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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: September 06 2010 at 13:41


Us from Holland is a band who musically can be found somewhere between symphonic prog and neo-prog. Genesis has been a huge influence on this band. They have so far released eight albums.

Based on the album reviews, I personally find Us a fascinating band and it did not take me long before I had their first six albums in my hands. Unfortunate, I have yet to listen to them. But that is on my priority list now. 

I got in touch with them through Jos Wernars for their story.


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Your biography has been covered in your ProgArchives profile so let's bypass this and go straight to the albums. But why did you choose this name and where are you based ? 

 
We chose for the name US, because it is short and immediately tells you what we are about, our music, our ideas: Us. We are a band from the Netherlands.

Please tell us more about your previous band Saga.

We started Saga in 1975, Paul came up with the name because our music at that time already had an epic character and saga somehow molded it together. At that time we did not know about the Canadian band Saga. we started working on own material and had gigs on a regular basis. Even in that time it was not easy to keep a band together but somehow we managed, in spite of some changes. It all resulted in our LP  around 1979, named: to whom it concerns.
In spite of what many younger people may think, even in those days prog or sympho was not the obvious thing. many reviewers found it too complicated and even somewhat semi-intellectual so even those days prog did not get the best of the media. there was always something, too little rock and roll whatever that meant and too pretentious. Even then I found out that reviewing music not necessarily meant you needed to have a clue what music was all about. Even then it was important to have an attitude, image was and still is everything. Genesis and Yes were called dinosaurs even in 1975! How stupid can you be, but never the less that is what some fools dared to write. Disappointment and the fact we we all grew older, started having families made the band decide to call it an end, so in 1981 the Dutch Saga ceased to exist.

Back to Us again. Please give me your (long or brief) thoughts and lowdowns on......



A Sorrow In Our Hearts from 2002

The title was based on the story of Indian Shawnee chief Tecumseh. A sad story about a great man who could not prevent the stream of time to take its toll. The fact that more and more immigrants from the old countries were coming to the Americas, progress came along and the Indians could not cope with that. They were deceived and tricked in to almost every scheme you can think off, and all in all they were outnumbered in every respect. A truly great man, this Tecumseh, a king Arthur in his own right who unfortunately went down in this epic struggle. Initially we started recordings with the three of Us, Paul, Ernest and myself, when later on joined by Peter de Frankrijker on lead guitar. My favorite is dog, the music is honest and playful, the lyrics say it all.



Eamon's Day from 2003

Eamons day was our first real effort to make something special. We had a new singer, Stephan Christiaans, a very nice guy and in my view a very good voice. He had his own demons too fight but I liked him as lot. His voice could only get better, his |English was good  and he fitted in. It turned out to be a very strong album and it did very well for Us. In my (humble) opinion Life in progress was a great achievement. We really had put something together there. Unfortunately we are so very, very small, without any financial resources that we had no means whatsoever to bring this album to a bigger audience. all in all it seems like scratching the surface.


The Ghost of Human Kindness from 2004

This is one of my favorites, in spite of the fact that during the making of this album the cracks in the line up already started to show. Our recording device broke down, some things were completely lost, we were helped out fantastically by Roland but never the less it was a huge setback. If everybody had been full force at that time, the album could have been even better than it now turned out to be, but all in all it I like the album very much. It is strong and has a lot of power.  the idea about the lack of human kindness in may respects when we look at our world of today made me write the songs, domes was a real cracker that worked live very well. unfortunately the old ghost, called disappointment started to show up again. Just after we had released this album Peter and Stephan left the band and Paul started to loose interest bit by bit.



The Young And Restless from 2006

In spite of all that worked against US, we started working on album no 4 and during the process it became better and better. Paul could not make any time available or simply had other things he wanted to do so Ernest and myself decided to finish it ourselves. Because we wanted to keep the band idea alive we invented Joris ten Eussens which is in fact an anagram and did the drums ourselves. We knew that a band idea works better than a two men or even a one man band but we had no choice. The concept CD came from the idea that many things in life, good or bad come from our own restless behavior that I molded in the concept of the Moth man story. In fact it is one long track, a 56 minute epic. Because of the fact that it is very difficult to keep a band together, also to recruit new people we also decided to sing ourselves. No the best of singing abilities but at least no problems anymore. Marijke, my wife helped out in the close harmonie sections. It turned out OK for us because this CD was well received.



Reflections from 2007

During this recording Ernest started to have his doubts about the future. It occurred to him  that a whole band idea was not very likely going to happen and that true success was not really going to happen either. Money was a constant issue and we had to cope with the fact that US was always running a couple of steps behind because of that. It is sad to say, but if you imagine the budget of an average girl or boy band would probably beat our total budget for all cd's made till now. We had had our share of good reviews and also some bad ones but it did not make the situation better. I myself still had enough inspiration to continue and in fact the first two tracks in particular, I find very good.



Climbing Mount Improbable from 2008

The way we were, the last track is one of the best Us has ever made. Sadly enough Ernest became ill. He overcome his heart problems, undergone surgery, but could not bring it up no more to continue rowing against the stream. he left Us.  I was quite shocked when it happened but honestly I knew it was coming. Like I said earlier the biggest threat is the fact that disappointment is always around the corner and the fact that we had to do literally everything ourselves did not make the struggle any easier. We still had 'Joris' playing along and since nobody knew we thought we better keep it so. We finished this album together but this was the end as far as Ernest was concerned.



Everything Changes from 2009

Suddenly a one man band. What next? I know that people tend to like a band better than a one man effort, but what could I do? to find new band members, putting a whole new group together seemed impossible. Also the fact that the I somehow had my fill of the ongoing process of people quitting that I somehow was not quite up to it starting recruiting again/. I have even considered quitting myself. Marijke constantly pushed me not to quit, some great supporters, particularly Yoshiko in Japan who has been with US from the beginning, constantly urged me to go on and so I did. It was my baby and mine alone. I had to work it all out, buy keyboards and drums, started to practice even more and forget about the fact that I now had to do it all by myself. I had plenty ideas for songs ready and strange enough the recordings went very smoothly. When it came out, in general the cd was received very well .



and the brand new album Feeding The Crocodile

Feeding the crocodile best qualifies for my personal idea about my music. I would prefer to have a band but this effort is as good as any. The cd is out very recently so I have no idea about what the reviews will do, but the people who have purchased it so far are very, and may I repeat that, very pleased about it. I choose for a difficult subject that may step on some peoples toe's, but I think I wrote it down honestly and am fully entitled to my own opinion. musically it worked out very well. The sound has grown and that makes me feel very good about this one. The first track, the title track clocks almost 43 minutes. All in all I found to make this one very rewarding and the end-result suits me very well. The last track, the winds of march was written almost in one piece, also the recordings went very smoothly. It is about the dark months of winter and the loss of a good friend.

Is there any plans to make the demo and/or the songs from Wizard Of Us available again ?

It is not very likely that the wizard will be available again. It is all a matter of money and like I said earlier that is precisely what I lack off ;o) 

What is the lyrical topics on your albums and how is your creative process from coming up with a theme/riff/idea to you get it down onto an album ?

I have a guitar in my hands whenever I can. even when watching TV I play and practice, so many of the musical ideas pop up just doing that. the lyrical concept usually develops in the early morning when I make long walks, about two hour or so with my dog. . It is all very quiet then and during that time I work out the concept. I like lyrics to take you somewhere, to have a meaning. Because of the fact that I have the tendency to write longer songs it all has to be worked out very carefully. The fact that I now play all the instruments puts on a extra burden but I like it. In fact I have the whole thing worked out in my head before I start recording.
Never the less I would very much welcome a keyboard player and a drummer again.

For those of us not familiar with your music, how would you describe your music and which bands would you compare yourself with ?

I think Us makes typically symphonic music. The lyrics mean something and the music has follows the line of a symphony. With Us there is plenty of time to give a musical concept air to breath. We allow a song to be a long one if that needs to be.

What is your experience with the music industry and the internet prog scene?

I think that the internet is both an asset as a drag,. The fact that a tiny band like Us can even exist , is surely because of the fact that we can use the internet but on the other hand the fact that all music, including Us music can easily be downloaded, will in the end kill the prog scene. Smaller bands in particular cannot survive if the cd's are not sold. It all costs money and if each release is a given loss, it will surely start to go down. I do not understand it, if I take myself, I always buy the cd's I want, these guys have given me so much joy during the years that I do not mind at all paying for it. if you look at even the bigger acts it is in fact ridiculous that hardly no band can survive in a normal way, is that what we want?

Is any of your members involved in any other bands or projects ?

The present member is me, with the help of Marijke and we are not involved in any other band.

What is your plans for the rest of this year and next year ?

Well, I am now working on new material, since if by any change possible I want to bring out a new cd next year. It all depends on how much money I can get. If this sells OK it will surely help, but in these times that is not so easy.

Anything you want to add to this interview ?

Thanks for giving US this platform. It surely is appreciated.

Thank you to Jos for this interview

Their PA profile is here and their homepage is here 

I will now get onto their albums and give them my attention.......

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seventhsojourn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote seventhsojourn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 06 2010 at 15:15
Great stuff, torodd! I only became aware of these guys about one week ago when I read forum member maryes' review of ''The Young And Restless'', and listened to their MP3/stream. Will be adding that title to my next order. Thumbs Up
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