The Dirty Denims – singer/guitarist/original member Mirjam Sieben

Singer/guitarist/original member Mirjam Sieben – The Dirty Denims

Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to The Dirty Denims for help to get the promo pictures
Promo pictures taken by: Willem Wouterse

From Eindhoven, The Netherlands comes The Dirty Denims. I had the pleasure to talk to them back when their previous album was released in 2017, titled BACK WITH A BANG. Now the four piece is back with a new album called READY STEADY GO!, which was released at the beginning of July. A lot has happened in the band since 2017 and if you want to read a little background about the band then check out the past interview with them.

Just like last time, I spoke with singer/guitarist Mirjam Sieben and we talked about what’s happened since the last album, the new members in the band, their work on the new album, the COVID-19 situation, and why the band still only performs in The Netherlands and nearby countries and not in the rest of Europe. Here is what Mirjam had to say…


Hi Mirjam and thanks for taking the time for this today. The last time we spoke was back in 2017 with the release your EP BACK WITH A BANG which later turned into an entire album. First later of all, how are you and the rest of the members doing in these COVID-19 times, I hope you all are healthy!

Hi! Yes we are all healthy! In the beginning it had a little bit effect on our ‘happyhard rock-ness’ but our minds are still healthy and our bodies too, and we are back on track, haha.

Let’s travel back in time to BACK WITH A BANG, which started as an EP and then became an entire album, what did media and critics think of it?

We had only good reviews! And now with the new album we have even better reviews, so the media seem to like some Happy Hard Rock.

Since then the band have toured a lot in your country The Netherlands as well as in Germany, has it been fun being out on the roads meeting fans?

Yes! That’s the reason to do it all: playing live gigs and meet great rockers on the road. We like the studio more and more, but our music needs to be live on stages, with sweat, dirt, and happy faces.

Do you have any shows that you remember being a special?

Yes we had a few very cool gigs because of the great crowds in Germany. Nitrofest Hannover was amazing and we played also on the Freak Valley Xmas fest.

Is it hard to land shows in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries for example?

I guess so, we never tried very hard so far because we want to build shows in the closer countries first, but we did some shows with Grande Royale in The Netherlands and Germany so we had a taste of it. We played on the same festival as Thundermother. We also LOVE going to concerts of Scandinavian bands like The Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Imperial State Electric, etc.

Last year you and the Swedish act Grand Royale toured together in The Netherlands and Germany, how was it to tour with the guys?

It was amazing! What great boys, super friendly and amazing musicians. I’m very proud I booked those shows myself for this double headline mini-tour.

New and old members

The band has gone through some member changes since the start. Today it’s only you and guitarist Jeroen that are the remaining original members. Do you think the member changes have had any impact on your music? Why have you gone through so many line-up changes?

It’s hard to be in a band if you are not that into it anymore. You really need to LOVE it because you spend a lot of hours, play a lot of shows for not a lot of money. So when band members get other ideas of how to run their life it’s very understandable that they quit. It’s too bad for us because they’re great people to be in a band with! But on the other hand we are very glad with the ‘new’ members too, because I think this line-up is the best so far. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s a very good match, musically, personally and we all have the same motivation.

Why did your old drummer Baselmans and bass player Ashley Seleski leave the band? Were their departures expected?

Jordi (Baselmans) couldn’t combine it with his job anymore, he needed to work weekends and that’s not easy when being in a band. Ashley loves hard rock but likes the punk rock even more, so she decided to go more to her ‘roots’.

How did you get a hold of new bass player Eijkhout and drummer Driessen? Were they friends of the band?

Marc (Eijkhout) was already playing the Angus guitar in our band The DC/Denims and he decided to learn bass guitar to play bass in The Dirty Denims too. Suzanne (Driessen) saw our call for a drummer on social media and she emailed us!

Is it important for you that there are equal amounts of guys and girls in the band or is that something you don’t care about?

We like the 2-2 version of our band. We’ve had times with 3 boys and 1 girl but when we were looking for a drummer we preferred a girl if we found a good one. And we did! Suzanne was really the best fit for us of all the great drummers who did an audition.

Who is most active as a band leader? Is it you that has taken on that roll and is the band a democracy or is it you that takes the majority of the decisions?

I’m really into the promotion of our music and booking gigs and Jeroen writes all the music. With important decisions we always ask every one in the band what they think. The ‘daily’ decisions are done by me and Jeroen, just for quickness. The others are fine with it otherwise they will let us know for sure, haha!

Do you consider the current line up as a solid one?

Oh yes, everyone has the band as a high priority, so almost always we can say ‘yes’ to incoming gigs, that’s a very important thing. And it’s fun too!

Has it been hard to go through so many member changes?

Yes, every time it’s like a break up, not that intense with emotions but it’s difficult to let go and go forward. You’re afraid not finding good band members again, but we did and we are very happy we didn’t give up!

New album READY STEADY GO!

When did you began to work on READY STEADY GO!?

We started somewhere in 2019 and at the end of August 2019 we recorded ‘Part 1’ for the album. That one was released on November 15th 2019 on CD and digital only. After that we began writing and rehearsing for ‘Part 2’ and in the middle of March 2020 we recorded the last songs. We finished the recordings 1 DAY before the Corona-virus closed up The Netherlands.

Who writes the music and lyrics and what are the lyrics about this time?

Jeroen writes the music and part of the lyrics, sometimes I finish the lyrics myself. They are about the everyday-life irritations, one of our favorite 80’s movies The Gremlins, H&M band shirts, and we even have a love song, about… I will not tell you that, let’s hear it for yourself. So it’s a mix of things we like to sing about.

Why has it taken the band so long to follow up BACK WITH A BANG, what have you been up to in between the releases?

We had the band member changes and after that we wanted only to play a lot of live for a while 😊

How come the song “Last Call For Alcohol” is featured twice, one in a regular version and as a hangover version?

It was Jeroen’s idea to put that one as an acoustic version, we never had an acoustic recording before so that was fun to do, but live we don’t play it, then we only do the loud one! The name ‘hangover version’ speaks for itself, haha.

What are the longest songs “Creatures of the Night” (4.16) and “Beautiful (My Darling)” (4.40) about?

The first one is about the famous kitchen scene in the Gremlins movie! The other one is the love song I told you about 😉 www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIrd4172Czw&t=3s

Why did you call the album READY STEADY GO?

We had a song with that title and we really liked it as a name for the album too as it’s in line with the other album titles. Its energetic and we got a lot of ideas with the ‘car-theme’ because that’s what they say on the racing tracks! I also have stage clothes that match the racing track theme and our band photos are with a cool classic car.

Creatures Of The Night (official live video)

 

Who did the cover art work of the album and do you think it reflects the essence of the album?

The art work is made by Jan Meininghaus and the photos are made by Willem Wouterse. It’s all in that car theme so it matches perfectly with the energy on the album. Jan drew the cover art by hand!

Do you think that READY STEADY GO! is a lot different musically compared to the last album?

We think (and have heard it from fans too) that it is more diverse, more a mix of Hard Rock, Power Pop and Punk Rock. We like the previous albums too, but we like these songs even more and I’m also more happy about the singing.

What did the fans and media think of the two singles “Ready Steady Go!” and “Turn Off the Radio” that came at the end of last year?

We got very good reactions!

You didn’t feature a cover song on this album like you did on the last one, why?

We didn’t think of it and we had too many hits ourselves, haha!

Are you happy with the reviews the album’s received? Do you care about what critics and media think of your work?

Yes we are very happy because they are all amazingly good! We care when they are good and try not to care when they aren’t, haha.

Are there any differences in how the foreign and the native press writes about the band?

Foreign reviews are mostly from Hard Rock related (web)magazines and I guess they are even more positive than the more general ones that sometimes come from NL. In The Netherlands hard rock is not very ‘hip’ and we aren’t very new in our own country (we started in 2006) so it’s time that other countries are getting to know us and that is happening right now!

When I asked you how you would like to describe what kind of music you play last time you said Happy Hard Rock, is that description valid today?

Yes I still call it that way, haha. Jeroen is always like ‘hmmmm I don’t know’, but it describes our music the best I think, it’s a mix of Hard Rock, Power Pop and Punk Rock and we got a lot of comments in reviews that the writers think it’s a great description.

Roll The Dice (official live video)

 

What other bands have inspired Dirty Denims through the years?

AC/DC, KISS, Joan Jett, The Hellacopters, The Donnas, Danko Jones, The Ramones, and more and more Australian and Scandinavian Hard Rock bands like Grande Royale, The Casanovas, Turbonegro and so on! Action Rock is what they call it I believe, haha. Great to see also things like the New Wave Of Classic Rock Facebook-group, they support the new bands that are influenced by classic rock bands.

What band or bands will you say sound close to how you sound today?

Hmmm, I’m really into comparing ourselves, I really think bands need to do that more, but I don’t know another band that almost exactly sounds like us. Of course you hear a lot of influences in our songs, but the combination of the styles, the catchy lyrics, the female voice… It’s hard to find one exactly the same. But I guess, besides the bands I already mentioned above, you can compare us also with Airbourne, Thundermother, Heavy Tiger, and The Amorrettes.

I really love READY STEADY GO! and think it has a lot of party songs that really make me happy. Is the band happy with the outcome?

Thank you so much. Yes, we are super-duper happy with it! We really think it’s our best one yet. I know every bands says that about their latest one, but it’s just a fact, haha.

 

DIY, label and management

Last time we spoke you said you’re releasing your album on your own, is it still so?

Yes, the CD we’ve released on our own Handclap Records label and we are very happy that the vinyl has been released on the Spanish Ghost Highway Recordings.

What’ are some pros and cons with releasing your own albums?

We really like to decide all the things for ourselves, so that’s great! We see any moment of the day how many we’ve sold and we pack the orders ourselves and ship them, so we can add some personal notes etc. A label – when the right one arrives – can help to broaden your fanbase.

READY STEADY GO! is released by the Spanish label Ghost Highway, are you signed to them or is it just a one-time thing?

The Back With A Bang! Vinyl was also released on Ghost Highway, each time it’s a one-time thing, but as you can see the first time we liked it a lot! Marco from the label is an amazing dude, a real rock n’ roll music lover.

Do you release anything on your own label Handclap Records?

Yep always the CD’s are on our own label.

Why did you choose to stay a DIY band rather than to sign to any record label?

We didn’t try and a label didn’t ask us, haha. I guess we like it that way, or there needs to be a nice label who is interested, then we can talk 😉

It’s hard to find your albums in records stores here in Sweden, why is it so do you think?

We have a distributor but then shops need to buy them, haha. But we like to sell them via our own web shop even more, we get great insights in our fans then, we can contact them, et cetera. We are quite fast with shipment so you don’t need to worry about that! www.thedirtydenims.nl

Do you work with any distribution labels in order to get your albums out in Europe and the rest of the world?

Yep, with Sonic Rendezvous.

READY STEADY GO! is being released on CD, black and colored vinyl and as download. Which format sells best on your Bandcamp site?

We don’t have the physical releases on Bandcamp, only downloads. But we also sell the downloads on our own website. Bandcamp takes a big cut of all what you sell so we like to sell it on our web shop more. But what we sell most is (orange) vinyl, then CD’s and then Shirts etc.

Is the colored vinyl a limited release?

Not quite sure yet, we never did an extra pressing, but we sold quite a lot so who knows that we will do a re-run when they are sold out too fast.

If I live in America or Canada for example, how do I get a hold of your albums?

You can go to www.thedirtydenims.nl/collections/store-1

I understand it costs you a lot to make it all by yourself but if I want to purchase an album on vinyl and live in Sweden it will cost me about 31 Euros to get it which is quite a lot of money, what are your thoughts on that?

We think that 11 Euros for the shipment isn’t a lot actually! The vinyl itself is 20 Euros, also a quite normal price for a vinyl I guess. We’ve sold them to people in Scandinavia before but never heard them about it, haha.

Are there many that listen to your albums on Spotify? Do you have any idea on how many active listeners that supports you there?

We get more and more! But we really focus on our mailing list and social media and selling the physical stuff. We’ve recently got a lot of more followers on Spotify because of the singles we’ve released.

Is it correct that the band don’t work with management at the moment? Is it hard to work on everything on your own or do you feel it gives you more freedom to choose to do what’s best for the band?

Both, but I guess we quite like it to do it this way. What I miss is a bigger network in the hard rock scene. I know for sure we would fit perfectly on more hard rock festivals, but how to get there?! But we like the way of building our fan base ourselves.

 

Past and present

The band is really active on social media, is it fun to interact with fans and what’s the most common question you get from fans?

Yep we LOVE it, after playing gigs and meeting people in real life; that’s the reason I do it all for. The most common question is ‘when do you play in our neigbourhood?’ So great to get that question!

Messin’ Around (official live video)

 

The band threw an online release party for the album at the beginning of July, how was that? Were there many fans that participated?

It was very cool! We like to use Facebook lives in a different way than ‘just a gig’. We take time between almost every song to see what the people are saying and responding to that.

You let the fans vote which songs you were going to play; what were the two most-voted for? Were the winners songs you normally don’t play?

We have some all-time favorites, this time it was “Make Us Look Good” (almost always in the top 3, haha) and “Loud Stuff”, both from our previous album BACK WITH A BANG!.

I thought that was a fun way of letting the fans participate in the party, is that something you plan to do anytime soon again?

I guess so, we liked it a lot!

You also had a Zoom meeting at the end of June with fans who had pre-ordered the album. Were there many that took part in that and what did the meeting include?

Yes that was cool because we also could see THEM! (most of them who turned on their camera) That really gave it an extra dimension. We played the complete new album for the very first time and also we took the time to have a conversation with them.

So far the band’s got about 8,000 likes on Facebook. Are you happy with that or are you going to work hard to increase the amount of likes?

We are happy with it and we see it as a part of our journey to build it up gradually.

The band’s website is really nice looking but it doesn’t include much info about the band, the band members and your work, or pictures. Why not ?

Because people who are visiting our website already know us, they had a reason to visit it. Our biography isn’t a summary of our lives either, I think the press needs info about our highlights and how our music sounds. We have a Dutch Wikipedia that people write themselves, too bad that one isn’t in English.

The band also run a mailing list where you send out info to the fans pretty often. Is it hard to manage the list? Why not incorporate it into your website?

We LOVE email, it’s a more 1-on-1 communication channel and we don’t like to use only social media because of the low reach. The people on our mailing list are our biggest friends, haha. The website has a totally other function for us.

The band runs a private Facebook group containing about 500 people, what matters are you handling in there?

The great thing about groups are that everyone can post something, so we have more contact with fans over there. On pages of course people can comment on posts but not really reach the other followers, in the group they can contact each other so it’s more like a community.

Do you sell a lot of albums through your Bandcamp site?

No but we do on our webshop,  www.thedirtydenims.nl!

Did the band have to cancel a lot of shows because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Most of them are postponed to 2021 or later, some we needed to cancel indeed. Too bad!

In August/September you’re scheduled to do shows in Germany and in The Netherlands are those shows going to be able to go through with do you think?

Yes, August 23th we will play in Krefeld – Germany, it’s outside so it will happen. September 25th we will play in Uden – The Netherlands, in a theater with a lot of space for max 100 people. And November 20th we play in Oberhausen – Germany, in a bigger venue as planned so there will be enough space.

Do you have shows booked for the winter so far?

Those 3 and we hope to add some more, but we don’t know for sure yet.

You’re going to host a real live release party at the middle of September is it going to be fun to perform for a live audience again? How many people are you allowed to take in?

Yep we are so looking forward! We will make it a special evening in Uden, there can be 100 people in tha house.

How do you think The Netherlands have been coping with the pandemic? Do you think the government have done enough to try to contain the virus?

I’m very happy we never really closed down and don’t have to wear face masks a lot, I think they are doing a right job but I’m not so into politics, haha. Let me play rock n’ roll and I’m happy. Oh uhmmm, they don’t let me play rock n’ roll… hmmmmm something is wrong in here!

Are you happy with what you have achieved with The Dirty Denims so far I mean you have been around for a long time but haven’t performed much in the rest of Europe?

It’s a very rewarding journey! We still see a way up and we know it’s a long way to the top if we want to rock ‘n roll.

What are the plans for the band in the near future?

Playing live as much as possible.

When/if the pandemic slows down even more are you having plans on heading up to Scandinavia or the rest of Europe that you don’t have played yet on tour or do shows?

We still focus the most on The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium but it would be great fun to play in the rest of Europe too! But I guess then we need some help of local bookers. We do it all ourselves and it is very difficult to get in new countries.

Band Not A Brand (official live video)

 

Last time you said the band got 21 fans from Sweden, Denmark and Norway, has that number increased since 2017?

Yep! We now have 115 followers on Facebook from those 3 countries, haha! I’m quite happy with that if you consider our focus was more on the countries more close by for us. The word is spreading and I guess it’s time to have more focus on it now, Scandinavia is ready for us!

Last time we talk you said that the band wanted to perform more in Europe and not only in The Netherlands and surrounding countries. Are you satisified with how much touring the band has done so far?

Yes we play more and more in Germany and Belgium too. It would be fun to do a real tour in Europe though, something to look forward too! And I wish to play on more big European Hard Rock festivals like Download festival (UK), Rock Hard festival (DE), Hard Rock Hell (UK), Dong Open Air (DE), Rockharz Open Air (DE), Bang Your Head (DE), etc.

Are you currently writing material to the next album or are you occupied with the release of READY STEADY GO!?

Jeroen already has some ideas and he is recording some demos. He already has some inspiration! When the holidays are over we will go back to some rehearsals to work it out, but we are not in a hurry, we want to play live as much as possible with this new album. Yep I know, that’s difficult now 😉

What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of The Dirty Denims yet?

If you want to get energy and a smile on your face, check out our music!

Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy READY STEADY GO!?

1) Very great reviews
2) Very great reactions from fans
3) Amazing artwork!

That was all for me this time around, once again thanks for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band all the best and stay healthy and safe! Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers..

Stay positive and happy, we hope we can help you a little with it 😊


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