Kris, Hanne, when and where did it all start for Bottle Of Moonshine?
Kris Van Hees (trumpet): "As so often, it all started with a bunch of friends enjoying playing music together. In our particular case, things got a bit out of hand and Bottle Of Moonshine was born. When we started out, Martijn (Van Den Broeck, red.), our drummer, was only thirteen years old. At the time we were all amateur musicians, but in the meantime, a number of us have graduated conservatory."
Was it clear from the get-go Bottle Of Moonshine would be a ska band?
Kris Van Hees: "Absolutely! Ska was a genre we all adored and wanted to learn how to play ourselves. The majority of the musicians in Bottle Of Moonshine hail from Turnhout and Arendonk, the same region The Dill Brothers, a band that has had a serious influence on our music, were also from. Personally, I was also a member of The Splifftones for a while, another ska band from the Campine region. In Vosselaar, another neighboring village, you also had Open Tropen, a world music festival where many reggae and ska legends performed over the years."
The title of your debut album, 'Everybody Watches No One Knows', was taken from the lyrics to 'Horst'.
Hanne Peetermans (vocals): "Not quite… The first sentence of 'Horst' goes: "Everybody watches, everybody knows!", but we adapted it ever so slightly to 'Everybody Watches No One Knows'. That title is meant as a comment on the fact we're all addicted to television but half the time we don't get what’s going on in the world."
How did Bottle Of Moonshine stumble on you in their search for a vocalist?
Hanne Peetermans: "I was already doing backing vocals for Asham Band and three of the hornsmen of Bottle Of Moonshine also play with that band. They asked me if I would be up for becoming their lead vocalist and I have to admit there was an immediate and unmistakable chemistry."
Who’s responsible for the lyrics to the songs in Bottle Of Moonshine’s repertoire?
Hanne Peetermans: "That's mostly Mathijs' (Duyck, red.) job. This is my first time doing lead vocals in a band and I haven't got much experience writing songs yet, but Mathijs is really good at it, so it all works out fine."
Kris, apart from Hanne joining, has the line-up of the band changed much over the years?
Kris Van Hees: "Our original pianist (Joachim Adriaansen, red.) quit at one stage and that caused a few internal changes. Martijn (Van Den Broeck, red.), our drummer, switched to keyboard and we found a new drummer in Thomas Deckx. Wannes (Jacobs, red.), who plays baritone saxophone, also joined at a later date."
Counting eleven people, Bottle Of Moonshine isn’t what one would refer to as a small band. How do you guys manage that?
Hanne Peetermans: "On a practical level, it's not always easy; rallying everyone for a rehearsal session can prove quite a task for example, but at the same time a large group of people like that always guarantees a good vibe."
Even though 'Everybody Watches No One Knows' is clearly a ska album, it also contains influences from genres like surf, cumbia and afrobeat. Is that a path you guys want to explore further in the future?
Kris Van Hees: "We still consider ourselves to be a full-fledged ska band, but in a band that counts as many members as ours, different influences will inevitably surface. On 'Everybody Watches No One Knows' that were the genres you just mentioned, but we're working on new material at the moment and these tracks are a lot more soul influenced. We always head in the direction our inspiration points us to."