Art birthed from pain is often the purest. That was the case for the new EP from Gott, the Netherlands based super-group featuring past and present members of The Devil's Blood, Molassess, Severe Tourture, Legion of the Damned, Soulburn, Ggu:ll, Dodecahedron and Radar Men From The Moon.
In the wake of their latest collection To Hell To Zion and their hotly anticipated debut performance at Roadburn on April 22, bandleader Dave van Beek sat down with Metal Injection for a deep dive into the somber genesis of the project, the bands' ambitious adaptation of a Fleetwood Mac classic, the heart behind the legendary Roadburn festival and much more!
Can you take me through the genesis of Gott? I know there are ties to your band Ggu:ll and of course Farida has collaborated with you in the past.
Well, it started with me actually building a home studio where I'm sitting right now. I've got a small studio in my backyard where I make music and where I rehearse with Ggu:ll. That's how I started using this building, so to say. But when I built it, it was also with the intention to start working on some music for myself, and I really didn't have any idea of what that would be. So I just started writing music. One night I would be writing a black metal song, and another night I would be writing different kinds of stuff. And then I had a group of songs that fit pretty well together. And I thought, "I think I have something here that could work." So I focused on that, but I never really had a certain state of mind or a certain sound in my head. I just wrote a lot of music the first couple of years that I had this home studio.
And then in 2019, during Roadburn actually, one of my best friends died. He had cancer, so we all knew he would die. So in the last few weeks of his life I was working on this song. Kind of as an escape, to clear my mind. Sometimes not as an escape, but he was really in my head when I was working on the music. When I was working on that song he was always involved, he was in my head or I was trying to find some calmness in my head. He was a big part of that song. And then when he died I decided that I wanted to finish that song. Before that I already wrote a lot of songs, but I just wrote the guitar parts and the bass and I knew what kind of drum parts I wanted with every part of the song, basically. But I never asked a drummer to come and play those parts for me. I can drum myself, so I was almost like "I will do that in the future when I have a drummer." But when I wrote that song I was like "yeah, I want to finish this."
So then I asked a friend to come and play the drums for the song, and I asked Farida to come and sing. I had a drummer and Farida on vocals. Before that actually I already knew I wanted to ask Farida to sing. We've been good friends for a long time. Selim, her brother, was a good friend of mine, so we knew each other for a long time and we talked about it before. So I was sure that I wanted to have Farida on vocals. For that first song I recorded everything myself except the drums and Farida's voice, of course, but all the guitar parts and the bass I played myself. But I decided I didn't want to play guitar in this band because I don't consider myself to be a really good guitar player. I can write a song and if I have the time I can play a riff really tight, but it will be too stressful for me to play guitar live I think, so I decided to stick with bass for Gott.
Like I said in the beginning, I've been playing music for more than 30 years now I think. I'm 46 and I had my first band when I was 16. So for 30 years now, and I know a lot of friends that play guitar or whatever instrument, and I just started thinking about what kind of musicians do I need for this band? But also what kind of people. Because I knew that I wanted to be pretty serious with this band, so you also need to have a steady group of people you can travel with and that you can set goals with and try to build your band. So that's how I kind of formed the band, and then it went really slow. I decided to record the EP and I thought that could be a good project to get the whole thing started, to teach the songs to my friends and try to see if we can become a band.
When we recorded the EP, we never were in the same room at the same time. One guitar player would come, I would teach him his parts and then he would come back a couple of days later and we would record his parts. And that's how we did it with everybody, actually. So it was quite a long project to get the whole EP recorded. But I knew that this would be the project to get this band started, which was really good I think.
We were supposed to play Roadburn last year and of course it got canceled. But we were already more or less ready by then to play that show. But yeah, since then we just kept on rehearsing whenever we could because we had lockdowns where you weren't supposed to be out at night, so then we couldn't rehearse. And so there were ups and downs, but really slowly it grew as a band. And now we rehearse every week and it really feels like a band.
The EP itself for me is very difficult to peg down in the best way. It's doomy, it's rocky, but it's also incredibly layered and emotional. And I think a lot of that is because Farida's vocals are just so haunting and intimate. It really cuts through you.
Oh, cool. Thank you. Yeah, that's why I wanted Farida on vocals, because of her beautiful voice and really unique voice. Like you said when she sings and she means it you really feel it in her voice, you know? And that's why The Devil's Blood is one of my all time favorite bands, actually. I knew them before they started that band, so it has nothing to do with us being friends or whatever. Even if I lived in Alaska or whatever I think that would still be one of my all time favorite bands. It's her voice and of course the songwriting of Selim.
But yeah, I agree. Farida is capable of making a song her own really easily. I've witnessed it now when we started recording the EP when she came to Twan and me, one of the guitar players. He wrote the lyrics and then together we fit them on the songs. So Farida didn't do much with the basics of that. But then she comes into the studio and we start working together and she changes small things, and sometimes she doesn't even change it. But she sings it and it's like "fuck. I know it's supposed to sound like this, but it didn't sound like that in my head." She really knows how to turn a song around and make it her own and that's what makes her voice really unique, I think.
And how about using the classic Fleetwood Mac song "The Chain?" It really feels like a statement piece in that you can take a song that's so familiar to everyone, one of the staples of their setlist, and you can take that and not completely wipe it out and change it, but put these touches into it and make it your own.
Well, thank you very much for seeing it that way. To be honest, when I decided to try and cover that song I didn't even know if we would be able to get a good result. When I proposed it to the band I said "I think we should try it and maybe it doesn't work. And maybe it will work. If it doesn't work, it will just cost us some time. And that's it. And if it works, yeah, maybe we have something special." Actually it was at the beginning of the whole pandemic when I decided to try and cover "The Chain". I was sitting in my backyard in the sun having a beer, and I had the Fleetwood Mac record on and then "The Chain" came on and I was like "fuck, this is such a good song, we should try to cover it!" And that's how I proposed it. And it didn't really have a clear idea in mind, and then I started working with it a bit.
The first part of the song we used exactly the same timing as Fleetwood Mac did. Our drummer had the original song on his headphones, drummed to that, and we used that as the guideline. And then as soon as the bass solo came in I decided to use a metronome to make it a bit more rocky, a bit more tight. But that was all theory. Like I said, it was kind of an open book and could have gone wrong. It could have gone the way it went. And I think with Pelle coming in and joining us for the song and Gottfrid as well, his brother, on piano, it really added something even more special to it. We asked Pelle because we are all really big In Solitude fans.
We're a few days away from Roadburn. For anyone who hasn't experienced it, how can you sum up the festival? It's touted as being one of the most unique music festivals in the world.
It is. I think one of the things that has to do with that is because Tilburg is not that big of a city. The venues where the shows are are basically right in the center. So for those four or five days Roadburn takes over the city, basically. Everywhere you walk you see people with black t-shirts, band t-shirts. So that's the first thing, I think, that everybody in Tilburg is aware that something is happening in the city. Plus, there's always a really good atmosphere. And so that also adds to the good vibes, so to say, because I think there's always a good vibe around Roadburn. Plus the line up is usually pretty special, which makes it worth it for people to travel from all over to come to Tilburg to come to the festival.
With Roadburn, it's always such a good atmosphere. Right around the corner there's a street with bars and restaurants. So within a very small area you have the festival and you can sit on a terrace and you have some good food or whatever. So it's just that the proximity is really good, which also adds to the atmosphere of the festival, I think.
And it's really a no brainer for the inaugural live performance for Gott to be held at Roadburn. It's perfect for this band and this collection of greats from the region. It makes complete sense.
Exactly. We couldn't have asked for a better first show, actually. It's a festival where most of us already played with our other bands. A festival that we all attend every year, everyone in the band, if we play there or not. The bands that play there, we feel like kindred spirits. So for us we couldn't have asked for a better first show.