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De Staat are hard to describe, at the heart of their sound is a distinct ‘rock’ foundation, yet they also pack some heat in the pop department. They are quirky and they are brilliant. Their talent was most recently picked up by Muse, whom they have been supporting on their most recent European tour. I got the chance to catch up with songwriter and frontman Torre Florim to talk about their music and endeavours.
Let’s jump right into things, how was your experience touring with Muse?
“It was a wild ride man! We got to play bigger venues than we’ve ever played before and we got to play in countries that we’d never played before as well. We went to Spain, Germany, and Switzerland etc. It was also really good because we had to play in the middle of the floor, in the round. So you have to approach the show a little differently. It’s difficult because you have your back to the band so it’s hard to play together and you also have your back to a lot of the crowd. You have to move around a lot. I was always thinking about when I could move or when I wasn’t playing guitar or how long I’d been in one place. It was a lot of fun”.
Did playing in the round make your “witch doctor” routine any easier? (Torre typically stands in the crowd whilst they rotate around him, as if he was the eye of a storm)
“No actually, I didn’t want to do too much since we were supporting. I didn’t want to jump in the crowd before the Muse guys had come on. I don’t know, it seemed like the polite thing to do [laughs]”
How did the idea for the routine come about in the first place?
“It came from the [music] video. I thought that maybe if people like the song and like the video then maybe something can happen when we play. The first time we did it, I just jumped into the crowd and started to sing the song but everyone, it was quite scary because I didn’t give them any orders or anything, just started to dance around me. It was very organic, they just did it. I didn’t have to say anything. I don’t like giving orders to the crowd”
How does your band dynamic work, given that you write the songs? Do you give orders to the band instead of the crowd?
“I love giving orders to the band [laughs]. I’m joking but most of the time I’ll have a sketch of a song that I bring to the band. It can be a good sketch sometimes, or it can be very sketchy at other times. The guys are very good at what they do though. They don’t write the songs but they do add their own sprinkling to them.”
You have self-produced, recorded and engineered both your latest album “O” and your “Vinticious Versions” album, what was behind the decision to do this?
“I think because I can. Also it gives me a bit more control, rather than having to compromise with someone else in the room. Working with others is a lot of fun but sometimes the songs come out differently than they sound in your head, which isn’t always a bad thing I guess. Recording it yourself gets rid of this compromise though. Sometimes I’ll drive myself mad trying to find the right sound or effect but in the end the songs come out just like they sound in my head which is great. Those albums are very much ‘De Staat’”.
Which song in your music library do you wish you had written?
“It is a song from a band that doesn’t exist anymore, they’re called ‘Chrome Hoof’. The song is called ‘Tonyte’ and it always gives me energy, it has a really good groove to it”.
If ‘De Staat’ was a cocktail, what do you think it would be?
“Oh man I should know this, I was just at a cocktail bar yesterday! I want to say an Old Fashioned but I don’t think we are old fashioned. I think something bitter and sweet at the same time, which I think would be an Old Fashioned actually. I guess I’ll have to say that [laughs] we’re an Old Fashioned but we are definitely not old fashioned”.
How would you describe your music to a newcomer then?
“I can’t think of the word in English so I’ll say quirky. We are set-up as a rock band, we have the guitars, the drums etc. but we are also pop. We don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, we’re the first to take a pop at ourselves before anybody else does. So yeah, quirky, we can be light and we can also be dark sometimes”.
Do you have any quirky rider requests?
“Not really [laughs] unless non-alcoholic beer is quirky. One of the guys is lactose intolerant as well so that’s a very important part of the rider. It’s not very rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe if we get bigger we can start asking for some ridiculous things who knows”.
Your upcoming U.K. tour is taking place in some pretty small venues compare to the ones you’re used to playing in Holland and with Muse, how do you approach these gigs?
“Well we are used to playing big and small places now and I love them both. When you play somewhere big, the crowd is like a beast that roars after every song, you know? In small places it is different because you can see every face in the crowd and they can see you up close. The reactions they [the crowd] give are very direct in small places, so you can see if someone is yawning and you can be like ‘Oh fuck they’re yawning!’ But yes, I like both and I’m looking forward to playing both”.
De Staat will be playing in Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham and London from 18th October, tickets can be found here: http://www.songkick.com/artists/964055-de-staat/calendar