Powerpop from the Netherlands?

Believe it!

Dutch band Mashed Potatoes displays an excellent grasp of the various incarnations of powerpop through the ages. With a healthy sense of humour thrown in for good measure, as well.

Mashed Potato Peter Van der Meer talks to the POWER OF POP about the sparkling new album Up And Over and how to pronounce the name of the band…

POP: What is the pop scene like in Holland?

PETER: Holland is a small country, and though there are a lot of bands around the pop scene is not so big. There’s a good pop scene for pop bands singing Dutch lyrics, and some of them sell really well, but for pop bands singing English lyrics it’s more difficult. You have to compete with everything from England and the USA, it’s not easy. The market for our type of pop is not so big in Holland anyway, but we get great crowds and good response.

POP: Could you name any other great Dutch pop bands?

PETER: You mean from today? Well, there are some pretty successful band from Holland at the moment like ‘Betti Serveert’, who’s doing great in the USA. Keep an eye on ‘Daryll Ann’, they made a great record. But like I said, it’s only a small scene. 

POP: Would you ever consider re-locating to further your pop career?

PETER: We’ve thought about Spain, but that was for the weather.

POP: How would you describe your music?

PETER: Pop music with influences of sixties-beat, surf-rock and powerpop...

POP: What inspires those gorgeous tunes?

PETER: Most of our early influences are from the sixties or even the fifties. We once started as a Rock ‘n’ Roll cover band playing songs from guys like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, The Monkees, Elvis and Roy Orbison. And Later on we started listening to pop bands like the Beatles, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Police, The Kinks, Blondie... We listened to The Beach Boys and The Beatles a lot. Nowadays we listen to different kinds of music, but it’s always the sixties influence that’s most evident.

POP: Where do you get those offbeat lyrical ideas?

PETER: Same thing, I suppose; In those days bands sang about ordinary stuff like a car, dancing in the weekend, a gained or lost love, or your favourite vegetables. We do the same, singing about all day life things like having an off-day (Braindead), looking forward to the weekend (Friday Evening) or a holiday (Malibu, Malibu) or about jealousy (My Turn, Watch It). And of course there are plain love songs too.

POP: How does the recording process work for you?

PETER: We usually record in an old flower bulb shed, rebuilt to a studio. The owner is a friend of ours and we always have a lot of fun. He recently built a toilet in the shed, so we didn’t have to pee outside anymore. When we start the day we drink two big mugs of coffee and talk for an hour or two. And then it’s time to begin. We’ve tried recording in different ways but it always comes back to the same old thing: live recording and than few but effective overdubs. It’s all 16 track, so no fancy stuff.

POP: What does a typical Mashed Potatoes session involve?

PETER: We always try to include a song or two that aren’t rehearsed, so unexpected things can happen. Mostly those tunes turn out to be among our favourites. On ‘Up And Over!’ it’s ‘Up & Over’, a Rock ‘n’ Roll riff with live audience, and ‘Mexican Donkeyride’. We’d played that tune one once or twice before, but never intended to record it. You can hear we had lot’s of fun.

POP: What music did you listen to during recording sessions?

PETER: We try only to listen to our own music then to stay focused on our own thing. It’s a good thing to get inspired by other artists, but in the recording process you should let your own songs and ideas do the trick. 

POP: Is there any background to "Do You Want Me To Touch You, Baby?" and why isn't it on the new album?

PETER: That’s because it’s the title track of our previous album, a mini-album containing 8 tracks. It’s more like a collection of songs we recorded between 1995 and 1997. The record is sold out, but who knows there might be another pressing.

POP: How do you intend to promote "Up and Over"?

PETER: A part is done by our indie-record company Munster Records, and another part we do ourselves. We’re doing distribution and promotion in Holland ourselves and we’ll play in record stores and on local and national radio. We’re just beginning promotion on the internet and we’re trying to do tours outside Holland. We’ll definitely go to Spain, probably in May, and there’s options in other countries as well, maybe the USA again. It’s hard work alongside the music, but that’s how we want it to be. We call the shots.

POP: Is it "po-tay-toes" or "po-tah-toes"?

PETER: Well, "po-tay-toes", but you’re not offending us saying it differently.