Vulture Chats with Pablo Van De Poel of De Wolff
The term ‘prodigy’ gets tossed around like a hacky-sack at Rainbow Serpent. Some musicians, however, are definitely worthy of the title. Enter De Wolff. At an age where most groups are still jamming in garages, the Dutch trio have already accumulated an impressive discography and wowed crowds across Europe. Recently, none other than Rolling Stone magazine dubbed them Europe’s ‘must-see live band’. Vulture chatted with singer-guitarist Pablo van de Poel from his apartment in Utrecht as the band get set to head to our land down under.
“Every time I get on the phone I don’t know how to say this in English,” gleams a suitably chuffed Pablo. “I’m feeling great!” The 20 year-old started DeWolff with his little brother Luka and family friend Robin Piso for fun six years ago. Although he had dabbled in piano, Piso first touched the band’s driving Hammond on the day of their first rehearsal. But they soon turned serious releasing a self-titled EP in 2008 and performing regularly ever since.
With three LPs under their belt it’s easy to forget that whilst forging their success, the boys still had to keep up a less glamorous commitment: school. At 18, the youngest member Luka only graduated last May. “We mostly played on weekends but in the end it got pretty hard because we played three times a week – on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Pablo says. “On Monday, Luka had to go to school again at 8am. It was kind of a bummer after a weekend of rock’n’roll.”
The boys would have at least made their language teachers proud; all their lyrics are in English. “I think it’s a beautiful language,” he explains. “In Holland, it’s kind of normal to write in English. There are things you can say in English that mean a lot of things, but Dutch is sometimes too direct. I like that mysterious thing.”
When asked whether he would ever consider singing in his mother tongue, Pablo’s response is tellingly prompt: “I think English is a much better language for music. Dutch has a sort of harsh tone. There are some Dutch artists that write in Dutch, but we don’t really dig that kind of music. I think 99% of music I love was written in English.”
With their psychedelic-blues-rock sound, DeWolff evoke an era long before their time. They are often compared with the likes of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Hendrix. But Pablo is wary of such associations. “There’s a lot of bands people compare us to and I can understand it,” he says. “But I can be very critical about it and say it doesn’t sound like Led Zeppelin. My voice doesn’t sound like Robert Plant’s voice. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing because his voice was pretty awesome, but that’s not the way my voice sounds.”
Pablo doesn’t deny that he gets inspiration from the greats, but is happy to be living now. He cites Tame Impala, Wolf People and Buffalo Killlers as some of his favourites, as well as the music that his dad listens to. “A lot of people think he was a sixties and seventies music lover, but he grew up in the eighties and he listens to alternative rock music from then until now.” Pablo says.
Speaking of family, is it hard to share a band with your brother? “Yeah, Luka broke my nose last week.” Pablo says, a little too flippantly. “No, actually, we’re pretty peaceful. We see each other every day and we’re really good friends. The only thing is that if something bothers us, it’s easier to say something about it.”
With good band dynamics and youth on his side, Pablo plans to make music for some time yet. “I think there are about five hours a day in which I don’t think about music and that’s when I’m sleeping, and even then I sometimes think about music. Everything I do in my life revolves around music.”
DeWolff will be venturing here in March to unleash their jokingly titled third album DeWolff IV alongside an exclusively Aussie re-release of their first two LPs on a double CD. “You can hear four years of development in two hours,” Pablo explains, “You can do like a time travelling thing.”
There is one other thing Pablo plans to do on his first trip to Australia: “I want to catch a kangaroo!” he says, “it’s like a whole different species, not a cat or a dog. I love it!”
As kangaroos take cover, everybody else can catch DeWolff’s ‘must see’ shows here:
Saturday 16th March – The Joynt, Brisbane
Sunday 17th March – Transit Bar, Canberra
Wednesday 20th March – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
Thursday 21st March – Workers Club, Melbourne
Friday 22nd March – The Yarra Hotel, Geelong
Suday 24th March – Old Manly Boatshed, Manly
Thursday 26th March – Uni Bar, Macquarie
Wednesday 27th March – Leagues Club, Newcastle
Thursday 28th March – Great Northern, Byron Bay
Dewolff IV and the Strange Fruits & Undiscovered Plants and Orchards/Lupine double album will be released Friday 8th March.
Tagged ‘Strange Fruits & Undiscovered Plants and Orchards/Lupine’, Buffalo Killers, Deep Purple, DeWolff, DeWolff IV, JIMI HENDRIX, Led Zeppelin, Luka van de Poel, Pablo van de Poel, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Robin Piso, rolling stone, Tame Impala, Wolf People