Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey Vents – nice to meet ya. We/I have been fine i guess. Just back from visiting my family in the U.S. Readjusting to life on this side of the world. Funny, the word “vent” in the Dutch language translates to man/dude. So, hey dudes, all good with you guys too?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “To Know That You Know Nothing”?
Well textually (which is my department in the band) the song is about my views/feelings about the poetic form and spoken word. How poetry can be a painkiller but not the cure for a poisened world. How poets can also be some of the biggest bullshitters out there. Like in any artform you have the prophets and the poseurs and everything inbetween. The best poets know intrinsically that they are the biggest bullshitters. The that by freeing yourself up from the ideas and knowledge that you hold on to, you can accomplish more than you may imagine.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Being involved in the poetry/music scene for a long time I have had the pleausre to meet a lot of interesting people. You gotta listen and and you gotta learn. Then write about it. That is what I do, this is how I do it. Digestion is not all about regurgitation, if you know what I mean.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Parts where filmed during a live show we did for an event with Rough Night Press in a place called the Vondelbunker in Amsterdam. It is located in the Vondelpark. The Vondelbunker is a legalized squat. It is an old bunker from the war I believe. There is actually a row of attached bikes there to generate power if the electricity failed during the war. Vondelbunker is a great place for alternative music and subculture performances/art. The live video was then spliced up with stuff ripped from Youtube. Old beatnik poetry happenings and films made during the time period. At the end we added some visual snap shot shout-outs to poets/musicians creative deivants who have inspired me/us over the years.
The single comes off your new album Everything At All Times And All Things At Once – what’s the story behind the title?
HHHmmm…well let’s see. The first album was called Now That We Still Can and this one is Everything At All Times And All Things At Once. I seem to like titles that are long and with big open ended ideas. Like the name Irrational Library – a library of random and seemingly unrelated ideas that actually combine to create humanity at its best. It is about the combination of all the things in this world that engage me as a creative person. From the minoot details to the big picture. The album title is also about how with the advent of social media and smart phones we now allow ourselves to be constatntly inundated with information. We care politicians and advertising executives in our back pockets all day long. Most of us say hello to Mark Zuckerberg before we kiss our spouses good morning. I guess the album title is more or less simply about that.
How was the recording and writing process?
Well I write my poems when I write them, thoughts come and go and when they come I just get to work. Lots of time this may occur while I am under the shower. I use something called Aquanotes (a waterproof shower note pad). An awesomely handy invention. Then I will flush them out on the laptop, type them up and print them out. With the music, once we get into the practice room we just start. A bass line from Mishal usually get us going. Then Lars fills it in on the drums and Tom feels it out qua guitar or baritone sax. Then I just jump on top of the groove and lay down the text. It is really quite simple with us. We try not to over think it. A loop creates itself and then we puzzle some extra pieces into to groove too make it interesting.
In the recording studio we just get to it, no fuss no muss. We play everything live and together. For us it is all about that playing off one another. Listening, filling in and laying back when it is called for. We are a unit. I may be The Irrational Library but The Irrational Library band does not exist as it needs to be without the input and tactic of each and every one of us. The first two albums we recorded 13 songs in two days. A few takes each song. Then at home Mishal who does all the mixing, mastering, production will work his wizardry and tweak this or that. Maybe Tom will re-do a sax solo, Lars will add a bit of percussion or I will fix up my vocals a bit. Again keeping it simple and as raw as possible. I don’t really understand bands who spend endless days and money on making an album. For us the real work is in the practice space and on the stage. I think the studio is just a byproduct of those other two, I do hope that folks dig our albums but we are about the live expierence. It is funny how sometimes I read or hear in interviews about other musicians that they don’t listen to their own stuff. I do get a bit weirded out by the sound of my voice alone but in combination with the band, I do di git oh so very much. I love listening to us. The Irrational Library is my favorite band. I would so love to see us play live.
How does your background as a poet actually influences your music as a whole?
I guess that has do to with rhythm and cadence. The way a poet can build upon words and the way that those words can fall on top of one another. The sounds that vowels and consonants make when they start rubbing up against one another other. I walk in the tradition of poets of the page and the stage. Like Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, the Beat Generation, The Last Poets, Gil-Scott Heron which led to early hip hop, and especially punk rock. Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, FEAR, Janes Addiciton, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Attitude, essence and presence. It is all about the fire and the flow. Burn your inspirations for warmth. What we do as a band I call…spokensoulrocknrollfunkedupfreedomboogieforyourbrainspartyprotestmusic, alright!
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Like I said before, inspiration comes from where I allow myself to go. What I open myself up to and what forces its way into my sightline. I enjoy tilting the perspective just a bit, to see the world before me just a bit off, a little askew. I find that I can then develop a broader perspective on a subject. Be it the butterfly effect of stepping in a pile of dog shit that someone did not clean up off the street or the illusion of what American culture is actually all about. The thin line between sedation and savagery. The harsh realities of our happiness culture. For me life is not so much about what is reflected in the polished mirror but in the scattered shards of glass once you have smahed the illusion of it. Everything is connected and we are all ultimately alone. It is about how we deal with it all as individuals and as a community.
Any plans to hit the road?
We have a number of shows here in the Netherlands scattered around the next few months. In the spring we will be doing some hit and run tours in Germany and Scotland. Get in and get out. We can’t afford to much time away due to work and family. We are hoping for some festival stuff here in Holland for the summer. There are lots and lots of them. We will see. One day we look forward to bringing what we do to the States. As an expat New Yorker coming home is always a unique expierence. I am curious what American ears will make of The Irrational Library.
What else is happening next in The Irrational Library’s world?