Interview: Downriver Dead Men Go

Downriver Dead Men Go (DDMG) started out as a side project of the alternative rock band ‘Caitlin’ (consisting of band members Gerrit Koekebakker, Fernandez Burton and Andy de Zeeuw). The slower, rhythmical tones of some of their songs brought a greater depth and individuality away from the mainstream alt.rock that the guys decided to pursue. Gijs van Rijn (then came the flood) was brought in on keyboard and they began doing live shows.

After a short while of stagnation they brought in Peter Van Dijk as their new keyboardist and the sound of DDMG finally grew into their now deeper, mesmerizing, atmospheric, melancholy sound.

In 2014 the band began recording their debut album and it was released in 2015 under their own management. Their aim now is to get DDMG out playing gigs as much as possible to promote the album and widen their growing fan base.

I got in touch with Gerrit (the lead singer) on facebook and was able to send him a few questions.

Gerrit KoekebakkerI’d like to start by asking how Downriver Dead Men Go (DDMG) came about and your roles within the band.
Gerrit: We started out as a three piece band called Caitlin, playing alternative rock and recorded three demo’s over a period of five years.But later on our songs became more laid back and we decided to start a side project with the soul purpose of playing the more slower songs that didn’t fit in our Caitlin set.After a while keyboard player Gijs joined the band and Downriver was born.We did some live shows and the overall response was good. Gijs was later replaced by Peter and our sound became even more atmospheric and deeper. With Kees on bass,Andy on drums,Peter on keys and me on the guitar  and vocals we recorded our debut album Tides, which is now available on the Freia Record Label and Bad Elephant Records.

Where does DDMG got their influence from?
Gerrit: For me personally it’s bands like 16 Horsepower,The God machine and a range of post rock bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky.But I’m also a big fan of neo classical music like Nils Frahm. And lately I listen more to movie soundtracks like Thin Red Line by Hans Zimmer then rock or metal bands. Not that I don’t listen it at all but I find the peace and calm that flows from classical instruments and arrangements extremely soothing.

Who are your musical heroes? What impresses you?
Gerrit: Well,I would have to go with people like Hans Zimmer,but I have a great deal of respect for guys like Trent Reznor from NIN who makes the most beautiful and most bad ass music that’s out there.

What genre is DDMG filed under?
Gerrit: One review wrote: “Tides is the soundtrack to an imaginary movie” and I found that right on the mark.But I don’t believe a band should believe in genres, just play what ever comes to you and don’t try let the boundaries of a particular genre keep you back.It makes the most interesting bands.

Can you explain, what the backbone and the soul of DDMG are?
Gerrit: I come up with most of the songs and bring them to our rehearsal space.We then start to develop them in to the songs they are now.Everyone does his thing and eventually another DDMG song is born.  

Downriver Dead Men GoDDMG’s debut album ‘Tides’ has recently been released, could you tell us more about the album, and what to expect?
Gerrit: Like I said earlier, it’s like a movie soundtrack, you just have to sit back and let it take you on a journey through all the things in your head and lets you think about those things. 

Can you tell our readers, what you describe as typical elements of a DDGM song?
Gerrit: Atmospheric,slow paste and melancholic. No difficult riffs but simple arrangements with the right feeling and depth.  

There are different ways of composing, writing lyrics and recording music. Can you describe, how your tracks come to life?
Gerrit: I don’t know, it just comes to me once in a while, they pop up  in my head and I grab a guitar and start writing. Most of my lyrics come from personal things that happened in my life because I think that’s the only way to put the honesty and feel in lyrics.

Are there any tracks on the album in particular that standout for you?
Gerrit: Personally, I just love the ambient soundscapes that Peter and I created but songs like Never Change and Undertow turned out pretty good as well.

What do you think the recent deaths of musical icons and visionaries like David Bowie and Prince indicate for the music world?
Gerrit: People die, and we’ve reached the age that all of our heroes are getting pretty old and start dropping like flies.It’s a loss for the music because nowadays we could use some musical masterminds like Bowie or bands like The Doors for that matter.Popular music of today just doesn’t do it for me, it’s soulless and has one purpose only and that’s making dollars.

Kees: We are in the age that all of our icons will die and they will never be again.


Tell us something about your most frustrating experience as a musician?
Gerrit: I’m not really the kind of guy that gets frustrated about things I experience as a musician. Sure, there are situations that sometimes get a bit irritating but I’m not going to stress about it.What’s the use right?

Is DDMG your full professional career, and live only for and from your music? If not, what is your profession?
Gerrit: Hahaha I wish, no I get up early every morning to go to work as an order picker at a florist and garden wholesale company where I’ve been working for almost 25 years now. And that’s okay because being in a band costs money.

What are your plans for the next two or three years?
Gerrit: Keep making music that’s for sure and maybe do some live shows outside Holland, that would be awesome.And recording and releasing more albums!

Before we finish, can you give our reader’s an update on what’s currently happening in the DDMG camp?
Gerrit: We are currently working on new material for our second album that we are planning to record early next year.We had a slight change in the line up but things are looking better than before.The new album will be a bit darker then Tides but it will still have the Downriver feel that people appreciated in our music.

Many thanks to you for taking timeout from your busy schedules to talk to the SAUS and all the best for the future.

Gerrit: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this interview!

Downriver Dead Men Go


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