Text : Bente van der Zalm
Pictures : Lisanne Lentink
On the 18th of January we will be taking over one of the many stages at Drie Gezusters in Groningen for the Penguin Showcases (supported by Eurosonic Noorderslag). The CHAOS team has selected some of the most promising acts of the coming year to play some dirty sets. One of them is Two and a Half Girl, who released the album Evidence of a Broken Mind last year. We spoke to Daan Lutgerink (guitar/vocals), who forms the band with Chris Walthaus (bass), Juliët van de Laak (vocals), Pim Cruiming (guitar/vocals) and Anne Heymeriks (drums).
For people who don’t know you yet: introduce us to Two and a Half Girl.
We come from Utrecht and we make hard music. In our own way we combine emo punk and rock. I think that’s the simplest explanation for what we do. Live, we always try to make it a party with everybody. Our lyrics are serious, but we don’t want to be on stage with a sulky face.
How do you do it?
We try to put a lot of energy into it, but as we are a hard band, it’s important that we don’t look like we’re angry. You can see us smiling a lot in photos and on stage. I’m sure there are other bands doing that, but we think that the stage belongs to everyone. If you want to get up on stage and dive, that’s totally possible. Therefore, there is often a joyful atmosphere at our concerts.
And about the lyrics, you said they were serious. Can you say a bit more about that?
In our music, we often deal with serious issues. The lyrics are about things we think are important. It can be very broad, sometimes it’s about things we want to highlight in the world. For example, we wrote a song about the taboo of talking when you’re not well. Generally speaking, these are things that we think about or have something to say about. So we want an outlet, and music works well for that.
Did you meet people who didn’t feel the same way?
No, not really yet. Maybe it’s also because the people who listen to us have the same ideas about the world as we do. It’s also possible that when we are very frank about something, people who don’t agree with us won’t listen to the song either. I don’t know, but so far everyone is quite positive and thinks it’s cool that we talk about it. But I don’t know if the people who would disagree would come to us and say so.
Another thing: you come from Utrecht. Does the city influence you?
Nobody comes from Utrecht themselves, but the group comes from Utrecht. Most of us live here. It’s hard to say how a city influences you, but the Utrecht scene definitely influences us. There are a lot of bands that we think are cool. Two of our members work in the pub and rehearsal centre dB’s, so we are very much a part of the Utrecht music scene. There are a lot of bands that make the same music as us. So of course it touches you when these people give you new songs to listen to. Friends tell you what bands to listen to or what new record is out. It keeps us inspired. In that sense, Utrecht influences us, but it’s not the city where the five of us were born and where we learned to ride a bike.
Is there a specific band that influences you?
We all listen to completely different music. There are quite few bands that we all really like together, but someone once described after a gig that she recognised the style in the harder side of Paramore and a bit of Everytime I Die and Comeback Kid. Then we said “oh yeah! we really like those three bands”. Besides that, there are also a lot of bands that we think are sick but are less recognizable in our style.
How did you get the idea of making music together?
We all went to school together, but we mostly got to know each other outside school by making music. I started the project with Anne and Juliët, our drummer and our singer, because the three of us liked more or less the same music. And then Pim and Chris joined us. In the beginning it was quite a research. We adapted our style so that everybody could relate to it. But at some point you find a kind of method that works for everybody. A lot of concessions are made within our band. The music we make is not the music that one of us listens to and the others don’t listen to at all. This click happened more by consciously looking for what works for us, rather than an automatic musical click.
Is it difficult to find the right balance between your musical tastes or does it come naturally?
Sometimes it’s difficult. But there are often ideas and then we agree on the idea that works best. Sometimes it goes one way and sometimes the other, stylistically, but also in terms of taste. And yes, if it’s a good song, everybody can get over the fact that it’s a little bit less to their liking. But all five of us have to find it sick.
Is anyone more dominant at this level in the group?
Pim and I take the initiative in writing and I think we would also be the first to say so when we really don’t think it’s nice. It’s also because our tastes in music are very different, but yet not at all. There are a lot of bands that I like that he doesn’t like and the other way around, and there are also a lot of bands that match each other. So at some point I know what kind of stuff he likes and he knows what I like. And then maybe it’s good to look in that direction when you start making music.
Now, about the past year: what is the most important thing you have done?
Releasing a record is, of course, the coolest thing ever. We also played in Germany. It went really well and it was really sick, so we’ll do it again next year. For me, that was the highlight, but maybe the other band members would give a different answer. I don’t really know..
Do you have any other plans for 2023, apart from playing abroad of course?
We’re going to do a lot of concerts and we’re already working a bit on new music. So we’re going to set the trend a bit. But above all, we’re going to play a lot. We released the record in September and I feel like we’ve let everyone hear how cool we think the record is, so that includes a few more shows.
So the year starts well by playing in Groningen. Have you played there before?
Yes, we played in Vera last year, opening for Tusky and Beach Dog. It was a very nice show. And we’ve played alongside the Eurosonic Noorderslag program a few times before. So we’ve been there a few times. And our guitarist is from Groningen, so it’s always a bit like a home game.
So it’s going to work! Do you have a song that characterizes you as a band?
So, because we put so many different influences in the band, I find it hard to choose one song. But I think “Fire” fits us well. It’s a good combination of all the elements that we think are cool in hard music and that come back in our music. Lyrically, I think Fire is the best as a calling card.
And then the last question: do you have a funny anecdote about the band?
With us, it’s always a lot of fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sold out show or if we’re playing in front of three people, even if it’s one hour driving away, even if it’s eight hours, it has to be fun for us. So there’s always a lot of playfulness too. Not everything is ideal to write down in black and white, but it’s always a party!