Great music and musicians will always persevere. Dutch indie-rock band Bettie Serveert released their debut album, Palomine in 1992. At a time when every label and magazine was looking for the next big things, they were an obvious candidate. Composed of Carol van Dyk (vocals and guitar), Peter Visser (guitar), Herman Bunskoeke (bass) and Berend Dubbe (drums), they wrote fantastic hooks and had a reputation for their white-hot live performances. Touring with bands like Belly, Dinosaur Jr, Buffalo Tom, Superchunk, Come and Jeff Buckley they grew an audience that appreciated their passion. While the fervor for indie began to subside, Bettie Serveert continued to churn out great records. Still recording and touring, they are a jewel that continues to shine on the indie-rock landscape.
The band took some time to talk with Todd, where they were thankfully more focused on the future than questioning the past.
TDOA: We’re absolutely in love with the newest album, Pharmacy of Love. Can you talk about you think this album differs from your earlier work?
Peter: Well, it’s definitely louder than a lot of the previous CD’s, with lots of energy.
Carol: Thanks, Todd! After the semi-acoustic cd Bare Stripped Naked we really wanted to hit the distortion pedals again. We recorded the album ‘live’ in 4 days somewhere in a little village in Belgium, far from any distraction.
TDOA: Nine albums (right?!) into your career, how has the process of writing music changed for you?
Carol: Yes, if you count our Velvet Underground cover CD we’ve made 9 CD’s so far. Every new album means a new adventure to us. We try not to make the same album twice, that’s why some of them are so different.
TDOA: It seems to me that the challenge of writing lyrics increases with age. Songs of love and loss can become stale after a while. How do you approach this dilemma?
Carol: I don’t see any dilemma, to be honest. Every year I learn something new about life & love in general and I hope I’ll never be too old to learn : )
TDOA: In the early 90′s it was critical that bands made videos for their songs. How did you feel about the process of making videos? You certainly have been prolific!
Peter: We look at it as a way to make something beautiful and have fun at the same time. Also to show how we look these days. Looking back at the old clips always brings back some memories of the times they were made and how we looked at that time and age.
TDOA: Much has been written about the alt rock explosion and inevitable backlash of the early 90s. In retrospect, is there anything you’d have done differently?
Peter: Well, that’s all water under the bridge isn’t it?
TDOA: You’ve worked with some great record labels. Can you talk about what you view as the advantages and disadvantages of working with mid-major labels? There are hundreds of new bands that could learn from your experiences.
Peter: Cool thing about mid-majors is (or at least that was with us) that you keep artistic control, meet cool bands and there is (hopefully) not too much money/pressure involved. Major labels have the money muscle to ‘put you in the market’, but that comes with a lot of things that you might not want to do in the first place.
Carol: We started our own label Palomine Records in 2000 and we’ve been running it ourselves ever since. In many ways we have a lot of freedom, but it also means that we pay for everything ourselves and never have tour-support or such. But I’ll choose creative freedom above anything else at any time!
TDOA: I remember seeing you in the early 90s in Detroit and being blown away with the passion you exhibit live. Reviews of the current tour indicate that nothing has changed. How do you get yourselves motivated after all these years?
Carol: We have always loved playing live and we still do. If that ever changes, we will stop touring, because making music has everything to do with passion!
For more information about the band, visit http://www.bettieserveert.com
See them live!
Oct 29 2010 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
Oct 30 2010 The Record Collector Store Bordentown, NJ
Oct 31 2010 IOTA Arlington, VA
Nov 2 2010 T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA
Nov 3 2010 Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ
Nov 4 2010 Daniel Street Milford, CT
Nov 13 2010 Oosterpoort Groningen, Groningen, NETHERLANDS
Nov 21 2010 Beauforthuis Austerlitz, Utrecht, NETHERLANDS
Nov 26 2010 Podium Asteriks- Blokhuispoort Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden, NETHERLANDS
Nov 27 2010 ’t Beest Goes, Zeeland, NETHERLANDS
Dec 3 2010 De Waerdse Tempel Heerhugowaard, NETHERLANDS
Dec 10 2010 Muziekgieterij Maastricht, NETHERLANDS
Dec 23 2010 De Vorstin Hilversum, NH, NETHERLANDS