Queen’s Pleasure is an impertinent semi-psychedelic classic four piece garagerock outfit, based in Amsterdam. Driven by a brutal and poetic desire for love, Queen’s Pleasure sounds like a mix of Dandy Warhols and Blur, with the power of The Ramones and the melancholy of The Smiths. A ‘Wall of sound’ delivered with an energy you can expect from a group in their late teens. Ladies and gentlemen, the play has begun.
The origin story of Queen’s Pleasure begins in perhaps one of the most unlikely of fashions: a blues guitar solo to Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.”
In 2015 while attending the preparatory school for the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, current Queen’s Pleasure drummer, Sal Rubinstein, and guitarist, Teun Putker, were put in a band together and decided to do a cover of Tame Impala’s renown hit. “One thing you don’t do with a Tame Impala song is do a blues guitar solo over it, and naturally that is exactly what I did. I put my amp up way too loud, and everyone hated me except Sal. He was like, ‘That’s the guy I want in my band,’” Teun jokes. Sal laughs: “If he didn’t play that rocking blues solo, there would be no Queen’s Pleasure.”
The guys knew that they didn’t want to take “The White Stripes route” and began their search for more band members, which through a Facebook post and a chance encounter, led to bassist Jelmer Van Os and singer Jurre Otto joining the fold. The band’s first rehearsal began by trying another cover song, but they immediately knew that it wasn’t working. Instead, they started writing their own music. This innate desire to create music on their own terms, while tearing at the fabric of traditional music genres, not only sparked a newfound bond between classmates, but it eventually became the underlying thread that runs throughout Queen’s Pleasure’s music. Ranging from indie to Dutch hip hop, jazz to new wave, the guys were submerged in completely different musical worlds, with the only shared reference point being the Arctic Monkeys (“because every teenage boy that wants to play in a band loves The Arctic Monkeys” Sal jokes). The amalgam of genres and influences transfused into what can only best be described as Queen’s Pleasure’s singular sound.
This uniqueness is precisely what keeps the band ticking. They aren’t concerned with how as a band they are expected to act or sound: “I hate it if people think we are rock and roll or something. No we aren’t, we are just like everyone else. Only we found a dream and we cannot stop chasing it,” Jelmer says. Sal adds: “We don’t hide behind anything―characters who we want to be, the lyrics, in the sense that Jurre always sings about true stuff and what he really feels…we don’t want to be anything else other than who we are.”
Authenticity particularly shines through in the songwriting process. The lyrics for Queen’s Pleasure’s songs are as poetic as they are cryptic (“In the line of horror / she keeps her spot at the window for now;” “Dear life grow up sometime and / Say hi to the shaking”), yet this doesn’t faze Jurre, the band’s songwriter; if anything, he prefers leaving the lyrics up to the listener’s interpretation: “I sometimes leave details out and make the track a compressed story. If I tell you straightforwardly exactly what the song is about and already figured out the song for you, then why would you want to listen to it? People are going to figure out the meaning for themselves.”
The bandmates note that a majority of the music ideas come from Teun, the most music–obsessed of the group. On the creative process, Teun says, “I listen to music all of the time, so whenever I sit down with a guitar, there is always going to be something, while not listening to rock music has helped me quite a lot in making more interesting music.” Almost all of the tracks emerge from a guitar riff Teun came up with and recorded on his phone, some of which are even four or five years’ old before the band first hears them. From there, the guys begin jamming, and “within the first ten seconds we know if it will work out,” Sal says.
That instinctual connection is one of the driving forces of the band and speaks to the most fundamental component of Queen’s Pleasure: friendship. When asked about the biggest personal motivator within the band, each band member without hesitation first spoke to their incredible bond, one that has not been without trials and tribulations: “We freaking love each other and went through shit together that is hard to speak out loud. But doing this with the four of us is just something I keep very close to my heart,” says Jelmer.
The close–knit nature of this troupe in some ways mirrors the classic coming–of–age story of four young guys growing up and coming into their own, together. And yet, growing up and experiencing life together in a rising band adds another layer to the story. In an industry infamous for its fierce competition and egos, Queen’s Pleasure’s ability to navigate the choppy waters of the music business is all the more a testament to their trust in one another and the people closest to them, and paralleling their songwriting and composition process, a trust in their own instincts.
Those instincts have led the band from that first rehearsal where they began writing their own music and playing shows for ten people or less, to having a manager, a booker, signing to Excelsior (BENELUX) and Bloomer Records (ROW), and to recording in the UK with Edd Hartwell. Along the way, they’ve played the afterparty for a concert of The Kooks and in Amsterdam’s renown venue, Paradiso, and now they are ready to share their hotly-anticipated debut album, Words To Live By, Suits To Die In, set for a release in autumn 2021. Suffice it to say, their instincts have been leading them in the right direction so far, and things have been moving relatively fast.
That is, until coronavirus, and the world was shaken with a jarring halt. Queen’s Pleasure are what some might call a “live band:” one of those groups whose craftsmanship and artistic identity are best exemplified on stage through their raw talent and infectious energy. A year without live gigs may in some ways seem like the worst thing to befall a band at this stage in their career, but on the contrary, Queen’s Pleasure have found a silver lining: time. “Due to corona, we wrote a few more songs that I think say so much more about us as a band and are much more mature than just the songs we were previously playing live and perhaps would have otherwise had on our debut album. I think we are in a really good position for this debut,” says Sal―a testament to their growth as individuals and as a band.
So what’s next for Queen’s Pleasure? The anticipation of the debut album, rehearsing, making music, and when live gigs and festivals return, “I’m looking forward to gas station snacks and free backstage beer again,” Jurre laughs. But perhaps more than anything, just being together and having fun; that is what makes it all worthwhile for them. Sal says, “We’ve been through so much together. We’ve almost quit a few times, but we made it through, and we are stronger because of it. We’re just brothers…it’s crazy that you just decide to start a band with a few random people and they become your whole world.”
HIGH VIOLET PR