7 Questions for… Dead Neanderthals

Dead Neanderthals are the self-described “New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz” and offer a particular free, drone-filled, restless take on jazz (and noise) in the 21st century. Releases this year include the unsettling “Craters”, the unrelentingly brutal collaboration with Sly & the Family Drone, “Molar Wrench“, and the experiment-in-environment, “The Depths”. Core duo René Aquarius (drums) and Otto Kokke (saxophone) both answer the following 7 Questions and maybe, just maybe, in the similarities and contradictions can be divined their peculiar relationship… or maybe not.


(L-R. Otto Kokke, René Aquarius) © Thijmen Sietsma

1. What was your first musical instrument, and what did it mean to you?
Otto: Always was the saxophone. My brother played drums, so that was kind of taken and I got the next best thing.

René: I always wanted to play drums, but somehow I never managed to do that when I was young. So I started after finishing university. It was one of the better decisions of my life.

2. What was the first music you ever bought, and the most recent?
Otto: I can’t even remember the first, but it was probably shit. I haven’t been buying a lot lately, I guess it’s Ethan Bokma‘s horrible sounding but awesomely killer lathecut 10″ ‘Infinity Forrest’.

René: The first was a CD single of the song ‘Liar’ by Rollins Band. It’s still crazy to realize that Henry Rollins himself played a Dead Neanderthals track in his show and that their guitar player lives in our town and actually came to one of our shows!

The last is Rutger Zuydervelt’s ‘Concrete Scores‘. Each of the two tracks originally accompanied either a short film or an installation.

3. What’s the balance of preparation vs. improvisation for the average live set or recording?
Otto: I don’t know. How much improvisation is there when you play a set consisting of 2 notes?

René: We usually prepare a lot. Even when we’re improvising. Personally I don’t want to bother the audience with every half-hearted idea we have, so I prefer to throw those out before we start… Or at least try.

4. What are your non-musical influences?
Otto: the thing just before making music probably. mostly mood.

René: Video games.

5. What qualities do you look for in a collaborator?
Otto: The ability to bring our music to an acceptable level. Is it ever anything else than ‘hey, that guy does cool shit, let’s see if we can do something together.’ Doesn’t really matter what he or she does, as long as it’s cool, you can always make it fit.

René: A real connection. If I don’t like somebody on a personal level it’s not going to work.

6. Where do you stand on the streaming/downloading/file-sharing/musicians-not-getting-paid-for-their-music debates?
Otto: I don’t really care, whatever. It’s nice if someone buys your stuff (especially downloads, free money!). But in the end I just want people who like what we do to listen to our stuff.

René: I’m with Otto here. Super humbled by the fact that people are actually listening to our stuff. Of course it’s great if they can also financially support us, but that’s not the reason we started playing.

7. If money and time were no object, what would your next project be?
Otto: money and time are already no object 🙂 but planning projects is tricky. We might set out to make a doom record but end up doing something completely different.

René: Never overthink ‘impossibilities’. Just go for it! And yes, a doom record is something we’d like to do for a long time. Hope we can make that work.

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