Published Jan 01, 2006You've only ever achieved modest success after three consistently improving albums, even though people only remember your debut. Your drummer leaves, and your prestigious American indie label drops you. You have two options: pack it in, or put out the best record of your career and silence all the naysayers. You are Dutch rock'n'roll survivors Bettie Serveert.
Vancouver-born singer Carol Van Dijk thinks the choice was obvious. "Especially here in Holland, people saw us as an underdog thing. Everywhere, both press and friends would say, Oh, you don't have a drummer anymore and you don't have a record company, so I guess you're going to stop, right?'" she laughs. "Which is pretty funny, because we never even thought about stopping. It felt like a new chapter."
It sounds like one, too. Private Suit, their fourth album (not counting a full-length live Velvet Underground tribute), breaks from the loose indie rock guitar mould they set with their 1993 debut Palomine (also the name of their new self-run indie label). Much like Ira Kaplan, of former label- and tour-mates Yo La Tengo, guitarist Peter Visser has redirected his six-string freak-outs to subtler, yet equally effective, textures. He also shares keyboard duties with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey), which transforms the band's sound into something more, ahem, adult. Van Dijk's melodies are impeccable and new drummer Reinier Veldman, who played in a pre-Bettie band with Visser and bassist Herman Bunskoeke, fits perfectly into the family.
"Peter and I have been friends for 20 years now. Some bands are just in it for money, but when Peter and I started Bettie Serveert we never even thought we were going to make a record. Our only goal was, Maybe it would be fun if we could do a show once in a while.' Then a year later we were playing at a seminar in New York and we got a record deal. It's like two best friends enjoying making music together. I've known Herman and Reinier for 14 years now, so it is like a family. It would be stupid to stop just because business, back then, was not going well."