With The Drums, Matt & Kim

Hilfiger Denim Live returned to Amsterdam to showcase the most exciting emerging American and local talent, uniquely fusing music with fashion, entertainment and rock ‘n’ roll for one extraordinary night.

Clash flew out on a whistle-stop tour of the Netherlands capital and was lucky enough to attend the first Hilfiger Denim Live of 2010 - three more shows are due to take place later this year in Italy, Germany and Denmark.

Backstage at the impressive Paridiso venue, we hung with two of the bands that were to make the event a monumental one. Headliners Matt And Kim and one of our top tips for 2010, The Drums. Both acts invited Clash into their dressings rooms for an intimate chat just before they took to the stage.

Matt And Kim

Brooklyn-based Matt And Kim have an unprecedented stage presence. Acting like two kids TV presenters that have had way too many Haribo, the duo crowd surf, jump and grin their way through a set, propelling their energy into the crowd, who go wild for more. Sitting well on a bill with acts including Major Lazer and pop-punk band Parra Soundsystem, their music gives a nod to many genres and is not easy to categorise. One thing is for sure though, it is clear to see why Tommy Hilfiger chose this act - they know how to leave a crowd wanting more, even those who end up losing front teeth.

I have struggled to define your sound, can you?
Matt: We struggled with a genre for a long time and for a while we were calling it ‘dance punk’ as you could just listen and dance to it but people were also stage diving and making mosh pits.
Kim: If you come to a Matt And Kim show, you just have to know that you need to get ready get your clothes dirty.

You seem to be very much a live act, your popularity driven more from your performances than recordings. What’s the difference between you live and recorded?
Matt: We realised that there is a very big difference making a good live song and recorded song - subtle things you can notice in a recorded song that you can’t in live set. It’s like over-dramatising - it’s like stage acting versus acting for the screen, the styles are very different. We have been conscious of this with our new album and it is very much geared towards the listener at home.

The prolific De La Soul remixed your track ‘Daylight’- who’s going to remix your new tracks?
Kim: There are a lot of shitty remixes
Matt: Oh man…. We’ve been through the fucking mill… Urgh. For every great remix we have had done, there has been thirty shit ones. There is a lot of indieelectro stuff that’s not really for us. We are picky, so it’s hard to say right now.

So away from music, what was the Tommy Hilfiger shoot like?
Kim: When we heard that the shoot was stage diving, we were like, ‘We are old pros at that.’
Matt: I felt so bad for the extras - we kicked one kid’s teeth out, he was still happy though, he had a good time, but we had to go to New York the next night and we felt like we had been in a bar fight. We were like, ‘Everything hurts!’ I had bruising everywhere. Kim: I have been in the crowd and I have had a butt and a tit grab, but I have such little boobs, I’m like, ‘Come on, there’s not really that much to grab!’

The Drums

Front man Jonathan Pierce comes from the same small town as Tommy Hilfiger, a fact he proved to be proud of as he enlightened the crowd at Hilfiger Denim Live. Jonathan and Jacob Graham founded The Drums only a year ago and with guitarist Adam Kessler and drummer Connor Hanwick, they are riding on a wave of critical acclaim and international success. Their embodiment of flawless style, catchy melodies and perfect harmonies has made The Drums tastemakers for a generation. Not averse to being described as pop, they say they are here to bring good music to the mainstream. And watching the band perform on new ground in Amsterdam proves they can do no wrong.

What’s it like performing in Europe?
Jonathan: It has been surreal for us. There are some great bands that we have been inspired by out of Europe and the UK, and it’s cool to be embraced by people from these places, as we weren’t sure what they were going to think.

What’s the music scene like in the US?
Jacob: We are not really that connected with it. It’s the sort of bands that are fusing a lot of styles, working with computers, and they’ve been playing the cello since they were like three. To me it seems very disjointed.
Jonathan: We never really fitted in. I left New York to get away from being influenced by any scene. As a band we try to be incubated, so we can be consistent. We want our first album to sound like our last - we want to put out classic pop songs. There is nothing wrong with being new or experimental but it’s not for The Drums.

Do you want to have mainstream success?
Jacob: For us any platform is good. In a few weeks we are playing with Kings Of Leon, and we are going to be playing songs we wrote in our bedrooms to seventy thousand people.
Jonathan: There is that romantic idea of an obscure band always being obscure and at the same time how cool would it have been if a band like The Wake, who inspired us but never made it, had really took off and were played on the radio - everyone would have loved that band. We don’t believe in being an indie band and refusing to be in the spotlight, we believe in changing things.

What do you want to change?
Jonathan: Well for the last ten years, all music on the radio sounds like it’s been made by machines in a factory and literally ‘Best Friend’ being played in between Lady GaGa and Jay-Z I think is testament to people wanting something imperfect. Literally the version we recording in our bedroom, untouched by anyone else, is being played on Radio 1. It’s like anything is possible.

Words by Rose Forde

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