The Amsterdam based Bingo Trappers started out 25 years ago as a lo-fi band (with releases on labels like Shrimp and Sing, Eunuchs!). These days, Bingo Trappers sound less lo-fi, which means you can concentrate more on the songs and less on the sound.
And on Elisibethan, these songs are simply amazing. With every tune, right from the start, you think: “Hey, I’ve heard this song before”, even though it’s the first time you hear it. This, my friend, is the definition of a catchy song. Anther definition of a catchy song? If you think: “Hey, I could have done this myself” . Which, of course, you couldn’t.
These are songs written by men who don’t only know their pop encyclopedia, they carry it in their hearts: lot’s of Kinks, parts of Gram Parson, bits of the Sun Studio and even a hint of the Alan Lomax’s recordings. It’s all here, it’s all good.
Every song on Elisabethian is sweet, but you don’t get the sugar overdose at the end of the ride. Therefore, the the sugar is too well dosed.
Elisabethian is a great record for car rides, morning showers, or just for singing by yourself once you know these songs by heart. I’m there myself by now. You will recognise me: I’m the guy with the big smile on the bus and at the office. (Listen to their latest album via Morc Records)
“Good songs are never retro”
Bingo Trappers is a garag epop duo from Amsterdam that has been making music together for 25 years. Their latest album Elisabethan is easily their best, packed with instant classics.
Why is the record called Elisabethan? To which Elisabeth do you refer?
It refers to the actress Elizabeth Taylor, especially with Richard Burton as her partner in the early-sixties movies Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I was always intrigued by the way their acting and private lives were entangled. We’re all playing roles in our lives, whenever we like it or not. And Elizabethan may also refer to that notorious British era, wherein the arts blossomed and a chap named William Shakespeare wrote his sonnets and plays. To be or not to be.
How would you describe what Bingo Trappers do? What does Bingo Trappers stand for?
Describe what a Bingo Trapper is doing in his days? No way! But I guess you mean us as a band, and that’s making music in the way we like to make music. The moniker ‘Bingo Trappers’ was initially a non sequitur, Wim and me just liked the sound of it. Later on, I changed my mind about that. It has to do with trying to be lucky while paying attention to the woman who’s turning the wheel.
Do you see Bingo Trappers as a retro band? Do you think people are way too much obsessed with ‘the new’ these days?
Good songs are never retro. Cool sounds are never retro. Judgments tend to be retro, patterns of thinking, yes, but good art is never retro. Doesn’t matter how old it is, it’s forever new. I’m very fond of cave paintings for instance, who would consider that as ‘retro’? They’re giving warmth to a cold world. And yes, I’m always expectant, the world is new, and I’m obsessed by parts of it. Most of the time.
How did you and Wim Elzinga got to know each other?
I met Wim in the early nineties in venues where bands were playing. There were a lot of them in Amsterdam during those days, we were both frequenting them and we were always having a ball. He invited me to record some of my songs at his place, and it went from there.
How do you feel your music changed over the last 25 years?
Never change a winning team! But I tend to think that our songs and sound turned more consistent with the release of our last vinyl-album Sister Planet in 2014. Or maybe even since we self-released a batch of songs called Nine Songs from the Handsome Pouch, I think the year was 2010.
Which music made you decide to start Bingo Trappers?
Our own music of course. Though, sure, we had common favorites. And that’s not a shortlist!
Is good songwriting a combination between ‘making art’ and a craft?
No, that’s a misunderstanding. Songwriting is definitely an art, but, as with every art, you can develop your skills. So there might be some craftsmanship involved, okay, but it mainly comes down to inspiration and experience, I guess. Sometimes it’s just a vocal line, some lyrics and three chords set in the right order. Then again, sometimes not, you bump into a song that demands six or more chords. That’s the inspiration. And experience.
Do you feel related to early 90s Amsterdam lo-fi bands like Caesar or Bettie Serveert, or were they more into the mainstream than you ever were?
They were more in the mainstream, while we were watching the faucet drip. And I wouldn’t call them lo-fi either, ‘indie’ is the word I would use. Though I’m fond of Bettie Serveert’s first album.
© Conny Spuybroek
Were you influenced by bands like The Jayhawks, Sebadoh or Uncle Tupelo when this band started?
Not really, but I must admit there’s a hint of Lou Barlow in the song ‘Naked’ from our very first cassette on Shrimper. We were more influenced by older stuff from the 60’s and 70’s: Kinks, Stones, Beatles, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Byrds, and even older stuff like Hank Williams and Elvis, and various blues singers: Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf and folksingers like Woody Guthrie and Dylan, of course. That’s quite some namedropping but I’d like to emphasize that there’s quite some obscure stuff which deserves the same drop. There are always different songs and sounds, old and new, that knock you off your feet. So from there on...
- Joeri Bruyninckx
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