Hochwertiger Rock and Roll anzutreffen im Land der Tulpen und Holzschuhe…Wer hätte das gedacht!
Interview mit Sänger Maurits Westerik und Gitarrist Vincent Lemmen von der Band „GEM“. Einen Lebenslauf wie er im Buche steht, können die Musiker von “GEM” aus den Niederlanden vorweisen. Nach einmonatiger Existenz flattert ein Gig mit den „Libertines“ ins Haus, welcher ein gigantischer Start für die Jungrocker bedeutete.
Wo immer Pete Doherty erwartet wird, sind die Journalisten zu Massen anzutreffen. Dieser Gig wurde allerdings besonders, denn Pete Doherty erschien nicht und ein Roadie der Band übernahm seinen Part. Nach einem halbstündigen Desasterauftritt waren das Publikum und die Journalisten froh, dass es vorbei war. Doch eine Frage stellte man sich: “Wer war die Vorgruppe die zuvor dem Publikum eingeheizt hatte?“ Die Bilderbuchkarriere von GEM aus Utrecht begann an diesem besonderen Abend: Auftritte mit Mando Diao, Arctic Monkeys und den Stereophonics folgten, 2 Alben wurden in kürzester Zeit aufgenommen und Touren in den Niederlanden, USA und Deutschland wurden gebucht. Plötzlich wurden aus niederländischen Hobbymusikern, die sich über eine Anzeige kennen lernten, Rockstars.
Nach dem Interview in einem „gezelligen“ Café in Utrecht/Niederlande luden mich Sänger Maurits Westerik und Vincent Lemmen prompt auf ein Konzert der Band ein, wo ich mich davon überzeugen konnte, dass GEM nicht nur äußerst gute Rockmusik schreiben, sondern diese auch fabelhaft auf der Bühne performen können.
Mit anschließendem Biertrinken auf Kosten der Band, konnte ich mich auch noch dazu bekehren lassen, dass nicht alle Niederländer unfreundliche und rüpelhafte Menschen sind.
Wer hätte also gedacht, dass aus dem Tulpen und Käseland wo der niederländische HipHop regiert und die Clubs von RAVE und Technomusik nur so dröhnen und vibrieren, eine Rock and Roll Band auf höchsten Niveau erfolgreich sein könnte.
Freut euch also auf September, wenn die Jungs in Lederjacken in Österreich erscheinen um das Publikum zum Springen und Mitsingen animieren werden.
1. You have a resume from that other bands can only dream of; your first gig was with “The Libertines”. How can you explain this really huge success from the beginning?
Maurits: It all happened very fast and also at the right time. We got together via advertisement a month before we checked out the support gig for “The Libertines”.
I started with a lot of bands just with competitions and demos and got a bit tired of it and that was the ambition to start from the top. The gig with “The Libertines” was a combination of luck and right timing.
2. You are very busy with touring, you are playing about hundred shows a year, so how do you find the time to write new songs and how could you have time to record 2 albums in just 20 months?
Maurits: The hard work and the busy touring are very inspiring. We are all huge music lovers and spend almost every hour on music and I guess that is, what happened in the last 2 years.
Vincent: All five people in the band are able to write songs, so you can write a couple of songs in a really short time. Sometimes we try these songs at soundchecks on tour to get a change of this regular set list we are used to play.
3. How would you describe your style of music and what influences do you have?
Maurits: The style is still changing because the taste of the band members is really different and changes a lot. It is exciting not to know what the next song is going to sound like. But there is a lot of Rock and Roll and also 60´ and 70´s music mixed in our music. We like “The Clash”, “The Kinks” but also “Bob Dylan”.
4. The band has existed since 2003. You had a lot of gigs in the Netherlands, Germany and U.S.A. Is there a difference to perform in front of homelike people and people from abroad?
Vincent: There is definitely a difference but it is hard to say what it is exactly. In Holland people come to our shows and they already know us. In Germany nobody knew us on our last tour, but we got a lot of good feedback. People there seem to be a lot friendlier and more open than in the Netherlands.
Maurits: It is always a good feeling to start from the beginning in an other country and to prove yourself and see what the crowd is going to be like. It is always hard work, but you receive a good vibe most of the time.
5. You supported a lot of great bands like “Mando Diao”, “The Libertines” and the “Arctic Monkeys”. Which gig would you see as a highlight?
Maurits: The gig with the Arctic Monkey was a really nice one. It was a very big venue and sold out. It had a very good vibe.
Vincent: Playing with “Stereophonics” was a great experience. We played in the “Heineken Music Hall”, a really huge location in Amsterdam, and it was great to play with such a band. But Arctic Monkey was definitely a highlight.
6. Do you think you can get as successful abroad as you are here in the Netherlands?
Vincent: Definitely. You can see it on the example of Germany. Things are going in the right direction. We are not on the same level than here in the Netherlands of course, but I am sure it can happen. I think people in Germany and Austria have a taste in music which fits really good with our style.
7. I read in an interview that “Gem showed at the Groningen Festival, that also bands from the Netherlands can perform perfect Rock”. What do you think about the position of Rock bands in the Netherlands in consideration to this big Hip Hop and Rave hype? Do you think your music is what the Netherlands needed?
Maurits: I guess so! There was not such a Rock and Roll- band as Gem before in the Netherlands and according to that I think all happened so fast. The youth was waiting for a young rock band like us. There are a lot of things going on in the music- business here and that is great.
Vincent: Dutch spoken Hip Hop is really big in the Netherlands right now and these bands are really successful here.
8. What do you think about this Rock and Roll attitude of bands like “Oasis” or “The Hives”? Do you embody this attitude of “being the best” as well?
Vincent: I think it is funny and a nice show. It is good for yourself to say “We are the best”. With bands like “Mando Diao” or “The Hives” it really fits, they can say it. But if the singer of “Keane” would say it, it would sound silly.
9. What can you tell me about your bandname?
Maurits: It just came up to us through a Bob Dylan Song. The lyric says:
“There are those who worship loneliness, I'm not one of them,
In this age of fibreglass I'm searching for a gem."
That is how it felt when we started the band. It felt very cold in the music scene of the Netherlands and there was no style of music which was toughing us. We were searching for jewels and brilliants in all the rocks.
10. What do you except from the future? More gigs abroad, maybe Austria?
Maurits: Hopefully. We just finished our tour in the Netherlands and it was a lot of fun. Now the festival scene started and we are going to play at a lot of them. In September and October we are starting touring through Germany and hopefully Austria and Switzerland. Our CD will be released in those countries at the beginning of July. There are definitely a lot of things going on in the next year.
GEM, Interview vom 14. Juni 2006 (Utrecht / Niederlande)
22.06.2006, 16:14 von M. Punz
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