After leaving DELAIN, guitarist Merel Bechtold and drummer Joey de Boer founded their new venture, DEAR MOTHER. They found their match in singer David Hruska and worked on their debut album, “Bulletproof,” planned to be released on July 16th, 2021. We had the chance to talk with the band, some with better WiFi than others. Watch the interview here or watch the complete transcript below…
Hi and thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us about your debut album, “Bulletproof.” How are you guys doing?
David: Great, I have so much WiFi here! Unbelievable.
Let’s maybe start with the beginning of your band. Merel, you left DELAIN in 2019, to pursue your own project; was it always your plan to start a new band?
Merel: I wouldn’t say always, but at some point, I just had this feeling that I just really, really want to [start a band] and that just grew stronger and stronger. It’s all about meeting [the right] people. It basically started with just playing a song that I really enjoyed and I was so hyped about that music, that I just immediately called Joey and told him we need to start a new band. From that point, that feeling started growing stronger and stronger. At some point, I just knew that there was only one way to do this, and that was to sacrifice other things because, otherwise it would never, never happen, and I would never be able to write an album with the guys and things like that.
I read that you met David online. What were you looking for in a vocalist and how did you stumble upon him?
Joey: We actually wrote a bunch of songs and we were like “yeah we need a singer.” We wanted someone – we didn’t really care if he could scream at all – who is a really good vocalist. It didn’t really matter if it was a girl or boy, maybe just both.
David: Why not both? [laughter]
Joey: We actually didn’t really know what we were looking for. We just hoped that we would bump into the right person. Then David was tagged on Facebook by Claire. I feel like I know Claire, but I haven’t met her. We just immediately felt that he could do all the things we wanted; very good distorted vocals, he could scream. He’s just a very good singer and he’s a nice guy as well.
Merel: We had this massive list of what we wanted. We wanted a vocalist that can basically do anything, who’s also a nice person, and also creatively…
David: Who’s also Russian…
Merel: … Who also drinks a lot of vodka. But also creatively, you know, that if you throw a song at someone, that person just connects with it and knows what to do. Before, we never had someone that – even though they were amazing vocalists – connected with the music like David immediately did from the first song we passed him, which was “Vertigo.” Once we received it, we thought this is cool. This is awesome. That’s what we’re looking for. It was just right from the start.
Joey: We are very impulsive people. We heard 10 seconds of everything and we were like this him, this is our singer. We found our singer! We love him already, we’re gonna marry him. This is our man.
David: [starts singing Mendelssohn‘s wedding march] It was wonderful. Since the first song, it has been just super easy. From the first song on, we needed to know who was on the other side listening to it. So I pretty much thought I’m going to do me the best possible way, and it just resonated with the guys really well. That was it and I haven’t stopped writing since.
Merel: The first song we gave him, it’s not a very easy song, but he actually worked a way around it, he made it work, which was amazing.
David: I was listening to it just this morning actually, I really liked that song.
Joey: Yeah, me too. We should play it live.
David: [starts singing “Vertigo.”]
What made you say yes to these guys, David? Were you instantly drawn to the music or was there another reason for it?
David: Well, I first saw pictures of Joey‘s feet online, and I said: “Yes, I want to be in a band with this guy, it’s going to be so great.” I just said yes, I didn’t listen to the music [laughs]. No, just kidding. Just being with these guys for a couple of minutes, or it was actually a couple of weeks first because it’s great, you have awesome music with musicians that are dedicated, but before you actually verify that the intentions are real – because many decisions start with let’s start a band, let’s start doing things, but then it sort of fades out slowly, you write a song, you do a rehearsal, and then that’s pretty much it – with the guys, however, I saw right away that there was an insane drive and as time went by, it just grew more and more and more and more. They are completely relentless and completely bubbling with energy. For me, that is the most important thing. The beautiful extra was that the music… the writing is the best thing on the planet and I personally resonate with it very well, although the human aspect to me, is a million times more important, and it just clicked right away so, if you want to say no to this you might as well stop eating Nutella, it’s impossible. Why would you do that?
Judging from your social media, it seems like you’re friends in the first place. Nowadays, bands feel more like a business. How important was that aspect for you guys?
Joey: It’s everything.
Merel: Yeah, it’s massively important because it is very intense to be in a band. There’s a massive amount of passion going on and I think if you find the right people – that’s also what this band is about, we really want to work with people we really click with – that it works, and that’s what kind of happens when you’re looking for those people. So it’s really really important. Yeah, super important.
David: Absolutely. You see those people seven times a day on an easy week until you’re going to see them 24/7.
Merel: On eight square feet.
David: It’s important to like each other when you’re in a box together for months and months. It’s hugely important and underestimated to actually like those people and hang out with them, not just be on stage, but off stage have things to say, grow, and talk about.
Joey: The thing is… We don’t really approach this as our job. We work very hard for this, but this doesn’t feel like our job, basically. We want to have fun, we need to have fun, and we’re just doing the things we love to do. We need people we love as well, to do that. Otherwise, it would become a job. That’s not what DEAR MOTHER is about.
You’re also not releasing this album through a label. Is that part of the reason why?
David: Yes, it’s one of the reasons why. We had massive chats about it, back and forth about yes or no label. We are in the 21st century, it’s 2021, the work of a label has changed drastically. People still live off this feeling that they need to be picked up, otherwise they won’t have success, or they won’t have money. We sort of dived in very deeply into what we wanted. We thought of what we could potentially do ourselves, what the benefits were, and the downsides. The downside of the whole thing, is just that it’s more work for us. The upside is that we are completely in control of everything. We are not prone to say no to a label, for sure, but working on ourselves for so long, we know what we can do and we have very high standards. If there’s a label coming in to suddenly take 75% of your cut and potentially completely having a say over what you do, they better be good and they better be better than us in what they do, to allow that to happen. We are overlooking everything, it’s hard work, it’s – Joey said it’s not a job – it’s a full-time job, that is a lot of fun. It’s something that we took on board after many conversations. It’s a long-winded answer to your very short question.
Joey: You’re just taking your time because your WiFi could drop out [laughs].
David: Yeah [laughs] because if I drop, this is the only time I’ll get to speak.
Yeah, you better get your screen time now. [laughter]
David: Exactly, thank you! I’m David, by the way, hello everybody!
Now, coming from such well-established bands, how was it for you guys to not be tied to a label anymore?
Joey: With DELAIN, we weren’t in charge, of course, so I didn’t have much to do with the whole label thing. I just did my drum parts and showed up to the tours, basically. So, that’s a good example of what we don’t want it to be, have the label being in charge: just having to make records, sit out your contract. I’m not saying DELAIN is like that, but it could be like that. We just want to be in charge, for the moment, and if the right deal comes up then, of course, maybe we’ll take it. Basically, DEAR MOTHER and the situation we had in DELAIN are very separated. For us, it’s just a good and fresh new start, and a lot of fun.
I usually don’t really ask about the band name, because it’s the number one question you get as a new band, however, I did notice that you took a lot of time in your thank yous to thank your moms. Is there a special story behind DEAR MOTHER?
Merel: We really struggled with the band name. We really thought about it. Basically, it was really hard. You know, when you’re going to name your band, it’s stupid to have something that just doesn’t really mean something important. It was really hard to come up with something. At some point – I was really depressed – we already tried a couple of names before that as well… I was not depressed because of that but because of other things, of course. Then, I wrote a letter to my mom, in English – because it just writes nicer than Dutch – I started with “dear mother,” then I wrote down how much she means to me and how special she is, and that’s where the name came from. For me personally, but for everyone, it can mean something else. It’s going to mean something else to Joey or to David, but we’re all mama’s kids, of course, it’s a very special connection you have with your mother, it doesn’t matter whether it’s good or it’s bad, you’re born out of her. It is a very meaningful name for all of us and I hope that other people will connect with it as well in the same way.
Is it important as a musician to have a supporting family? Especially if you’re on the road for so long and with a lot of insecurities that come with being an artist?
Joey: Yeah, it’s super important.
Merel: It’s pretty important, as well as with friends and everything. The band is actually always number one, always in every band I have played with, it’s always like that because it’s your passion. I think that you need to leave a lot of things behind. I haven’t had any family holidays, meetings, or gatherings for years because of work. So I think it’s really important to have a family that supports you. I know that my parents are super proud, my sister, and my friends as well.
Joey: That goes for all of us actually. Your family, your friends, that’s what you come home to and that’s super important. We all come from very great families. We have very lovely, loving friends. It’s as important as the band because of the job that needs all our focus.
Nowadays, it seems like bands are breaking the boundaries of genres. I guess it’s the same with your music. I thought of calling it alternative metal because it doesn’t fit in any other box. How would you personally describe your music to those who haven’t heard it yet?
Joey: Exactly how you just did!
David: It’s very hard to describe music. With completely different influences coming from three people, mixed together in one big pot, it all sounds different, but that’s a good thing. It just means that we’re not copying someone. At the same time, you can obviously hear which one of us probably listens to that guy, or band, or this person. It sort of reflects in our music too, so putting the label alternative, I guess would be a right guess. There are definitely some heavier subtones to it. Ah! I nearly dropped my phone. It’s hard, it’s a difficult thing to put a label on it, but yeah that’s how I would describe it.
Joey: I’m actually so bad with subgenres. The time that it was just metal or hard rock is over. I think we’re heading towards the time that we’re actually going to call it 17% metalcore, 3% prog, and 5% I don’t really know what it is. Everyone has a different label, I think we chose alternative metal or opted for metalcore to describe it. It’s actually a good and a bad thing that you can’t describe it because you’re doing your own thing. On the other hand, it’s nice to tell people we sound just like BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE or something, or we’re just metalcore, but that isn’t it. So yeah, I hope we bump into the right name for the genre, but I don’t think we will.
There are also bands out there who create their own genre. Is that perhaps something you’d be interested in?
Joey: Would be super fun!
David: Yeah, we will be playing “funk prog pumpkin-spiced jazz-rock.”
Merel: Family metal!
David: Family-friendly metal, yes! [laughs]
I understood that you guys wrote some songs before David joined the band. What did the process look like?
Joey: Well, Merel comes up with most of the ideas. She begins with the writing, then usually, – before David joined – she sent the material to me, and we already wrote together or I just send her back, “oh I will do this, I will do that,” and she would go back to writing.
Merel: I think we already wrote seven or eight instrumental songs, so no lyrics, no melodies, nothing because my mind doesn’t work like that. It started from there, so firstly, we just send songs to David. He would write his vocal melodies and lyrics, chop off the songs, and send them back. Then, we have one more go – which is actually my favorite part – when I come back and then I can use that as well. At some point, when we worked our ways through those seven or eight songs – actually seven, we skipped one – that was way more fun. It’s really interesting because then you know where you are, you already kind of know what David is doing, what he is capable of, and you can send less stuff at him. So, at some point, we just only had just some chords, which was actually “Soul for Hire.” We just had a chord progression – a loop – with a C and D and he just created verses from there and just finished the song. So it’s really cool to try both and when I wrote songs this year, I had Joey on my mind as well, because I love his drumming. It’s really cool how these things evolve. The more we know each other, the more the songs are like us, the newer the songs.
David: Definitely, it’s very natural to work with these guys. I’ve never experienced that in my entire life. Merel has a very unique and very nice approach to songwriting and structuring the songs. Joey adds his magic with drum things and he’s also a rhythm machine, who is hiding behind the drum kit. So it’s very easy for me to write on top of that, you know, come up with ideas, melodies, and so on. It’s very natural, very flowing. Like when you have a good poop, it just goes very naturally, you don’t have to push much, it’s just very nice, very relaxing.
Joey: Our stories keep going back to the poop thing.
David: Oh, man, we always circle back to pooping, by the way.
Merel: Yeah, exactly. The songwriting has never been this much fun. It’s so easy because we keep the music very close to ourselves and the only rule we really have is we don’t want to release anything that we’re not proud of. We only want to do music that we enjoy. I think that “Bulletproof,” the album, is literally just that.
Now, I read that there was some kind of meaning behind “Bulletproof” as a title. Would you say there’s a concept or an overarching theme?
David: I don’t think there is a concept, it’s not a concept album. It has a theme that I think we’ll be filling all of our albums with, unless I change drastically. I wrote about all the things that are current to our time. So, in this case in 2019-2020. Of things that happened to me, our close ones, family, about things that are happening in the world, things that basically… one can see or we could see with our own eyes and experience with our own hearts. It’s very important for me, because I personally can’t write about made-up things. So it’s usually those out of the real things that captured the moment in time.
So in that sense, are there any tracks inspired by the great pandemic?
David: No, actually, because I think we finished the album just before the pandemic hit. For the second one, we definitely will be very much inspired by it. But this particular album was literally done in production right before the pandemic.
Joey: But the album title had something to do with the pandemic, right? Or am I missing something?
David: Is that a question for us, Joey? [laughs] “Bulletproof” as a meaning, per se, is something that we had between each other, by the time we got to the end of the album, since we grew during that period, as a band, as friends, as business partners, whatever you call it, it’s just that album itself became bulletproof because it went through so many stages of pre-production, production, mastering, mixing, mixing again, writing, rewriting, so just so many things happening that the album literally has a stamp on it, it’s bulletproof.
I also noticed that you guys with your last single, “Soul for Hire,” you created a graphic novel. Where did that idea come from?
Merel: David made a music video, an amazing music video. The artist he worked with, Kayla, is an American artist. The art was so beautiful and so moving that we thought we should celebrate that with a graphic novel.
David: Absolutely. So it was just a beautiful complement of beautiful artistry created between us and Kayla, just wonderful.
I also noticed that it’s already sold out! Are you thinking about getting more of them released?
Merel: No, it was just those limited prints. So only those who actually paid attention, were there early, they are praised.
Joey: But maybe we will do something different with the music video artwork.
Merel: Yes, we have a very cool plan for it. That’s true. So, that’s coming soon!
Do you guys have any other relevant things coming up, other than the album? Are you planning to do some shows or is it still tricky for you to plan anything?
Merel: It is very scary to book shows right now. We are definitely going to do a release show. We’re also looking into possible tours, eg. a support tour for 2022, but so far we don’t have anything scheduled for real. We’re working on it. Definitely, yes, 2022.
Awesome! Looking forward to that. I think that’s it for my questions. Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with your fans?
David: Definitely! For all the people in the metal world and the beautiful planet Earth, it’s wonderful to have your support and we just want you to know that – especially in our community and the metal and rock community – your support is insanely important for us. It’s making, first of all, the music grow. I think us, as a community, we are growing and we are just making sure that the legacy has been preserved, and just like every single person that is helping, they’re very important, we’re very appreciative, guys.
Joey: I can’t believe how good you are at thanking people. I can listen to it for hours. Thank you so much for having us, we had a lot of fun!
David: [laughs] Is that it?
Merel: Laureline, thank you so much for this opportunity and for your time as well. Oh, and I hope Finland like it as well. I actually noticed that there are a lot of nu-core Finnish bands, because I was just checking out on Spotify what bands it suggests as being similar, and they’re all Finnish bands, holy shit, this stuff is happening in Finland, it’s really alive with nu-core and alternative metal bands. Well, Finland is the number one metal country anyway.
You need to team up with some of those bands and do some shows here!