You obviously know them from the debut edition of Launchpad in November 2022 where, together with the Surfing Stingrays and Party of the Mind, they rocked the joint. If you missed that (shame on you) you may have bumped into them in the hallways. Prester John is an eccentric band. We were lucky enough to catch a rare interview with these attention-shy musicians.
In one sentence; who is Prester John?
“Amsterdam’s best-kept secret. We are working hard on that. The band consists of Martijn on keys and lead vocals, Guido on guitar and backing vocals, Sjoerd on bass and backing and Rob drums.”
How do you guys work on new songs?
“All four of us have tremendously good input and a lot of respect for each other. All ideas are at least tried out and decided democratically. Martijn comes up with ideas and then brings them to the band. Together we interpret them, try to keep the atmosphere and make it band-specific. It is then clearly recognisable as Prester John.”
“We know our and each other’s weaknesses. More than wanting to be a virtuoso band, we are looking for our own sound. We are musical though. We listen to each other and together we create something new.”
And that search doesn’t stop when the songs are finished.
“Sometimes we change something about a song after years. Rob and Martijn have also been playing together since 1998, and we’ve been together in this formation for eight years.”
How did you guys end up at the Helicopter?
“We played for years at Voices in Amsterdam Oost, but that closed down during corona. Sjoerd then found the Heli via Google. Two of us live nearby and for the rest, the free parking is a nice bonus.”
What can you tell about your music?
Rob: “They are storytelling songs, but I’m not allowed to call it that from everyone else. A bit more narrative than ‘I love you’, and so on. The songs are polyphonic, accessible but varied. We use different time signatures and tempos. All in English.”
Where can we find your music?
“Not online yet. We are working on that, though. We do everything at home, with Martijn. That takes a lot of time in addition to our busy jobs. You can see us perform on Youtube, though.”