» Jesper Binzer - D-A-D
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Interview conducted October 27 2019
Interview published December 6 2019

"You should never make a song to make money. You should make a song because you need to tell the world something."

The Danish rockers D-A-D visited Stockholm and Metal Covenant got to spend some time with singer/guitarist Jesper Binzer.

Tobbe: What is still so attractive with touring after so many years?

Jesper: Let me put it this way: If you're still touring when you're as old as us, it's because you love it. There's a lot of stuff that you could complain about. To me, to be able to play music every day makes the music so much better. So it's the pinnacle of musicianship. When you've played your set, like, 10 or 20 times in a row, suddenly things open up, suddenly things become an entity on its own two legs and the music plays itself. And when you've got to that level, touring is perfect.

Tobbe: In May you finally released a new album. [A Prayer For The Loud] Don't misunderstand me now, but when considering how much records sell, or don't sell in fact, in these times, was all the work worth it?

Jesper: Definitely. There's a funny tradition in D-A-D; we never made money on albums. It's never been, like, a source of income in that sense. It has been a creative endeavor, and that's what it should be. It should be nothing else but a creative endeavor. But of course you have to hope that the songs stand the test of time. Right now we're playing 6 of those live and it really feels good.

I mean, it's staying alive and everything about D-A-D is going forward, even though sometimes timing is not with us, and sometimes the audience is not with us, and sometimes we ourselves is not with us. But there's no need looking back, there's no laurels to rest on. It is the here and now that counts and it has always been like that.

Tobbe: I listened to the album twice a couple of days ago and it struck me that it seems to contain everything from Sympatico in 1997 until DIC·NII·LAN·DAFT·ERD·ARK in 2011. A mix of those and all the records in between.

Jesper: We made one rule. We promised ourselves to sound like D-A-D. And that's been part of survival and that's been part of a "If you're busy being born, then you're not busy dying" kind of feeling that we wanted to make a new album, a new band and a new logo every time. This time around it was like "Let's admit that we have a brand, let's admit that people go to us for a certain kind of energy, let's admit to ourselves that what we have is unique and worth doing again.".

Tobbe: Even though your main income didn't come from record sales, do you remember how much No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims [1989] and Riskin' It All [1991] actually sold back then?

Jesper: Oh yeah. They sold half a million copies each, which was super great. But still, it was in the old days where the artist never got paid anything anyway. But those songs are still with us and that irrational value has always been much more worth than money. You should never make a song to make money. You should make a song because you need to tell the world something.

Tobbe: But it must be a little disappointing for an established artist like yourself to compare record sales in those days to Spotify and clicks and whatever?

Jesper: I mean, people are using music even more than they did before, so we just have to go where the people are. I mean, it's so funny to be in D-A-D, because when we started out it was something that you maybe did for 2 or 3 years and then you got yourself a real job. Now it seems like all the friends back home that got themselves a real job got fired, and I still have a job. [Laughs] So it's not about record sales; it's about being alive, and being creative, and that's definitely high on my charts.

Tobbe: And comparing being a musician to a regular job. Well, I see no comparison, really. Being a musician is like doing your hobby and going to work is different.

Jesper: Exactly. But that also means that you're actually working 24 hours a day, which is also a bit stressful sometimes. I mean, if we didn't like it we would have stopped. It's as simple as that. And even though we go in 4 different directions as human beings, when we meet up in the rehearsal space there's always a new riff and there's always a new one-liner.

And that's magic. Nobody knew how that could be. From very early on, even a couple of years into it, it was like "Oh! Wow! We landed on the right shelf, so let's not throw it away.".

Tobbe: Let's go back 30 years, to when you first got big. If you look at Jesper from those days, what do you see?

Jesper: I see a lot of good energy and I see a lot of potential that needed to be examined, to be found out. For instance, if you were a professional football (soccer) player you would have done all your greatest life's work while you didn't know what you were doing. And to do this, and still know what we're doing, and be perceptive, and be conscious about what we're doing, is a miracle.

And I think that's exactly what the young Jesper needed. To keep on digging into "What is it?". The rock 'n' roll culture in Denmark is almost not there, so nobody knew "What's a rockstar? What is it like being creative? What is an artistic life?". I found it out, and I'm enjoying it.

Tobbe: If I ask the opposite: How would a young Jesper look at Jesper in 2019?

Jesper: Very good question. Of course you have to not consider the times, so to speak. Maybe there is a couple of songs that would sound strange to the young Jesper's ears. But I think that everything you do is a product of the times you live in, so you can't really judge that part of it. I'd say that he'd be pretty happy that that kind of energy is still there.

Let me see… What else would he see? In a funny way we never really believed, or had the urge, or were wishing for playing for 25000 people each night. We grew up with punk rock. We grew up with crowds of 500 people and now we play for crowds in Denmark of 5000-15000 people and we play for crowds around 1000 people in Europe. This is what we were brought up on.

We never went to big concerts when we were small. We never went to see Kiss, or whatever. It was always small punk rock concerts and maybe also those bar bands that came from America, like [The] Georgia Satellites or [The] Fabulous Thunderbirds. That kind of stuff.

That was our reality and what our dreams were built on. So maybe the young Jesper could say "Are you still playing the same places for the same sizes of crowd?", but I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't say that, because it was never in that picture, to play arenas. But you will have to ask him. [Laughs]

Tobbe: In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far?

Jesper: I think the greatest accomplishment is that we have been able to choose. We never had that total pressure of the music industry on us. We never went wild on the drugs part. We never really got out of balance. There's a feeling that we can manage on every level, manage to stand our ground, manage to keep ourselves in it, manage to say "But if it isn't me, I'm not gonna do it.".

That's something that comes with punk rock, but it's also something that comes with knowledge. If we had gotten really, really big too early, one of us would have died of an overdose. So that's the biggest accomplishment, that we always kept our feet, more or less, planted.

Tobbe: Do you have any plans at this point for another solo record?

Jesper: I'm making songs and let's see where those songs are going. But it's definitely a place that's in my life to stay. It's definitely something that I'm gonna pursue when the time is right. I realize that releasing one more solo album would be hammering down the fact that I would be juggling two careers and people will start to look at me like "Okay. Why? How? Where is his main focus?".

And it has to be answered in the same way as when I did the first album [Dying Is Easy, 2017], that it has to be a win-win situation for two projects in my life. It has to be something that feeds of each other, so when D-A-D is taking a break, then I can do that. At one point it will happen.

Tobbe: I remember that we called your solo album a little bit like D-A-D light, but when you do another solo album, could you explore other territories a little bit farther away from D-A-D?

Jesper: I think it's very hard to give yourself too much of a frame to work in before you start and then do something creative. I mean, the first solo album was a mix between some D-A-D stuff and some Jesper stuff. It was all made within 18 months, so it was like I didn't know what I was doing, and I really loved it, in that sense. I'm pretty sure that I will go down a more Jesper road on the next album. But on the other hand, I am the lead singer of D-A-D and that will of course reflect on my solo album.

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