Everyone was curious what the new project of Merel Bechtold, Joey Marin de Boer and David Pear would sound and look like, and this year the band finally dropped the first singles, with their debut album “Bulletproof” on the way. We decided to discuss it with guitarist Merel and vocalist David, which turned into a funny and friendly conversation. Enjoy our chat below.
MG: Hey guys! How are you?
David: Cool, thanks!
Merel: Yeah, we’re fine!
MG: Great! So let’s start with your upcoming album, “Bulletproof”. It will be out in less than a month. Does it mean that the album is almost finished or are there still a lot of things to be done?
Merel: Ooo, actually, wait… (leans to the side)
David: She’s just so terrified she prefers to run away from this question. (jokingly) Merel, are you gonna be back soon or should I take over the question? (Merel comes back, shows the physical copy of “Bulletproof”) Oh noooo, I’m so jealous!
Merel: So, yes, it’s completely ready! Actually, that was quick, so here it is, with the hardcover and the lyric book!
MG: Wow, amazing! Good to hear! The first singles, especially “12 Years in Exile”, got very positive response. Did you expect such a warm welcome?
Merel: I, honestly, didn’t have any expectations (laughs). So, yeah, the response was amazing and very nice! I think we are kind of overwhelmed by it because people really seem to enjoy it a lot. It’s awesome! It’s always very exciting but scary as well, like “Is this song gonna be successful as well or not.” Especially with the upcoming release, which is June 4th, I think it will be the most scary one because that song is very different from all that we’ve done so far. Especially for metalheads: they’re gonna love it or they’e gonna hate it! Nothing in between.
MG: Yeah, metalheads are very conservative sometimes.
David: So we gotta test them with that one! That’s one of our most precious singles, and we’re quite curious about the reaction.
MG: Well, now you’ve intrigued me! The singles you released are very emotional and expressive. Is the rest of “Bulletproof” similar to them?
David: I think it’s a standard thing to say, but “Bulletproof” is very diverse. We’re sort of “playing out” with different vibes, you know. There are some heavier tracks, and at the same time you can hear some crazy stuff in the semi-proggy tunes etc. For sure, the most experimental, the most “standing away from the other album” is the song we’re releasing next Friday. Otherwise, the album is very condensed, I would say. The four singles we’ve released so far sort of pathed the way, but, obviously, the sound scale that will be on the album is much larger.
MG: So we should prepare for experiments? Okay! Talking about the band in general, on your website it says that all of you had your demons both in music and in personal life. Did the recording of the album help you overcome some of your struggles?
David: From my side it definitely did mean a lot, it was very therapeutic. The whole album “Bulletproof” was just like therapy in time and place. No doubt, it helped, but saying that… there’s always stuff to write about! So the next album is gonna be more spanking, and I think the whole world will be able to write an album with such isolation we all went through. So there’s no scare that we will run out of themes and things to write about, at least from my part.
Merel: Yeah, I totally agree with David. I think when you write music, it’s always a little victory every time. When you create something, you’re like “I don’t like this” and “This sounds nice.” You always surprise yourself and because of that you get a very great feeling. Some songs are written from the dark places. You know, shit happens, life happens, and you write songs and it just has this vibe. That’s very inspiring, as well. It’s a way to process things and to understand how the things go. I’m not really a person of words so, for me, the music speaks. It all comes together with the whole band. I think this album is very special.
MG: Merel, you’ve come a long way and performed with a number of bands across several subgenres. Do you feel like you’ve finally found home with Dear Mother creatively and professionally? Is this what you always wanted to do music-wise?
Merel: Yeah, 100%. I think even better than that. The bands I used to play with are super cool to perform with and are super nice people. But the music I listen to, the music I enjoy was quite different. It’s a lot of fun to write music I would listen to and doing that together with amazing people. Just the best thing ever, so this is all I was hoping for and even better.
MG: Actually, you can really feel your satisfaction in the music! Merel, you and Joey have known each other for many years now and this is your third band together. On the other hand, David, you are the new guy. What’s it like to be in a band with these two? They’ve had an advantage of knowing each other professionally but also personally since the beginning. Were there any awkward moments due to this or did just everything click right away?
David: There’s an awkward moment every single day! We chilled really fast, really well. It started bumpy, but that’s because we just had our first meeting. Our first face-to-face meeting with the guys was tight as hell! They were just from the tour and looked like literal zombies! I was like, “Jeez what’s happening?!” Later, they explained that they hadn’t slept for the last 24 hours. I feel very cool with the guys. I didn’t take it as, you know, Joey and Merel know each other longer; it’s more like “This is us.” I don’t feel any differences. I don’t wanna use that word, but it feels like a family. It really does. I love being around Merel and Joey, this just feels good and natural.
MG: Yeah, I see. Do you recall the very first Dear Mother song you’ve written or worked on together? Did it make it to the album?
Merel: Yes, it’s the first song on the album, the first song we completed. It’s called “Vertigo”. Actually, it’s the song David sang at the audition to show what he’s capable of.
David: And also that song, in fact, was recorded much sooner than the rest of the album. There are two parts in that song that are used from the earlier takes. There you can hear its roughness. And, yeah, it was my audition song, so I had to sing it over and over again (laughs)!
Merel: It feels like this song is very old. I feel we’ve outgrown it. This song has, maybe, a bit too much of everything, but it’s our first song and we were just learning where things go, you know. It’s definitely a special song and we open the album with it.
MG: Oh, I’m really curious now! Recently you’ve launched a t-shirt design competition. How did you come up with the idea of attracting fans to the process?
David: We would love to attract fans to do most of it with us because we personally enjoy interacting like this. It’s great. There are many creative people in our community and there were so many great designs! While we were going through them we were like, “Oh gosh, look at this! This is so cool!” So we are super happy about the results and there will be more of this. I think, it reflects very nicely on the connection with the fans, because it’s created by us. It makes a real unity, it’s something wonderful! We should have done this even earlier and this is something we’re gonna be doing more!
MG: Yeah, it looks like you are pretty close with your fans, always replying to comments, launching crowdfunding campaigns etc. I think it’s very nice, not every band does that. And speaking of design, all of your cover artworks have a very unique vibe. If I remember correctly, Joey’s mother contributed her art for the cover of “Symbiose”. Who is responsible for the rest of the art? And what does it represent?
David: With the artwork for “Symbiose”, it was a beautiful story. Joey’s mom fell in love with me and she invited me for a cup of tea. She said, “David, I can’t imagine my life without you!” I was like, “No, Joey’s my friend, we can’t do this!” And she gave me that painting saying, “Always remember me!” And I said, “I will remember you forever!” This is a true story, not a piece of lie (Merel laughing the whole time). What? Well, while recording “12 Years in Exile”, we had to stop over Joey’s house. We walked inside the house and saw the painting. Our reaction was like, “What is this? We love this!”, and Joey’s mom replied, “This is something I’ve made.” We instantly felt that this is it, we need this, this is incredible. So we stole the painting… Sorry, we borrowed the painting, scanned it and did some mastering. And with other album arts… I can’t recall them. We had “12 Years…”, which was like a base, so it was very simple, very straight-forward. Then we went for “Symbiose”, the second one, with the picture Joey’s mom gifted to me. Then we have “Satellite”. There’s no meaning for that, it was just wonderful to have. Like this is what we’re talking about, but not really. And then we have, obviously, “Invincible”. There are two beautiful main actors of the music video, Charlotte on the right and Sam on the left. They have pretty faces, we had to use them!
MG: So, no concept?
Merel: Long story short, no concept.
MG: David, you also took care of the music videos you’ve released so far. This comes with many advantages but also downsides to it. How does it feel to be creating videos for your own band? Does it feel special?
David: No, it doesn’t feel special. Well, video making is my profession, so it’s just doing your absolutely best. This is what you care about; this is your top thing. For me it was frustrating at some point, because you have to work with many cameras and setups. We had to be very minimalistic, you know. I picked up the smallest cameras, a couple of lenses, literally just the bare minimum. This is our band, of course it has to be the best. It was very challenging sometimes, because I get some perfectionism when it comes to visual stuff. That’s why I spent much more time than I should have for no reason, just because I wanted all the small things to be done. But this is not something I regret, there were just too many things I needed to have right. But I wish we didn’t go through these hard-times of what’s happening globally, so I could unleash my absolute maximum.
Merel: It’s quite funny because I have made a couple of music videos with other bands as well, and then shooting “12 Years in Exile” was the first time we saw each other in real life. Before this day, we weren’t able to meet up. It was quite interesting, because when we recorded “12 Years in Exile”, David was also directing. It’s the only directed Dear Mother video with us performing in it. Well, “Invincibble” as well, but “12 Years in Exile” is completely about the performance. And it was another type of fun to watch Dave directing us like, “You go there and you do this.” It was just super fun (laughs)! And it’s actually, super nice to be directed by vocalist of your band.
David: The moments I will cherish in my memory forever!
MG: And where did you shoot it, the UK or Netherlands?
David: “12 Years in Exile” was the Netherlands.
Merel: Yeah, we filmed the video in the old tobacco industry.
David: This is an incredible place, you have the special power in there! The set we had there was just stunning! “Satellite” was recorded DIY and directed by me through the phone. That was fun. And “Symbiose”… I obviously wanted to have something like that, so that was just like a creepy 90’s-80’s adventure. I love that one so much! “Invincible” was recorded in the Netherlands, in the rehearsal studio.
Merel: Yeah, with the windscreen. We did it with a single shot, right?
David: Yes, we did. And the story’s been recorded in the UK.
MG: Shortly after the release of any new song you release a guitar playthrough as well. I really like the idea. Can we expect a drum or a vocal playthrough for any of the songs?
Merel: David, I’ve been asking about it around, too!
David: Well, definitely there will be a vocal “playthrough” or “singthrough” when I finish a couple of things about the upcoming album. We’ll see, if there won’t be more stuff to do I will surely jump on the singthrough. I’ll be curious, so yes!
MG: What are your plans for the future? After the pandemic is over, are you willing to make a tour or will Dear Mother remain a studio project only?
Merel: We better go on tour, but first we gonna do a Eurovision song. Right, David?
David: YEAH, I wanna do this to Eurovision, yes!
MG: We’ll be waiting.
Merel: And we’re definitely going to play. We’re not gonna be a “see you” band, we will write new songs, of course. But it’s kind of insecure right now, we need to wait to see what’s gonna happen. Right now, it’s quite scary to book shows, because you don’t know if they’re gonna happen. I think, first of all we need a release show before any other gigs. It’s just a very strange time, and I personally don’t really dare to book shows for this year. I think it will be in 2022, because I think it’s just too tricky.
MG: That’s all for today, thanks for joining us. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
David: Go, Merel. Tell them, TELL THEM!
Merel: Fist of all, thank you for the feature, I think it’s super cool. To our fans: check out Metal Goddesses, of course.
David: Oh yeah! And for the rock and metal community: stay strong, stay awesome, because it’s one of the best communities, that you can literally feel, presenting themselves, being themselves through the time. It’s an incredible pleasure to be part of it, as well. Thank you and thank you for all the readers and watchers!