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 a shared love of ideas, of art, of music. It all started, as cliché as it sounds, in a sandbox in Emmerich on the Lower Rhine, where Ron Huefnagels and Tom Sinke met for the first time as kindergarten kids and became friends right away. Instead of amplifiers and bass drums, it’s still about diggers and ramekins back then, but the basis for a decades-long bond between two friends is quickly laid. It’s a typical provincial youth, there in Emmerich: The next “bigger” cities are called Kleve and Bocholt, the Rhine is close, as is the Dutch border. There you can then borrow a word (“Iedereen” means “all” in Dutch), carry it around for years in youthful silliness and finally make a band name out of it. But otherwise Emmerich shines above all with the phenomenon of the double horizon. It is at the same time very wide and broad 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 deprivation, and this experience is also made by Ron and Tom. iedereen are not the first band from the province, which the lack of stimulus and the metropolis 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. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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 someone there. You have a cool riff? Sure, come over. You play the flute? Sounds interesting, let’s try that. At some point there were eight of us in the rehearsal room, we smoked a lot of pot and played around, but nothing tangible came out of it. The big band quickly became a small band again: One after the other left, and in the end only Ron on the drums and Tom with the guitar in his hand and the microphone in front of his mouth were left. And even they no longer believed that it would continue – despite the long history together, despite the deep friendship, despite the creative trust. The lease for the rehearsal room had already been terminated when the two arranged to meet there for the very last time. “We just let it flow,” Ron recalls. “Just making music without giving it much thought.” Something happened in that moment when the two were left to their own devices with their ideas and just see what happened. Was it a spark? A flash of lightning? A neurotransmitter that whirled their central nervous system into a frenzy? The fact is: since that evening in the fall of 2018 (??), the duo iedereen has been around. And now their debut album is released.
“Ich geh k.o., brennen lichterloh”: The opener “GKO” sums up in a few words what iedereen is all 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. “Ich halt mir meine Möglichkeiten offen / und hab keine gewählt” (I keep my options open / and haven’t chosen any) is said a bit later in the song, and it 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 take a base from 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 should not be deceived: This has nothing to do with nostalgia and a belief in the superiority of yesterday. This band is rock solidly anchored in the here and now. The lyrics alone ensure this, as do the themes 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 here a second level, which iedereen far away from the lowlands pilot, in which the Larmoyanz blooms and rock music degenerates to the depressive 3Sat-Doku, in which badly humored and badly lit badly played. The album’s formula, according to Ron, is “50 percent of the songs are somber, 50 percent are more upbeat.” In fact, it’s this balance that sets the album apart and ensures thatiedereen can plow a nice wide field of moods, experiences and emotions in dirty guitar land. Brutal and uncompromising on the one hand, harmonious and catchy on the other. And every person who has ever experienced one of these Dachschaden 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 – to drone away and to fuck. Old punk tradition. You have the reality? We have the escape route! If everyday life is a prison, iedereen smuggle a file into the cell with their music, with which you either saw through the bars – or just knock a hole directly into the shit wall. This is what escapism sounds like in the year 2023.
The fact that this album never seems thin, despite the smallest possible lineup you can have as a band, never reveals a gap or missing spot that you always try to fill in your head, has a reason, and that reason is Kurt Ebelhäuser. For Ron and Tom, the producer of their debut album is simply “a genius”, and even outsiders who have never been to his recording studio 45 near Koblenz praise him on the basis of his creative vita as a “German alternative rock godfather” or “Rick Rubin from the Mosel”. With Blackmail and Scumbucket, he was a member of no less than two pioneering alternative rock bands, and the list of artists he has accompanied as a producer is long, illustrious and versatile: Whether Donots or Pascow, Van Holzen or Adam Angst, Acht Eimer Hühnerherzen or Apoptygma Berzerk – Ebelhäuser has helped each of these bands to uncover their essence and find their very own sound. And he has managed to do that with iedereen, who on their debut album are much more sophisticated, warmer and broader than on their first EP “Blumenfieber”, which came out at the end of 2021.
iedereen know how the postmodern game of quotations, references and middle fingers works: How much winking the references to Pur and the Prinzen deserve? Whether the offensive pose when naming various alcoholic beverages, drugs and remedies is cool or exposing? Was “Urinella”, the crazy 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 is questions like these that make this album something very special, in addition to its convincing musical realization.
Two people make music and see what happens. The recipe that they follow sounds simple, and it hasn’t changed much since that one evening in the rehearsal room, or actually since the first meeting in the sandbox: Friendship is the basis, creativity the result.