para la versión en español de esta entrevista
André Bollier is the leader of Beyond The Fields, a
band offering to us, from Switzerland, music with a maked rock and
folk style, mixed with other influences. He replied with amiability
to this interview exclusive for Progweb, where he talk to us about
his future projects and his way of feeling and living
André. Thanks for your time... I can’t avoid this first question...
How did Beyond the Fields originate?
Well, in the early nineties I used to play the drums in a
rock and funk band called The Dudes. At the same time, however, I
was also writing and recording lots of folk songs. So when The Dudes
decided to call it a day in 95, I knew it was time to start doing my
own thing. That's when I began looking for both rock and folk
musicians to help me bring my personal musical vision to
You said that Beyond the Fields has
influences from Irish and American folk, rock and funk, so, can we
consider Beyond the Fields a perfect mixture of rock and
has certainly always been my intention to mix folk and rock music
with Beyond the Fields. Having grown up with hard rock and
being a drummer myself, I've always loved heavy drums and distorted
electric guitars, but I've also got a strong faible for folk music
in general and for the sound of acoustic instruments like the
mandolin in particular. In the end, it seemed only natural to
combine the things I love.
You also said that Beyond the Fields is, in
fact, more of a project than a real band. The complete line-up plays
acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and percussion, fiddle
and mandolin, but there is an “acoustic version” of the group...
what’s the difference between the two projects? Is it difficult to
keep the band complete?
The main differences between the complete and the so-called
"acoustic" line-up are the instruments used and the sound you get
because of that. In the "acoustic" line-up, usually consisting of
just three people, we use only a djembe and some additional
percussion instead of a full drum set, which gives us a bit of a
folkier, less rock-oriented sound. Yet we do keep the electric
guitars. So, for a folk trio, the "acoustic" line-up is still quite
heavy. With the complete line-up you then get the full rock band
treatment, with drums, bass and all. Mandolin and fiddle are usually
part of the complete line-up only, but sometimes they join us for
"acoustic" concerts as well. It really depends on the occasion and
on who's available. So, yes, it is difficult to have six band
members around all the time. That's why I hire guest musicians
Personally I think that the presence of the mandolin
gives a pretty touch to the music of the band. But some months ago
Uwe, the mandolin player left Beyond the Fields. Is there a
new mandolin player?
fully agree with you about how the mandolin adds to the sound of the
band. In fact, the mandolin is one of my favourite instruments, and
the very first thing I started looking for when I decided to put
this band together, was a mandolin player. As to your question, no,
we haven't hired a full-time replacement for Uwe yet, but I consider
it just a matter of time.
I’ve also taken a look at your webpage (http://www.beyondthefields.com/)
and I’ve seen several live shows (full band and acoustic set) in
Switzerland. What can you tell us about your experiences when
Playing live? That's the best. Always a fresh experience.
Always good for surprises. Because you never know what's gonna
happen. Every audience reacts differently. You quickly see which
kind of tunes and which kind of approach the listeners prefer and
you can immediately respond to that. While I love playing real loud
and fast with the full line-up, I particularly enjoy the more
intimate "acoustic" concerts in smaller settings. Concerts where the
audience and the band are much closer. Concerts where people not
only listen to the music but actually pay attention to the lyrics.
On such occasions, I take much more of a singer/songwriter approach
and start telling lots of stories and anecdotes between the songs.
Actually pretty similar to sitting down with friends and sharing
songs and stories over coffee and cake. I like that very
Do you like to experiment with a lot of different
Yeah, you could say that. Myself, I produce home demos of
almost all my finished songs. Sometimes I record only guitars and
vocals and leave it at that. At other times, though, I pick up other
instruments and start jamming to my own recordings; and before you
know it, you have written and recorded entire band arrangements.
Over the years I have played around with and recorded bass, drums,
guitars, piano, mandolin, recorder, harmonica, bodhran and other
percussion instruments, not that I'm particularly good at most of
these toys. Actually, all band members play various instruments.
When working together, however, we mostly stick to our main
"Home" is the first work of Beyond The
What do you need to compose music... Only a guitar in
your hands? The lyrics of “Nothin’ to Say” are curious : “I’m
sittin’ here tryin' to write a song, but nothin’ comes to mind....”
have composed songs on the piano. I have started with nothing but a
drum beat. I have written lyrics first. But in most cases I do
indeed start with jamming around on the guitar. You find a rhythm, a
riff, some chord changes, a vocal or melody line you like, and you
take it from there. I usually write music and lyrics together.
Sometimes I already have ideas for the lyrics when picking up the
guitar. Sometimes the mood of the music gives me directions for the
lyrics. In any case, lyrics are at least as important to me as the
music. I usually spend hours till I'm finally happy with every
single word. And I'm not talking about content only. Words have a
musical quality as well. Taking song lyrics seriously is very much
like writing poetry. You pay close attention to both the natural
sound and rhythm of words and sentences. Some words and phrases go
well together; others don't.
"Nothin' to say"? Well, that's not much more than a slightly
ironic song about writer's block and about a cheap way to compensate
for it. Basically a song about writing on when you've got nothing to
write about. You've got nothing to say? Then say that you've got
nothing to say and you've said something after all.
How do you “attack” your compositions with the other
While the songs are all written by me alone, the arrangements
are all done with the band. I may be responsible for some motifs and
I occasionally may ask for a specific thing here and there, but I
don't distribute scores or anything. Usually I just give the band
members basic song sheets and my home demos and I ask them to come
up with whatever they feel sounds best. We then try out our ideas
together, to see what works and what doesn't. Of course, I take the
liberty to say which parts I like and which I want to see replaced,
but eventually, the arrangements are all done with the entire
Beyond the Fields' first official CD “Home”
was published in 1999 with three interesting songs. This can be a
good sample of your musical ideas... but how about your future
projects? Is it hard to publish your music in
There will certainly be more CD releases in the future, I
just can't tell you when and where yet. What I can tell you is that
there are lots and lots of finished songs that are only waiting to
be recorded properly.
it hard to publish our music in Switzerland? Yes, definitely. It has
generally become difficult to get published with original,
hand-made, non-mainstream music. The record industry is trying to
play safe these days, even more so than in the past, it seems. It's
just so much easier to sell records with already well-known actors
or TV talent show participants than to risk money on unknown artists
and music. Besides, looks sell so much better than songs anyway. No,
the record industry and the media in general are not exactly famous
for being particularly innovative or daring. Switzerland is no
exception there, I'm afraid. If you happen to be a clone band, that
is to say, if you shamelessly copy the sound of another popular
band, be it Nirvana, be it Radiohead, be it any of the "big" britpop
bands, your chances of getting published are much better, because
the industry sees market potential in you. Of course, Beyond the
Fields is not that type of band, and our own hybrid of rock and
folk is not exactly "the flavour of the day" either.
Do you remember the first song you’ve
Yeah, I do. My very first song was a piece called "Requiem",
a song about the way mankind exploits the planet they live on, not
realizing that they're actually sealing the fate of their own
species. Nowadays I'd say it was a fast folk rock tune. Back in the
days when I wrote it, which was before I got seriously into folk
music, I simply thought of it as a rock song written and performed
on an acoustic guitar, because that's what I was trying to do, and
in a way, still do.
What are your favourite bands or musicians? Are there
direct influences from these bands in your
There are so many bands and musicians I like that I could
give you an almost endless list here. I love so many different music
styles that I've got favourites in almost every genre. From the
bands listed on your website my first choice would be Pink Floyd.
Roger Waters is certainly one of my favourite songwriters. Now did
his very emotional and introspective approach to songwriting have a
direct influence on my own writing? I don't know, but I sure felt at
home with works like "The Wall".
Another band I love was Mano Negra, not only because they
were one of the best live bands ever, but also because they didn't
care about musical barriers. They joined whatever styles they liked.
French chansons stood right next to latin rhythms, reggae and ska
tunes, or fierce punk songs. An artistic approach I appreciate very
much and one that I share with them.
can certainly see the influence of Celtic folk rock bands like The
Pogues in my songwriting, as I sure love to write and perform fast
folk rock tunes. In the end, though, I never try to copy anybody's
sound. It's more that you listen to someone like Keziah Jones, and
you feel like writing something funky today. Or you hear a band like
Mano Negra and you go, "Hey, I'd love to write me something latin
for a change."
I’ve really enjoyed your music... a fresh rock-folk
style. I will impatiently wait for your future works... Do you want
to add something?
Well, thanks for doing this interview with me and thank you
very much for supporting independent artists like Beyond the
Fields. It's people like you that make sure that there still is
a musical world beyond singing TV "celebrities", casted boy and girl
groups, and other music industry marionettes.
Jorge Sergio Iglesias