Interview with Jesper Binzer on DIC.NII.LAN.DAFT.ERD.ARK - English
What do high heels, spring onions, the Danish Queen, and Frankfurt have in common with Disneyland? Looking at it in the cold light of day it might not be obvious, but after dark things look different. Just about two hours after the master tape of „DIC.NII.LAN.DAFT.ERD.ARK“ had been sent to the factory we talked with Jesper Binzer about the upcoming 11th D-A-D album, which proves once more that anything is possible in Disneyland After Dark.
May I ask, what you are wearing today?
Jesper: Today I’m wearing a dark red pair of trousers, a leather down jacket from Penfield and a pair of Vans on my feet.
So you haven’t become fond of feathers, sequins, and high heels?
Jesper: No, definitely not! This was very nice to try, but I must say that suddenly I understand what my wife means when she says ‚I need to have some quality shoes. These shoes are very expensive, but it’s worth it because they are very good to walk in.‘ Suddenly it’s much easier to pay that much money for her high heels because I really found out how hard it is to climb up in those and how hard it is to walk more than half an hour in those. You learn something every day and I learned that at the video shoot.
Did you manage to walk gracefully or did you nearly break your neck?
Jesper: Everybody was falling over all the time. So it was a hard video to make.
Does it have a story or is it mainly a performance video in extravagant clothes?
Jesper: It’s definitely a performance video. The whole idea behind the video was to show D-A-D more or less in their rehearsing space. Of course it’s not our rehearsing space, but it’s very much music based. So what was important for us was, that the four of us are playing together, and as an extra thing we are wearing ladies clothes. And I must say that the directors idea – that we shouldn’t play ladies, and we shouldn’t make fun of being in drag, but just play the music in ladies clothes – really dawned on me when I saw the result. I saw a test clip yesterday and it really works, it’s a very unique video!
Editors note: The video has been published in the meantime, so see yourself:
Earlier this year there was a video published on your website called „D-A-D leaks“ apparently showing a studio session. The song very much resembles „The End“ but the lyrics are different. What happened to the lyrics that you sang back then and why have they been changed? Was it just gibberish?
Jesper: When we did our basic tracks – let’s see, the first ones were maybe a year ago – almost none of the lyrics were ready. The only thing we had got when we started recording seriously were the chorus lines. We never knew, if the songs that we tried out in the basic track sessions will end up on the album, so I was singing more or less gibberish, finding out words on the spot to catch the feeling of the song. We all had the idea that we will look at the lyrics later, see which should be changed and how it could sound better. But first of all the songs start out with gibberish and then I write some words down.
About what time this year the final lyrics have been written? I think even at the studio session in may, when you presented three songs, only „A New Age Moving In“ had it’s final lyrics. Isn’t it?
Jesper: Yes, it had some of the lyrics as well, but all the lyrics – even if you think they are finished – should be out in the open and ready to be changed whenever you want it in the process. It’s very important to stay open until almost the very last day, that nothing is sacred and nothing is set in stone, that’s how we work. If you dare to keep it open and believe in your own creativity when you really have to, then I think the best results are coming. What we would hate to do is, to write songs about what happened 25 months ago. It’s to be as close to the release of the album topic-wise as possible, so it’s very important to keep it open and see what happens.
I think the work on this album must have been a bit different than on previous albums, because you seem to have had separate phases of working on an album and touring in the past. This time you’ve definitely been busy playing festivals with a peak of two shows in one day, while still being in the studio. How did that influence your work on this album?
Jesper: Maybe, when we started out, we dreamt that we would be finished with the album before we go on the summer tour. I don’t know if anyone ever believed that, but I think we quickly found out that we would make this a positive thing to stay – so to speak – in the dream all the time, so that the live energy was brought into the studio on Monday. When we played Thursday, Friday, Saturday, we got one day off at home on Sunday and then we went straight into the studio and kept the energy flowing. So in a funny way we were wearing our stage clothes all the time, which was definitely a new experience for us. It’s been very helpful, it’s been lovely, to keep some kind of confidence in our abilities all the time. Because sometimes when you are in the studio it gets too intellectual, sometimes in the comfort of a studio it goes out of hand, like ‚Ah! Then you can use a keyboard here, and you can use a… ‚ So it feels like a thing that we should have done a lot earlier, it feels like we could have benefited from it earlier as well. But mainly the thing for us is, as long as we are doing it in some kind of a new way it’s good for us, because we are already doing it so many years, if we find a new way it’s very inspiring and good for the end result.
You also seem to have mentioned a new self confidence regarding this album in another interview, which reflects in the choice of Nick Foss again. What makes working with him so special to you in contrast to other producers?
Jesper: It’s a lot of small things. One thing is, that Nikolaj feels a great responsibility. He takes the album all the way to the end, even today he made the last changes for the album. The master tape was send away two hours ago, but four hours ago he was doing the last small edits. He keeps working and he doesn’t stop until he can hear what he wants to hear. That’s a good thing. He’s positive, he’s a very good coach, and he doesn’t want to change, he’s not a musician himself, so it’s not that he wants his idea in the music. I mean it’s all our ideas, all our way of doing it, but he’s a very good and positive coach. It’s great to work when there are positive vibrations, and he keeps them, even on bad days he’s in a good mood. So you know, with love and everything the talent will grow.
Why have you not worked with him on the last albums like „Monster Philosophy“ or before, if it’s so good working with him?
Jesper: That’s a good question. One of the reasons was that he went to another record label while we stayed with the same record label because of our contract. We couldn’t really work with him because he was working with another record label, but we needed to go forward, we couldn’t really wait until he was ready to work with us. „Helpyourselfish“, „Scare Yourself“, and „Monster Philosophy“ were without Nikolaj Foss, I can’t remember which else, but because we work so much together it get’s a little to predictable, maybe that’s it. And we definitely needed to get to a new place to be able to work with Nikolaj again.
Jacob apparently said that this might be your best album since long. Do you agree and what makes it special compared to the former albums?
Jesper: I definitely agree! I agree because it has been a very organic way of doing it. That’s maybe the best way to describe it. The thing that we’ve been touring, and composing, and touring, and recording has been great, because we’ve been on a move, we’ve been in motion all through this production. I think the fact, that Nikolaj came in a little after we started, but still in the very early beginnings in the rehearsing space has been great. He came and listened to the first five songs and he could easily see the direction he thought we should go this time. So we had dialogue from very early on with someone from outside. And you can really trust Nikolaj, he does not change his meaning or opinion depending on which day it is, or if the weather is sunny or rainy. So that made us pretty confident in the work and composing as well. So I’d say that we’ve been conscious about our music from very early on – we didn’t go in many directions, it wasn’t like we were suddenly in doubt where to go, which happens a lot during a long period of composing and writing music. Suddenly you go ‚ah no, no we need to drop this rock, we need to go disco‘, and then the next week ‚ooh, lets drop disco, we need to go country.‘ It’s been very lovely not to have that. And we’ve made the music together. No one has really sat at home, made up a song, and then brought it to the rehearsing space. With „Monster Philosophy“ we had this thing that everybody brought almost finished songs to the table and then the rest of us helped finish the songs. This time around it started out with a riff and everybody has been working from a riff to an almost half finished song.
It sounds like you’ve done a lot of things different this time.
Jesper: Definitely! We’ve done a lot of things differently, but of course it’s just our talent and how we look at music. The main difference for me actually is – very, very, very boring, but very significant – my radio in my car broke down, and I haven’t listened to the radio for almost two years. So the music has to come from within yourself instead of being served with music when you drive or when you are at home. Suddenly there is no music and then it grows inside your head. I think that’s been a small but very significant part at least from my point of view.
But even during the past the music must have grown in your head!?
Jesper: Yes, but in another way. You listen to the radio and then you get inspired ‚I heard something great on the radio today, we need to sound like this!‘ When you’re in the middle of a long and sometimes very boring process you just want to be distracted by what is happening around you because it is a long and hideous experience. But this time around I wasn’t distracted, I was totally immersed in the songs we were doing and what we were doing and it was easier to keep my concentration this time around.
At the Wacken showcase you mentioned, that „Breaking Them Heart By Heart“ had the working title „Nordlied“ because it has fallen off at the Frankfurt studio. What’s the „Frankfurt part“ about it?
Jesper: Well, I don’t know. We’ve spend so much time in Nordend. The song came along almost as a coincidence and we’ve definitely brought it to life, so to speak, in Frankfurt. But then you just name the songs, there’s not really a meaning behind it, but „Nordlied“ was definitely a title that stuck. And even though we had the words for the chorus with us when we went down to Frankfurt, it was called „Nordlied“ all the way through.
And what do spring onions have in common with Neverland? [Editor’s note: The song „Last Time In Neverland“ was introduced as „Spring Onion“ at D-A-D’s Wacken showcase.]
Jesper: The topic of the lyrics has been the same all the way through, but when Jacob came with the riff for the verse, he said that this riff could be used for anything. He said, it could be a verse or a chorus or a C-part, it would work for anything. Then I said, so even if we put layers on top of it or peel the layers off it will stay the same. So that’s like an onion, when you take off the layers, or you put them on again, it’s the same case in and out, so to speak.
Regarding the cover of the album. You’ve chosen a flag and a heraldic device. Is this a hint for the Danish Queen to give you a title of honor like Elton John has been ennobled by Queen Elizabeth?
Jesper: [laughs] No. Actually we had this thought of the Danish flag in black and white for some time, because we thought that there was a lot of bad things going on at one point in Danish politics. Luckily we’ve got a new government right now, but it changed only a month ago. The old government was shutting out a lot of people, so there was not really any love coming from Denmark for a very long time, and we thought that Denmark had become a very dark place to stay for a while. That’s the reason for the black and white flag. But otherwise, it’s just playing with whatever is there. I mean, we feel that we are a band of veterans, we feel that we’ve got a long history, and people definitely call us ‚Kings of Danish Rock‘. We’ve put all those inputs into the cover, but mainly we chose it because we thought that it could look great.
Is it just a Photoshop artwork or did you have someone sew a real flag?
Jesper: It’s a real flag that’s been edited in Photoshop afterwards. It’s modeled up, the logo and everything is made in clay, wax and stuff like that. So it’s made by hand first and then afterwards put into a computer.
How big is it?
Jesper: I’d say it’s a little bigger than an old LP cover, no, one and a half LP covers.
Will Molly get another facelift?
Jesper: This is as she’s always been. I mean she’s modeled, but it should be a classic Molly.
My last question is regarding the album title „DIC.NII.LAN.DAFT.ERD.ARK“. How is it supposed to be pronounced?
Jesper: It’s supposed to be pronounced just the way our name was in the old days.
[Editors note: The original name DISNEYLAND AFTER DARK had to be abbreviated in 1989. For detailed information see the band biography]
Really? I mean the spelling is a bit different, and all the punctuation…
Jesper: Yes, this is „The Hyponymously Titled Album.“ So the title of the album is the title of the band.
So it’s like „The Artist Who Was Formerly Known As Prince“?
Jesper: Yes exactly, exactly.
Well then, thank you for the interview. Do you have some famous last words?
Jesper: Oh, I’ve got lots of famous last words, but I forgot them. No! What I can say is: We’ve finished the album today. This of all days! Today it’s been send away to the factory. So we are very very happy in D-A-D camp and we feel definitely that this is really one of the best D-A-D albums. So it’s a very exciting time at the moment to be in D-A-D!
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