Tickets Go Past is Phil Mills and Joost Brouwer.
They are joined on stage by Willo de Bildt, Jusso Whistler and Willemien Ahuis who also contribute in the studio.
The band first formed in 2004, and is dedicated to making music as freely as possible, but with an equally strong ambition to communicate. The upshot of this is that the attitude to writing and recording is very experimental while the results can be deceptively easy on the ear.
The first product of this strategy was Twelve Songs about Numbers that was released in June 2008, to critical acclaim. The second album, Mainstream, saw the light of day in January 2011, and the third album, Tickets Go Past appeared in December 2014. Tickets Go Past is an audio trip, equally potent live as in the studio.
Joost Brouwer and Phil Mills met while making music for a piece by the experimental theatre group Pampa Lab. Ronald Lagerwaard, who played on and co-wrote some of the songs on the first album, was the third member of the impromptu band.
After having recorded the music for the performance in Phil’s studio, Joost and Phil decided to spend some time there writing and recording music, just for fun. At the time there was no ambition to release anything or to play the material live.
This laid-back approach resulted in a release of creative energy that after five sessions had produced five new songs. Songs that somehow managed to combine a playful and tongue-in-cheek lack of pretension with passionate commitment and a sense of validity. This was music that wanted to be heard. And so Twelve Songs about Numbers was born: Written and recorded in the course of ten weekends and mixed in two weeks.
The introverted studio process now had to be translated to the live stage, and so the search for other musicians began. Ronald had by this time left for pastures new, so Reina, Willo, Jusso and Ferdy were asked to help form a live band. They quickly brought their own qualities to the fore, and soon became an integral part of the band, each contributing greatly to the second album Mainstream.
The same spontaneous approach was applied to Mainstream, and yet it felt different. Phil, during the recording of the album:
“There’s definitely a ‘difficult second album syndrome’ going on here. When we first started, we had no guidelines apart from making music to please ourselves. Now we have a first album that seems to be sitting there, looking over our shoulders and saying: ‘You don’t want to be doing that.’ and it’s a bit intimidating at times. But it’s made us work harder, and I think this album is really tight, even though it’s still pretty oddball in many ways. I actually think it’s more personal than the first. We’ve come out of our shell a bit!”
Joost: “Sometimes we had to make a real effort to forget the outside world so we could do our own thing. But once that happened, it was just as much fun as the first album. Someone brought in a crappy old banjo that they’d rescued from the town dump that morning, and by the evening it had become the main instrument on My Confection. It was a bugger to get the thing in tune and to play it, but it gives me a kick every time I hear the result. I don’t quite know why I like it so much, but it just makes sense. I think that that’s what Tickets Go Past is all about.”
The third release, Tickets Go Past, started off with a collective jam session that lasted five days and threw up more than half the material for the album. At first it seemed as though it was destined to be finished within a couple of months, but a number of changes of course, personnel changes (Reina left the band) and various practical hassles led to the album taking three years to make.
Joost: “This album is a little scary, because I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. When we finished it, I went off one evening with Jusso (the drummer) in the car, and stopped somewhere where we could look across the darkened river. We played some old favourites, such as Mezzanine by Massive Attack. Then we took a deep breath and put our album on. It sounded brilliant, to our ears. I thought: “Wow, we’ve really cracked it!” I still get that feeling when I listen to it, in spite of all the crap we had to wade through to get the thing released.”