Cast your mind back to Saturday 13 June, Pinkpop Festival, at approximately 5:15pm. This was the start of an hour which would go on to send Dutch hardcore punk quartet John Coffey into the viral stratosphere, all thanks to one cup of beer and a vocalist with fantastic hand-eye coordination. This moment has now been viewed millions of times through social media, having become one of the main talking points of the festival. A couple of hours before the show, All Things Loud sat down with the guys in John Coffey to discuss their music, playing live and what’s in store for the future.
Earlier this year John Coffey released their third album The Great News, with the record encompassing everything the quartet do well, alongside added flecks of melody alongside their manic hardcore punk. The album, as vocalist David Achter de Molen puts it, focuses on “a lot of different stories about our personal lives”, with the bottom line of the record being the title itself – The Great News. “You are so much more than you sometimes think you are” he explains, adding that the record features a variety of themes which all underpin this main idea. Lyrically, the record was influenced by bands such as MewithoutYou and Chariot, although an emphasis on personal life is still ever present. “We see a lot of stuff in the world that we want to write about, which is the main influence” says Achter de Molen. When asked how The Great News sits in and amongst their previous releases, 2009’s Vanity and 2012’s The Bright Companions, drummer Carsten Brunsveld explains that the biggest difference lies between the first two records, with Vanity having been written without Achter de Molen and guitarist Christoffer van Teijlingen. “The big comparison between The Bright Companions and The Great News is that they’re so focussed” he explains, adding, “We like to write pop songs, but in a way that we’d want to listen to them”. The Great News’ songs all follow a general ‘pop’ structure, which Brunsveld simply puts as being down to, “big choruses and melodies that we like”.
John Coffey’s live shows are notoriously hectic, something which their Pinkpop set perfectly demonstrated. Alongside the now-famous beer catch, vocalist Achter de Molen also took to climbing up the stage scaffolding without any protection, simply using his hands and feet to traverse up the metal barriers of the Brand Bier tent. What drives them to keep this energy up, though? According to Achter de Molen, the band enjoy playing for an audience and “trying to get the audience to do crazy things”. He continues, “I think we just love to see smiling faces and people going wild. That’s my main thing”, before his phone subsequently goes off mid sentence. Later this year, on 17 October, the band will be playing their biggest headline show to date at the legendary Paradiso, something which you can see they’re looking forward to from the moment the word ‘Paradiso’ is mentioned. As it’s their biggest show, Brunsveld tells us that they’re “in the process of thinking about something exciting” to accompany the show. They aren’t quite there yet, but they’ve got a lot in store. Achter de Molen has other ideas, though. “We already have two strippers booked for the show, and also plenty of animals” he jokes, with Brunsveld adding that live bears and giraffe’s are all in the planning. For their Pinkpop set the band had to make do with two massive balloon animals which flanked the side of the stage, though. “We’ve also got a big slide which goes from the top balcony to the stage” continues Achter de Molen, adding laughingly that there are plans for massive “ball sacks” to be released from the ceiling of the Paradiso. “All the balls are zipped up in the sack, so at one point someone’s got to go up there and release all the balls for the audience to play with”. Of all their suggestions, this one is probably the most realistic, even if we’d love to see Achter de Molen ride a girfaffe onstage.
Are the band thinking of what they’ll be doing after Paradiso, though? Not necessarily, with Achter de Molen mentioning that they first have to get through 35 festivals this summer. After the festivals, the band will be playing shows in Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom, including a set at the UK Vans Warped Tour. “There’s a lot in the making, and we’re also going to play in Luxembourg” explains Brunsveld, joking that the band are going to play a whole month of shows in Luxembourg. “Luxembourg is really awesome, when you fill up your tank with gas they pay you for it. It’s like, ‘thanks for filling up your tank, here’s some cash’” adds Achter de Molen. He also tells us that the band might even play shows in countries that they’ve never played in before, but that it’ll all happen in the autumn. “We can’t say much about it yet, though” states Brunsveld. Alongside all the touring and recording, a lot of artists still have day jobs, though. For some it’s easier to handle than others, with John Coffey able to now profit from receiving some money off the back of their releases. All five band members do still have day jobs, David and Christoffer at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht and Carsten as a barista. Having said that, though, John Coffey seem quite happy with the position that they’re in, claiming that it’s quite comfortable to be in a band and still have the extra bit of work on the side.
Before last weekend, not many people outside (or even inside) Holland were aware of John Coffey’s existence. Now, though, thanks to one spectacular beer throw, millions of people know who they are. And this is just the beginning, because John Coffey have still got a long way to go before they pick up even more great news along the way.