Band of the Day: The Bateleurs

Not only are we going international today with our BotD, we’re going multi-national.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

We’re from Lisbon, Portugal, and Sandrine is from Paris, France.

How did you meet?

Dikk and Rui met when both were hired to play with a national major label artist, and very soon they connected musically because of their common backgrounds, growing up listening to Zeppelin, Purple and lots of blues. Later, while working on a studio project, Dikk met Sandrine and it became evident she was the missing piece.

How long have you been playing as a band?

After Rui and Dikk met, they started playing some blues/Motown covers in clubs, and with a tribute to Jimi Hendrix band, one of their favourite artists; after meeting Sandrine, they’ve started playing Zeppelin, Janis and other 70s rock acts; not long after we were writing songs, it was clear it was the way to go. We’re together for 5 years now.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Names are a difficult thing, after a lot of research, we’ve found the bateleur; it was meaningful because of Sandrine’s French background and its connections to the tarot deck. Also, the fact that it’s a bird of prey, seemed a good way to convey the idea we have for this band.

What are your influences?

Dikk and Rui have a massive passion for the music of the 60s and 70s, especially the British rock with blues roots bands, like Zep, Purple, etc, but also the American contemporaries, like Hendrix, Janis, Grand Funk Railroad, among others; Sandrine adds flavour with her soul/jazz background, with influences like Stevie Wonder, Aretha, Ray Charles, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

We try to fuse all these influences together, the rock and blues with the soul, funk and jazz, and we are proud to say that we record everything without using modern digital editing and pitch correction technologies; we just go to the studio and play until we get it right, like it was done in the past. This process makes us sound true, and less sterile than a lot of bands nowadays; this technology is making musicians lazy, and it tends to make everybody sound the same… it’s important to have soul and character in what we do, instead of just being perfect and dull.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

You can only write about yourself; the lyrics have to be something personal, otherwise you can’t deliver the message with meaningful expression, you’re just saying words you don’t relate to; all our lyrics talk about personal experiences, either present or past, but always with some kind of poetical approach. Because that’s the best way for different people to relate to them; the human experience is very diverse, but in a way, when we get down to it, we all feel the same basic emotions.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

We just recently released our EP, and we’re booking shows to play it live, but meanwhile we’re still playing our set of classic rock at the local clubs; in the last 5 years since we’ve been together, we’ve played around 200 shows, from small clubs to big venues and open air events. Portugal is a very difficult place to play the things we love, but we manage to book a good deal of shows because of the energy we put on stage, especially the vocal power of Sandrine impresses people, even when she’s singing a Zep tune nobody knows…

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

We usually play biker events in the summer, and we’ve seen strippers doing the craziest things, including puking and passing out, to complete emotional breakdowns. But the wildest thing we witnessed was this guy that used to come to all our shows in this club, always alone, and after a while he started texting Sandrine with love poems. We thought “That guy’s kind of creepy,” but one day we were watching the national news on TV and what do you know, there it was, this guy’s picture and saying he murdered his landlord, an old lady. He stabbed her repeatedly and tried to dissolve the body in the bathtub, but the smell alerted the neighbours and he was busted…the guy’s a freaking psychopath! Since then we’re kind of on our toes when creepy gentlemen appear repeatedly on our gigs…

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

Rui plays a DW custom kit with a 22″ bass drum, and a Ludwig Supraphonic snare, with Zildjan cymbals; he’s sponsored for some years by them, and the support our national retailer gives him is invaluable.

In virtue of his background as a freelance musician, Dikk plays and is sponsored by Fender and Rickenbacker basses, through Mesa Boogie and Mark Bass Amps and Cabs; he uses various pedals from EBS, EHX and Rodenberg.

Sandrine uses Shure mics and TC Helicon for effects.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

We just released our EP, and we’re trying to make it across to everyone; it was surprisingly well received in our country; we’re collecting as much reviews as we can from abroad. Unfortunately, in Portugal people tend to look for validation from outside, it’s like nobody cares for anything unless a foreigner says they should; we’re booking some shows to play our material live, but we’re going to keep it to places where people are really into what we’re doing; here it’s difficult to find venues like that, the great majority of people have very bad musical taste…we’re kind of preaching in the desert, but we’re gonna try anyway.

What are your plans for 2018?

We’re planning to hit the studio and have an album released next Spring, and hopefully book some gigs abroad, especially in the UK, France and Scandinavia; we feel that we’ll be well received there.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

We have the dream to open for Rival Sons, they’re our favourite band nowadays. To open for us we would definitely choose Her Name Was Fire, a Portuguese 2 piece band we’re very good friends with; check out their album, they really rock, and they’ve been in UK for gigs a couple of times.

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