Domenica comes from the heart (of Canada) and is moved by an sexy engine called Bekki Friesen, who sings, plays guitar, writes the songs and rocks. On tour over all of the world, we met Bekki in Hamburg, Germany, to find out what is behind their new debut album "The Luxury" and their personal backgrounds.
Your songs, Bekki, contain some styles, grunge, metal and even romantic pop - you like to integrate different kind of genres into your music?
Yes, I like all sorts of music. I listen to slow pop music, you know, and I listen to death metal, too. When I start to write a song I make my own version whatever I feel. Sometimes I just draw from different places and these ideas become one song. But it is not premeditated at all with the final purpose to make every song having different genres. It just can happen that way.
Domenica exists since 2004. Could you tell how everything started?
When I was in high school I wrote a lot of songs and I really wanted to have a rock band, I really wanted to play and to tour. It was hard to find players, but I was working in a recording studio and one of the staff there he found all the guys in different places. We met all together on a blind date in a bar, and it worked really great.
In Winnipeg there are a lot of talented musicians and bands like Dreadnaut or Aerocar Model Four, right?
Yes!! Because we have this sort of long, cold winter when you canīt go outside. The people are sitting inside, drinking and playing rock music.
The Luxury was first released on 9th of September 2009 in Japan , followed a few days later in Canada. In April 2010 finally the release in Europe. Did you play already in Japan?
No, but we have a tour in this country in September together with a really famous band there. Itīs called Head Phones President. I think, the most popular female band in Japan. This will become pretty intense, a really good experience.
How are the reactions on "The Luxury" in the different countries?
In Japan the album has already a lot of success. We were not expecting this, because nobody havenīt heard about us and we didnīt signed for a major label, we signed for a smaller label. There were big articles in the magazines. Three month ago they picked one of our songs as one of the best rock songs 2009. In Canada itīs a lot harder. We have been touring there for a long time, but the country is so big and there are not so many people living in it. We got played in the radio, and we did some really good shows with bands, who have a lot of fans like Papa Roach.
The album was recorded at Matt Sorumīs (Guns nī Roses/Velvet Revolver) studio in Hollywood, producer is Grammy nominated and multi Juno winning Brandon Friesen, your husband, mastered by Tom Baker (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie) - tell about this procedure how did the original, raw songs changed through all this producing and mastering?
Some of them changed a lot, some of them are the same. What happened was, the guys and I we sat down together and played the songs. Then we went into the studio, where Brandon took my basic recordings and put them into the computer. Then we listened to it a few times, and he had his ideas inputs. We rearranged it together basically in the computer. Later on I used this stuff live with the band.
Which songs stood more like the original first version without rearranging?
"Luxury"... "The long road", "Sailaway", "I love my gun" pretty much are exactly the same.
Three songs you wrote together with Marcos Curiel, guitar player from P.O.D - what for influences flowed into the album through this co-operation?
Well, he came from a very different background. I mean, he already sold millions of CDs, he worked together with Hip Hop artists, with metal bands, too. But for us this was our first time in the studio. He came inside and brought a real knowledge approaching a good album. He was a kind of mentor. We learned a lot from him.
The song "Sailaway" features guitarist Stevie Salas (Mick Jagger, Buddy Miles, Rod Stewart). How did this happen that he joined your album?
In Canada there is a television show, and Stevie is the host of it. He was in Winnipeg, while we were recording. He just opened the studio door and shouted: "I love this song! Do you need some more guitar in it?" We said "yeah, wouw, why not!" and so without planning it he spontaneously went it and played with us in this song.
In which way generally do you create your music and song-writing, how do you work together? Writing this music is your work or is it the product of the whole band?
Well, I want certain vibes. Itīs my music. In Canada I have a recording studio, and I basically sit down there and just record my demos. Sometimes they are great, sometimes nobody ever will hear them again.
Do you come with your songs into the studio and everything is ready and just has to be played or is there space for your musicians to change a little and to bring their ideas inside, too?
Well, I am not a bass-player. If I play a bass on a demo itīs not in the way a bass-player would do it. So, Kurtis is free to create whatever he wants to do with the bass-lines. If it should become too funky we change it that it fits in. But everybody in the band gets his place to create his own parts. There is a lot of creativity coming from everybody.
Are the lyrics important for you, do they add a message to the music?
Lyrics are generally hard for me to write before the music. In the beginning everything I wrote was more lyric-based and more poetic, but then I started more and more to be efficient with the guitar and to write guitar- and rhythm-based songs, so that I wrote the lyrics after. The lyrics are about the world out of my perspective.
Do you have a favourite song on your album?
I do, itīs "The long road". It is not like the other songs. I wrote it when I probably was eighteen; an old one. I really like it, itīs connected with memories and history. And I really like how Brendan produced it, so dark and electronically.
Does "I love my gun" provoke especially in the USA reactions from people, who own a gun?
Yes. We played shows in Michigan this past December. We did a tour for Christian sponsoring, gifts for children, but it was organized by the Marines which was weird, because we are Canadians. You know, we donīt have a tie to that really. Yeah, and there in bigger cities like in Chicago we got strong reactions from an audience shouting "I love my gun, I love my gun!" The thing about music is that every song is open for personal interpretation, you know... as I by myself have my own point of view.
Bekki, I checked a little bit about your historical roots. Your full and former name is Rebekkah Marianna Penner.
Yes! Later Friesen. Doesnīt a Penner in German mean something like a bum?
Yes, right, itīs like a homeless guy.
Yeah, I know, thatīs my nickname!
You are the daughter of Karen Anita Baronesse von Hahn, who is the daughter of Paul Adolph Gert Baron von Hahn, who was born 1926 in Mitau in Latvia. He was the son of Carl Richard Alexander Baron von Hahn, who was born 1889 in Linden, Germany. As I know, you by yourself speak pretty well German. Do your historical roots add a special attraction to your release and your gigs in Germany, where your great grandfather was born?
Oh yes. Three of my grandparents speak German. My grandpa from my dads side speaks German as well. Germany is definitely a special country to me. I have a lots of family which live here now, but who I donīt know. I hope I can make some few calls and meet some of my cousins.
There are so many great rock-bands out there in the USA, Canada, Japan or Europe with thousands of great rock-songs and thousands of wishes to become famous or just to earn enough money to live from the music. What do you think makes the success, what decides which band rises and which one falls or stagnates?
Thatīs really complicated. It has to do first of all with the band members and their ability to understand that there are so many people outside of their hometown and in this and that country, who donīt know you - but you have to give them a reason to take time out of their normal life, to come and to see you play. So, itīs a really big process creating a new brand, creating good music and most importantly working together with good people. Not necessarily with huge major labels, but with people, who like your music and want to help. Itīs a question of a lot of hard work.
You especially had even more work, because beside the music career you studied social sciences?
Yes, I graduated now, but I spent many of my university lessons in the van, reading essays, books and papers, missing lectures, but I did pretty well. So, it was okay.
Could you name some of your favourites bands or musicians?
System Of A Down are definitely my favourite. And Silver Chair, Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead - metal, rock and weird music.
With which band you would really love to go on tour?
There are a lot of bands I would love to go on tour with. Foo Fighters. Queens Of The Stone Age. Rock`nīRoll bands!
Is there a favourite place on earth, where you preferably would really like to play?
Well, Germany. Australia and Japan. Mexico is the best, I love Mexico. But they donīt have a Rock`nīRoll culture there really. Lots of metal, lots of heavy music, but I think there is not much place for a Canadian band like us
What are generally the precise plans for the future?
Well, we have some shows now here in Germany. then we go back to Canada and have some more shows there. In July we are in Australia. In August we play a big stadium together with Stone Temple Pilots and Buckcherry. And after that we go to Japan. Another album for sure we have to make this year.
A new album? What will be different than on "The Luxury"?
I want to do some songs together with other people, because I think, this adds a bit more to the album. Everybody grows and changes, the songs develop with your life. The new album will not be completely different than "The Luxury", but there are new pieces and ideas which offer different structures than before.
Thank you very much for the interview. Do you have something to conclude?
Yes, buy "The Luxury", so that we can come back and can do more tours!
Bekki Friesen vocals, guitar
Kurtis Wittmier bass
Josh Bedry guitar
Steve Hrycyshyn drums
Author: Andreas Torneberg, photos: A. Torneberg + Domenica Date: 2010-06-07