HARDLAND: Alternative Rock from The Heart of The Netherlands
HARDLAND: Alternative Rock from The Heart of The Netherlands
HARDLAND unleashes their own dynamic brand of alternative rock that is imaginative and exhilarating. Based out of The Heart of The Netherlands, HARDLAND’s latest album In Control presents a collective at their most ambitious. Mixing up genres with fiendish glee, HARDLAND is sure to enrapture music fanatics all around the world. In addition to the sweeping original compositions, HARDLAND has unveiled a guitar driven cover of the Gary Numan classic Are Friends Electric, adding a thoroughly intensive edge to classic song. Highwire Daze recently caught up with HARDLAND member Aeilko to explore the vast and glorious sonic tapestries found within the massive In Control experience. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Hardland, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Aeilko, live in The Netherlands. Lead guitarist and one of the two lead singers in HARDLAND. Also responsible for most all of our lyrics and together with our other singer (Paul) responsible for the music (except for the Gary Numan track Are Friends Electric). For the longest time there wasn’t any plan of forming a band. It all started as a musical project between two friends (Aeilko and Paul) trying to figure out whether they had anything in common musically. Turned out we liked a lot of the same music from the 70’s and lots of 80’s. One time we were working on a recording project for a local band and while the computer was rendering all the data (which took a long time back in 1999/2000) we decided to write a song together in order to kill time. It turned out to be the first song of what would become HARDLAND (almost 17 years later). That first song was The Only Answer, the ballad on our debut album (released in 2017). After that album was recorded, mostly by Aeilko and Paul with a couple of befriended musicians, we mixed it ourselves together with a good friend of ours (Dick Kok – LAB3 Studio’s in Amsterdam). He has the same musical DNA running through his veins. After finishing the multi-layered mix we sent the files to Abbey Road to have them mastered by Sean Magee (well-known for his work with The Beatles, Rush, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd….and now HARDLAND!) After our debut album got received very well by fans and also the media we kinda got into a situation where we actually had to get a band together and hit the road! That’s when we got Eric (drums), Marco (Keyboards) and Remi (bass) to complete the band.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
The band is based out of “The Heart of The Netherlands” – Utrecht area. The local music scene in our area is not really alive and kickin’ for the smaller (unsigned) bands. The Netherlands is, as you probably know, a very small country and nationwide we have enough places to play live though, but we also cross the borders to do shows in Germany and other (Western) European countries.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the In Control title?
In Control is a fascinating concept as most people are in one way or another in control of something. Whether it’s being in control of your thoughts, your life, your business, or even a country…and when we believe we’ve lost control we often have left some unforeseen powers within to be able to survive. There is a lot to write about being in control, or wanting to be (back) in control.
What was the inspiration for the song The Nation’s Biggest Enemies?
That song started with a guitar riff that Paul came up with. In your face, aggressive, brutal…the lyric wrote itself, as we wanted to hold up a mirror to the world. The world is creating their own enemies these days, pumped up by leaders or influencers who don’t even hesitate to feed their followers with fake news or even flat out lies. Creating fear to influence people’s minds, breaking down the educating systems to make it even easier to influence whole nations. Right now there’s so much going on in the world and time and time again we see that The Nation’s Biggest Enemies are those who pull the strings!!! The ones in control!
What made you decide to cover the Tubeway Army song Are Friends Electric and has Gary Numan heard or commented on your version of the song yet?
We always loved that track, even way back in 79 when it was first released. Paul had recorded a major part of an all guitar version of the track that was once known to be the first big synth-driven hit song. We started to add it to our live shows and it became one of the staples of the show. When we decided to add it to the album, permission was granted by Universal Records and Gary Numan. It was then that we learned that it was always meant to be recorded as a guitar driven track. But when Gary Numan entered the studio he was in awe of all the new synths that surrounded him and all the sounds that he could create with those instruments that he then decided to record the version as we all know and love! So basically we recorded the version as it was always meant to be!
Love Love Love is such an awesome song! What were the inspirations lyrically and musically for the song?
Thank you very much for the compliment!! The song originated in a regular 4/4 beat, which didn’t really do much for us. When we decided to chance the rhythm into a waltz, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The atmosphere of the song was based on music from the late 60’s, early 70’s. Inspiration came in many forms and shapes…we love bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Especially their vocal harmonies. To have a song with a “vintage” atmosphere come across as sincere as possible in the present time it was important to write lyrics that would fit the music like a glove. As some of the bandmembers of HARDLAND actually grew up in the 60’s and 70’s we wanted to tell the story from the perspective of someone (or more people) who lived back then, now looking back on what was once and embracing the presence of love in the present time as a beautiful gift….
Who did the cover art for In Control and how much influence did you have on it?
The cover art was done by a good friend of ours, the well-known illustrator Frans Mensink. I came up with the ideas on how to visualize the In Control theme. First of all…the gypsy has been part of our cover art since our debut album. We wanted a returning concept. Once we decided on an illustrated album cover, we wanted something that was as original and great as Eddy on the Iron Maiden album covers. Since our first single was called Hot Gypsy…we knew that a gypsy had to become our mascot. And a guy like Frans Mensink can actually illustrate her in such a way that she really catches your eye and you can’t stop looking at her…She almost comes to life in his art work! Her eyes….damn those eyes….
What could one expect from a live Hardland show?
The audience can expect a band that loves to perform, like they’re spending a great night with friends!! Sharing our passion, our love for great music, great songs and a great atmosphere! Although we love the intimate setting of the smaller venues, we definitely won’t shy away from a larger stages! After all, the bigger the stage, the more sophisticated the shows can become!
If Hardland could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
We would love to open for so many bands…if we ever get a chance to open for bands like Journey, Europe, Marillion, The Dead Daisies or The Tubes, just to name a few…man…that would be awesome! We would love to open for any great Melodic Rockband anywhere, anytime!! We are fans ourselves!!
Has Hardland ever played in the States or plan to do so in future days?
HARDLAND has never played in the States. We would absolutely love to, but the current Administration has made it way more difficult for European bands to come over, due to immigration laws and work permits and stuff. It takes a hell of a lot of time to work through all that red tape and make it into your country.
Are any of the members involved in bands or projects outside of Hardland?
Paul and Aeilko are involved in a recording project of a local songwriter (Goize). Marco is frequently asked to join local projects on the side as well. (Most recently for an Amy Winehouse tribute show).
What’s up next for Hardland?
What’s up next for HARDLAND, is finishing up the stream of shows we have in The Netherlands and Germany. Finishing up a documentary about the band. Working on some more videos to promote the In Control album. And in the meantime record new material for future releases.
Any final words of wisdom?
Make sure to enjoy life to the max and support the bands / artists that you like. Remember…art can set your soul on fire…lift you up and even make you think or wonder. Don’t ever loose that!!
HARDLANDs biggest dream is to create as much interesting and great music as possible and play for as many people as possible. All over the world!! And in the meantime, enjoy every bit of the journey!
For people who would love to check us out or already like our music, please check and subscribe to our social media outlets:
or on Twitter and Instagram: #HARDLANDRocks
If you want to order yourself any of our albums or merch, please visit our webshop: https://www.lo41records.com/shop-hardland/
Looking forward to hearing from y’all.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photo by DCH Photography)