100 stories: Musicians – Peter Reedijk
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Peter Reedijk. I am 31 years old and I am from The Netherlands. I play guitar in a black / death metal band named From the Ashes. So metal, with its wide variety of subgenres, is also my music of choice, although I certainly don’t limit myself to metal alone. Favorites are symphonic black, melodic death and pagan metal. Basically I want it to be loud, well-executed and well thought out.
What is the craziest thing you experienced because you are a musician?
I wouldn’t say it’s a direct result of being a musician, but with my former band we once did a photo shoot at a cemetery, after dark, and we ended up surrounded by police on 3 motorbikes and 1 car. Turns out the place had been vandalized just the week before we went there, so they pretty much had the site under surveillance.
How did your love for the guitar start?
My father had a guitar lying around the house, which was definitely a big part of it. Then hearing rock or metal music for the first time and seeing the big, over-the-top stadium shows, back then it started with Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica, made me want to join the fold. I started out playing acoustic when I was about 10 years old to get the basics down and switched to electric a few years later. I must have been 14-15 when I first stepped on stage.
Do you play any other instruments as well?
Not really. I tried my hand at piano and keyboard for a very short time, but that didn’t work out. I’ve always been pretty focused on the guitar and although it’s fun to pick up a bass or drum sticks once in a while I’ve never pursued actually learning to play anything else.
What is the first song that you remember playing?
I built up slowly, so it went from traditionals on acoustic guitar, to simple rock songs until I guess the first actual song worth mentioning would be Metallica’s One. I performed it on stage with a friend – just guitars – at a high school cultural event, which featured mostly harp players and violinists. Ours were the first electric guitars there and we actually had some people plugging their ears with their fingers and leaving. So we chalked that up as a success.
Who has been your biggest inspiration for your music/ your play?
Hard to say. I guess when I just started playing that was Slash. Later on you pick up influences wherever you can find them, but I would say out of all of them right now Chuck Schuldiner (Death) is the main inspiration to mention.
How did you set-up your current band?
After my old band split up I always kept playing and writing music, but it wasn’t until around 7 years later that I decided to form a new band. I had some songs that were ready to go and there were no bands around that fit the mold of what I was looking for, so the obvious solution was to start something new. I bought some equipment to make a basic home studio and started recording – guitars, bass and drum tracks. No vocals yet. I had a logo made, developed a website and set up social media profiles. So I had my band and the response was pretty good – I just didn’t have any members.
I contacted an old friend, Paul Backers. We grabbed a few beers and I told him about the concept of From the Ashes. Even though we live 2 hours apart, that’s where the collaboration started. Other band members were added via our network or by searching and advertising online.
Can you describe how you write songs?
It usually starts with a couple of riffs or a general idea. Sometimes they lie around for months or even years until I finally find out where I want to go with those concepts. I kind of have to get into the flow of a riff and then writing out the basic outline can sometimes take a couple of hours, but again – sometimes months. Then adding harmonies, transitions and other details. The finishing touch is always bringing it into the rehearsal room and seeing what the other guys come up with. Nothing is holy, so we always urge one another to take a spin on our ideas.
Many times I would have music and lyrics that I feel have the same kind of vibe. But that leaves our singer to figure out the vocal lines and that can turn out to be a bit trickier than it seemed in theory. So now we’re trying to develop music and lyrics at the same time rather than approach them as separate entities.
What is the first cassette or album you ever bought?
Guns ‘n’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction, was the first CD. As for cassettes, I remember picking up Clawfinger’s Use Your Brain once when I was on holiday.
Do you prefer to play at home, in a (recording) studio or on stage?
I definitely prefer playing with the band to playing at home, but it’s a close call between being on stage or in a studio. On stage you have the energy of the crowd of course – getting a good response is really amazing. But in the studio you can hear your hard work coming to fruition; you’ve written the music, rehearsed it for ages and then finally you get to hear the end result. To me, that’s equally gratifying.
Are there any musicians (alive) you dream of working with?
It has taken so long to find the band that suits me exactly and we’ve had so many line-up changes that I prefer not to dream about working with other artists – I’m focused on making things work with From the Ashes as it is now. With these guys we all understand each other, and there is chemistry so now we can finally work towards fulfilling our ambitions. That is not to say I would skip on the opportunity to work with anyone else of course, but I’m happy with the way things are going now.
What is it that you still want to learn?
Mostly I just want to keep developing, both as a guitar player and as a composer, to improve technique and learn some new tricks, but also to get better at songwriting. Everyone can come up with a cool riff, but it’s the harmonies, orchestrations and song structure that make good music.
What is it that you think everybody should know when playing guitar?
That’s hard to say, because you could spend a lifetime studying music without ever picking up an instrument, and a lot of that knowledge can really help your playing and writing skills. But what it all boils down to is that it has to feel good in your gut. There really aren’t any rules in music anymore, so trust your instinct – and if it sounds good, it is good.
Is there any other passion in your life?
In my personal life there is my wife, first and foremost, with whom I can thankfully share my passion for music. Besides that: writing and philosophy – which are also incorporated in my music, since I use the fruits of that labor as inspiration for lyrics. Our lyrics are an important part of the band’s identity and they deal with the place of man in the world and universe, and with non-religious, or rather anti-religious, spirituality. These are subjects for endless contemplation and discussion, but also an endless source of inspiration for writing and lyricism. When I put my thoughts into prose I use that for my blog, The Everyman – when I put them into poetry, I use that for song lyrics.
What are your dreams for the future?
There is so much left to accomplish that I tend to split my dreams into different stages. First I would very much like From the Ashes to acquire a steady spot in the national underground scene. Of course I also dream of playing large summer festivals or going on tour, but at least being in a black / death metal band I can be realistic enough about not quitting my day job anytime soon to make music.
If there is anything you want to add, this is your spot:
Thanks for setting up this cool project and it’s an honor to be a part of it. I hope that some of your readers will check out my band’s music and that they’ll dig what we’re doing.