The Dutch dudes that make up John Coffey have been going at it for quite some years with their energetic as fuck mix of punk, post-hardcore and rock 'n roll. They have a new album coming out on Monday called "The Great News" and in our case that great news is that we got the chance to do an email interview with guitarist Alfred van Luttikhuizen. Read on! (Photo copyright : Jelle Mollema)
PRT: Let’s start off with a lame question... what is the greatest news about your new album “The Great News”?
Alfred: The greatest news for us is the fact that it’s there! After “Bright Companions” we had to start from scratch. I’m listening to the album right now and I can say we’re all damn proud of it. We didn’t get it for free. Hard work baby ;)
PRT: For the people out there who still haven’t heard of John Coffey... if John Coffey was the baby, which bands would have had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Alfred: Aaah that’s easy: I think Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins would be involved in some serious sexual interaction with Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die, with Josh Scogin from The Chariot looking from behind the window ;)
(don’t tell any of them I said that ;)
PRT: When “Bright Companions” came out, you did a bunch of interviews where you talked about how difficult it had been recording the album with five guys in the band who all want to have their say. Did things go more smoothly this time or was it once again something of a struggle?
Alfred: Haha, It did not go any smoother. Again it was quite a hassle, but we knew that was going to happen, so we were okay with that from the start.
PRT: You recorded the new album with producer Matt Goldman who has mostly been working with rather slick-sounding bands in the emo genre whereas you guys – to me at least – seem to be more about the raw and the visceral. So what made you decide to work with Goldman for “The Great News”?
Alfred: Two words: The Chariot. To all of us The Chariot stands for the best loud chaotic music ever. Those guys made art from noise. At one point singer Josh Scogin emailed us. He had seen us wearing a The Chariot t-shirt in one of our video’s. We were flabbergasted and asked if he’d like to produce our next record. As he was too busy with touring, he introduced us to Matt. A brilliant choice. We had Matt over in Utrecht for about a month and he helped us a lot!
PRT: “Heart Of A Traitor” is the name of the new single and it talks about the paradox between being an artist and entertainer. Can you tell me a little bit more about that paradox? And where do you feel John Coffey stands as a band in relation to that paradox?
Alfred: Well, because our music is so energetic, it really depends on us blowing all that energy out on the stage. Most of the times it’s no problem. But sometimes it happens that you really don’t feel like playing a show and you have to really give it everything to get into it. It can feel like you’re cheating on people when you shake your head, but not really feel it. That’s what the song is about. Lucky for us we have a lot of fun on-stage and can really interact with whoever is in the crowd, but sometimes it happens. The only thing I think at moments like that is” Fuck it, those people payed a ticket to attend a rock-show, they deserve one!”
PRT: You’ve recently played a bunch of shows in small bars... was that a way of getting into it again or just because they are the most fun to play?
Alfred: Both actually. After we recorded “The Great News” we all went on a long holiday. When we came back in September we couldn’t really play the songs, so we needed some live practise. The idea of playing the small bars was already there. We just wanted to play one more time in our hometowns and impress our moms, dads and highschool girlfriends, haha!
But it was brilliant. People could get in for 2 euro, with no pre-sale. Every show was sold-out within ten minutes. Some people even showed up at three different shows. We are you damn lucky with our fans! Last Saturday we did a show in our hometown Utrecht where we officially presented the album to the fans. Every song was played in a different rehearsal space, we had Just Like Your Mom catering food and brewed two different John Coffey beers. The 101s from Eindhoven and The Kendolls from Sweden played as well. It was a blast with 150 fans who all bought a ticket within two hours. It felt a little like a family ;)
PRT: Next to being a lot of fun, your live shows can be best described as intense. Is it still as easy as in the beginning to get yourself all pepped up?
Alfred: Like I said, it’s a though exercise, but once you play every week, you get into it. It’s a free work-out for me… we do need each other to keep every show unique. But now we know the new songs pretty well, we can focus on having fun again.
PRT: What’s up next for you guys this year? Touring, touring and even more touring?
Alfred: This year is going to be crazy! We have some new agents in Belgium, Germany and the UK and the festivals are pouring in. From March to April we’ll be doing club tours through Germany and the Netherland. The 26th of February we play a release show in AB Club Brussels by the way. Of course we have a lot of cool ideas apart from touring, but you’ll hear that later on J
PRT: One last question... what is stopping you from letting your moustache grown into a full-grown handlebar and how can fans help you?
Alfred: That’s easy. I don’t have moustachial hair growth on a small area beneath my mouth. It sucks, but nature has decided this for me. Fans can help by being supportive, haha!