-- If I May gets shredded --
On April 2, 2017 I was invited to come over to JH De Muze in Zottegem to see the bands Mum's The Word, If I May and Back Garden Light. And I decided to have a chat with If I May. Me and the guys sat together to talk about the band's beginnings, the addition of Robin as their second guitarist, the band's previous show in the Muze and how effective a well-designed logo can be for a band! If I May begin...
BMS: Hello there, let's start with an overused question. Tell me how the band If I May was formed.Wouter: Linz and I have been close friends and fellow musicians for years and one day we decided to start our own project. We scrolled through Facebook to recruit some people and eventually Joren and Jens joined our band. And recently Robin came in as a second guitarist.
Robin: Well, I've known the guys for some time and If I May's sound is similar to what played in the past so I had the feeling I could be a nice contribution to the band.
Linz: Yeah, we're glad Robin has become part of If I May. Up till the release of No Man's Land, our latest EP, I did both rhythm guitar and vocals but I felt me and the band as a whole could perform better if I were to focus on my vocals alone.
Jens: We felt that the No Man's Land EP was the magnum opus of If I May 1.0. Now that Robin's here, we call ourselves If I May 2.0 and the new stuff we've written since then is deeper and more technical than ever before!
BMS: I read that your band was originally called Along Atlanta. Why did you change the name to If I May?Linz: Along Atlanta was just a prototype moniker for our band. Once we had established our lineup and had written a few songs, we put our heads together to come up with a suitable name for our project. Wouter was the one who suggested the name If I May.
Wouter: Well, I remember the phrase If I May from some movie I saw at the time. I don't remember much about that film, but I did remember one of the characters saying "Sir, if I may" and that quote remained stuck in my head. The other guys were also satisfied with our music act being named If I May and it also makes for a nice logo!
BMS: You're right! It's a simple yet effective design and the image is easy to remember. Well done!Jens: Thank you, Stijn. I've studied publicity and I learned that a compelling emblem can help you make a positive, lasting impression on your audience. It's always easier for people to remember your brand by its logo rather than its name. No matter if that brand is a company, a fanzine or a music act.
If I May from left to right: Wouter De Cock (lead guitar, backing vocals), Joren De Mesmaeker (bass), Linz De Strooper (vocals), Jens Francois (drums) and Robin De Martelaere (rhythm guitar).
BMS: I completely agree with that. Tell me something about No Man's Land. How did that EP come together?Linz: Our debut album, House of Wolves, was a fun start for us and, in fact, we already had some material written for a future release when House of Wolves was finished. For No Man's Land we further built on the If I May formula, resulting in a more robust EP.
Jorden: We constantly review our work and improve where we can. Nowadays we receive much positive feedback from our fans and critics regarding our sound and we feel we're on the right track.
BMS: What I personally like about If I May's style is that it is both rough and accessible. You both employ clean and harsh vocals. Melody and distortion. It keeps things interesting.Linz: Thanks. You know, back when we released the House of Wolves EP some critics mentioned that our music was too heavy to be mainstream but at the same time not heavy enough for hardcore. So we decided that for No Man's Land we would be aiming for a more aggressive style while still maintaining a good sense of technique and melody. And overall, we ended up with songs we're much more satisfied with.
BMS: Tell me something about your musical influences.Wouter: Linz and I have always listened to a lot of post-grunge music from the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, Three Days Grace and Bring Me The Horizon. However, Jens introduced us to heavier stuff such as the British metalcore band Architect. And it's thanks to his influences that I personally started to take a more critical look at the music we make as If I May.
Linz: That's right. Before Jens came in Wouter and I simply focused on the vocal lines and putting some random riffs on top of them. However, Jens inspired us to focus on all aspects of songwriting and not just come up with a catchy chorus.
Jens: I believe that a great song is like a machine and a machine works best when every part of said machine is of equal quality. After all, the whole is always better than the sum of its parts.
BMS: Well said, guys! Now tell me, what things lie ahead for If I May in the near future?Linz: We're currently in the middle of our No Man's Tour in promotion for our latest EP. We hope we get the chance to play in as many places as possible. We're proud of our craft and we have a professional work ethic. We take our time to work on new material and we've always left a positive impression wherever we go play our set.
Wouter: Tonight we'll be playing together with the Bordeaux based popcore band Back Garden Light so we hope that we can do some more gigs with them. We're curious to see how non-Belgian crowds will react to our music.
BMS: What are stuff do you guys do aside from If I May?Robin: Joren and me also play bass and guitar respectively in a coverband called Plagioat. We cover classic punk, rock and metal songs. Stuff from bands like the Ramones, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and AC/DC.
Linz: Wouter and I play in an indoor soccer team. And I work as an administrator for a driving school.
Jens: I work at a Peugeot garage in Ostend. And I've got a wife, child and two dogs to who I provide my fulltime love and duty.
Wouter: I'm a high school teacher in Dutch and Economics. And I'm renovating my home.
BMS: Very interesting! This isn't your first time in the Muze. Tell me something about that gig?Linz: It was a great show and it also was the final concert we did as a four-piece band. For Robin, it was his first time seeing us play live as If I May and he loved it!
BMS: And now you're back and now I'm looking forward to see you tear the place up once more! You guys have anything else to say?Linz: Thanks for dropping by to chat with us and enjoy our performance!
BMS: Thanks, but let's first get together for the photo! If I May, of course!
If I May - The Runaway