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Open Hand - A band that’s meant to be
So, we(=me and my girlfriend) were about to talk to Justin, the main person behind Open Hand. Therefore I was really happy to talk to him. Unfortunately he showed up too late at the venue, which ‘forced’ us to interview Michael. Bassist of the band. Man! Was he a nice guy or what? He’s really the most funny, talkative and especially kind person I’ve ever interviewed. Michael happened to be an awesome guy, let’s see what he had to tell us.
Hey, how are you?
Yeah, I’m great man! How are you?
Great! How’s the tour going so far?
Tour is going good, it’s actually the last day that we are here. So from now we’ll head back to California for a couple of weeks but ehm…yeah, the tour is going great! We had a great show last night in Utrecht and we’re looking forward to play tonight.
Did you expect it to be like this? I mean the crowds and reactions and stuff like that?
Well, you know what, I didn’t really know what to expect here in Europe. But we played in the UK before and now we were back and the crowds were again very nice to us there.
How did you come up with These Arms Are Snakes as your support act?
Well, we were playing Download festival and because of that Roadrunner and our guys from the States were talking about bringing us over for the festival and then bringing us back to the US again. But that’s very expensive and that’s why they were like: ‘well, let’s get them some extra dates.’ And we were like: ‘yeah, we’re playing Pukkelpop as well, so why not play some dates around the Netherlands and Belgium?’. Just to put our foot back down and reintroduce the band, the new line up and everything. So, These Arms Are Snakes are touring in Europe all over the place and it just happened to work out that we’re on tour together. And it’s really good for us because those guys are awesome. I saw them last night and I was like: wow! They’re just really, really good!

Yesterday you guys played in Utrecht, and I heard you were a bit shy on stage. You even told that to the crowd. How come?
Yeah, we’re trying to be more confident on stage man. You know what? When we’re playing, nothing can stop us. You can show me your weird face or whatever you want, but I don’t care while I’m playing. But as soon as we stop playing it’s like the force field goes down and we’re all standing there like: now what? And we just don’t know what to do sometimes, you don’t wanna act stupid either right? And actually there was somebody yesterday who came up to us and said: ‘you mustn’t say such things that you’re shy and stuff like that, it makes people think you’re some amateur band or something’. But again, we’re pretty shy, basically because we don’t know what to expect from the crowd, the album being new to them and with the vibe changing between this and our last album.
I heard that you played almost the entire ‘You and Me’ album yesterday, but hardly any old songs. Why is that?
Well, I’m the original bass-player. Sean is the last guitar player. And Justin is Justin. But Paxton, he’s an old friend of Justin and I know him for about eight years as well now. But it’s like ehm…he knows he can play the songs, but right now, with the new album being released, we don’t want to play 20 half prepared songs you know. We’d rather have 10 fully prepared songs and then slowly add some more to our setlist. And for Paxton it’s most easy to play our newer songs. And of course we’re playing some old material as well man, I mean, we don’t wanna loose older fans. We’re even playing a new song tonight. But you’ll hear that one!
You guys are playing the Lowlands festival in the Netherlands in August. What can we expect on a big stage of such a sensitive playing band as you are? I mean, how’s the crowd interaction going to be like if it depends on you?
It’s gonna be good, because we only get shy in front of like 50, 100 people. But, you know, when we played in the UK the first time, we played there with My Chemical Romance, and every crowd was like 2000 people. Every night was sold out. And the kids there obviously had done their research because when we stepped on stage it was like: ‘Hey Michael! Hey Justin! Michael gimme your pick!’. And we were like: what the hell?! It was just so weird for us that they knew us there. On the other hand, those experiences give us the confidence we need you know. So, the crowd interaction will be good at Lowlands I believe, just because of its size.
So, if you had to make a choice, what would you choose? A small venue or a festival?
Well, I can’t speak for the band here, but personally I gotta say a small venue. I mean, festivals are really fun but it’s not really a specific crowd. Like at the Download festival, we’re playing, people do like you, but still they’re standing there like: ‘I don’t wanna watch you, I wanna see Lamb Of God’. They just wanted to get in the pit and get angry, but our music just isn’t like that.

So, do you get the chance to see other bands at festivals?
No not really. Of course I got to see some of Lamb Of God, which was awesome! And of course I got to see Black Sabbath, ‘cause that was like my main thing. To see Black Sabbath in the original line-up is just great. But besides that, I was doing a lot of interviews and stuff like that. And Roadrunner had a tent with free beer so it was like, let’s get there! Haha!
Which song do you love most playing live? Why this one?
I would say ‘Hard Night’, that’s the last song on the album. Something about that song, just the whole thing, the whole ride, the way it goes, is just fun to me. I love playing it and most of the times the crowd loves is as well.
Not too long ago Open Hand was near the end of its existing and now you’re back with an album that has been received warmly by the press. How could this happen? What’s the secret behind this all?
I think it’s just being at the right place at the right time. It’s kinda meant to be. Justin and I never stopped talking about the band. And we were also talking to Sean and Paxton you know, we’ve always stayed friends. And Justin was working on the new album and he asked us to come and listen and I liked it, Sean liked it, Paxton liked it and Justin was like: ‘well, you guys wanna try it or what?’. And we all decided just to do it. It’s just the right place, right time and getting four friends back together.
Your official bio says that there are four guys in the band: Justin, Paxton, Sean and you. But there’s one more person touring with you, a woman that is. Can you tell something more about her?
Well, she’s in the band right now. It was kinda hard, when the album was written, we had guest vocals from Hayley on ‘Tough Girl’ and ‘Take No Action’. And when it was time for the band to go on tour, she couldn’t do it because she was finishing school. So we’ve been getting girls to help us out on the road and now we’re working with Brianne. She’s done a good job so far and hopefully it’ll work out. I mean, most of the times it was like they come in and couldn’t finish the job but I think Brianne is really into touring with us so I think it’ll work out.

What’s the main influence for the lyrics?
See, that would be a typical question for Justin or Paxton. I’m really not familiar with that.
Ok, but is it about life itself or is it something else?
Yeah! I do know that the songs are about life. There’s a song about politics, about a relationship and stuff like that. But again, I can’t answer the question fully man, it’s just not my area in the music.
Is the next album going to be like the last one as well?
Well, I always think that Open Hand keeps shifting you know. For example the new song we’re about to play tonight, it’s heavy. But we do have two other new songs as well and one of those is really dancy. It’s kinda like an upbeat, disco beat song. So I don’t know about the next album. We’re not putting ourselves in one corner you know. We do whatever we start jamming about and then see if it works out. So, basically I think the next album will be different because of the different songs.
Although you guys are on Trustkill/Roadrunner, I still think you’re not that typical hardrock/metal band that every metalhead can listen to. I mean, sometimes ‘You and Me’ sounds like a relaxing ballad-CD to me. What’s your opinion about that? I mean, was the album supposed to be like that? Or was it really supposed to reach the hard rock and metal scene as well?
Well you know what? We just got tired of that. Especially Justin was done with the older Open Hand style. And of course I still like a lot of bands coming out these days, there’s just so many of them playing exactly the same stuff. But basically we just got tired of the older stuff. I mean, it’s still similar to our older songs in some way. I mean, there’s still a lot of riffs and stuff, it’s still rock. But we just changed some things. We changed the guitar tone, we changed this, we changed that, we changed our drummer! Paxton is just more of a rock drummer, while Alex was more like a machine. He was really technical.
So, we just changed some elements-did-I-answer-the-question-what-was-the-question-hahaha?! Sometimes I’m talking and then I’m like, where am I man?! Haha!

Ok, that was already my final question. Anything left to say to our readers?
Well, thanks for having us over in Holland, we’re excited to be here and we’re looking forward to come back. We hope that a lot of people come out to see us at Lowlands.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the show tonight!
Thank you guys!