Interview with The Dirty Denims members Mirjam Sieben (lead vocals) and Jeroen Teunis (guitar)
INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRTY DENIMS MEMBERS MIRJAM SIEBEN (LEAD VOCALS) AND JEROEN TEUNIS (GUITAR)
Date: August 13, 2020
Photos: Courtesy of The Dirty Denims
DUTCH ROCKERS, THE DIRTY DENIMS, HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE 2006 BUT IT’S ONLY WITH THEIR LATEST STUDIO ALBUM ‘READY STEADY GO!‘ THAT THEY REALLY CAUGHT SLEAZE ROXX’S ATTENTION. THR DIRTY DENIMS LED BY LEAD VOCALIST / GUITARIST MIRJAM SIEBEN AND LEAD GUITARIST JEROEN TEUNIS PLAY WHAT THEY CALL “HAPPY ROCK” AND THEY HAVE RELEASED MANY ALBUMS INCLUDING THE EP ‘GOING OUT’ (2009), THE EP ‘WANNA BE FAMOUS’ (2012), ‘HIGH FIVE’ (2014), ‘BACK WITH A BANG!’ (2017) AND ‘READY STEADY GO!’ (2020). SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH SIEBEN AND TEUNIS FOR A FUN INTERVIEW AND I HOPE THAT YOU CAN NOTICE THE DUO’S PASSION AND ENTHUSIASM FOR WHAT THEY DO WHILE READING THIS INTERVIEW.
Sleaze Roxx: So, let’s get started. How did The Dirty Denims get started in the first place?
Mirjam Sieben: Yeah. I wanted to start a band, a full girl band [laughs] way back then. Soon, it turned out to be two girls, two boys. It was in 2006 that we started.
Jeroen Teunis: She really liked The Donnas.
Mirjam Sieben: Yeah! I really liked The Donnas.
Jeroen Teunis: And you wanted to do something similar.
Mirjam Sieben: Yeah. But it was quite difficult to find a great guitarist player, a girl one that could play solos. Jeroen was always there and he liked exactly the same music that I liked to play [laughs].
Jeroen Teunis: I told her, “I’ll just play in your band. When you find a girl that can play like me, then she can take my spot so you have an all-girl band. But then, we started writing our own stuff. It felt good with two girls, two boys. We also had a drummer, a guy drumming at the time and a girl on bass to start.
Sleaze Roxx: So who are the two other original members and what happened to them?
Mirjam Sieben: We had some changes. We had Thomas [Spauwen] on drums and Lionne [Van Der Hagen] on bass. Yeah, we had a lot of guitar bass players [laughs].
Jeroen Teunis: We are on our fifth or sixth bass guitar player now and this time, it’s a boy, a guy [Marc Eijkhout] on bass and a girl [Suzanne Driessen] on drums. The formation, the most steady one, was actually with the drummer. I think that he was with us for 10 years.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh wow!
Jeroen Teunis: Yeah, the bass players, every three years, they quit. I think because they want to do something else, Now, we have Marc on bass and Suzanne on drums. That’s the perfect…
Mirjam Sieben: … match. It’s been more than two years now [for] this line-up.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you find Marc and Suzanne?
Jeroen Teunis: Marc, we already knew. We had seen him in the area where we live. He’s a good guitar player. He’s also really into AC/DC. When we were looking for a bass player, he actually made a joke, “Well, maybe I’ll be the bass player. How hard can it be? It’s just two strings less [laughs].”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jeroen Teunis: So we said, “If you’re serious and really want to try, let’s go for it!” Because he really likes this style of music and we know him. Yeah. So he fits right in and it’s worked out pretty good.
Mirjam Sieben: Suzanne saw a post on social media from her uncle that we were looking for a drummer. We auditioned more drummers for our band but because now we had a boy on the bass, we thought, “OK. If she’s cool and a great drummer, girl drummer, then she is [in the band].” And she was the best of the auditions.
Jeroen Teunis: Yeah. We didn’t pick her because she was a girl but because she was the best drummer.
Sleaze Roxx: So this would be the first album that they are playing on. Right? ‘Ready Steady Go’?
Mirjam Sieben: Yes. And they are very happy. Of course, they played a while all of those songs and now, they have their own songs too.
Jeroen Teunis: I think that for the first year, it felt like they were playing in a cover band as they played all of our stuff. But the new songs, they could make up their own parts. We wrote the songs together.
Mirjam Sieben: We never recorded so fast.
Jeroen Teunis: Yes, they are great musicians.
Sleaze Roxx: How long did it take to do the recording?
Mirjam Sieben: We did the recording in two times because we released the album in two parts — part one and the complete one. So the recording process was also in two parts. The first part, it was three days to record and the second part also. So we had six days of recording.
The Dirty Denims‘ “Ready Steady Go!” video:
Sleaze Roxx: So I was really blown away by your current album ‘Ready Steady Go.’ I haven’t heard your earlier stuff because it’s on order as you know. It hasn’t arrived yet [laughs]. How has your sound evolved over the years? You’ve been around since 2006 so how has your sound evolved up to ‘Ready Steady Go’?
Jeroen Teunis: I think that the songs from the earlier records were a bit more easier or simpler musically but still really catchy. I try to write a bit more like adventurous guitar parts and structures but it all still sounds like it’s still really catchy.
Mirjam Sieben: I really don’t like to sing in the studio but now I like it more and more.
Jeroen Teunis: I think that the most evolved are the vocals from Mirjam.
Mirjam Sieben: Yeah, and the songs with the lyrics. Jeroen has a lot of cool ideas for the lyrics and at first, I mostly wrote them but now we do it together.
Sleaze Roxx: I see that you have five albums that you released. If you rank them from one to five, which one is your favorite to least favourite?
Jeroen Teunis: Like we released them.
Mirjam Sieben: But otherwise, the first — ‘Ready Steady Go!’, the second — ‘Back With A Bang’, the third — ‘High Five.’ Yeah [laughs], on the order but on the way back.
Jeroen Teunis: You learn how to write songs, see how songs work when you play them live. You think about it when you’re writing songs. You think, ‘Aaah. We might be able to build this up when we play live.’ On the record, the song may be three minutes but live, you can make it seven with soloing or make it easier. Then you can play it louder again. But the last record also, sound wise, with the musicians, everything came to a perfect record. We really like how it turned out because when you have earlier records, you think, ‘Aaah. Maybe we should have done this a little different, the sound should have been more like this or maybe we should have added more vocals.’ And I think that we learned from the pervious recordings to think about this more before we went into the studio.
Mirjam Sieben: But the second one, the EP ‘Wanna Be Famous’ has a song “24/7/365” and that one, I have great memories of because the radio, we got a lot of airplay just on the regular radio [laughs]. Just normal radio!
Jeroen Teunis: Yes, normal radio. There are like three or four big radio stations and one of them really played our song. That was great and we also went on national television with the song. That was great too. I love all of the records but if I have to pick a favorite or like what’s the best songwriting or song wise, then with the order but they are all great!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jeroen Teunis: [Laughs]
Mirjam Sieben: [Laughs]
The Dirty Denims‘ “24/7/365” video:
Sleaze Roxx: That’s cool. So you released your album in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Did you have any thoughts if maybe pushing back the release and how has it been not being able to play gigs?
Mirjam Sieben: I guess that we didn’t think of postpone it to later.
Jeroen Teunis: Because you can’t. For instance, first, we don’t know for how long this will take and we could postpone it but I don’t see why. I don’t understand why people would do it. We cannot play live at the moment but still, it was finished so let’s get it out there for some fun and for the people to have positive music.
Mirjam Sieben: I guess that I’m happy that we didn’t because I think that maybe people have more time to listen to it. We did a few singles from April on, in May, in June…
Jeroen Teunis: And also, people kept asking for more material. Our last album dates back from a few years ago so let’s just get some new stuff out and have fun. And now that we’re finished, we can write some more stuff. It will be maybe next year because now we have more time. We don’t have many gigs at the moment.
Mirjam Sieben: We sold quite a bit online. We have a good web shop and stuff. But it’s too bad that we can’t play of course because we want to do a cool CD release party. We had a lot of bookings that were gone or rescheduled to next year.
Sleaze Roxx: I noticed that you play quite a few gigs because I think that your website mentions that you play 40 to 45 shows per year. That’s quite a bit for a band that’s kind of doing it on its own.
Mirjam Sieben: Yeah. That’s the amount that we normally play.
Jeroen Teunis: The scene is very active with gigs and we’ve been around for a while. Wherever we play in our country, I think that we’re known for the music that we play. Also, we started playing more in Germany and countries that are next to us.
Mirjam Sieben: So we have some gigs actually this year [laughs]. Yeah, so next week, we have one in Germany outside. So I am very curious of the setting there. In September, we have in a theatre and limited people can come. And then we also have in November, a gig in Germany. They went to a bigger place so that they could get the people in the right way away from each other.
Jeroen Teunis: We really, really miss playing live. That’s why we make the records, because we like to play new songs. The best part of the new songs is an album that you can play live again. The fun onstage with the people and crowd, we’re really missing at the moment. We have a few online shows. You can still have contact with the fans and that’s great because people can react while you’re playing and after the song, Mirjam will go to her computer and see the comments. But it’s not the same as playing a real live show because when you play live, the energy from the crowd affects you when you’re playing. We can’t wait for the new live shows.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So let’s talk a little bit about the new album. One song that I really liked and that I was surprised Was your hangover version for “Last Call For Alcohol.”
Mirjam Sieben: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: You even have a whistle solo in the song. What made you decide to add a whistle solo in the song?
Jeroen Teunis: Yeah, I always like doing for fun, ‘Maybe we should do an acoustic thing’? I thought this song — “Last Call For Alcohol”, I think it really lends itself to being played acoustic. It was really, really cool cause what you hear on the record, it’s the first take.
Mirjam Sieben: The first attempt.
Jeroen Teunis: The first attempt. Yeah, we didn’t rehearse. I am glad that I play every note the way that it should be. We just added Mirjam’s harmony vocals. So the rest is all live. I am of course a big Guns N’ Roses, Extreme, “More Than Words”, “Patience”… I thought that it would be really cool to do a solo and it’s sort of a tribute to “Patience” I think for me. And also, its really hard to play a solo on acoustic guitar when you don’t have another guitar playing the same chords. So I thought, ‘This is a good solution.’ I tried to do the whistle. I couldn’t get enough volume and then in the studio, they guy who recorded us [Roel Blommers], he did like the perfect whistle. He did a perfect take. It’s cool that you like it because actually, we did it a bit for fun. Maybe it will be our “More Than Words.”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mirjam Sieben: I guess that we will not play that version live but it’s great because more people are saying that they like it.
The Dirty Denims‘ “Last Call For Alcohol” (Hangover Version) track:
Sleaze Roxx: What are some of your favorite songs off ‘Ready Steady Go!’?
Jeroen Teunis: My favorite song is “Creatures of The Night.”
Mirjam Sieben: Mine too.
Jeroen Teunis: Because I really like the way it turned out. Because I had the riff [sings the riff of the song], then I had another riff with Mirjam singing the vocals of the chorus and the verses, and I combined them and found that they went pretty well together. The chorus was a bit different at first and then, Marc, the bass player, it didn’t do what it should, and then we simplified it. And then, in my head, it was “Creatures of The Night.” That’s cool but I knew of course that this was a KISS record but it’s not a KISS cover and we were like, let’s see what we can do with the “Creatures of The Night.” One of my favorite movies is The Gremlins. You know them of course?
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, yeah.
Jeroen Teunis: It’s a movie. So I thought I really like when a lyric describes what you are doing. Like a story. We thought that it would be nice to do a little story. We’ve been describing the kitchen scene in Gremlins and the moment where the mother from the kid who gets the Gremlin. She’s in the kitchen and then everything goes wrong. So we sort of describe it a bit like that. And I really like how the solo turned out. I also really like The Cult and then I played the solo and thought, ‘Aaah, it needs a bit like the same effect as Billy Duffy does. I really like how it turned out. I really like it because I really didn’t know what to do with the solo the I went into the studio. For every other song, I already had the solo put down but for this song, I was thinking, ‘Aaah, what should I do’? So I recorded the backing track. The next day, I had to record my solos and I was a bit like, ‘Shit! What am I going to do?’ So I left myself in the bedroom and then I started whistling a little bit, and then singing, and then came up with the melody and solo. And then I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what it’s going to be.’
Mirjam Sieben: People can sing along a little bit with the solo.
Jeroen Teunis: We also had a lot of overdubs and talking parts. Also before, I was playing the solo for Mirjam and Suzanne who was staying at our apartment because she lives a bit further. So for a show that we were going to play tomorrow, we put on the backing track and then there was a bit of the part of the song that’s only an instrumental.
Mirjam Sieben: Quite mellow.
Jeroen Teunis: And quite mellow so maybe I took a little bit too long. Just for fun, I started [recites lyrics] and we said, ‘Let’s do it!’
The Dirty Denims‘ “Creatures of The Night” video:
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the idea behind the song “Band But Not A Brand”?
Mirjam Sieben: [Laughs]
Jeroen Teunis: Should I say it? Well, I don’t know what it’s like on that side of the ocean but over here, you have stores like H&M that sell band shirts for 10 Euros, 10 dollars. The Ramones, I think that every store sells Ramones here. Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Metallica… So there are a lot of young girls running around in shirts of bands that they don’t even know. They think maybe, ‘Oh Ramones! That’s a cool brand.’
Mirjam Sieben: At first, we thought, ‘Oh! Young girls have some great taste.’
Jeroen Teunis: But also, I went back to my parents’ place and my sister was also wearing. So I asked her, ‘What’s your favorite record’? [The sister replied] ‘Errr. I don’t know. I don’t know.’ So it’s a shirt from a band that you’ve never heard. So then, a band is not a brand. That’s the back story. Maybe there are some girls or boys that will think that will say, ‘Let’s listen to that music’ and they will like it. I hope so.
The Dirty Denims‘ Band Not A Brand” video: