DeWolff a Trio from the Deep South – Deep South of the Netherlands. Formed in 2007 two brothers’ Pablo (singer/guitarist) and Luka van de Poel (Drums) and Hammond organist Robin Piso. Named after Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe played by Harvey Keitel. Thrust their new album is released onto the airwaves on 4th May 2018 via Mascot Label Group.
BD: Thank you for taking time out to speak to Bluesdoodles this evening.
Luka van de Poel: Yes, we are pretty busy with lots of interviews and preparing for the release of the album on 4th May playing in the Paradiso Amsterdam, and it is sold out so we are pretty nervous about that. Yes so we are rehearsing a lot as well playing all the new songs and try to play them well.
BD: Let’s start off introducing your style of rock and the band to the readers of Bluesdoodles as despite Thrust being your sixth album you will be a new band for many.
Luka van de Poel: We have played a lot in Holland and we actually have only played three times in the UK I really think we are a real new band for British people. We have never played the United States, so yea for a lot of people we are a new band that is right. This album is the first being promoted real well. Before we always did it ourselves, it is really difficult to promote your album in a good way so that people all over Europe, all over the world can listen to your album and find your music. You can put it on Spotify but that isn’t enough. You just have to promote it through interviews and reviews in all the magazines and stuff. So it is thanks to Mascot who are a cool label that we are getting noticed by a wider audience.
BD: Having listened to the album it is a beguiling mix of retro and modern. Both soothing and demanding especially in the lyrics. So how do you describe the sound that DeWolff Produces?
Luka van de Poel: We actually started off as a sixties psychedelic rock band. We listened a lot to The Doors, Pink Floyd and that kind of stuff. We still really like it, but things have changed in the past ten years. I think our music also changed because we started to listen more to American music I think, we started to discover Southern Rock and bands like Leon Russell, James Gang and The Allman Brothers and that kind of stuff and I think that changed our music. On the other hand we don’t necessarily want to be a retro band, we don’t just want to make retro music or something. We really want to make music that we like that can be everything like if we are into an album like Sound of Colour from Alabama Shakes or something like that we can get really inspired by that. Our roots are in the music of the sixties and seventies, music with a modern touch we listen to a lot of things and we try to make it sound as good as possible. We record on tape but that doesn’t mean our album has to sound vintage. We put a lot of effort into making our music sounding the best it can and modern, like low end, high end so you get the full spectrum. Yes, if asked to describe our music I would say seventies inspired rock or blues-rock. So a lot of people say it sounds a little bit like Deep Purple, or this or that and always just a compliment. It is pretty hard to describe our own music. We just make what we want to make.
BD: It is lovely to talk to a drummer rather than vocalist or guitarist for a change. I judge bands by drumming. Luka: Okay, that’s funny. BD: I know and I am not a drummer either. If I don’t like the drums. Luka: It is true a band can be really good but if the drummer off BD: It not if slightly off beat it is if there is that disconnect from the rest of the band it jars on me. Luka: That’s true, Yea that’s cool cos most people listen to vocals or guitar or something like that. The drums are so important.
BD: So yes that is what my question was how important are the drums that you play Luka in creating the DeWolff Vibe?
Luka: Mostly we start with a groove, most of the songs are written with the three of us we just start jamming. Mostly based on a groove, I just start drumming and Pablo goes on top of that and Robin joins in on the Hammond organ. It always starts with a groove. There are some songs like Big Talk that has this really distinct guitar intro so this was a song based on a guitar riff. But songs like Tombstone Child or Tragedy? Not Today are songs based on the groove. Also the bass it is the rhythm section. We don’t have a bass guitarist.
BD: You are pre-empting a question I have, I assume Robin is playing the bass with his left-hand on the Hammond! Luka: Yea, Yea well he doesn’t play on the Hammond he has Moog Synthesiser. In the first years, Robin always played the bass lines on his Hammond Organ, the sound wasn’t right it wasn’t punchy enough. The Moog really has this punchy sound it is a lot better a big improvement for the live sound also.
BD: So do you play with any particular drums?
Luka: I am really into vintage drums. I only play old stuff from the sixties and seventies. For the recording I used 1967 Gretsch Round Badge I also have a sixties Slingerland they are just amazing these kits, they sound great, they look great I use them for everything and I have had them for years now and I use them on every recording we make. Live I am playing a Premier a seventies English Drum Kit. I have a lot of old stuff snare drums from the 1930’s, 1970’s I am really into that kind of stuff.
BD: Playing with your brother Pablo guitarist and vocalist must be fun but is there also sibling rivalry?
Luka: Well we never fight, we have discussions and arguments, but not that bad we get along really well. We always have. On stage it is perfect energy, you do not have to look you always know what the other guy is going to do. Pablo is my favourite musician to play along with and it is kind of the same with Robin we have been playing so long. Have known him for such a long time now he feels like a brother a nephew or something. But it is different when I play with other guitarists it is not the same kind of feeling that I have when playing with my brother
BD: You have talked about some of your musical influences since the band was formed back in 2007. So is it mainly The Doors, Floyd. You did mention the Blues is that an influence on your rock as well?
Luka: Yes we are really into the blues, like John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers that record with Eric Clapton we have listened to so many times we can play the whole album from beginning to the end. Also some old bluesmen like Robert Johnson, Willy Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters we love listening to. Personally, I am listening at the moment to a lot of 1960’s soul Sam Cooke, Otis Redding. I recently discovered Cooke’s Night Beat album, I hadn’t checked it out before. I started listening to the album keep playing. All kinds of music and we definitely love the Blues.
BD: I am aware of the strong blues, blues/rock scene in the Netherlands, is the rock scene as vibrant?
Luka: For the last few yes, not sure what the reason is for that. There are a lot of really cool bands like the Grand East and the Dawn Brothers, one of my favourite bands. BD: what a coincidence I am seeing them play in Bristol next Monday when they open for Ian Siegal! Luka: Yes they are playing in England, The Dawn Brothers are great we really love them all three of us. We are friends with them so know them quite well seen them play live lots of times one of the best bands I know. They are really young guys like 22 / 23. They recorded that album at our studio in Utrecht, Pablo recorded them. Also, their new album which is out in September I think also recorded in our studio. It is a great band. Luka: Oh well I am jealous love to see them playing again it’s been too long. BD: That is a trouble when you play in a band, no time to go and hear other bands. Luka: Yes, sometimes when we are playing live it is always a pity, a really cool band was playing in Utrecht but we can’t go because we are playing is always an issue. Now in the last year has been pretty quiet because we were recording so there was some time to check out bands and stuff, festivals. So when it is a quiet period we always do that check out other bands.
BD: Now let’s talk about the album! Thrust your sixth album was self-produced at your own analogue ‘Electrosaurus Southern Sound’ studio in Utrecht. Great Name. Luka: Yes it started out in the South we all come from Limburg from the very South of Netherlands. BD: What makes using analogue and being in an environment you have created yourselves shaped the album?
Luka: You can hear it instantly when you put on the first song it has a really distinct analogue warmth to it. We started experimenting with tape a long time ago when the studio was still in the South. We first bought Tascam 16 Track Recorder then from that moment on went from this point on we knew this is the perfect sound for us. Because you can make your music sound so much more vibrant it just comes alive when you record on tape and when use analogue equipment, analogue pre-amp, tube amplifiers and all that kind of stuff. So we really got hooked on this and we still use it and I think we will keep on using it and what is also a great thing about it is the workflow works really well for us. When you record digitally you can change everything, you can edit so much and then takes out the spirit out of the music. When working in analogue you record from the beginning to the end you don’t cut or copy and paste anything that workflow works really well for us. Otherwise, we will get lost in the digital world, there are so many options. It is simple that is what we love about it. It is like driving an old car everything is just mechanical you can fix everything you can really understand, but once there is a computer in your car it gets really complicated and that is not for us.
BD: Having listened to the album the songs do not avoid Social and Political issues. What made you decide to tackle contemporary issues that are sometimes quite difficult and you do it without losing the essence of being a good rock song so never sad, depressing or introspective,
Luka: That is good to hear! On previous albums, we didn’t spend too much time on the lyrics or vocals in general because we really felt that we were good at our instruments and that is what we wanted to show. When we were writing new songs for this album we immediately started singing during rehearsals. We got inspired by The Dawn Brothers because we know they always do it. When they are writing songs they immediately start singing and start coming up with lyrics. That really shapes the song so on previous albums we would just jam, jam and jam going from one chord to another and all kinds of difficult stuff. At other times we had a pretty simple song the lyrics were there and this worked as we had a good vocal line. We always do when we make a lyric, it is mostly Pablo who writes the lyrics, it is always something that is on his mind. We wrote this song, Deceit & Woo about Donald Trump, we wrote that song on the day he got elected for President. That was such big news, world news and all we could think was Wow! How could this happen? When we started writing that song that was the logical step to write something about that as it was what we were thinking about. It would have been silly to have to write about … Oh, my Baby left me this morning… or something like that, because Donald Trump was all we could think of. That was also the theme with Big Talk and California Burning and those songs which have a political thing to it because that is what was on our minds. We don’t really think about it should we do this and maybe we are not a political band and maybe people would say keep on playing and don’t mention the politics. But we want to do that if we feel like.
Thank you for your time Luka and sharing your insights with me in English Check out DeWolff album Thrust out May 4th
Playing London 15th May 2018 The Black Heart – and hopefully come back and tour the UK probably in 2019.
Just before you go – one last question
BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
Luka: I would really want to know how that would sound!!!
Drums: Levon Helm
Bass: Jon Paul Jones
Guitar: Lowell George
2nd Guitar: Eric Clapton
Vocals: Otis Redding