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Interview conducted January 31 2018
Interview published February 19 2018

"Are we D-A-D or is it a brand name that we have to follow?"

Metal Covenant met up with Danish singer/guitarist Jesper Binzer as he was on a quick visit to Stockholm, Sweden. The skilled frontman put out a solo record called Dying Is Easy in November last year and has together with his peers in D-A-D slowly started to work on a follow-up to the band's late 2011 release DIC·NII·LAN·DAFT·ERD·ARK.

Tobbe: When you and I talked last August, you told me kind of "Who needs a new album?" and then a couple of months later you release a solo album, so was that statement only for D-A-D or what?

Jesper: [Laughs] Of course it's a bit funny to make a solo album while you are in a band, but I talked to the guys "Please let's do some work.", and I respect them, because of course an album is ready when an album is ready. That's very simple. So we just need to let the inspiration flow.

I mean, a D-A-D album isn't just my songs, so I just had to wait for the others to come along with a handful of songs and we are right now working in the rehearsing space and we're doing a lot of stuff with composing and writing. So everything is fine, but it's been too long a break for D-A-D, definitely.

Tobbe: Would you agree if I said that your solo stuff is kind of like the lighter part of D-A-D or a lighter version of D-A-D?

Jesper: Exactly. I think so too. I think the main difference between this album and a D-A-D album is two things. On my album there's no irony this time around, but on D-A-D albums there's a lot of humor and a lot of, you know, sarcasm and irony. And I also think that a D-A-D album should try to find the sound of the future. D-A-D should be looking for the new rock sound. I think my album is more traditional.

And I mean, there's some singer/songwriter moments on this album as well and maybe you could compare it a little bit to Simpatico [1997] or compare it to the softer songs on Everything Glows [2000]. But yeah, that's what I can do. I'm not in that sense a riff rocker of course and the other guys in D-A-D are much more into hard rocking riffs.

Tobbe: So if we only look at the songwriting. How did you approach your solo stuff differently than to what you do in D-A-D?

Jesper: When I write for D-A-D, I never write, like, a whole song. It's only riffs, parts, little pieces and bits of melodies. With this, of course, I had to finish it, so I couldn't start anything without finishing it. So actually I made a little document for myself and I made some rules like: the music and the lyrics should come, you know, within the same space of time, in the sense of not trying to construct the songs. They should flow out of me more or less naturally.

Of course you need to go back and rewrite and you need to go back and forth, but all the songs on this album have been born within the same couple of days in the sense of emotion and the main lyric part of it. So I think that was important. First of all: I couldn't start a song that I couldn't finish. That was the number 1 rule.

Tobbe: So there weren't any songs left when you finished the album?

Jesper: Yeah, exactly. I said to myself "If I can make 10 songs within August and I'm home free then, then I'm allowed to release a solo album. And I did, so it came out on November 3rd and on November 6th I was with D-A-D in Spain on the first rehearsal week. So it was very funny and I did it in the time I had.

Tobbe: Your voice is very characteristic of course and it's so related to the D-A-D sound and therefore it's kind of impossible to really separate your solo stuff from D-A-D. So, musically, is there another step to go for you if you release another solo album?

Jesper: I think there is. I mean, in April there is a thing called Record store day, which is like a vinyl thing, for vinyl freaks, or actually just for music freaks anyway, and I've made two more songs, solo songs, for that special thing. So, on the 21st of April there's two more songs coming out, where I found the Jesper sound and what it is I'm doing actually.

So yes, there's definitely a path to walk with my solo stuff and, because I know that right now in the rehearsing space with D-A-D, there's definitely another path to go with D-A-D. And it feels great and it fits my mood very well, because sometimes with D-A-D I'm a bit too pushy. I mean, I'm too much in a hurry compared to the others, so it's nice to have this outlet.

Tobbe: Most of my questions so far have been comparisons to D-A-D and is it even possible to review your album or talk about your solo album without comparing it to D-A-D?

Jesper: I mean, D-A-D brought me where I am. To me it's like D-A-D has been, like, 30 years of education and this is, like, my thesis, my bachelor kind of exit or whatever. So of course you can't really separate the two. D-A-D has been going for almost 35 years and I think it's very important now to kick the D-A-D mule in the ass to see "Okay. What's happening? What's inside of you? What can come out of a 35 year old band?".

It has been very important for me and for the other guys that these outlets have been okay and trying to find "Okay. What are we gonna use D-A-D for? What is D-A-D? Are we D-A-D or is it a brand name that we have to follow?". A lot of those questions may be asked. I think, I mean, being able to feel the creative juices flowing this much, as I've done now, really, really makes me a happier person and I think that I'm bringing back that delight and lightheartedness into D-A-D.

Tobbe: Did you feel that this was a little bit like a 'now or never' situation, to release that solo album?

Jesper: 14 months ago I didn't know I had it in me. It was just because we had this band meeting where I said "Let's give it 110 %. Let's make a D-A-D album within the next 6 months. C'mon guys, let's do it. Let's put D-A-D as our first priority." and the guys were going "Nah. Let's not do that.". So I said "I'm sorry, guys, but I'm filled up with good stuff. I need to make something on my own then." and then we just "Okay. Let's meet after this summer." and we did, …but in the meantime I just did a solo album.

Tobbe: Regarding your fans' reaction. What kind of expectations did you have early on?

Jesper: It was a bit of an awkward situation, because, like you experienced, I hadn't talked to anyone about it. So it was, like, a secret and I was going around and having such a great time in the studio and having such a great time composing and enjoying myself so much. So when it came to "We have to release this, Jesper. C'mon, let it go.", I had this feeling "If they can't take a joke. Well, let's just see what happens.".

But luckily there has been no bad vibes at all. People have understood that these songs have a right to be out there, on the radio and on the streaming services, because the songs themselves are good. The fans don't see this as a threat; they see it as "Wow! Great to have some music while we wait.", you know.

Tobbe: Maybe the reactions were much stronger when you guys released Helpyourselfish [1995] or even Soft Dogs [2002], which were two very different albums at the time.

Jesper: Yeah, definitely. But I think the fans have come to expect that D-A-D make what feels good for them in the particular time that they are made in and I think we've carved out some kind of freedom, me included. I'm able to release a solo album. People know that we're working in that sense. As long as they have music to listen to I think it's gonna be all right.

Tobbe: Does anyone else in the band think about releasing stuff now when they see what you have accomplished?

Jesper: Well, they wanted to take some time off. They wanted a little holiday and I spent the holiday composing, enjoying myself and just relaxing by playing music and I'm sure that they would love to do it, but at the moment there's not really time. It's not really time because now we are hard at work with D-A-D.

Tobbe: About the live performances with your solo band. You have played a couple of shows already and you have shows coming up this spring, but will those shows be it for this time and you will focus on D-A-D from that point on?

Jesper: Very good question, because now people are calling me for some solo shows, in the second half of 2018. And it's like: some of them are, like, tempting and it's so nice to tour with these guys, 'cause they're musicians and they can play anything, so I can just throw in a song at soundcheck and they can learn how it goes and play it in the evening. It's another way of working, another way of doing it.

And I have this feeling that I maybe can do this on and off, with D-A-D as first priority and whenever there's time off, I can tour a little bit. But right now, I mean, I'm gonna play 40 shows with my solo band in the first half of 2018, so I'm gonna be pretty busy. But that's great, because in the second half I'm gonna be pretty busy with D-A-D.

Tobbe: With your solo band you hardly play any guitars live, but in D-A-D you play your guitar in pretty much every song and do you feel some kind of freedom as you don't have to carry around that guitar on your solo shows?

Jesper: Yeah, that's a sense of freedom, but I've been playing guitar and singing for 30 years, so it's a bit hard to get used to the lead singer role actually. So I'm playing some acoustic guitars on my shows and stuff and then I'm a lead singer. It's very much an organism that's gonna be, you know, just keeping on, keeping on and it's gonna be fun to see how it evolves.

Tobbe: How long are your live shows now, with only one album released?

Jesper: One album released, and at the moment actually it's 1 hour and 15 minutes, because we extend it a little bit. Some more guitar solos. But now I've got two more songs to put in the live shows for the spring. It's actually a pretty nice concert, 1 and a half hours maybe.

Tobbe: Do people shout for D-A-D songs too?

Jesper: I mean, in Denmark I've been very, very vocal about: I'm not playing one single D-A-D song. I'm gonna keep on being vocal about it in Sweden as well, saying "There's no D-A-D songs.", mainly because D-A-D play those songs much better. [Laughs]

Tobbe: So how far have you actually come with the new D-A-D record you told me about?

Jesper: I think two years ago we had five songs, and then we got tired of two of them, and now we've written two great new songs and now we've got five songs again. [Laughs] But we are pretty proud of those songs. I mean, things are going forward, so things will happen. I would like to hope that we got something out in the end of 2018. Maybe that's a bit too much, but it's still feasible.

Tobbe: Would it be just stupid to release kind of an album now that would sound different? Maybe it's the smartest thing to keep going with the D-A-D sound and just adjust a little bit.

Jesper: Every time with D-A-D we try to, you know, reinvent a whole new other band, so I hope that it will feel different. But it always ends up being a D-A-D album, definitely. So I think it would be very smart to have a fresher sound and I think everyone of us is looking for a fresher sound. Whether we succeed, I don't know. But most importantly it needs to feel like now for us when we play, like "This is how we feel now.". And D-A-D is a strong brand and you could choose just to be a brand musician, but I'm pretty sure we'll fire it up again, one more time.

Tobbe: When you wrote your solo stuff, was it tempting to take a couple of those riffs or whatever and put it into D-A-D?

Jesper: Some of the songs were made just before the rest of the guys more or less canceled work. So there was a couple of songs on my solo album that could have been a part of a D-A-D thing. But I finished them myself and there is no way that the other guys would, like, accept a whole, you know, prepackaged song anyway.

So there was really nothing to do other than letting those guys pick, you know, the riffs they wanted and I mean, I knew there was gonna pass at least a year before we... But it's definitely more the Jesper sound when it starts up with an acoustic guitar. That's, like, what I do, and that's a big part of Dying Is Easy as well, but there are some hard rockers as well that I needed to get out of the system.

Tobbe: So how would a D-A-D album sound without Jesper Binzer's input?

Jesper: I think there would be a lot harder riffs. But, okay, how would that sound? Good question. [Pause] It would be a little more old fashion rock 'n' roll, I'd say.

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