FIRESTARTERS

Dinand Woesthoff and Dennis van Leeuwen, of hardcore rockers Kane, have stormed the Dutch charts with their fifth album. The title No Surrender is no coincidence – giving up is not in their vocabulary. JFK sets some questions for Dinand and Dennis.

“If you stand on stage with your big ego, you can bet that people will shoot you down”

“Hey wait, I know how you can get a good flame!” says Dennis. “You need lighter, hairspray and coffee milk. No really, that's how we always used to do things.” Dennis pulls a lighter out of his cigarette packet and gets a bottle of hairspray off his stylist. They don't have any coffee milk powder to hand but do have a bag of flour. “About the same isn't it?” A while later everyone took cover as Dinand created a fire flame with the hairspray and lighter and then Dennis throws a handful of flour through it.

Nothing happens.

“With coffee milk it works really well”, laughs Dennis. In the studio of photographer Ruud Baan there is a great atmosphere. A burnt down music set has been constructed where Dennis and Dinand take turns being photographed.

Kane's last CD Everything You Want wasn't a success. At least, the boys weren't satisfied with it. Overproduced, demanding, pretentious… The reviews didn't lie about that. But Kane were quick to lick their wounds and return to the studio, and have come back with the pure and unapologetic No Surrender.

After a bad review, who lays awake at night the longest?

A. Dennis

B. Dinand

Dennis : “Oh God. Um, I think Dinand.”

Why do you think that?

“Because it's more often about him than about me.”

But it is both of yours CD?

“Yes, but despite that it's still more about him. And a bad review would then often be about the lead person. I might lie awake thinking that it isn't right. But I think that it would affect Dinand more as it's more about him.”

Dinand?

Dinand: “Well, that is quite amusing, as it really doesn't bother me anymore. I am always very curious, but a review is not as captivating as it once was. That is the advantage of being in the music business this long, but the first time it's terrible, bloody awful. After that you get used to it, and you get thick skinned to that sort of thing. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's important, I'd much rather have good reviews than bad, but I can also predict which review's are going to be bad. It's become funny now.”

Dennis: “Yeah, it still astonishes me. I just think: you're a reviewer and you just don't like Kane. You didn't like the first album and wrote a bad review. The second album you found even worse, and the third you found wasn't much better. Seriously, if you still don't like Kane by the third album then you'd think they'd stop writing reviews about us?”

Dinand: “But I've learned it doesn't really make much difference. It's much more important that we reach our fans and that our fans tell us what they think. It's nice that via our ‘hyvespage' internet site we have one-to-one contact with our fans. Things have changed a lot when you think back to ten years ago. We are going to play our new album live for the first time with two dates in Den Haag; and there'll be some 2600 people in the crowd. So therefore they'll also be some 2600 reviewers, because those people will post their opinions online. That's worked out well for us.”

Your last album wasn't such a success, were you then extra nervous for this one?

Dinand: Yeah, I'm always nervous when we bring out a new album. Will it get on the radio, how our fans will receive it… Now from that I can lay awake at night. At the end of last year we had a gig where we played No Surrender for the first time to a large audience. You felt that success depended on whether the fans liked it, and people seemed to click with it. And that's also something that keeps me awake at night. I can't sleep if it went terrible but it's the same if things went well; because I'd want it to be that way next time as well.”

The catwalk criminal impersonation of you on ‘ Koefnoen' ' was

A. Funny

B. Painful

C. Something else, namely…

Dennis: “I always look with amusement at Koefnoen and I'm always on the floor laughing if the joke is about someone else. About Chris Zegers for example, they also took the mickey out of him. That was really funny though, it's terrible.

But as soon as the jokes about you and you see yourself being made fun of, then it really isn't funny anymore…”

Painful then?

Dennis: “Yeah, and they'd done it so well. They'd really studied our video, and it looked so professional, that's not normal.”

Dinand: “ Yeah, and Koefnoen always manages to hit a nerve with their impersonations. We'd already decided to do things differently next time.”

When did you guys decide that?

“About 6 months ago. We were in a sort of horrible cycle that we couldn't break free of. But we stood totally behind the album, you just have to”

Why wasn't Everything You Want a hit?

“Last week I listened to the album again, it had been a while since I'd heard it, and I still think it's an alright album. And don't forget there were also forty thousand copies sold. I think that we did make one mistake, and that wasn't so much with the album itself, but the way in which we presented it. The style of the album was different, and with the video it all looked a little weird.”

Dennis: “ That's true, it was packaged wrongly.”

Dinand: “ I know an example: At the launching of the album we also did an interview and a cover shoot for JFK, with the Clockwork Orange theme. And I remember that after the photo shoot I said to you guys: ‘Let's go a step further.' That's when we put those really long eyelashes on me, which was great! A few weeks later I was walking with my best friend, Mister ADO himself, through town, and he saw the cover with me with those huge lashes. His first reaction was: ‘What on earth were you thinking?' So I said that I thought it was alright and he said: ‘You think that is alright? Seriously Dinand, what are you doing?' That's more or less how it went. The look was just too extreme to connect with the public. And apparently it doesn't work with music either. The first few times that we played the album live; out hardcore fans were there as always, and they just didn't click with it. We've always said: as long as you want it, but that also means when the public says: we don't like that style, you need to recognise that. So we decided to make another album.

And then came ‘ knoefnoen ' as well.

Dinand: “Exactly. Matthijs van Nieuwkerk also said when they asked him how he felt about being impersonated: he also thought it was horrible. In principle, it's already been happening for 10 years, but most of the time it stays superficial and simple; let's impersonate Dinand as he sounded 10 years ago. But this went a step further, and also at a time when we were quite vulnerable. But I can't deny that it wasn't funny. And it goes with the territory; critics, mockings etc… If you stand on stage with your big ego, you can bet that people will shoot you down. And that's a good thing; it makes you start to look at yourself critically. That's something I'm getting quite good at. I can now sometimes really look back and think: holy fuck, that photo shoot or that song, what did we look like!”

Presently Dennis gets asked out on dates more / less* than Dinand?

*Delete the incorrect word

Dennis: “Less”

Dinand: “Well, not that much less.”

Dennis: “Haha. Well, you know, I have a really nice woman. It is flattering if you get an offer, but I'm not so concerned with it. But of course Dinand is the face of the band, and that's a big difference. If I'm out and about, there's always someone who will say to me ‘Hey, you're out of Kane?' but if I'm next to Dinand, it doubles, triples, no, quadruples. I find it nice that I don't get it so much by myself. I can just stroll to the supermarket carefree.”

No Dinand, is Dennis still not competition with regard to how many dates he's asked on?

Dinand: “ Haha, well I hope he is for his sake. Nowadays woman don't come near me, I'm living in my own world. It wasn't like that for the first four years, then it was only music and fun and that drew lots of screaming girls. But then I got to know Guusje and we got married. A while later Guus got sick and passed away, and after that I met Lucy. That whole period was constantly in the news, I was constantly being followed by the paparazzi; and that has led me to become very introverted, but also people react to me differently because they know my whole life's story. My notoriety grew through what happened to Guusje, but the attention on me became less. I was happy with that. I reckon they thought: leave him alone. Because of that I hope Dennis gets more dates than I do.”

You guys have been playing for some 12 years together. What makes you two such a good match?

Dennis: “It's not as if we've got on with each other the whole time. But luckily that has been the case more than not. Dinand is such a different character to me. He has things that I don't have, and I have things that he doesn't have, so put the two of us together and we pretty much cover all bases and can tackle things well. We also inspire each other.”

Dinand: “When we met 12 years ago, we actually didn't know each other. But we clicked because of our enormous passion for music as well as our ambitions. We got to know each other along the way. Generally speaking, every relationship has its ups and downs, and most of the time that's because in a relationship you start to focus on what you don't like in each other. The good thing about us is that we're not concentrating on the things we don't like about each other, we're concentrating on the likes we do like.”

Would you guys actually be here without each other?

Dinand: Haha, yeah definitely. If you'd have asked me that question 10 years ago, when we were only concerned with one thing, then you would have got a completely different answer. Meanwhile, life for us is broader than just Kane. But is you're asking that question musically, then no; in Kane we couldn't be without each other.”

Dennis: “Exactly. Here's an unusual example… With every respect for Di-rect, but if Dinand left the band, there's no way I'd go on a show to get a new Dinand.”

Are you sure of that?

Dinand: “ Yeah Dennis, do you swear to that, Dennis, do you swear that?”

Dennis: “Haha, yeah I swear on all ten of my fingers.”

We couldn't have made No Surrender any earlier. True / Not True*

*Delete the incorrect word

Dinand: “True. We wanted to make an album like this for a long time, just stand in a room with each other and strum some chords, and then try to make a song out of it. But we never really had the right group of guys before for that to happen. Now for the first time have we got the right team that we can do that.”

You read everywhere that you guys are going back to basics, but actually you guys have never had the basics?

Dennis: “Haha!”

Dinand: “I don't see it like that, that we're going back to basics. We're just taking the next step.”

Dennis: “I think that you can have the basics, in that we have a guitar, an amplifier, a bass, drums and a singer, and that we're all in the studio at the same time and just having fun. That's basics. And you're right, that's something we have now for the first time.”

Do you take yourselves less seriously now than before, or just as serious?

Dennis: “Hmm, can I also say: just as seriously?”

Dinand: “Dennis boy, you can say anything you want.”

Denis: “Well, I think that it's just as serious then.”

Do you think the same Dinand?

Dinand: “I agree with Dennis that music is equally as important now. That fire is still the same. But at the same time, it isn't taken quite so seriously. See, before all we did was make music, and we put music before anything else. We'd play music first, but then we'd be doing nothing for ages. That sort rubbish, haha.”

Dennis: Yeah, and we quickly discovered that you should never say that…”

Dinand: “Very true, then you've got a lot of explaining to do at home. But it seemed to work well for us then. It was because we were young and lacked ambition. Everything had to revolve around us. It's different now though. We are now 12 years older, a lot has happened in our private lives, and you learn a lot about yourself; that music is an important component of life, but not the only one. I'm not on an egocentric path anymore, I make sure I have time for other people and I like it better that way.”

And where are your aspirations at the moment with regard to success abroad?

Dennis: “We don't have them anymore.”

Are you just saying that, or do you really mean it?

Dinand: “Both. We attempted it with our last album. We decided to have one more attempt in making an album with which we could make it abroad. We went for it, we invested a lot of money, and we travelled to America and the UK … But it didn't work out. Although when I look back at that period I thought it was great. It was just so exciting to be going for it. But I mean it sincerely that I don't dream about it anymore. I know enough to know it's no longer an option.”

Dennis: “I still remember how we both felt when we made that decision: we said to each other: mate, shall we knock this on the head? That was an enormous relief, really! But afterwards the experience was really valuable, because all that energy that came from that decision was channelled into our new album. It provided a home coming feeling, about being happy and content with how far you've got and what you've learnt. Above all, the experience has been invaluable.”

It sounds like you've become older and wiser?

Dinand: “Well yeah, I think that's true. I think that we're older and have also become a little bit wiser. Make sure you put an emphasis on the little bit, haha. Can you do that?”

Translation from Dutch to English credited to Leoni Lynch

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