A sit-down with the always on the move Dre of (for right now) Mount Rushmore Safari

Most or even all you reading this will know that one of the great things about getting to follow a band or musician online is that you are able to follow their progress closely while also getting to know them a little. This applies more to independent and unsigned bands as they generally run their own pages online and working as a journo/reviewer/interviewer for various online sites has given me the opportunity to capitalize on this, which has created some excellent friendships.

Some while ago now I organized a charity event in the UK to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. This proved to be a brilliant experience, although mostly due to my enthusiasm and naivety it only managed to raise about £70 after costs. I have no regrets though, I am glad to have learned from this and have every intention of running a similar event some time in the future once I get the chance to do so. The point which I am getting to is that one of the bands whom I staged was Le Cul from Denmark. I got to know Andreas (Dre) from Le Cul in my early networking days and we soon built up a good rapport. Not long after becoming hooked on the style, ethos and attitude of Le Cul, I found that this band was just a rock ’n’ roll outlet for the band’s two founding members, Dre and Maxim.

This band traveled all of the way over to the south west of the UK to play three gigs, the main charity gig plus one gig either side of it, which I organized in order to make the trip more worthwhile for them. At that time, Le Cul consisted of Dre and Maxim, both on guitar/vox, Baskerville on bass and Emil on drums. On every night these guys played blinding sets which entranced absolutely everybody who saw them; they were and still are gigging like crazy all over Benelux and boy, did this show they played have power, finesse and fashion that a friend of mine likened to that of the Talking Heads. I will never forget the few days that I spent with this band – they are all amazing guys with such incredible talent.

But as is the case with just about all bands, life’s twists and turns alter circumstances and changes occur, which is exactly what happened to Dre’s main musical projects, including Le Cul. The first main project, Didium and the Black Bonnie Picture, produced two albums – Whimsical Beauty followed by A Valley – that are both superbly fertile and offer a variety of musical emotions, inspired by events and experiences in life. I recently had a chat with Dre about his music…

Q: Didium and the Black Bonnie Picture seemed to be going so well judging by the music, what caused the band to fall apart?

A: A Valley was a great, musically ambitious challenge for me as a songwriter, and also for the band. I wanted it to be something else than our first one, Whimsical Beauty. Whereas Whimsical was my suggestion of what pop music ought to be sounding like, instead of all this modern Depeche Mode rip-off bullshit, math pop and whatever hits the charts these days, I wanted A Valley to be my own private version of modern rock. Certain changes were demanded for the arrangements and structure of the songs and we hired a composer to record string arrangements, to spice things up a little.  Huge arrangements and a whole lotta sound – it still fuckin rocks in my own personal opinion.

Unfortunately, the changes we made musically ended up becoming the end of us as we were, and the girls (violin/sax) lost interest in the music I’ve worked so hard on for one and a half years; that’s how long I spend writing/recording altogether.

The girls didn’t appreciate rock ‘n’ roll like we boys did and found it hard to find their place in the music like they used to. On top of that, the record label we signed with for A Valley was not able to do anything with it even though they gave it a fair shot. No reviews, no publishing deals, no touring, no distribution deals. Basically, a whole lotta nothing really. So in the end I ended up bitter and sour, and more people started to leave the band until I was the only one left, not even wanting to be there either. It was a rough time for all of us I guess.

Q: The French Pentalogy by Le Cul was released at about the same time as the demise of The Black Bonnie Picture, did this effect the creative influences for Le Cul?

A: Well, as a matter of fact, both Baskerville and Emilesch decided to leave Le Cul as well right around that time. Emilesch wanted to focus on his education and the love of his life, with whom he’s living with nowadays; he was also the drummer in Didium and quit both bands at the same time. Baskerville left ’cause he wanted to focus on his pop group, A Friend in London. They’ve got something going with a label up in Canada these days and are representing Denmark in this year’s Eurovision contest. God bless them both, wherever they may be. I unfortunately don’t get to see them so often anymore.

Q: Could you give us some info about Le Cul’s band member changes?

A: Well, we’ve got the best replacements one could possibly dream of. The drummer is Maxis’ old childhood buddy, Asker, who’s a fuckin’ amazingly skilled drummer. Our new bass player, Bartal, comes from the Faroe Islands and is equally amazing. These boys like to rock out with their cock out, if you know what I’m saying.

Q: Mount Rushmore Safari is your latest project, how did this come together and what are its inspirations?

A: Well, you see, having cried my eyes out for some time about the way things went with our last Didium album, I ended up solving the crisis in the possible way – like I always do it – and started working on two whole new albums. One being extremely quiet folk/country styled and the other being really upbeat indie and much more modern than anything I’ve ever done. I gathered a core of my best friends and recorded the entire album in five days. We rehearsed three times before going in! That’s the way to solve any form of personality crisis imaginable. Get your shit together and rock the fuck out! [laughs]

Q: Could you give us some information regarding band members of Mount Rushmore Safari and your preferred instruments?

A: The boys who I recorded with were never intended to be members of the band to begin with since they’re busy with other bands. So I asked my best buddy Maxis to play the bass, and we were contacted by a fantastic drummer who I didn’t know anything about (Thomas Mikaelsen) whose best buddy Erik Lindkvist Thomsen appeared to be a fantasic keyboard/piano player. Erik uses a Chaos Pad kind of thing along with his keyboards that really fucks up good pop music for the better, and Thomas hits the drums like a mad man beats his wife when he’s drunk and jealous at her for staying out too late [laughs]. I can’t think of anyone fit better for this band than these two amazing guys.

Song writing-wise, I was really inspired by two certain bands I went to see live last year. One of them we actually supported with Le Cul in February 2010; We Were Promised Jetpacks is what they’re called. Lovely lads from Scotland who are so amazingly talented at what they do. The other one was Wild Nothing from the US. A young man called Jack Tatum recorded the entire album himself and gathered a band to go on tour with. They didn’t bring their own sound tech to the show I saw, so the music sounded a bit far from what the record is like, but good show anyway. I mail-ordered the album from the States and fell in love with every song on it. Fantastic music from the hands of an extremely talented young man. I’m definitely keeping my ear to the ground next time their tour bus rolls into Europe again.

Q: Have you got any more projects up your sleeve?

A:  Me and Maxis are toying around with some quiet pop songs these days that we’re gonna record some day, but not until we’re more certain of directions. The other country/folk album I started writing along with Mount Rushmore Safari in the fall will be recorded sometime later this year and released under the new Another Horse Story.

Q: Did you have any formal musical training?

A: Well, I first started playing guitar in school when I was seven. However, my teacher wanted us to play Swedish folk music, reading from notes on papers and that shit wasn’t my thing at all, so my father ended up becoming my teacher at home instead. We skipped the notes and instead he taught me chords and scales. We played stuff like Donovan, The Rolling Stones, Beatles and once I got the chords and scales right, I finally learned how to teach myself new stuff – songs, solos etc. – and didn’t need any more teaching after that.

I’ll never forget how cool it was of my old man to take me under his wing like that. I guess he could see right on from the start that I had it in me to be doing more that Swedish note nonsense! And thank God he did!

Q: How does your creative process work?

A: A good example is the other day I got off from work early in the morning (I work nights in a home for young people with mental deceases). My girlfriend was working in a horrible electro club downtown and got off around the same time. I knew she had been busy and I wanted to surprise her by stopping by to have a beer with her after work. She would be off in half an hour when I got there and the place was just about to close, so I explained the situation to the big boy at the doors. He was alright and let me in while her manager jumped me out of the blue and kicked me the fuck out of there on the street for no fuckin’ reason but pure stupidity. There I was, wanting to surprise the love of my life on her rough night out and got kicked out like a piece of trash.

On my crestfallen walk to the bus back home, smoking my cigarette, there it came – smash hit hook, melody, instrumental riffs, full verses, the whole lot. Started with the sounds of a voice singing ” I’m coming in, I’m coming in” and just went nuts from there. This is just an example of the way something shitty always ends up shining in the end. Like me, losing my band members one by one for instance and 30 songs came out of that within three months!

Q: What are the most memorable moments in your musical career so far?

A: Most memorable highlights, well, I remember when we’d finished our second Didium EP I uploaded it in on some internet forums for upcoming bands and sent it in to some reviewers as well. I remember I was lying in bed with a bad case of the flu one day, feeling very sick, when the phone rang and the chief editor from one of these internet forums called me up to tell me that we’d won their annual legacy, which included all kinds of prizes; money, studio time, showcases, photo shoots and a ticket to enter the biggest musical live competition in Denmark, Starfighters, where you compete with seven other bands for £50,000. We eventually ended up winning that contest as well, which was also quite memorable, however that phone call is what started things up in the first place.

Q: What influences your music?

A: Any fuckin’ thing that moves, man [laughs]. Some of the more important things though would be the weather, change of seasons, traveling experiences, friendship, my love life, nights on the town, literature, movies, politics, drinking, smoking etc. A lot of things but most of all the weather!

For all the latest on Mount Rushmore Safari (and to pre-order the new EP):