Welcome to the latest Q & A with Diederik van Wassenaer, frontman of Dietrich Jon, who are from Bloomington, Indiana. One of their on line bio’s says they were… “formed by Stockholm-native and cheese connoisseur Rolf van Dinckelstein. Originally cast for the soundtrack of a student film about fish, the band soon started to emerge in the Bloomington, Indiana ‘Daince’ rock and alternative cow punk scenes”, but what however, has national debating, and a four-in-one tuner, capo, bottle-opener and cigarette lighter got to do with rock ‘n’ roll, and who should have exploded by now?
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~ Describe your music and influences for those who may not have come across it?
I guess what we’re trying to do is create interesting pop music. We love hooks, we love messing with the standard verse-chorus form and we love narrative songwriting. At the same time, we’re trying to make music we like and find interesting, both lyrically and texturally. That combination of interests can sometimes lead to a bit of an identity crisis within the group, but we’re starting to find a common thread. We’re big Bowie and Johnny Cash fans, and have some pretty eclectic taste overall, but lately me and Connor (who plays bass) have been listening to a lot of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and HAIM, an all-girl group from L.A.
~ How did you all meet?
Most of us ( four of our six members ) met while playing in a bluegrass group called ‘The Underhills’. We all met in a college dorm and recorded our first EP in a dorm room. Since then, we’ve toured throughout the Midwest and the South. I was in a different band with our drummer, Mark Edlin, who has a tendency to be in 10 bands at the same time. About a year ago, I set up this project with Mark and Connor Grimm, our bassist. Before that, I’ve been primarily a fiddle player; basically a side-guy. It took some convincing to form the group but I think the struggle for great material has proven to be a great foundation for this band.
~ You’ve recently gone from a 4-piece to a 6-piece band. What was behind the decision to expand?
We’re all good friends and it was more so a natural decision to make, since additional members have only added to the sound. We’re not big proponents of exclusivity, and beyond that, it’s also easier to have fun on stage and engage the audience with more people in the group. We’ll have to think more about the logistics on the road, but it’s only worked in our favor so far.
~ If you could collaborate with a well-known musician or band, who would it be?
Probably Kendrick Lamar or Bootsy Collins. Maybe T-Pain? I think all of them would nail it.
~ What’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing any of you have ever done?
I had a band in high school that played acoustic folk punk. Although we weren’t great, we managed to make some good memories. We once raided our semi-annual christmas concert, unannounced, by covering ourselves in mud, dressing in nothing but loincloths and being as loud as possible with the help of a trombone, an accordion, a garbage can and a couple of very large sticks.
~ And the least?
I think our guitarist Peter Doyle won a national debate championship in high school. Not very rock ‘n roll at all. He’s gotten better at it though.
~ Are there any other new/lesser known bands from the Bloomington area we should be checking out?
Absolutely! Sleeping Bag and Mike Adams At His Honest Weight are both great Bloomington bands, as well as our bluegrass group The Underhills.
~ What are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
Probably ABBA (how can you not like ABBA?) and for some of us (ahem) Dave Matthews Band. Don’t worry, they won’t be with us for long.
~ Which famous person would you love to get to drive your tour bus, and why?
Henry Rollins would be a great driver, although he might eat us. It would definitely be an experience.
~ If you could invent anything, what would it be?
A four-in-one tuner, capo, bottle-opener and cigarette lighter. We’ve actually had this one in mind for a while. If we patent it, you’re welcome to pre-order.
~ You’re at a music festival and the following artists clash with each other; The Black Keys, Garth Brooks, The Rolling Stones,
Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Dolly Parton. Who do you go and see?
Dolly Parton of course! she’s totally underrated, one of the best singers and songwriters of all time, and it’s honestly a miracle she’s still around since she should have exploded by now.
~ What do you have planned for the next few months?
We’re in the process of recording our first full-length, which is largely happening in the cellar of a gay bar. We’re not kidding. We’ll be releasing a single or two in the next few months leading up to a tour of the Midwest in January, where we hope to sell t-shirts displaying a toilet. After that, we’re hoping to attend South By Southwest in March, and more touring and releasing until we open for an 80-year old David Bowie in drag, which is ultimately the goal.