'We play Titanic pop songs'
Melissa Darragh
12:00 8th November 2021

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It’s been a busy few years for Dutch outfit Pip Blom. From releasing their debut album Boat and playing more than 120 shows in 2019 to now completing work on their upcoming sophomore album, it’s clear to see why a title like Welcome Break was such a good fit. With the excitement of their final night on tour in the air, we caught up with Pip to discuss the new album and life on the road.

“I thought that if I started the band I could meet lots of people that liked the same kind of music”, smiles Pip Blom. From pure intentions and a true love of music comes a Dutch band led by the gift of a big heart and a good ear. On their sound, Pip says: “Right now I would say we play indie or pop-rock songs—but they’re quite melancholic, so sometimes I say Titanic pop songs or Titanic rock songs as a description.”

After the release of their 2019 album Boat, and a long string of shows, Pip and the band returned to the Netherlands where she began work on new music. On the new album, Pip comments: “There isn’t really a big theme, I think, some of it is about my personal life, lots of it is about books and documentaries and movies and other musicians or bands. It’s kind of a mixture of everything I think. It’s a really good representation of what I listened to, and what I thought, and what I read at that point.”

“You do always doubt yourself in the writing process,” explains Pip, “and I mean still now that the album is almost going to be released it’s still very frightening to think about what people are going to say about it and if they’re going to like it. There will always be some pressure I guess, but I try not to think about that too much!... I really wanted to write new stuff as well because we played the songs so often that we wanted to play new stuff. So it felt very exciting to write new songs and think about playing those live.”

On the writing process, Pip comments: “It starts out with me and then it evolves into a whole band song basically…I write all the demos at home. I use a programme for drums and I play a bit of bass, and then when I think they are finished songs I send them to the band, and then we go to the rehearsal room and we make it into a proper band song. So we change quite a lot in terms of the drum patterns and the bass sound and the bass parts”.

“I usually watch something and I play guitar at the same time” explains Pip, “and then at one point the guitar part that I’m playing—if it grabs my attention more than the documentary that I’m watching—I stop the documentary and I record that. So that’s when I start writing the song, and then at the end of that process I start writing the lyrics...but I do that all the way at the end.”

Having recorded their debut album Boat in Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate, the band returned to record their upcoming album Welcome Break there—this time, however, the band made the decision to self-produce. “I really like having the creative input of someone else, but you have to have someone who really knows what you like, and you don’t want to spend lots of time telling someone what you like. You have to find someone who feels what you want, and then enhances that.”

“This was the second time we were at the same studios so it made it a bit easier for us to make the decision to continue doing it ourselves. It was a bit frightening at first because when you’re at a studio there is so much happening at the same time, and you have to be super alert to make sure all the decisions being made are decisions that you stand behind…so it was a bit exciting to see if we would succeed with those decisions and if we would end up with something that we really liked. I have to say that we ended up with something completely different than I thought we were going to end up with at the beginning. I’m really happy with it so I think it was a good decision in the end.”

From developing their sound and changing up their production process, Welcome Break spells a new era for the band. “I think it’s definitely more polished, and maybe a little bit less DIY. There are probably lots of people who don’t like that choice that we’ve made, but to me, it’s like we are really letting the songs speak for themselves instead of hiding behind lots of distortion and weird noises. So, I’d say it’s quite straight forward, and I think that’s a decision we’ve made that we would never have made with the first album.”

With coronavirus grinding the band's busy touring schedule to a halt, Pip reflects: “Usually we would have got to play the new songs live just to see how the audience would react to it, and now we didn’t have a chance, so it may have impacted [the sound] a lot, but we will never know.”

With somewhat of an influx of Dutch bands reaching our airwaves in recent years, Pip comments: “I think the current scene is very good…there are quite a lot of bands and it’s such a small country. Like, it’s only two and a half hours drive from one side to the other side, so it’s really fun to see how many bands there are. I love all their music too, so it’s just great fun, especially on our tour before this one when we brought Personal Trainer to the UK. It was so much fun to be on the road with all your friends from the Netherlands in a different country–that feels very special.”

“In general, the Netherlands has got a lot more funding [than the UK] for the music scene. That means that when you arrive at a venue you always have a full fridge of beer and snacks and stuff, even if you are a very small band. So I think that’s a big difference to lots of Dutch bands who go to the UK—you have to be ok with four bottles of water and six cans of Red Stripe! But then in terms of the crowd, the UK crowd is a bit rowdier, it’s quite energetic. But, I have to say that the Dutch crowd is getting more energetic now as well—and that’s a good sign. I love both countries and playing in both: I wouldn’t wanna choose one over the other.”

On touring, Pip comments: “It’s always quite intense because we are on a bit of a tight budget, so we usually sleep with three or with all of us in one room—but I find that very fun, and it’s really nice to be able to play every night and just to be with your friends on kind of like a holiday. It’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done but it’s definitely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.”

Now back on the road once again, Pip explains: “We haven’t toured in one and a half years so we need to get used to it again…I think it’s still early days. Some of the shows have been super energetic, but others have felt a bit more anxious...rightfully so I would say. I think that it’s been a lot of fun but we’re not back to the old shows yet—and that’s completely understandable because I think if I were to go to a gig now I would have to get used to being in a venue with 300 other people too. I’m not sure how that would feel for me, but we’ll definitely be back to normal in a bit.”

While it may take a bit of time to adapt to the new normal, Pip and the band still have plenty in store for us in the meantime. “When the album is released we’re going to return to the UK to do an in-store tour, and then in February we’re gonna come back and do a headline tour in the UK and in the Netherlands, and that’s very exciting because we’re going to play venues that we’ve never played before. So hopefully enough people will like the album and turn up! I’m a bit nervous for that to be honest, but fingers crossed it will be fine!”

Welcome Break arrives 12 November via Heavenly Recordings.

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