Monday, 14 March 2011 16:25

Wired in #4: The Soundabout

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Yet another suggestion from one of our readers for this week! Thanks to Bart Luttikhuis I found out about the Soundabout, an Amsterdam-based ska, funk and reggae band that have playe together since 2006. They promise scandalous party nights at their shows and one thing is for sure: their music makes you want to dance!

Wie ben ik? from Sybren A. Stüvel on Vimeo.

E&M: You are quite a big band: you normally play with six people and then recently expanded your band with a new saxophone player! What's it like playing with so many people? 

The Soundabout: Making music with so many people is great, everyone has his or her own addiction to the music, knows some bad jokes and adds to the general fun. This also means that more people can give an unexpected but nice twist to a song, both before and after completion. Since we write all the songs ourselves, it is posisble to discern different influences the band members have on songs, combining it into something we really like practicing and performing. Of course, sometimes the bad jokes and jugs of beer have more impact on the rehearsals than other times, and from time to time it does get a little unstructured.

But with all these people, there is always someone present who can rack up the band into some more serious rehearsal. If it happens to be the case that everyone is feeling like 'just playing' instead of rehearsing for a performance, we tend to start making music by doing something completely new or revamping an earlier created tune. This is often a very fruitful process!  The gigs are great as well, we totally enjoy performing. The only drawback of having a large group for gigs is transportation. But on stage it's a big benefit - it's easier to build a nice party both on and off stage with a somewhat bigger band.

E&M: So what does a typical day with The Soundabout look like?

The Soundabout: If you have the guts to spend an entire day with The Soundabout, be prepared for a cascade of jokes and giggles! Since everyone is either studying at the University of Amsterdam, or has a full-time job, we usually meet in the evening.  On weekends however we sometimes meet up earlier for an afternoon practice session, or if we have to  travel to a gig. In that case, we tend to start off with a nice cup of coffee, to get the braincells working again, or to fight off a hangover from the previous day.

When on location for a gig, we like to go into town a bit when possible, and find some really good food. We need the solid base and energy for the entire evening, and we just like good food... By the time we are having dessert I usually already have stomach ache from laughing! While playing music both on stage and during the practice sessions, we put a lot of our energy in performing... In the end, I go home with a big smile on my face. 

E&M: And what exactly do you do next to making music? 

The Soundabout: The band currently still holds one chemistry student, an elementary school vice-president, we have a PhD degree in chemistry as well as a Msc in chemistry, a hair dresser and two master degrees in computer sciences. In short, none of us are full time musicians, although we would not mind being able to spend more time making music. But hey, we need to eat, drink, and drink, so we also need to work. Thankfully at least most of us enjoy the work we are doing, so no issues there. Also, a bunch of partying colleagues is great fun when you are performing!

E&M: That sounds great! Can you tell us, what can we expect from your shows? 

The Soundabout: Dancing! We love playing, and that gets even stronger when there are people to perform for! We put in tons of energy, have a great time on stage, and we like to interact with the audience. Let go of stress, sadness, etc.. Dance, laugh, buy drinks, and remember the night. On some occasions, we have caused complete party-chaos, which is plain awesome. People dancing on the bar while we are playing is a great sight!

E&M: So, what would be your favorite European city to play a concert in?

The Soundabout: Gee, now that is a hard one. There are many European cities which are great fun, and we live in one of them. I don't believe we have a favorite city, as long as there's people ready to party at our music and have some drinks! So far we have played in quite a lot of different places in the Netherlands, of course including our home town Amsterdam, but there are also very small towns where we have played, and had an unforgettable night! We would of course love to play in cities like London, Berlin or Budapest, where the ska scene is still notoriously vibrant.

E&M: Most of your songs are in English, but some are also in Dutch. How do you decide which language you prefer for a given song?

The Soundabout: When we write songs, everyone is responsible for their own instrument, but can of course get inspired by ideas for his or her part by other band members. It often happens that one or more band members have an idea which they play  -or record and send - and that is used as a basis for the parts. Everyone is free to change their part as they see it fit, as long as the general consensus is that it really is a better idea. Otherwise, it will require some slapping around or bribes, but hey - we usually work it out pretty nicely.

'Tunes or lyrics can be thought of by anone in the band, anywhere. On a bike, in bed, at work, whilst cleaning your fish tank... Our problem is that we have to remember these small pieces of inspiration!' 

E&M:  And who writes the songs?

The Soundabout: As the singer's main part is the lyrics and his voice, he usually writes them, although there are also some lyrics which are written by other band members. It is also often the case that there are standalone pieces of text, and when we find a cool tune to play, we usually merge it with an existing text. We just pick the lyrics independent of the language - this all gets tested during the process of creation, and we pick the lyrics which sound best with the tune. The other way around also happens, so all in all there is no structured way of making new songs, it all comes down to inspiration. Tunes or lyrics can be thought of by anyone of the band, anywhere. On the bike, in bed, at work, whilst cleaning your fis htank... Our main problem with this is that we have to remember all these small pieces of inspiration! Hurray for phones & their recording abilities and laptops!

E&M: Was it always clear which direction you wanted to go with your music?

The Soundabout: In the beginning, there was ska. That was way back - eight years, give or take. Since then the band composition has changed, but several members belong to the deep core, having been there from the beginning.  As the band composition changed, the music evolved and matured into something much broader than ska. We have travelled a long way and we have found our own sound now, for which every member of the band is important. We try to be guided by what we think sounds cool, and we keep producing songs which are in line with the styles we already play. We keep producing songs which are totally off track, but still great - so we keep expanding our portfolio of styles, and when you say "direction to go with music" then all we can say is "forward!".

E&M: So far you have one EP and a demo CD out, what are you working on right now?

The Soundabout: Our main focus is to get an album out with a bunch of our coolest songs, which is broad enough to define us but still has one sound. We are also busy with several new songs, which are close to completion. Some of these songs might be on the album, but that remains to be seen. The addition of the saxophone player has also sprouted a lot of new inspiration for new and existing songs. All in all, we are working on everything a band can be working on...

E&M: Wow, sounds like you have quite a workload! So, tell us, last but not least, what does Europe mean to you?

The Soundabout: Europe is a very diverse place, with lots of different nationalities. We believe Europe holds a lot of opportunities for people and bands like us: music - and also what ska adds to it - is a very international thing! No matter where you come from, we want to make you smile.

E&M: Thanks for the interview guys!

For more on The Soundabout check out their website at http://www.soundabout.nl ! 

Last modified on Friday, 18 March 2011 10:22

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