Yours to Lend, the debut album from transcontinental duo, Dutch Monks, is a complete and polished body of work that showcases the band’s incredible musical connection. It contains a vast mixture of emotions, grooves, tempos, and textures. Jesse Rudd-Schmidt’s tactful lyrics take the listener through the emotions of relationships and loss, while Thijs Flinsenberg’s intricate piano lines are a stand out, ducking in and out of the lyrical journey and providing melodic highlights throughout.
From the thundering introduction of the opening track Storm, and past the catchy indie pop rock bop of their debut single Colour Blind, lies a middle section that takes the listener into the heartfelt emotions of the album’s title track, describing the loss of a loved one to cancer and the effects on all of those around. Lead single Colour Blind was quickly snapped up by radio stations which saw the band picking up spins on both community and commercial radio. The duo go through the album track by track for Hi Fi Way.
Track By Track
This is the one track on the album where our roles were completely reversed! Thijs had the idea for the song and brought it in with the chord progression and some lyrics. I put some guitar to it, and played around with the lyrics/ vocal melody a bit to come up with something that transitioned from a very classical sound to something closer to rock music! This song still always maintained the very dramatic feel of initial piano line which was cool!
Such a fun song to play! It just came to life as soon as we started playing it together. Pretty stoked I got to use the vibrato effect on my Fender Twin Reverb amp to full effect in at least one song as well! Mum has always told me I need to write more upbeat songs, so it’s also a bit of a win for me to write a song that my Mum really likes!
Fun Fact: Thijs actually wrote the guitar solo to this song!!! It hurts my ego a little to admit it, but how cool is that when your pianist can step up and help you out when you’re having an off day!
Chop And Change:
This is the track that has resonated most with audiences when I’ve played it in an acoustic form over the years at open mic nights etc. It’s got a real funk to it! Our session bass player Jason Vorherr just owned that funk on the day of recording, so once he came up with that line I stripped my guitar line right back from something chordal to just the funky wah notes you hear on the album…I had to leave some room for that bass to rock! Then to have Thijs play his keyboard line with a Wurlitzer sound just capped it off!
Fun Fact: It was never a plan to leave the bass out of the first half of each chorus, we stumbled upon that by error during recording, but then realised it sounded great so left it that way!
As Close As You Can Come:
Another old song that found a new life once Thijs and I started re-arranging it. One of the first songs where Thijs and I really sat down and worked for hours on the backing vocals/harmonies. That was a big step for us, as the backing vocals/harmonies went on to become a really strong point on the album, especially once we had Montana Sharp and Sara Lamont join us in the studio!
Fun Fact: This song was the most difficult to mix! There’s a lot of different instruments/voices layered into the song, and our producer Steve Vertigan worked through around 7 or 8 versions of this before he found just the right balance/tones between the acoustic guitar and electric keys! I’m glad he stuck at it though, as this final mix sounds just right to my ears!
I guess this song is really all about that age old feeling of only knowing what you’ve got once it’s gone. Once you see that someone is happy without you, and you’ve only got yourself to blame for not being the one by their side. But also not really being annoyed or hurt by it, just kind of meditating on it, reflecting on what stopped you from opening up, and even feeling really happy for that person that they’ve found a new happiness…‘But I’ll laugh about it, and wish you well… Because I’m a dork, just like you would tell me’.
Yours To Lend:
‘Bloody sad song this one. Written to help me cope with the varied emotions of losing someone you love in a slow battle with cancer. For me, the lines ‘Our strength is yours to lend, a ceremony of helping hands, your memories are what we will remember’ and ‘A place for nothing more, pain you don’t want to see, a strange hope that time will intervene’ are probably the strongest lyrics on the album. It speaks of both the incredible strength that family members can show in caring for someone they love through the worst of times, and also the painful realisation that perhaps the kindest outcome is that somebodies pain and suffering will be eased. Dedicated to my beautiful Auntie Jean and all of her family members who were always there for her x.
A Place To Stay:
‘I just love this piece of music. It is a chord progression I used to play at the start of the song ‘Home’, but we transitioned it onto piano and turned it into an interlude track that stands on its own. I kind of feel like it carries similar emotions to the instrumental title track of The Smashing Pumpkins album ‘Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness’. I love that we stepped away from convention and recorded the track without a metronome, just playing it by feel and a lot of heart. It was the track with the most improvisation on it for the whole album, as Sara didn’t even know what she was singing until she started recording…and wow. Geez she nailed it. I told her to sing the word ‘Home’ like she was a million miles from home, and missing family. I think she well and truly captured that longing for home. I also had no idea what sort of guitar solo I would play, but it just came out with a whole lot of feeling once I started playing.
As the track says, the inspiration for this song came ‘As I sat in my car, in the cold morning air, with the tears in my eyes’. I was exhausted. I had been so busy with my honours year in Biochemistry that I had barely had a chance to go home to see my parents or an ailing loved one in months. As things turned out I never got to see that loved one again, as by the time I finished my honours year visits were no longer possible. The remorseful line ‘As you leave this world, oh I could have left my work’ really resonates with me, and reminds me to try and always make time for loved ones, no matter how obsessively I am pursuing a creative/academic project. As does ‘So I spend my days trying to learn how to help you, even though I know it’s too late’, as I continue working in cancer research to this day. The backing vocal harmonies in this song really get me as well, so beautiful. I feel so lucky to have worked with such incredible musicians to capture the feelings that the songs were written with.
Never! Not Anyone:
The angst filled, possessive lyrics in this one really highlight that the lyrics were written when I was young! But for all its possessiveness, I’ve always loved this song. And shit, we all feel that way sometimes right? It’s hard to be perfectly Zen about difficult situations all the time! Thijs and I could never figure out how to tie the two main sections of the song together, until in the studio our session drummer Peter Maslen told us to stop trying to play them at the same tempo, and just have the song split into two different tempos! Voila! Problem solved! Geez Montana nailed this one as well, that intro vocal gives me chills. And then that massive belting line where the tempo picks up, reminds me of the backing vocals towards the end of Knock Me Down by RHCP!
Another really sad lyrical tale. This one is about a relationship that both filled me with joy, love and a whole lot of caring thoughts for someone, but also with self-doubt, insecurity and an incredible pain that lasted way longer than it ever should have. They lyrics here move through the care you want to show to this person, to the realisation that you have to let them go…both for their sake, and also for your own. I wish I could say I learnt this lesson quickly, but I certainly did not.
Have a listen on Spotify…