Interview: Timo Ellis of Netherlands on New EP Hope Porn, Being Loud and New Label Records and Tapes Records

Netherlands
Netherlands

Following on the heels of three successful and wildly varied full lengths, Brooklyn based Netherlands will be releasing their new EP, Hope Porn, on February 9 via mastermind Timo Ellis’ new imprint Records and Tapes Records. Hope Porn isn’t as far a departure from Audubon as the hard driving Silicon Vapor was from the spastic Fantasmatic but it is some of the catchiest and more immediately accessible work the band has done to date. Which simply means the joy encountered after hearing the overwhelming energy across these six tracks is palpable. Odd time signatures, hooks big enough to hang a bridge from and excellent songwriting all come together to form a cohesive juggernaut that settles in your brain and refuses to leave — a good thing, trust me. Ahead of Hope Porn we had the opportunity to talk to Ellis about the new music, embracing ‘the loud’ and his new label imprint, among many other things. Head inside to see what he had to say and don’t forget to support the band while you’re at it.

Netherlands - Hope Porn

How long after Audubon did you start working on Hope Porn and what made you decide on an EP in lieu of a full length?

This EP was entirely made between last October and December! However, there’s also another full NETHrock LP already done!!, 2 other full Timo Ellis solo LPs, and one Timo Ellis solo EP, all also unreleased and all made since I finished Audubon. I just wanted to come out with a blast of even fresher “chi” by the band, to ring in 2018.

Everything from the EP title to the creative lyrics all point to some of the ideas and thoughts behind the music. In your words, what does Hope Porn stand for and what was the thought process behind it?

HOPE PORN, for me is kind of a shorthand for the underlying function of “pop”-aspiring music / art / film, and really just most of pop culture right now. In my opinion, unless a piece of art / music explicitly, actively tries to comment on the medium either narratively, or structurally, etc. to “problematize” / politicize the viewer / listener relationship, in some way, it defaults to just being sort of typically mind-numbing / anesthetizing / “hope-y” propaganda. And regardless of how “heavy”, “dark”, or “edgy” the work might appear to be, superficially. Plus, this generally is deeply troubling to me and ought to be regularly challenged or at least questioned. On the EP, the song Negative Likes particularly tries to speak to this whole idea.  

One of my gallows jokes about this is, “well, our society can’t be collapsing…because Spider Man 7 is coming out next summer!!”

Taking a look at your website and wiki page the amount of different things you’ve done and been involved with over the years is mind boggling. Seeing as you could’ve went in several different directions with Netherlands, what was the impetus for this band and this sound?

On an essential level, the original intent of NETHrock was always, and still is, LOUD, high energy / fun / rocking the fuck out, gnarly bass frequencies, alternating maximalism / minimalism, with brutal beats. And LOUD. Really fucking LOUD. Did I mention LOUD?

Talking about the varied music projects you’ve had and been involved with, I’m very interested in your creative process behind the Netherlands material versus your solo work or some of your many collaborations. How do you approach this band’s work?

With NETH I try not to overthink the writing, relatively but (obviously) this doesn’t always work! The song ideas usually start out way more minimally, and I then end up fleshing them out to varying degrees. But ideally; the dumber the better! More balls, less brains.

One thing, among many, that I like is that you’ve never made the same album twice. Fantasmatic was spastic while Silicon Vapor focused more on the heavy end of the spectrum, Audubon continued that but was more euphoric in its melodies and hooks, now Hope Porn amps this whole concoction higher than ever. In your mind, has the albums progressed in sound as planned or do you let them blossom as they will?

Thank you! And I’m honestly never really sure what the hell I’m setting out to do; it’s entirely intuitive, I make it all up as I go along. Overall it just has to be fucking better than the last one, etc.

I’ve got to say, the choice to use the synth bass was tremendous. The sheer weight of that instrument on the music and the effect it has is astounding. Heavy as a descriptor sort of feels weak after hearing “L.M.M.” or “Deathless.” Did you know from the start you wanted to use this specific instrument or was it a chance meeting with Ava (Farber) that influenced that decision?

The synthbass was one of the original and foundational sonic elements for the band (IE: it precedes the incredible Ava!) and just sounds fucking rad / monstrous / gigantic. It also never goes out of tune, which is nice too.

I thought I had heard the perfect representation of your mission statement, ‘light hearted, brutal, ecstatic’ on “The Bottom of the Ocean” but after hearing “Rewild!” I believe this is not only the perfect representation but quite possibly one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard thus far. If the question was asked of me to explain Netherlands to someone with a song this would be the one. Do you agree with that sentiment?

Again, thank you. The only way I might qualify that, is by saying that although Rewild! is pretty emblematic of the band’s sound, its also, in my opinion, relatively melodically “poppier” than most of the other material. It’s actually one of only 2 or 3 other songs in the entire catalog that has a “major key” feeling / tonality. But, it’s also a groove-killer, and really gnarly on the low end. So, in these respects, YES / for sure.

Hope Porn is being released on your own imprint Records and Tapes Records, when and how did this come about and has it made the whole process easier versus working with an outside label?

This remains to be seen?? It’s definitely way easier in-as-much as I only have to report to myself, etc. Having RATR is a longtime dream of mine — I’ve had the name since 2001! — and I / we are going to kick as much ass as humanly possible, getting HOPE PORN and music by other amazing artists out there this year.

Can we expect more of the same mind bending videos from this release like we have in the past?

YESSSSS, two new videos are in preproduction right now!

The visuals in your videos are striking to say the least and with your extensive background in the arts I assume you guys are heavily involved in each one. How do you come up with these visual stories that are wildly eclectic yet always seem to fit the songs so well?

Well, I’m a total film buff. Plus, I’ve just taken fucking mountains of drugs in my life so that helps! And yes, I am usually, annoyingly, hands-on with all the filmmakers. However, I’m finally learning AVID Premiere so I can produce all my own goddamn videos.

Once this EP lands, what’s next for Netherlands? Touring, full length, another EP?

All of the above! ..stay tuned for details / specifics.

Many thanks for taking the time to do this interview, anything you’d like to add?

Thank YOU!! Buy our record! Fight the power! And don’t be a dick. Also, everyone go plant-based, stat. 

Many thanks to Timo for his time!

– Josh


Hope Porn will be available February 9 on Records and Tapes Records. For more information on Netherlands visit their official website.

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