Interview conducted April 15 2018
Interview published June 6 2018
"I think that all albums have some songs that
shouldn't be on the album."
In late January, Metal Covenant
met up with D-A-D's frontman Jesper Binzer,
who put out his first solo record Dying Is Easy last year, when he made
a quick stop in Stockholm and as he returned in mid-April for his first
real solo performance in the beautiful capital of Sweden, MC once again
approached the charismatic singer/guitarist with a couple of questions
about his solo stuff and the status of his main band's coming record.
Tobbe: Last time we talked you told me that
you had pretty much 5 D-A-D songs on your table and what's happened since
then in that department?
Jesper: At least 2-4 more of those and we are
going in the studio probably in June and then doing something in the
fall. So things are happening. If it's gonna be a 2018 release? Well,
we don't know yet. Let's see.
Is there just a slight chance that you guys are doing this record for,
like, the wrong reason? Like doing a record because it's been so long?
Jesper: It doesn't really matter how little time
or how much time that's past, I think that's always a danger. So this
whole thing about spending 5, 6, 7 years has been about not doing it
for the wrong reasons. I mean, the main reasons, just to find out "Are
we there? Do we want to? Are we ready to support it? Do we feel creative?
Do we feel artistic?". When you have enough songs you can listen
back to them and say "Okay, this is gonna be a great bunch of songs."
and then you know you're not doing it for any other reason than we want
to show the world what we've got.
Tobbe: I know that you are ready for a new
album, but as we talked about before, the other guys haven't been in a
hurry to make a record. So, are you 100 percent sure that they can put
all their energy and enthusiasm into this record in the end?
Jesper: I can't be a 100 percent sure. And I
shouldn't be; it's not my responsibility to find out what they want
in that sense. But I can feel when we want it. That feeling I know exactly
and when we're doing demos in the studio I feel that that energy is
there and I can definitely see when the right riff just lands, like
"Oh yes, now we're going somewhere.". In small bursts I can
really feel that energy. But it's a 35-year-old band and I mean, it
goes a little slower. It has to go a little slower.
Tobbe: And back in January you told me that
you had written two more songs for solo purposes and is there even a slight
chance that we will see another Jesper Binzer solo album before we see
a new D-A-D album?
Jesper: That's a good question. I think definitely
at last the other guys found out "Okay, we need to get working.".
But those two songs are coming out on Record Store Day [April 21st].
So that's pretty exciting. And I play them live, both of those songs,
and it's been great to, you know, be able to have one and a half hours
of original material. That's been a really great thing.
solo album came out because of a lot of emotions, because of time, because
of urgency, because I just couldn't let be and of course I hope that
I will at one point in the future end up in more or less the same place,
where there's a lot of time and there's a lot of energy to do another
one, but right now it's definitely D-A-D.
Tobbe: When writing simultaneously for both
bands, is it sometimes hard now to pick out what goes to D-A-D and what
goes to your solo stuff?
Jesper: Definitely, but I have an answer to that:
If I'm in a D-A-D zone, D-A-D land, everything goes to D-A-D. So it's
a very simple solution: if the guys wanna work, and we work, then everything
that I make, everything that I come up with, is D-A-D stuff of course.
Tobbe: And if you write, what you would
think is one of your greatest songs ever, and it's intended to go to your
solo stuff, wouldn't it be wiser, as a business decision, to use that
song for D-A-D?
Jesper: It would be wiser in a business sense,
but two things: In D-A-D I've never come with a finished song. None
of us has been going to rehearsal with a finished song. So it's all
collaboration. And on the other hand, thinking in those terms "What
would be more wise? What would make more money?" would destroy
the purpose of music in that sense.
And it's a funny, funny business, because you
wanna be yourself, you wanna do something that's worthwhile and of course
at some point you must think in business terms: "Will people like
this? Is it interesting? Is it in time; what are people listening to?".
There's a lot of questions. But if I make it more or less finished it's
a Jesper solo song and if I can do it in collaboration with the other
guys it's a D-A-D song.
Have you learned anything on your solo trips by touring on a smaller scale
than you usually do with D-A-D?
Jesper: This kind of scale is similar to what
D-A-D does in the South of Europe. So it's not like it's totally strange
for me to play for 4-500 people as I do solo in Scandinavia now. But
it's the same thing as I've experienced all the way through, that it's
not the frames you play your music within, it's the music, and that's
something that I've brought with me for the last 10-15 years. It doesn't
really matter in what settings you're playing and the only reason to
play music is if you want to play it. I mean, if you don't wanna play
it, don't do it.
Tobbe: This is your band, your own band,
so is it kind of nice to make, like, all the decisions yourself?
Jesper: Oh, it's such a lovely place. It's a
little scary as well, but it's really, really nice because, you know,
in the end I know I've got the answers.
Tobbe: And all the other guys just follow
your decisions without asking questions?
Jesper: I've never really been a leader in that
sense. So it's always: people can play what they wanna play. I rely
so much on what people
You know: "What do you feel like?
Please be yourself and do what you feel like." and then we talk
about it afterwards.
Tobbe: Is it strange to not have Stig [Pedersen]
on your left side and Jacob [Binzer] on your right side on stage?
Jesper: It is really strange, but I mean, when
I took the decision I knew stuff like this would be strange and I knew
that something new would happen and "Let's see what happens.".
And it's been a scary trip, because, you know, first 10 concerts I didn't
really know who I wanted to be, like "Do I wanna be someone else?
Do I wanna be myself? Am I the guy for D-A-D or am I the guy that created
the whole D-A-D guy?". It's like "What's happening? What's
my identity?", but I'm pretty sure that I've found more or less
my place on stage with this band now.
Have you ever thought about making a different type of music on a regular
Jesper: No. I think what this album taught me
was that: when I start something I need to finish it. So I can only
do Jesper music and Jesper music is pretty much this album at the moment
for me. So I'm gonna keep doing it.
Tobbe: But if some well-known artist, like
a pop artist, will come to you and say "Hey Jesper! Let's make a
record together!", would you at least consider it?
Jesper: I mean, a lot of people approach me
in all kinds of ways. Doing TV shows, doing commercials, all kinds of
stupid stuff and I've got this rule that if I can feel some kind of
energy at the moment, when I read the mail the first time or when I
hear them speak for the first time, and I feel like "Yes!",
then I'm gonna say yes. Tivoli Copenhagen just called and asked me if
I wanted to be the guest fireworks designer, so immediately I said "Yes,
of course.", so in July this year in Tivoli, every Saturday, I've
designed the fireworks. Stuff like that is so far out, but still like
"Oh yeah. Of course.". It's rock 'n' roll to me. Fireworks
definitely is rock 'n' roll.
Tobbe: And that job at the radio station:
Is that kind of an escape from playing music yourself and some freedom
you want to achieve?
Jesper: I didn't know what I was looking for,
but I found out what I was looking for. It's actually been so inspiring,
to be forced to listen to 20 songs each week and listening to what's
going on in the hard rock scene and trying to find out what I like and
what I don't like and where I fit in. It's raised my consciousness about
my own musicality and where the world is going, so I'm thankful for
Tobbe: If you could redo one of your old
albums, which one would that be?
Jesper: I guess I've had that kind of feeling
for every album at some point. Like 24 months after release and you
hear maybe something that you ignored and you can see with some distance
to it. So, the last album [DIC·NII·LAN·DAFT·ERD·ARK,
2011] I would composed maybe just a little more poppy.
pretty sure I've had this period with all our albums at one point, but
then that feeling goes away, because when you listen back to it, it's
like "I can hear all the heart, all the sweat, all the pain in
this one, so no, I won't change a thing.". But sometimes it's like
"This song maybe should have had an acoustic guitar. This song
maybe should have had extra backing vocals.", or whatever.
Tobbe: When you listen back to an old record,
do you think, like, every song is a good song or do you sometimes feel
like "Okay, this song shouldn't have made it to the record."?
Jesper: I think that all albums have some songs
that shouldn't be on the album. But that's what I think about, I mean,
my top favorite albums too, like even Thin Lizzy or AC/DC albums. 3
or 4 songs are great and the rest is just all right/okay. You know,
that's okay, but it's also a body of work and you try and you try and
you try and it is abstract and it is art and it is something that you
really can not pinpoint.
Tobbe: If you look back at your career choices:
What big or small decisions do you see as most important for the band
for having such a long career now?
Jesper: I think, when we were signed by Warner
Brothers and we went more or less international in that sense, we could
have chosen to focus more on going abroad and focus much more on playing
America, but we didn't do it, because we were lucky enough to have a
really, really safe home base. At some points it was like we were spending
too much time at home, but I think that made us healthy and gave us
longevity with D-A-D, that we stayed at home, you know, took it easy,
grounded, and redefined ourselves with every album.
So "Where are we now? We're not gonna live
up to what people expect; we gonna do something new.". But on the
other hand, we could maybe have had a bigger hit and then gone away
in drug addiction, if we had stayed in America and gone for the dream.