by Renee Versteegen & Google Translate
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Kensington – Have sold out an arena for 17.000 people twice in a row
“There are not many Dutch bands that manage what we have managed,” says Kensington, in an exclusive interview with Musicserver. In it, guitarist Casper Starreveld also talks about what the tour collect, how it works in the music market abroad, and also adds his view of the frequent comparisons with Kings Of Leon.
In your early days at home in the Netherlands you opened for such resonant names as Razorlight, My Chemical Romance, Scouting For Girls and The Wombats. It is clear to me that this certainly helped you in your career, but did you have the opportunity to meet with some of them and talk about music? Did they gave you any special advice?
You’re right, for the growth of young bands, what we were then, these concerts with internationally successful groups are definitely important. It’s different, and sometimes with those formations it’s not actually possible meet, while at other times they are really friendly. I remember that maybe My Chemical Romance were really very nice and talked to us as equals, perhaps the same is true for The Script and The Wombats. Our singer Eloi even moved into their tour bus for a couple of days and everyone enjoyed a great party. That “advice” that you mention, then there is nothing concrete, it’s more of a feeling and experience of how to perceive everything around you as you ask anything that interests you, you watch the work of production and so on. Of course, you have to be somewhat inconspicuous and not get under people’s feet, but just by picking a good moment for your private “research” you get an awful lot.
Here in the Czech Republic it is difficult for a beginning band to record its debut record in the studio of a renowned Kaiser Chiefs keyboardist and have it mastered by John Davis, a man who worked with Arctic Monkeys. As in this respect, how is the scene in the Netherlands? Did you have any sponsors or is it just a combination of fortunate coincidences?
From the beginning, we had a vision that we wanted to work with people with whom no Dutch band had worked. We have always aimed high, and that naturally carries a lot of rejection, but sometimes it happens that even these “great men” want to work with a young group full of enthusiasm, which is ready to work hard. So we made a plan, borrowed a lot of money went into it fully, and now perhaps we can say that it was worth it. Of course we risked a lot, but he ventured, nothing gained. In the past, we have seen a lot of bands like us make a similar step forward as we did, but we were certainly one of the first for whom it actually paid off.
I really am interested in how it works in the Dutch music scene. Except for you, we also know Within Temptation, The Gathering Delain, Epica, Noisia, Afrojack, Martin Garrix, Fedde Le Grand, Armin van Buuren and many others. How is it possible that you develop the music industry as well? Perhaps you have some grants from the state?
It is a fact in our country there is (or rather was) a really good climate for live music as such, we have a ton of great places where you can play, with a lot of people from production, who are professionals, so this definitely helped . No we do not get grants from the state, but the music culture in our country was always quite an important part of life for all of us, but now all those cuts and the crisis have also made a mark on it. It is true that in our country we have also quite a good music school, so it definitely helps.
And it is also related to another question: to whom do we owe the fact that there is such an interest in you abroad recently, who helped you?
It is never so simple that you could say that it was decided this particular moment. It’s always a certain point where things come together in the right place and at the right time. It may be a tweet from Coldplay about your video, this may be an MTV award, it may be just a simple tour, where you get new fans. It’s always a combination of different things to help you succeed. You need to make your gigs great, you need to be played on the radio, you need advertising on television, you need a chance … There’s a lot. So it just gradually builds and you strive to be both ambitious and at the same time also patient.
I have to ask about your previous drummer Lucas Lenselink, who left in 2007 with because he wanted to study at university. What happened to him, did he finish? Are you still in contact with him, what does he do today? And is he not sorry that he is not playing with you anymore?
He’s doing well, he graduated from university and now works for the Army. He is still both mine and Jan’s friend and he keeps creating music, even though it’s rather classical, seriously.
When you played at the Fingers Up Festival in Mohelnice in August, I spoke with someone on your team who told me that back home in the Netherlands you are so famous, that your biggest hall sold out twice in a few minutes. Is it true? Are you really so famous at home? You could thus be considered, say one of the top ten most famous bands in the Netherlands?
Haha, so those few minutes is a bit too much, it took three days, but otherwise okay, we have sold out Ziggo Dome arena with a capacity of 17 000 people twice. It was quite a buzz. As for the top ten, I’d probably like to formulate it like that, but the truth is that not many Dutch bands have managed to sell out Ziggo Dome twice, and as fast as us.
On your Facebook profile you call the concert at the Hungarian Sziget Festival the best concert you’ve ever played. Is that still valid? I was there and even though the atmosphere was really great, it seemed to me that the engineer did not do a very good job, because it was difficult to hear Eloi’s voice. How did you perceive that on stage? And have you ever played outside the Netherlands for more than the 15.000 fans at Sziget?
Sure, it’s still one of our most popular concerts altogether. We played well for more people, we played well for less, but at Sziget it just all sort of came together well. Fantastic atmosphere, complete storm. The sound for us on stage was ok and we have not heard any complaints, so maybe you were just standing in a dead zone …
Your latest album is called “Rivals”. What is that concept worth today?
It’s about my own rival, inside yourself. With previous albums, we were rather focused on the perception of the world around us, but with this one we were really focused on ourselves, we went more into the heart. We asked ourselves questions like: “How can we improve?”, “What celebrities are we?”, “What are the challenges we have in front of us?” We think that if you’re really happy with that you can achieve anything.
A lot of our fans especially love songs like “Streets” or “Little Light”. Can you tell us more about their inspiration?
Where did our inspirationcome from? Well, “Streets” is about someone who tells you that something is not possible, but you work hard and show him he was wrong. We wrote it fairly quickly and it was one of the first songs for “Rivals”. Good songs are usually created quickly, this was one of our better jam sessions, so the day was essentially done.
“Little Light” was the opposite of it, it’s a very diverse song. It’s about experiencing the nightlife and making an effort to find what you are looking for. Linked with the emptiness that comes with the never-ending party. And it is really fun to play it live, usually we play it as the last song and then a lot of the noise and the end of the epic come to power.
Your latest single is called “Done With It” and has a really nice and entertaining video. You used a lot of shots from Sziget and at 0:45 a pool in Mohelnice where you enjoyed the free time before the concert at the Fingers Up. Is this the last video from the era of “Rivals” or are you planning there to be more?
No, this is the last one! On Fingers Up We had a really wonderful time, the pool was an amazing boost, I remember that it was 38 degrees Celsius. And in this movie it looks great, cha cha! I think it was a great idea to capture the entire festival season into one video. We look at it everytime with the guys.
A lot of people in the Czech Republic describe your music as “something like Kings Of Leon”. What do you think about it? Do you agree or do you have other, more important musical influences?
It’s cool, for sure we do not mind. People generally need to be compared with the likes of you who already know, so we understand. Although I think that we are actually completely different groups live, but then again, it’s better if we compare with Kings Of Leon, than with One Direction, cha cha! Regarding real impact on our work, I think other groups are more important. In the tourbus we usually play Tame Impala, Foals, The Maccabees, Wolf Alice or The War on Drugs.
And what about your other hobbies? Do you have any interesting hobbies besides music and family? You must collect anything?
On tour we collect mainly good wine, but now it houses mostly nothing, che che. I like to ride a snowboard when I have time, but that time is so little that it I can rarely indulge in it.
November 4 We’ll play again, this time returning to Prague’s Rock Café and just this year so it goes on your third gig with us. Stuck with you from the Czech Republic’s something interesting? Do you have any favorite places here? On tour we collect mainly good wine, but now it houses mostly nedovezeme, che che. I must be like to ride a snowboard when I have time, but that time is so little that it rarely indulge.
November 4 you’ll play here again, this time returning to Prague’s Rock Café and it will be your third gig with us this year. Is there anything interesting that stuck with you from the Czech Republic? Do you have any favorite places here?
Our previous concert in Prague was tremendously enjoyable, a lot of people jumping wildly and sang with us, even if they did noy know the entire text, it was great. And Prague is definitely one of the nicest cities where we’ve played, breathtakingly beautiful architecture. And as we mentioned above, Fingers Up Mohelnice was terrific as well, and the same is true even for a dump, where we played well. Czech Republic, can really enjoy it!