Douglas Firs est un groupe gantois dont le leader est le singer-songwriter Gertjan Van Hellemont.
Le groupe est composé de Gertjan Van Hellemont (chant, guitare), Sem Van Hellemont (piano, voix), Simon Casier (basse, voix) et Christophe Claeys (batterie). Le 1er album de Douglas Firs est sorti le 12/10/2012 : 'Shimmer and Glow' sur le label Gentle Recordings.
September 2016. Gertjan boards a plane to Montréal, Canada, where he will stay for two months. On his own. In Belgium there were too many people and not enough time to slip away. Too many questions and not enough space. There is no travel plan, just a guitar, a small recording device and the intention to see what happens.
This turns out to be a terrific plan. He spends his days reading and writing in parks in and around the city. He plays in local pub Barfly, where it is custom to treat the singer to a Bourbon shot if you enjoyed the concert. The next day he wakes up with a hangover and two new concert requests. The beginning of a series of concerts in music venues all over the city. He wonders how he will solve the bourbon-tradition next time.
Halfway the trip he takes a Greyhound bus to New York to play shows in Don Pedro, The Delancey, Pianos and Rockwood Music Hall. A visit to Tenement Museum triggers the story for Shine ‘Em Up Sadie. Back in his apartment in Montréal he starts writing song after song, including the song Montréal itself. The windows are open and a truck is parking in the street below, but the demo-recording sounds perfect, so it will end up on the album just like that. In one of the many parks he shoots the cover for the record, and then he heads back home.
November 2016. Gertjan notices there is a common theme running through his Canadian demos that needs to be put on record, so he gathers his band. Simon Casier (Balthazar, Zimmerman) on bass again and Laurens Billiet on drums. Senne Guns (Admiral Freebee, Pomrad) joins the band to complement Sem Van Hellemont’s analogue piano and wurlitzer sound with a different, more digital sound universe. A contrast they want to incorporate in the entire record. Dreamy synths. Wild noise. Kevin Ratterman would be perfect to mix the songs, since he created an unforgettable sound for Ray Lamontagne and My Morning Jacket. Gertjan emails him his demos and a polite request.
March 2017. Kevin Ratterman mails back: “These songs are just killing me, my friend. I have to mix this album.” He invites Gertjan to the La La Land Recording Studio in Louisville, Kentucky (USA). But first they need to record the album.
April 2017. Douglas Firs in the studio. First with Jan Chantrain among the fields of Hoogeloon (NL) – recorded on good old analogue tape – followed by several sessions at Gertjan’s, Senne’s and Jan’s place, all in the same neighbourhood in Ghent.
May 2017. Gertjan, Sem and Simon take a plane to Louisville, KY, for the mix. La La Land proves to be a magical place and Louisville a somewhat grey city. They learn that 4 people were shot near the bridge where they had been walking a few hours before. Ratterman does his magic with the tapes and exceeds expectations. Delighted the threesome leaves Louisville and start a road trip visiting Nashville and Memphis, all the way through to New Orleans.
Hinges of Luck is a new chapter for Douglas Firs. With the familiar mix of heartbreaking melodies and raw roots rock, but also a sound that seems to come from a different planet entirely. Lyrically Gertjan mines different themes than he did his first 2 records on melancholic love songs like Pretty Legs & Things to Do or Caroline. He’s got questions he hadn’t asked himself before. How Can You Know?
December 2017. Gertjan turns 30. Perhaps that’s why.
DOUGLAS FIRS - HINGES OF LUCK in bullet points: