it differently. Therefore the title of the album is “Start From Scratch!”, a quote from the first song on the album.
Excusez les mots, but how does a rather unknown punk band from the Netherlands manage to play over a hundred shows a year throughout Europe and the U.S.A. and get their music released in so many countries?
Modern Life Is War, one of my favorite bands, phrased it this way: “we're not pretty and we're not rich / we're going to have to fuckin work for it”. That says it all: work hard, work harder. Don't expect others to do it for you, or it will most definitely not happen. Labels only sign bands that work hard, bookers only work with bands that work hard themselves already. We are not necessarily more talented or better than any other band out there, but we do try and put every last minute of our lives into this band, and I guess that shows. For us, that means touring a lot to get our music out to people, labels, and promoters. When a band is willing to tour a certain area, that can be a reason for labels to release them. Not to say that we are doing this all on our own. Without the labels supporting us and people like Etjen from Just Like Your Mom Toursupport, we would probably still be a few steps behind.
It's a known fact that punk bands find it important to keep the prices reasonable for consumers while ensuring quality. I assume you found a good partner in Shield Recordings. How did the cooperation with the Dutch label come to be?
When you are active in the Dutch punkrock scene it is impossible not to know Shield Recordings. They are present with their distro at all cool shows, they release the coolest Dutch bands and are extremely nice people. When they heard we were working on our second album, 'Testimony', they got in touch with us about the possibility to cooperate on the release. Pretty soon we figured it would be the best way for our Benelux release to work through them. I'm really happy they are going steady as well, releasing more and more bands that are being picked up throughout Holland and all over Europe actually. It's good to see a European network of punkrock bands, labels and music lovers is being created nowadays.
Twenty years ago, when I was actively involved in the Dutch punk scene, there were a lot of underground labels and distro's, there were squats where bands were able to play and a shitload of promising acts that spoke their minds. In your opinion, is there still a genuine punk scene in Holland nowadays?
Absolutely! Even if the underground seems to have changed, I think the whole notion of taking matters into your own hands and Doing It Yourself still resonates very much within the Dutch (and European!) punk scene. Compared to twenty years ago, I'm sure a lot of conditions and means may have changed, but the spirit of DIY is still there. A lot of venues where we and other punkbands play are squats, or have their roots in the squatting scene. In our hometown Nijmegen, de Onderbroek is a good example of that. It's a place where a lot of shows are being organized and where bands can practice. Places like that keep a seen vibrant and active. At a European level, most of the labels that support us are small and independent, most of them started out as a bunch of friends running a distro.
I'm almost out of questions now, but before we finish this interview I would like to know about future plans for Antillectual?
We haven't been touring much lately, due to a lot of work to be done for the release, so we'll be focusing on a lot of touring for the coming months. We ultimately want to tour at least every country where our record is released, and hopefully some other countries too. For now, we have tours planned in France, Germany, a full month of Dutch and Belgian clubshows, a trip to the UK, and plans are in the making to go back to Italy and Scandinavia, the USA, and Russia for the first time. And that's only the start! Oh, and we have a release-show of course. Come out to Merleyn in Nijmegen on December 3rd if you feel like celebrating.
Do you have anything to say or add or do you have a message for our readers?
Thanks for having us! We were (positively) surprised to have an interview from an E-zine that focuses mainly on metal, so we're glad to have a chance to inject a twist of punkrock into your zine. You can check our music for free or for a donation athttp://music.antillectual.comor come to one of our shows. Let us know what you think of it.
Final question: as you are from the Nijmegen, Holland area, do you also know the Dutch cult gay punk band Tedje En De Flikkers and if so how important were they for the Nijmegen area punk scene?
We're aware of them yes! From time to time we will play a few of their songs in the van like 'Op De Baan', 'Van Agt', 'Stukje Lul', etc. But that's more of a running gag than us truly enjoying the music. To be honest, I don't really know how important they were exactly. Because we are obviously too young to have seen them live or have known them personally. And the music is totally different from what we are doing. But I recall watching a documentary about them a while ago, and it seems they were very controversial and well-known in their day. I think we are more related when it comes to that. I hope to stir people's mind like they did back in the day. But being around and well known in the early days of punkrock definitely gives them credit.