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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 music.


Hello 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 life.

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 folk music?

It 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 whenever needed.


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?

I 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 ( 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?

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 much.

Do you like to experiment with a lot of different instruments?

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 instruments.

"Home" is the first work of Beyond The Fields

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....”

I 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 members?

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 band.

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 Switzerland?

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.

Is 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 composed?

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 music?

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.

I 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