Imagine the times when The Beatles were regularly playing concerts in Europe. Not when their myth got to be more important than their music. A few inconspicuous boys on the stage, for example in Paris, trying so hard to correctly spell maintenant, un chanson qui s’appelle… Bras throwing and high-voltage squeaking appears.
Now imagine the same scene in a small coffee place in the North of the Netherlands. These aren’t the Liverpool guys anymore, but the Haarlem guys – The Hype; a quintessence of a blowzy musical cuteness.
I’ve come across The Hype during my Erasmus in the Netherlands in 2011/12. After watching them at a student music festival I knew they must be a hit. A short, juvenile love for them was as quick as a teenage holiday crush; and was soon forgotten. It is, however, important to look back and refresh those hidden gems because they remind us how rock and roll is always inspiring new bands and how it is interpreted by the young, talented musicians. The Hype is an interesting, lovable example of a band that makes us smile and adore rock and roll even more.
That cool band next door
One of a few sunny, summerish days in the Netherlands. A couple of young gentlemen hang out on the street and play a charming little cover of Bob Dylan’s Mighty Quinn. The nice guy – the vocalist with a juvenile smile. The black-beard accordionist, the shy drummer and, looking a bit bored, the guitar guy.
I got to admit; it feels so comforting and hopeful when I hear that an initiative called “Haarlem music sessions” was born in this small city on the periphery of the noisy Amsterdam. Described as a chilled acoustic meeting with musicians, in fact, is all about inviting new, fresh, rising music band from all over the Netherlands and letting them play on the street in a cozy atmosphere of Dutch architecture. With no big audience, with no accelerators; be it a totally usual jam session on a summer day. “Haarlem music sessions” has already hosted many well-known and liked Dutch bands such as The La La Lies and Tommy Lebben.
The Hype has also been and played there. What’s more, they actually perfectly blended in this artistic climate. Even despite the fact that they’ve been playing for a bit more than 2 years and have played dozens of concerts, they released their first album only in September 2011. Is it just being lazy or they simply wanted to prepare well to make a perfect first impression? Or is it a sign of a low self-esteem? This last theory seems to make sense when we take a look at the biography note on their website.
What’s interesting (and sad), the fans outside of the Netherlands have a slightly more complicated communication access because the whole page content is written in Dutch, with no possibility of translating into English. I wonder where this lack of confidence come from? Taking into account that there are a lot of foreigners in the Netherlands and nearly every citizen of the country can speak perfect English… the band’s decision remains to a mystery (or, simply, they didn’t notice the importance of English translation). In order to find out anything more about the band, we simply have to trust the clumsy translation provided by Google. That’s a pity; although perhaps the cloud of mystery makes The Hype even more charming.
Every groupie’s biggest dream
Because charm is definitely one of their strongest features. Every member of the band represents a bit different type of the musician’s look. The guitarist, Jeroen Harmse, always looks a bit bored, sunk in his own world – kind of like an antisocial, teenage Keith Richards. The drummer, Koen Dijkman, can always surprise with an expected, improvised solo. The multiinstrumentalist (plays accordion, keyboard, harmonica, and tambourine), has the looks of a classic rock star. With his black, curly hair and a representative beard, with a passionate gaze of his dark eyes, completes the band’s tune with the keyboard sound.
Last but not least, we have the vocalist. Yorick van Norden is a strikingly positive, joyful student of the Songwriting faculty at Codarts Pop Academy in Rotterdam. It’s impossible not to pay attention to him when watching the band’s performances. Every time he sings, he cannot help smiling, as in his love for music just can’t stay still. Formally, he’s just a sweet guy but in reality, Yoricks style resembles a bit the irresistible, cute, rebellious spirit of John Lennon. Young John Lennon, to be exact.
When rock and roll and pop-rock became best buddies
Now, it may seem that The Hype’s concerts are better perceived with the sound off. No such thing! Their music can be shortly described as an energetic, optimistic pop rock with lots of love for the classics of rock and roll. All of their artwork echoes with the influences of legendary artists such as The Kinks, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Neil Young, David Bowie… Plus, moving to the modern times, we can hear sounds characteristic to Oasis or Radiohead, coined in the 90s. However, the band that influences The Hype to the biggest extent is definitely The Beatles.
What positively surprises in their style of ‘following’ The Beatles is the fact that the Haarlem guys don’t try to blindly copy their idols. True; their fascination in this music legend is absolutely visible, but it’s a healthy, realistic fascination. The Hype takes from that gold bucket as much as they want, at the same time they love to experiment with their own ideas. Therefore The Beatles is definitely the strongest core of inspiration to the young musicians.
We can observe that in the song What do you say? A simple story, presented in the video clip, probably reflects their biggest dreams – following the steps of their idols. The boys are running around Liverpool in search of the famous Cavern Club; the place where The Beatles started their adventure with music. The video clip itself has been directed quite well and with lots of consequence, without too much light on the musicians’ pretty faces. That consequence and detail-orientation are characteristic for The Hype’s each released clip.
The video clip of Bowie, a tribute to the glam rock icon from the 80s, is a daub, over-colored picture… but perfectly well-kept in the aesthetics of that decade. It was a risky move to direct a clip like that but claims, again, that the musicians don’t really care about what others may think about them. A tribute is a tribute without hiding things which are not so cool anymore.
Authenticity with no compromise is a great feature of The Hype. Another one is – laughing about themselves. We can notice that in the video clip of Don’t give up on me. Even if clearly made with a low budget, often corny and not-that-funny, the video transmits the message and shows some nice pieces of catchy tunes. The track itself is basically more rock and roll Beach Boys or, if you prefer, smoother The Kinks. We can sense that the musicians are having lots of fun with their craft, making fun of what is expected of them and laughing in the face of the common model of the ‘overnight success’.
The 5 p.m. rock and roll gig
Now, let’s stop for a while and think about the true meaning of that laughing. Isn’t just a sign of hidden jealousy and unspoken dream of achieving great success? After some proper reflection time, I can honestly say that it is none of those things. Proof?
A concert played by the band during the Eurosonic Festival in 2012 in a charming city of Groningen, the Netherlands. The guys created a true rock and roll atmosphere in a chain coffee place; youth craziness almost like from The Beatles time. And it wasn’t even 5 p.m.! Well, there were no bras flying around, from what I know, but the audience started to sing and dance almost from the beginning of the gig. And what did The Hype do? Didn’t stand in a safe distance from all that madness but started to dance with the crowd! Imagine a cold, January, Saturday afternoon. You go with your friends to have a coffee. Your plans to spend a chilled out afternoon vanish fast as you find yourself dancing a spontaneous twist with the guitarist and people around you (including the band) jump and dance all over the coffee place. A true phenomenon, isn’t it? Very lovable.
Which doesn’t mean that The Hype’s audience is only made of a bunch of excited young girls. The band was invited to star in national radio auditions many times and has gained the support of well-known music critics such as Matthijs van Nieuwkerk. The Hype does great both in the cozy space of the radio room, cameral clubs, and big national festivals, such as Eurosonic or Bevrijdingspop.
Not there yet
What is it then that they still haven’t achieved a big worldwide career? It seems like that the boys got everything what’s needed: talent, the looks, but what’s the most important, a true and pure love for music. They also don’t lack this specific, unique relationship between each band members which means that they simply like to hang out and make music together. This friendship is the most vivid in the almost-invisible gestures and short smiles in the video clip of Follow the Sun.
The Hype is made of nice guys next door. It’s so easy to imagine how they gather around for rehearsals in one of the member’s room and then go to a pub for a beer. They study hard and in the meantime, play a concert or two. And always listen to the favorite records. The beloved The Beatles and The Kinks, the respected Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
Why would we then moan about them still not getting the success and attention they deserve? What if they are just at this stage of their career when everything is still getting its shape? Their style is not yet very clear; they’re learning and following their idols. Still looking for ‘the perfect song’. In the meantime, we should let them play and they will get the necessary experience and that specific ‘stage nonchalance’. After all, even The Beatles started from zero, right? That is why I am calm and positive about The Hype’s future. And it seems that they’re calm and positive too because we hear them singing Don’t say that good times are over; they’ve only just begun!