HOOP DOOP MEETS BOMBAY SHOW PIG

Although I didn’t know it at the time, Dutch music has been with me for many years, decades even. Granted, having owned singles by 2 Unlimited or 2 brothers on the 4th floor certainly wasn’t a highlight in my musical evolution but it is proof that the Dutch have given us some really cracking tunes in the past. No no no no no no no no no no there’s no limit. Kidding.

When you look at Dutch music today however, it remains dominated by the superstar dance producers whose lights are beginning to dim a bit but who are still drawing massive crowds at festivals across the world. Where the Dutch haven’t been so present really is everywhere else.

As I prepared for this interview I looked back at the last 6 years in Amsterdam and the hundreds of gigs and festivals that I’ve attended here. I tried to remember the last time, or the only time, I ever went to see a Dutch band. I don’t think I ever have. Luckily, the band that I spoke to for this interview is a speck of water IN the in the vast desert that is Dutch indie music with a global reach. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bombay Show Pig. I know, right?

 

Hey man. 

Hi. Hold on a minute. I need to put my iPad on the keyboard so I can record our Skype chat. I’m not that sophisticated you know.

Gosh, you got that multi-Apple thing going on. Impressive.

Ha ha. I know right? Anyway. So I can see you Mathias but no Linda. What happened to her?

I don’t know! She was the one who postponed the call and now I can’t find her. I think she might have passed out somewhere or maybe she’s packing? We’re going to New York tomorrow.

Gosh! That’s right you’re off tomorrow. Are you excited? All packed?

No, not really. I have all my stuff right here but I haven’t packed anything. I’ll do that tomorrow. Tonight is chill out time.

Ok ha ha. Good luck with that! Talking about your tour of the US though. For a lot of bands breaking the US market is quite a big deal. What are your expectations?

Well, for us it’s mostly about the showcase at SXSW in Austin and meeting the right people. Hopefully we’ll get introduced to some booking agents who can help us get a bit of attention over there. We did the same thing in Germany and France recently and that was a great way to figure out how to play shows in those countries. 

I’ve been to a few shows in the US, including Coachella and the likes and what definitely struck me was the crowds over there are somehow different to your typical gig-goers in Germany or Holland. How do you see this?

I don’t know really. We’ve never played a festival over there so I can’t judge that but we did a show in New York once and they were a really nice crowd to play to. I guess people in Amsterdam are a bit cocky sometimes but in New York they’re always super cocky because they always get the best bands in the world. They really don’t give a fuck. Austin will probably be the same in a way but what’s super interesting is that all those big and small bands are all playing in the same street. I suppose it’s a pretty big street.

Right on. Now, let’s go back to your early beginnings. I am actually curious to find out how you two met and what you were doing at the time. Go!

We met during conservatory over here. About 4 years ago. But when we started playing we were in a different kind of setting. We had finished all the material for the new album, which was released last year but just before we went into the studio we decided to continue as a two-piece.

What happened to your vocalist Christian? Did you kick him out?

Well, his departure gave us a lot more options really. We had written all the songs before we entered the studio. We had about 3 months of studio time and it totally opened up all the possibilities. The thing with Christian was that his vocals were really determined and sometimes they just wouldn’t work with the songs. Then, we could suddenly try all sort of things and it just worked really well. 

Your album sounds like you were heavily influenced by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills and Beck. What I am curious about is, who did you plaster your walls with when you were a teenager?

He he, well no one like Britney Spears if that’s what you mean. I loved Nirvana. 

 

BOMBAY SHOW PIG

 

No MJ?

No. Actually though, I did go to one of his gigs at the Arena once and that was pretty awesome.

Who’s on your iPod now?

Well, some friends of mine and I have this Dropbox folder so I always get the latest stuff posted on there. I am digging the new Phoenix record actually. Also, I found this band from California called Naomi Punk, they’re pretty nice. 

Ok, you probably get asked this a lot but I just have to ask: What’s the deal with the band name?

Yea, well it’s actually not a very long or particularly interesting story but when we started out everything was about having fun. We didn’t take things too seriously. So, Bombay Show Pig is a combination of different track titles by Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart put together. We were just scrolling through the iPod looking for words that looked interesting.

And pig was one of them?

Ha ha yes, unfortunately.

How did Sancho Panzo get into your song writing? Do you relate to him in some way or other?

I guess so. I wrote the song with my mate Tjeerd Bomhof and we had this word that sounded like Sancho Panzo and somehow we ended up with that name. The story does make sense though. It’s about being the guy who’s in another guy’s shadow. 

And that’s a perfect lead to my next question. If you look at Dutch music today, it’s pretty dire when it comes to indie, or maybe there’s just tons of bands that no one knows about. Do you feel like you’re in a way, fighting to put The Netherlands on the musical map?

I don’t think we’re doing it for the country per se but yes. Our goal definitely is to get recognition beyond the Dutch border and I think after touring Germany and France we’re slowly making some progress there. I mean, there are plenty of examples of bands, which are perfectly happy with being famous only here but for us that would be dangerous. 

Fair enough. The music industry is actually a very strange place right now, isn’t it? You’ve got all sorts of people engaging in strange collaborations like Kanye West and Bon Iver or David Guetta and Sia. What’s your take on all this? Where is this going?

I think it’s great! There are a lot of very good people out there and they’re letting their guard down. It’s interesting to see how some people are stepping out of their comfort zone and you can totally learn a lot from those collaborations. Just getting yourself into someone else’s work mode and then translating that into your own style is probably a pretty good way to expand your own horizon as an artist.

Who would you love to work with?

Well, there are a lot of people of course but for the last couple of years it’s been Beck. For sure.

How do you decide who sings what? Do you ever get into a fight like: “No! I am singing that song!” – “Ehm, no you’re not, I’m singing that song!”

Ha ha no, we don’t get into fights like that. It’s more of a feeling that determines it. I mean Sancho Panzo simply wouldn’t work if I were singing it. We wouldn’t even try it the other way around. Sometimes, when I write a song and I feel like I really need to sing it myself, I’ll make sure no one else gets his hands on it.

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

It’s mostly a combination of things. It’s never too autobiographical. Sometimes you just have this phrase in your head and you go with that or a word that kicks off the writing process. There’s no golden rule really.

Are people surprised when they find out you’re Dutch?

Yea I guess so. The shows we did in France were really nice and some of the people we met were quite impressed with our sound and the level we play on. I don’t really know what people expect from Dutch bands but the feeling I got was they didn’t expect us to sound the way we do.

Where are you taking your worldly Dutch sound this year then?

We’re releasing an EP in France soon, so that’s gonna be pretty important to us and then we’re working towards a new record later this year. I would also love to play in the UK sometime or maybe in Spain. Just playing in the sunshine or something, we don’t get much of that here as you know.

Do you guys have normal jobs?

Linda teaches a drumming class and I write songs for other people so that keeps us busy but if you mean “Do we have an office job?” then luckily no, ha ha. Obviously we hope to be able to live of our music one day. Who knows when that will happen?

Would you rather have fingers as long as your legs or legs as long as your fingers?

Hm… Fingers as long as my legs. Definitely. I mean who would want to have short legs? They’re no use. With long fingers I could at least be some sort of alien version of Jimmy Hendrix!

www.bombayshowpig.com

Interview : Alex Kitain

Phototography : Attilo brancaccio

 

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