This is LQR – The Complete Story
Dear friends and Listeners of this Radioshow,
Thank you to Musicradio RockTheFolk for this opportunity to place our band in the spotlights for a moment. Especially in this harsh times where there is little chance on promoting our music for a live audience.
Because I (Arjan Bogaerts, age 48) am the founder, manager and I write most of the songs I tell this story by my own.
How did I start in music?
I started playing the accordion at the age of 9. My father came home one day with an accordion. Because of the model of its case I thought it was a typewriter. He hoped my brother wanted to take lessons because he played on the organ we had in our living room. My brother just started playing soccer, so he didn’t want it. My father asked me and the same week I started to take private lessons in Belgium. I stopped at the age of 18.
My first bands:
Because the accordion wasn’t that popular into modern music I learned myself to play guitar. I was a fan of metal and pop music like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, etc.
I started my first band at the age of 15 playing synths and guitar. At the age of 17 a new Dutch band called Rowwen Héze, entered the charts. They played Tex Mex and polka music with lyrics in Dutch dialect. This was something completely new to me so I started another band with Dutch dialect music (Perfect Dialect). The band lasted for almost 18 years and was quite successful. In between I joined an Zydeco/Cajun band before I started LQR.
How did it all start?
It all started in 2005 when I got the idea to form a new band just to see how far I it would take me if I did it all on my own. Celtic Folk rock isn’t a genre that is played on (Dutch) radio and there aren’t many bands in the scene. Of course there are (traditional) folk bands and the metal folk bands but there wasn’t much in between. I just discovered Flogging Molly and it blew me away. That’s what I wanted. It took me 2 years and a few changes in line-up before I completed the band but if you have a dream you do everything to make it come true.
The Band name:
Before I had the band together I picked a band name: Liquor. Not that I’m an alcoholic, I like a good craft beer though. When I think of liquor or the moments when we drink liquor, I think of friends and family having a good time. The same with (folk) music, it’s all about having a good time. After that I designed a logo with only the consonants, LQR, cause it’s mysterious and more powerful. The first logo looked like a Whiskey label. The skull-clover logo came a few years later and was designed by a friend of the band.
The first line-up:
The first line-up changed several times. It took a while to find a bass-player for example (for that story, listen to our song “The Bass-player”).
I guess the fact that all members come from genres, other than folk, is the thing that makes us different from other bands. They all bring their own approach and sound to the band.
Guitar-player Wim van Doren played in metal band Guvnor and Hardcore band 10 Seconds Down.
Drummer Martijn Cuypers (2007-2016) played in jazz, pop, rock and samba-bands.
Lead-singer and bass-player Mark Kremers (2007-2016) played in several local rock and funk bands.
Lead-singer, Guitar- and Mandolin player Karin Guldemondt played in a bluegrass band Daisey Chain and was the most experienced composer of us all.
The first years:
I wrote a few songs but they all sounded too much like Flogging Molly. The first 2 songs (Lost My Love and There’s No Way) where songs Karin wrote before she met us. It were ballads but it sounded completely different than the things I wrote. That changed my view on song writing.
The first demo:
We recorded 5 songs in 2008 which were mostly ideas of Karin, but everyone made up his own part. The reviews of the demo weren’t exactly great. They didn’t like our lyrics, they said it was all too simple. They were right. The quality of the demo was horrible. They were right again. The music was okay but it was too simple and we wanted to sound too much like Flogging Molly and The Pogues. I have to agree with them.
- Trail of Blood Karin wrote the lyrics of this one, about someone who’s murdered by his wife and stays with her till the end of times because he still loves her. The trail of blood guides him back to her. Karin wrote most of the music. I wrote the intro and instrumental break.
- Get yourself together (and get drunk) This one we wrote together as a band. It’s a fun view on the life of someone who is so depressed that he wants to end his life just to escape the troubles of getting old. Our advice: Get yourself together and get drunk!
- John McBright: First folk song I ever wrote. It’s a simple but catchy folk tune, but the lyrics are bollocks. Recently I re-wrote this one, changed a few things and added some new parts. It sounds much better these days and we added it to our setlist again.
- Sick Song: Karin wrote this song when she had the flu. The song is about being so sick, you think you’re going to die.
- Mayday: Again a song written by Karin. It’s an ode to all the famous musicians that died in a plane crash (Buddy Holly, Lynnyrd Skynnyrd, etc.) but it’s wrapped in an absurd story about the adventures of a drunk pilot in the service of LQR Airways.
The second demo:
For the second demo we recorded 4 songs. I started co-writing with Karin and we still play these songs now these days.
- Boxpok: Funny how the idea for this song started. Karin asked Martijn to name a number. He answered 5. So it started with a five-four metre. Martijn loves trains so that became the subject. A Boxpok is a train-wheel. Because of its form, it’s the strongest train-wheel there’s ever made. The song refers to how solid LQR was at that time.
- Pinocchio: We were asked to write a song for the Pinnochio-festival in Eersel (NL). I once wrote a piano-piece that sounded a little bit Italian so that was something we could use. Karin wrote the lyrics about Pinocchio being a big maffioso.
- Life: Karin wrote this song of someone who is reflecting back on his life. I wrote the intro melody, which was the inspiration for the rest of the song.
- Muffins and Coffins: I wrote the music and lyrics of the first verse. Together we wrote the chorus and bridge. It’s an absurd story that defines the line between good and evil.
The second line-up:
Karin became pregnant and left the band. She was replaced by Tim Maas. He played acoustic guitar and learned himself to play the mandolin. He’s a real folk-guy so he was exactly what we needed.
Mark quit playing bass to concentrate on his singing. Our new bass-player was a good friend of mine, Paul van den Boomen. Paul is an amazing guitar-player who plays bass as well. Because of his guitar skills he adds more melody to his bass-playing. He played in several Rock-, jazz- and country-bands before he joined us.
The third demo:
For our third demo we went to one of the best studios in the Netherlands where famous acts like Simple Minds, Rowwen Héze, The Scabs, Burt Bacharach, etcetera recorded their albums. Lucky for us the owner was the father in law of our new band member Tim Maas.
- I’ll Never Drink Again: I wrote this song after Wim told me that all the classic folk-tunes where simple C/D/G chords. Wim wrote the chorus of this one. The lyrics are from Mark and myself. It tells the tale of all the stupid things we do when we drink too much.
- War Games: I wrote the music and lyrics of this anti-war song. War is a game to the ones who ain’t fighting. A game with high stakes. The song looks at war all through the ages. Fun fact: we made it to number 5 in the folk-charts in Canada. Pretty fly for a band from the Netherlands.
- Black Mining Company: I wrote this song for my grandfather that I’ve never met. He died before I was born and worked in the coalmines so I wrote it as an ode to him. Wim wrote the (rock) end of the song.
- Liquor: Tim wrote the music of the verses of this one. Because it sounded so folky I thought it would be fun to name only whisky brands instead of normal lyrics. It turned out a little bit the other way. I wrote the chorus and instrumental breaks. It’s a good fist-in-the-air sing-a-long!
- Coulrophobia: When we just started the band I sometimes played the intro of Life (before it became the song Life). Mark always said to me it sounded like a creepy circus-melody. That was the reason to write Coulrophobia (fear of clowns). Paul wrote the gypsy-tune in the middle. Mark re-wrote a few verses of the lyrics. I think this is one of our most diverse songs and one of the first songs that doesn’t sound like any other band. I’m very proud of this one.
The Story So Far….
The band existed 9 years and we became more popular in our own country. I did everything I could to promote the band by contacting magazines, (internet) radio stations, blogs, etc. I approached every pub, venue and festival that I could find. I discovered the music of Gogol Bordello that brought me to new ideas. I don’t want to speak bad about other bands in our genre, but the most of them sound a lot like each other. Up-tempo folk rock with lyrics about drinking, fighting and friendship. Nothing wrong with that, but I want to sound different. I wanted to add more music styles to create our own sound. A mixture between Flogging Molly and Gogol Bordello. Our next step was recording a full-length album.