Breaking Through! Present Danger
In a rather unusual manner Present Danger has put itself in the spotlight. Their reputation as a fantastic live band was due to being a cover band with their heroes Metallica in mind. Even on their new album Face The Truth you feel a lively atmosphere. Minor mistakes or little production errors they’ve left on there to give it a genuine feel. Clearly, they weren’t in the mood for a polished and refined studio project. More an honest project of four highly talented guys, who know their business. You would expect them to play their music with a variety in Metal.
But he, nobody’s perfect We don’t usually make it a habit of interviewing a band twice within five years. But so much has change in a positive way for Present Danger, that I’m confident with their new album that an international breakthrough is imminent. This third album will gently stroke everyone’s soul. I’m joined by frontman, singer and guitar player Thijs de Jong. As guests at music shop Strings & Things Peter Herwegh from Q Guitars, who sponsors the band, joins us. Nice coffee and sandwiches!
I’m NICKY MOEKEN
After thirteen years, being responsible for rhythm guitar and vocals, a couple of years ago Joost Hamers left the band to give priority to his private life. As no other he saw the growth of the band and realized that at this professional level he couldn’t keep up. Musically no problem, but all the travelling would be a problem. As a result Maikel Netten was added as the second guitar player and now not just rhythm. Apart from the brothers Thijs and Martijn de Jong (on drums) bass player Gijs van Gorp complements the line up. Not only does Thijs play on new guitars, he’s also been pushed to the fore to do all the main vocals. His vocals are powerful and now sings most of his own lyrics. Although Face The Truth is an album filled with guitars, the high pitched and raunchy vocals add to the sensation. In particular when they are performing live. Everything fits into place. Listening to a strong drummer, what would surprise Bonham, a solid bass player whose groove lays the foundation and two guitar players with a lot more in their arsenal then just standard licks. In their first concert the lyrics of some songs are already recognised by the fans. Nice to hear a hall sing out! Text is recognisable so it’s not difficult to find where words are going. Something, I think, the band needs to work on for their next project. Other thing is the balance in They almost flow over into one and another. Every song has a catchy chorus, so it gives the feeling that they could all become hits. Give it three easy going songs and the balance would be perfect. The fast songs would also become more identifiable. In saying this, I’ve noticed that it’s very hard to take the CD out of my car system. No, it’s not broken! Thijs will come up with some riffs and then .....
“Usually it will form the basis of the song with maybe one or two lines of lyrics. Then at rehearsals the band will work together to make it their own so it becomes a complete song. In some cases at concerts or in the studio we’ll still might change something small. But when on record, that’s it. And then live we won’t change it anymore.”
Just to be the advisor of the devil, was it laziness, lack of money or seriously considered to finish this album in such a short period of time?
“Well considered. We already had three tracks. We then added five. To me t was nice working under a bit of pressure. We set a deadline, which made us worked fast to finalize everything in time. That worked out nicely. Finally we also added a ninth track;Face the Truth acoustic"
How did you come into contact with Q Guitars? You seemed very happy on your deal with VGS?
“Absolutely. The only reason why we chose Q Guitars is because we are more involved with the brand. I met Peter here at Strings & Things in Kaatsheuvel. He needed some advise on a new guitar brand that he wanted to find in Indonesia. We flew out together and as soon as we walked into Radix Guitars it seemed the factory for us. While the owner kept apologizing for all the mess, my thoughts were more in the vain of ‘here, they are really working!’. Seeing around 70 people working ... impressive!”
Finding Radix, was there a specific model that immediately caught your eye?
“The Saint, the model I’m playing now, wasn’t yet visible. At least not in his office. I got the chance to play quite a few and was immediately impressed by the playability and the finishing ...really well done. Then we got a tour through the factory, where I stumbled up on The Saint. For the moment I picked it up and really admired what it looked like I was sold. My version is a little more compact. All that I changed on my version of the guitars were the electronics and like my Ibanez had it scalloped from the 19th fret upwards"
Making it compact did that influence the scale length?
“No, that was all left with 24 frets and 65 centimetres. I’ve changed my pickups to EMG’s: one ’81 and one ’85 with just a volume control. I also changed the pot. I have a lot to tell, so I need a precise potentiometer.”
We have various guitarists that use a scalloped fretboard. Which guitar hero was your example?
“My system is based on the fluctuations of Steve Vai, specifically from his first Ibanez Jem guitar. On my version especially the bending and pulling feels very comfortable. I also like to tap with my pick in that area. The effect works very effective. Toien from Radix guitars decided to expands on the idea. The scalloping on my guitar starts at the 19th fret. Steve’s starts at the 21st.”
Well, it’s a great album, but not without some comments. Certainly the texts could improve. For now, they sounds very obvious ...
“I can understand that. Most of the lyrics are my doing. Maybe I covered too much of my frustrations in them. But we never chose for a specific formula. That will change with the next album.”
The way you recorded Face The Truth in Swamp Studio’s Raamsdonk looked like well thought through. Little mistakes weren’t corrected, so the live feel was preserved. Isn’t it true, that hearing the band live the variety is much greater then on the album? I mean there aren’t many easy listening points here. Everything sounds forceful, expressive and loud.
Thijs laughs:“With the exception of our acoustic ending off course. I understand what your saying. We took the songs we thought were best accepted from our live shows. We wanted this album to be a translation of what we do in clubs and theatres. But we’ll take your comments on board for our next project. So far, we’ve found that people are happy with what we’ve produced and I’m just proud that it’s our first album I can keep listening to.”
Thijs hasn’t changed much in his amp and effect setup since our last interview three years ago. His favourite amp is still H&K Zentera. He doesn’t need to change. As far as he is concerned this is still the best modeling amp on the planet.
“Although in modeling I have a tremendous amount of possibilities, I still only use four or five sounds. Once in a while I’ll use a Wah Wah and more regularly my volume pedal. This is what makes me happy!"
With Peter Herwegh on board they have found a mentor more then a sponsor. He will help them in the commercial battlefields. He may be president of Q Guitars; his heart is firmly rooted in music. He has helped the band with its recordings and promotion. His sponsoring with products has helped them tremendously. They are now considering using the new Albion amps. Peter acquired this brand in March 2013. The band has it’s own ideas about how they want to sound, but what Peter has offered them has led them to change, so they’ll expect that in future with all projects working together will intensify. In consideration is a professional DVD and they started working on the new album. Now if they could only find a better balance between gentle and hard music and they change the lyrics a bit more from ‘I’ll love you forever, etc.’ I believe an international break through will be just around the corner.