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Nuestros Derechos STALKERs Fresh Act – October 2008
Nuestros Derechos means „Our Rights“ in Spanish. The two guys and one girl, however, don´t call Spain their home country but the land of the tulips, Holland. With a healthy mix of thrash, hardcore, punk and their DIY attitude they managed to produce a great record without the help and support of a record company. “Struggling With The Dark” wowed fans and reviewers alike; the band was even compared to early Metallica. Now it´s “Your Right” to give Nuestros Derechos a chance – you know what to do!
Hola, cómo estás, Nuestros Derechos? Nuestros Derechos: Gracias, es un placer :-)
Alright, I know you´re not Spanish but who are Nuestros Derechos anyway? Please introduce the band members! Johnny: Nuestros Derechos are two dudes and one dudette who are firmly rooted with one foot in a tradition of (thrash) metal and the other in the hardcore/punk scene. So we kind of play fast and energetic thrashcore in a basic rock ´n roll lineup of guitar, drums and bass. I´m the drummer and sometimes I also deliver some backing vocals. Jerry Herrie: Along with Johnny I´m one of the founding members. I´m guitarist and take care of most of the vocals. I also write most of the music. Janet: I am bass player and co-lead vocalist in the band. I´ve been doing so since I joined the band in 2006.
If you could be an animal for a day, which one would you be and why? Jerry Herrie: A goldfish; wouldn´t it be great to have a memory of two seconds? The whole day would be one full of surprises. Janet: Free as a bird, baby, free as a bird… Johnny: I consider my cat´s life to be quite comfortable: lots of sleep and leisure time, always people who love to cuddle you, never worrying about bills – yes, it´s an easy choice.
Back to the band name, what´s the story behind it? Have you ever been taken for real Spaniards? Do you want to hide your true nationality? ;) Janet: Nuestros Derechos can be translated as ´Our Rights´ in Spanish. Jerry Herrie: It has nothing to do with hiding our true nationality. Spanish just sounds great. This language somehow sounds so passionate, words seem to spark. Johnny: When we started we needed a band name in order to book a rehearsal studio. We had a hard time getting a proper band name as all cool names seemed to be taken. Plus many possible names had some connotations that did not seem to fit. Actually we got our name from the declaration of universal children´s rights. We stumbled across a version of this declaration which was written in multiple languages including Spanish.
Do you think it´s too hard for people to remember/pronounce it? If someone is looking for your CD in a shop or wants to yell it at a show? Jerry Herrie: It most definitely is! It takes a while for people who do not speak Spanish to pronounce it right. But that´s the great thing about it: people remember us better because of our unpronounceable name because they have to work harder for it. Janet: Nuestros Derechos isn´t the only difficult band name in the world. And I always manage to remember a strange or complex band name, as long as their music is good enough to remember :) Johnny: Plus Spanish is the world´s second most-spoken language by native speakers. According to Wikipedia (for what it´s worth), it is estimated that the combined total of native and non-native Spanish speakers is approximately 500 million, likely making it the third most spoken language by total number of speakers (after English and Chinese). All those people probably find it no problem at all to remember a band called Nuestros Derechos ;-)
What´s the history of the band, when did it all start and how? Johnny: Jerry, JW (our original bass player and co-lead vocalist) and I started in 2000. Back then we were three guys trying to find out what it was like to play in a band. We had never played in a band before. In fact, JW and I could hardly play our instruments. We did have a lot of fun though and kept on trying. Jerry Herrie: In 2003 we recorded and mixed three songs in one single day. This demo, the infamous “PAN Recording Session”, sounded very low-budget but it helped us getting booked and doing live shows. Janet: In 2005 Nuestros Derechos recorded a split cd called „Split ´em All” together with fellow thrashers De Waonzin, who disbanded in 2006. That same year Nuestros Derechos´ original bass player and co-lead vocalist JW decided to quit. He loved making music, but was never really into metal and punk. So Jerry and Johnny asked me to join them as a replacement for JW, which I gladly accepted. In 2007 we recorded new songs. In 2008 we released the result: „Struggling With The Dark“. All tracks were recorded and mixed by Menno Bakker at the Bunt Studios in Utrecht, and mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music in New Jersey (USA).
How do you usually write songs? Jerry Herrie: Most of the times it starts with a great guitar riff. First I write the music and then the lyrics come. Eventually they give structure to the song. In the rehearsal studio I play the riffs. Johnny and Janet try different things until we find something that we all like.
With a line-up change you now also have some female vocals to work with. How did this change your song writing, if at all? Jerry: We now try to use more of Janet´s vocals. We also had two lead vocals with the old bass player, but Janet´s voice is more suited for our band. She´s got a hell of a voice! Johnny: When you operate with guitar, drums and bass only - like we do - one of the biggest challenges is to bring variety into your music within the limits of this small lineup. Janet: That´s why we try to work with two lead vocals and use them in different ways.
How would you describe your music with five words? Jerry: In your face thrash metal. Janet: Music to get drunk to. Johnny: Metal with hardcore/punk attitude.
What´s your lyrical approach, your inspiration? Jerry: Speaking for myself: I get a lot of inspiration out of comics and movies. But also things we see or hear on the news, the stuff that goes around in the world. There are plenty of things to be angry about… Johnny: I think Jerry prefers to keep his lyrics closer to himself. I deem my personal life not suited for blazing metal songs, so I´m using other sources of inspiration. These can be anything: a book, politics, a documentary, whatever. I can really enjoy fiction but I just don´t want to write a song about chasing dragons or having lunch with Satan. I leave that to others. Janet: Truth is always stranger than fiction and the cruelty and stupidity of mankind never stops amazing us. There´s a lot of shit going on, a lot to be bothered about...
When playing live, what was the best or worst experience so far? Janet: The best experience is yet to come! Just visit our next show ;-) Jerry Herrie: I´d say our best experience was playing live at Wacken Open Air festival in 2007. We played at the camping ground next to the entrance of the festival terrain. That was awesome! Johnny: In 2006 during a mini-tour in Germany we drove in our van packed with 7 people and our complete backline (instruments, amplifiers, drum kit etc). We were on the Autobahn heading to Leipzig, driving about 120 kms/hour when suddenly the left rear wheel passed us by! We managed to pull the van to the emergency lane. After the rear wheel had gone, the brake disc hit the asphalt and was grinded away for its bigger part. So, there we were - suddenly stuck in the middle of nowhere on a dark Saturday night and nowhere to go. That sucked! We were supposed to arrive in Leipzig at 7 p.m. that night and we couldn´t reach the guy who had booked us. But we were determined to make it for our next show. To make a long story short: we hired two replacement cars, left about half of our stuff behind in our broken van, transported all our necessary belongings into these two smaller cars, and arrived six hours late (at 1 a.m.) in Leipzig. We feared that everything would be closed by then, but when we finally entered the building, Brazilian band Sick Terror was just announcing their last song for that night. Immediately after we plugged in and managed to put on a ripping show, we released all our frustrations from that day.
“DIY or die” that´s your motto – imagine you get offered a million dollar record label contract, five cars for each band member, supermodel girlfriends/boyfriends and golden toilet bowls, could you resist? Jerry Herrrie: I would be lying if I said yes ;-) The problem is that we make music for fun and record labels want to make money. These two things don´t combine easily. As long as we do not lose our freedom and can continue making our music without compromises, I wouldn´t mind all the millions, cars, golden toilets at all…heh heh… Johnny: A label could be helpful and do a lot of work for us, especially the promotion and distribution of our music. In our opinion DIY actually means do-it-together. So working together with a small label could be a good thing. As long as we keep our freedom in writing and playing our own music that we like there shouldn´t be many problems. Janet: Nuestros Derechos is not about technical perfection, it´s about friendship, about close, interpersonal relationships between the three of us and about our shared love for the kind of music we create. Small record labels driven by the same passion for music rather than money are not necessarily opposed to acting according to DIY-principles.
What are the upsides and downsides of DIY? Jerry Herrie: The best thing about DIY is that it´s all in our hands. We decide. There´s nothing we have to do because someone else (a manager, or a record label) wants us to. Janet: To put it in other words: DIY offers an alternative to do things outside established systems. Thanks to DIY you can reach a bit of autonomy and freedom even though it´s on a small scale. Johnny: The downside is that it means a lot of work and effort to get your music heard.
Your latest album “Struggling With The Dark” got raving reviews from everywhere, did you anticipate that? Our reviewer even compared you to Metallica, only better… Jerry Herrie: It makes me very happy. It means that people like our music. Reviewers are very critical listeners, so if they are positive it makes me feel good about our music. You never know what to expect from reviews. Janet: It´s hard to anticipate how people will respond to a new release, it´s simply impossible to predict. We´re still very pleased with every positive review and when someone thinks we sound better than Metallica – well, that is more kudos than we dared to hope for. Johnny: It´s a great feeling to know that people actually listen to our music and appreciate it. After all, we´re just two regular guys and a girl among 6.6 billion other people on this globe. There´s so much music to choose from...
What was the biggest “struggle” for you so far? Johnny: We have been very lucky so far and have not had really tough times! I feared the end had come for Nuestros Derechos when Jan-Willem decided to quit, but we got Janet in return. That was definitely not a bad thing to happen. :-)
And when our van lost its rear wheel on the Autobahn, things could have gotten worse: how easy we could have suffered from a complete car wreck with people injured or even dead... Like I said, we have been lucky so far.
One really cool song on that record is “Spam”. Must have been fun putting it together… Finally some use for those notorious messages? Jerry Herrie: That was the whole idea. Johnny spends a lot of time working on his computer and got really annoyed by all this spam. He said: the only positive thing that can come from this is to write a song about it. Johnny: I thought of a way to turn this plague into something positive. So I collected the subject titles of all spam messages for a couple of months and wrote them down. Janet: When you actually pay attention to these mails, you´ll notice how ridiculous they are. We had great laughs reading them. Johnny: All we´ve done is putting all sentences in a certain order. Every word is literally taken from actual spam so the lyrics are completely written by spam bots. It´s a readymade.
Have you ever fallen for any of those mails? ;) Jerry: Nope Janet: Come on! Johnny: Ehrr… I´m easily tempted
There´s also some personal comment to each of the songs in the booklet, is it important for you to give the listener some idea what´s behind the song? Jerry Herrie: It´s not a priority, but we think we do have something to say. It´s not always a straight forward message though. Janet: I consider lyrics to which I can relate a bonus; I think the same goes for Jerry and Johnny. But lyrics are not the most important element of a Nuestros Derechos song or a Nuestros Derechos show. Crucial are the fun and energy. Those elements attract people also on a deeper level. Johnny: Yeah, even when I can´t make out the lyrics, my body knows if I like the music. And when I get to know the lyrics and I can relate to them, my mind follows my body and I can wholeheartedly surrender. I think that´s how it works with music and that´s why we added a short liner note to each track.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? Janet: We simply love to be on stage and play live so hopefully we can continue doing that as much as possible. Jerry Herrie: Plus we´re busy writing new songs. Recording a full-length album in a year or two is one of the goals we´ve set for ourselves. Johnny: So, even when things don´t work out as fast as we hope, we still should be able to put out a new release before five years have passed.