Rock’n’roll has forgotten how to dance. Its original rebellious energy long ago devolved into stiffs staring at their feet as they peel out another elongated solo.
Splinter singer Douwe Truijens is having none of that. In the video for his band’s recent single Something Else he’s unselfconsciously preening and strutting around a suburban back garden, clad only in T-shirt, black cowboy boots and the shortest of red shorts, arse waggling like a duck on speed.
“I want to entertain myself as well as other people.” says the moustachioed ’n’ mulleted frontman. “Plus it’s a way of showing that you don’t have to conform to what everyone else is doing.”
The Dutch band have more than just some nifty moves. Their debut album Filthy Pleasures is a joyful blast of modern-retro noise, infusing fuzzy, Hammond-heavy rock’n’roll with the spirit of punk.
“Throughout my teenage years I listened to punk rock,” says Truijens. “I like it simple, I like it direct, I like energy. That’s why we sound like we do – we write whatever we feel like.”
The four members of Splinter have all done time in various cult Dutch bands. Truijens and guitarist Sander Bus were in garage-psych hairballs Death Alley, organist Gert-Jan Gutman was in Birth Of Joy, and drummer Barry van Esbroek held down the beat in Vanderbuyst.
When Death Alley and Birth Of Joy found their respective roads running out at the same time, they decided to go out with a joint farewell tour, playing their last show in 2019. Splinter was born soon afterwards. Their mission: “Simple, direct rock’n’roll,” says Truijens. “And lots of interaction with the audience.”
Their tongue-in-cheek yet deadly serious approach is encapsulated by their unofficial motto: Music And Youth Culture Is The Eyesore Of The Status Quo. “It’s the idea that the new generation shouldn’t repeat what has gone before,” says Truijens, ever the punk rocker. “Big corporations devour everything. Anything that’s handed to you on a silver platter is done in their interest, not yours. It’s down to people to push back against that.”
That attitude bubbles to the surface on Brand New Future, a sarcastic update on the Sex Pistols’ ‘No future’ mantra. “It’s forty years on from that,” the singer says of punk’s original nihilistic manifesto. “We’ve been promised time and time again that things will be different. But have things really got better for people who aren’t in power? How much has really changed.”
Yet for all their political undercurrent, Splinter are an honest-to-god good-time band. “Rock’n’roll needs to re-evaluate itself,” says Truijens. “It needs to be something energetic and pure again. It doesn’t have to be huge for it to have impact, just honest. That’s what we’re doing with Splinter.”
Splinter's Filthy Pleasures is out now via Robotor Records.