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WATCH & LISTEN
The duo in rock music usually works according to the principle of reduction: if there are only two of you on stage, you usually have to rely on accents instead of surfaces, on scaffolding instead of jewelry. Less is more, that’s the motto, and it takes a lot of charisma (see White Stripes), musical savvy (see Black Keys) or simply pressure (see Royal Blood) to counteract the irritation that arises when you do without the usual vocal-guitar-bass-and-drums setting. Wörterbuch
IEDEREEN are also familiar with the question of what happens when you leave out more and more until only two things remain: friendship and the shared love of the idea, of art, of music. It all started, as cliché as it may sound, in a sandbox in Emmerich on the Lower Rhine, where Ron Huefnagels and Tom Sinke met for the first time as kindergarten children and immediately became friends. Instead of amps and bass drums, it’s still about diggers and patsies back then, but the foundation for a decades-long bond between two friends is quickly laid. It is a typical provincial youth, there in Emmerich: The next “bigger” cities are called Kleve and Bocholt, the Rhine is close, as well as the Dutch border. There, you can then borrow a word (“Iedereen” means “all” in Dutch), carry it around in adolescent silliness for years, and finally make a band name out of it. But otherwise Emmerich shines above all with the phenomenon of the double horizon. The is at the same time very far and wide and large – because there is nothing there. On the other hand, it is also very narrow and small – precisely because there is nothing there. Creativity often arises in withdrawal, and this is also the experience of Ron and Tom. IEDEREEN are not the first band from the province, which the lack of stimulus and the metropolitan distance helps to promote friendships and fixed ideas. If there’s nothing here, we’ll just take things into our own hands, is the do-it-yourself credo of the two, who play together in various bands until the Lower Rhine just doesn’t have enough to offer them. The two move to Cologne, to study, to make music, to try things out.
Where the whole thing should end musically was unclear for a long time. There was a time when the door to their rehearsal room in Cologne was constantly open. Musician friends came and went, jamming here and inviting there. You have a cool riff? Sure, come on over. You play the flute? Sounds interesting, give that a try. At some point there were eight of us in the rehearsal room, we smoked a lot of pot and danced around, but nothing tangible came out of it. The big band quickly became a small band again: one after the other said goodbye, and in the end only Ron on drums and Tom with the guitar in his hand and the mic in front of his mouth remained. And even they no longer believed that it would continue – despite the long shared history, despite the deep friendship, despite the creative trust. The lease for the rehearsal room had already been terminated when the two met there for the very last time. “We just let it flow,” Ron recalls. “Just making music without thinking much about it.” Something happened at that moment, when both of them were on their own with their ideas and just wanted to see what would happen. Was it a spark? Lightning? A neurotransmitter that was messing with her central nervous system? The fact is: Since that evening in the fall of 2018 (??) there is the duo IEDEREEN. And now their debut album is released.
“Ich geh k.o., brennen lichterloh”: Already the opener “GKO” sums up in a few words what IEDEREEN is about. About the risk, about the expenditure, about the commitment far beyond the measure. When there are only two of you, I guess you just have to play with a higher level of commitment, and it’s mainly the urgency and energy of this band that grabs you right by the collar and becomes palpable from the get-go. “I keep my options open / and haven’t chosen any” it says a little later in the song, and that definitely has something of the desperate ennui that bands like Fehlfarben or Abwärts formulated over 40 years ago. And that leads you on the right track musically. Because while most guitar-plus-drums duos base themselves on blues, surf, garage or classic rock, IEDEREEN take at least part of their inspiration from the post-punk of the late ’70s and early ’80s, when bands like Wire, Gang Of Four or Devo may not have conquered the planet, but at least the hearts of people with a clue, attitude and a sense for the slightly offbeat. Here is robotically grooved, neurotically sung, fatalistically lyricized – and always with a loose fist, so that the listeners can be quickly beaten if necessary.
But even if some of the IEDEREEN references point to the past, one must not be deceived: This has nothing to do with nostalgia and the belief in the superiority of yesterday. This band is rock solidly anchored in the here and now. This is ensured by the texts alone and the topics that revolve around our lives in the year 2023: From Self-Care Sunday to shared Amazon Prime membership, from the speed limit to tinnitus, from Niki not reading WhatsApp to the modern man who has to find or search or lose himself, the final verdict is still out there.
But don’t worry: these are not sterile stocktakings of the state of the generation that has just turned 30. The performance and the arrangements and also the variety of the topics draw in a second level here, which pilot IEDEREEN far away from the lowlands, in which the larmoyanz blooms and rock music degenerates to a depressive 3Sat-documentary, in which bad-tempered and badly illuminated badly played. The album’s formula, according to Ron, is “50 percent of the songs are somber, 50 percent are more upbeat.” Indeed, it is this balance that distinguishes the album and ensures that IEDEREEN can plow a nice wide field of moods, experiences and emotions in dirty guitar land. Brutal and uncompromising on the one hand, harmonic and catchy on the other. And every person who has ever experienced one of these roof-damaging live performances of the band knows: In the end, IEDEREEN is not only about reflection, but at least as much about the moment, about the moment of giddiness, about physicality, about celebration and hedonism, so ultimately – let’s say it like it is – about droning away and about fucking. Old punk tradition. You have reality? We have the escape route! If everyday life is a prison, IEDEREEN smuggle a file into the cell with their music, with which one either saws through the bars – or just directly knocks a hole in the shit wall. This is what escapism sounds like in 2023.
Dass dieses Album dabei trotz der kleinstmöglichen Besetzung, die man als Band haben kann, nie dünn wirkt, keine Lücke oder Fehlstelle offenbart, die man im Kopf immer aufzufüllen versucht, hat einen Grund, und dieser heißt Kurt Ebelhäuser. Für Ron und Tom ist der Produzent ihres Debütalbums schlichtweg „ein Genie“, und auch Außenstehende, die noch nie in seinem Tonstudio 45 in der Nähe von Koblenz waren, preisen ihn anhand seiner kreativen Vita als „deutschen Alternative-Rock-Paten“ oder „Rick Rubin von der Mosel“. Mit Blackmail und Scumbucket war er Mitglied von gleich zwei wegweisenden Alternative-Rock-Bands, und die Liste der Künstler, die er als Produzent begleitet hat, ist lang, illuster und vielseitig: Ob Donots oder Pascow, Van Holzen oder Adam Angst, Acht Eimer Hühnerherzen oder Apoptygma Berzerk – jeder dieser Bands hat Ebelhäuser dabei geholfen, ihre Essenz freizulegen und ihren ureigenen Sound zu finden. And that’s what he’s done with IEDEREEN, whose debut album is much more sophisticated, warmer and broader in scope than their first EP, “Blumenfieber,” which came out in late 2021.
IEDEREEN know how the postmodern game with quotes, references and middle fingers works: How much winking the references to Pur and the Prinzen deserve? Whether the offensive pose while naming various alcohols, drugs and remedies is cool or exposing? Was “Urinella”, the mad ode to the spoon-bending esoteric magician Uri Geller, inspired by Jack White’s famous childhood interrogation, when he always understood “Seven Nation Army” instead of “Salvation Army” and later made a song out of it? It’s questions like these that make this album special, in addition to its compelling musical execution.
Two people make music and see what happens. The recipe IEDEREEN follow sounds simple, and it hasn’t changed much since that one evening in the rehearsal room, actually since the first meeting in the sandbox: Friendship is the basis, creativity the result.