"Outside The Dream", the new, second album of the Dutch band No Man's Valley, is a fantastic work full of 70s retro rock: guitars, organs, feverish, blurry moments, cool grooves, catchy melodies. eclipsed spoke with singer Jasper Hesselink about the background.
eclipsed: Has "Outside The Dream" become the infamous "difficult second album", or what it is simply to record and produce the album?
Jasper Hesselink: It doesn't feel like our second album at all, because our debut was a torn work, characterized by line-up changes and many recording sessions. This time we went into the studio like a well-oiled machine. We had a pre-production phase in which we prepared ourselves well. We made sure that we were all 100% satisfied with our new songs and their forms before we went into the studio. It wasn't always easy, but it went much smoother than the first album.
eclipsed: What has improved compared to the debut "Time Travel"?
Hesselink: The biggest difference is that "Outside The Dream" was recorded in just one session with a stable line-up. We were so well prepared that we recorded everything live in just four days. We already played the new songs live on the "Time Travel" tour and at the Freak Valley Festival. So that was a very comfortable situation for us. We have also tried to increase the momentum. The hard parts are even harder, the psychedelic parts are even more spacy. I think we did pretty good on that one.
eclipsed: Was it intended from the start to record the album live in such a short time?
Hesselink: We had already planned not to go on and on until we finally found that it fits perfectly. Finding the right time is not always easy. We really needed our producer Matthijs Kievit, who said in good time: "Stop now. It's great, really." If he hadn't said that, it would have taken us longer. We rather wanted to capture the somewhat rougher live feeling and not polish things up too much. But it shouldn't sound weakly produced either. That worked out pretty well. In retrospect, the only thing we should have spent a little more time on is singing. I recorded all lead vocals and all backing vocals in only five hours. That's actually crazy.
eclipsed: You're playing 70ies retro rock. What makes this style so attractive to you?
Hesselink: I'm not sure that categorization is true. We are influenced by different styles. In our tour bus there is music from Radiohead, David Bowie, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan. So not all oldies. But we all love the psychedelic blues rock that originated in the seventies. That's why I can understand this division.
eclipsed: There are relaxed passages on the album and exciting passages. What was your mood during the recording? Has the work on the album changed you?
Hesselink: I can only speak for myself. During the pre-production and the recordings I was in no good shape. Because of a depression I had to partially quit my job. The only thing that kept me afloat was the music. Of course my mood had an effect on the mood of the others and on the music itself. The music helped me to get through and I am now a happier person. Music already has a healing power for us
eclipsed: Your voice often sounds like Jim Morrison, especially in the songs "From Nowhere", "Into The Blue" and "Murder Ballad". What do you think of this comparison?
Hesselink: We often hear this comparison. We define our sound as a mix of The Doors and Pink Floyd. We have also played some shows with The Doors Alive project. The audience liked it. That's why the comparison fits.
eclipsed: On the new album there are a lot of really great melodies. Where are you taking it from?
Hesselink: We don't find the tunes, they find us. No, I'm serious. Who knows where the melodies come from? I just hope that we won't run out of melodies and that we can continue to make the music we love.
eclipsed: What are the lyrics about?
Hesselink: They all represent the state I was in during my depression. My condition was constantly changing and so it is on the album. I was often alone and had a lot of time to think and saw many things again and again from new perspectives. People sometimes interpret my lyrics very differently. But I like all these interpretations.
eclipsed: Your earlier single "The Wolves Are Coming" was used in a videogame and has achieved a lot of publicity. Isn't it a strange feeling that the music becomes better known through a game than through promotion, radio or concerts?
Hesselink: Yeah, that's weird. We're not big video players. We just want our music to be heard by as many people as possible. We're sending CDs all over the world right now. It's great that people in - let's say - Las Vegas or Berlin are interested in the music of a small band from the south of the Netherlands
eclipsed: Back to your past. Please describe the history of No Man's Valley so far.
Hesselink: Before our first album "Time Travel" we released two EPs which can both be downloaded for free at Bandcamp. I only joined the band five years ago, just before the second EP. After that we wanted to record a hit single. We also managed to do that to a certain extent with "The Wolves Are Coming". The song was played on the radio and used in a pretty successful video game. But after that we decided that 3-minute pop songs are not what we want to do. We then started writing the tracks for our debut "Time Travel". I thought it would be cool to release the album on vinyl. So we wrote to record labels like crazy. At the end the Berlin Nasoni label recorded us. We have always set ourselves realistic goals and have not given up until we have achieved them. In this way we have now released two albums, started a crowdfunding and performed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and at the great Freak Valley Festival. This may not sound like much to most professional musicians, but I am very proud of it.
*** Interview: Bernd Sievers