Jonas Meukens : singer/guitarist/songwriter for Get Off My Shoes
Stijn Debontridder: guitarist for Get Off My Shoes
1. How did you get your band name?
Stijn: Truth be told, there’s really no interesting story behind this one (though we should really make one up, I guess)… it just, kind of, sounds right. It came up during one of those “we-really-need-a-band-name-now-because-we’ll-soon-be-playing-shows-and-all-that”-talks and it was the first thing that popped up. So there.
Jonas: It was an idea of our first bass player and yeah… It sounded cool and we stuck with it. I guess our previous bass player didn’t like that anyone stepped on his shoes. He was pretty big on his shoes.
2. How did this band get started?
Stijn: Get Off My Shoes started out in 2009 as the brainchild of Jonas Meukens - our lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter. After the demise of his previous band Xink (which had quite a bit of success in Belgium) he needed a new outlet for his musical activities, and basically a fresh start.
Where Xink had been heavily pop-punk/punk rock influenced, Jonas took note of different genres of music and broadened his horizon quite a bit. Now listening to more indie stuff he gathered a few of his old band mates and like-minded new people for a more pop-oriented project et voila: Get Off My Shoes was born and played a first show in 2010. We endured a bunch of (amicable) line-up changes over the course of the last three years but we’ve got a steady core going now. We’re ready for the future.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
Stijn: As for me, I’m into punk rock and stuff like Brand New, Biffy Clyro, The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years and all that. We basically all have our (very different) tastes in music (although we have similarities; like, everyone’s really into The Get Up Kids and Bloc Party) but that’s one of the things that makes this band work. And obviously since Jonas is the songwriter his stamp on our music is above and all noticeable but I guess we all add to the mix.
Jonas: I really listen to a lot of music some from Bon Iver to Gallows. Some of the bands I really like are The Beatles, Bloc Party, Foals, Tokyo Police Club, Two Door Cinema Club, The Postal Service, Alt-J, Arcade Fire, Ben Howard, Blink-182, Death Cab For Cutie, Phoenix and just a lot more…
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Stijn: We’d be happy as a child if we ever got the chance to tour with any of the bands mentioned above, honestly, but most of them are probably out of our league at this point, haha. But if we really could choose without holding back I think we’d prefer Bloc Party. I can’t count the hours we spent talking about how much of a hero Kele Okereke is so… that’d be rad.
Jonas: Yeah, if we ever got the chance to tour with any of the above bands we would be more than happy. But if I could choose, I think Blink-182. I grew up listening to them and they’re still my all-time heroes.
5. Best food to eat on tour?
Stijn: We tend to be omnivores and somehow always find ourselves going to the joint with the greasiest food we can find (in Belgium, mostly fries). That won’t be sustainable for longer tours though, ha. Fun fact: our previous bass player actually had a job making those triangle sandwiches you can buy at gas stops over all over Europe so we obviously ate loads of them. They kind of smell funny though.
Jonas: There’s just nothing better than some Belgian fries. But you can’t eat that every day so... Eggs and bacon, pizza and sometimes a healthy salad!
6. Why should people listen to your band?
Stijn: If you like any of the influence we mentioned above, please give us a shot. We’re a hard working band and we all truly live for music so if that’s worth anything to you… buy/listen to our albums/tracks and tell your friends about us, please!
7. If you could be any athlete, which athlete would you switch places with?
Stijn: Not exactly an athlete, but I’d trade places with that hockey player who’s dating Elisha Cuthbert anytime.
Jonas: I’d like to switch with Dries Mertens, a Belgian soccer player who plays for PSV Eindhoven. But basically any player who makes a living playing football will do it (though no defenders, I don’t like to defend). It must be rad to play a sport for a living.
Stijn: If music doesn’t work out, that is.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
Stijn: Elisha Cuthbert, for being the guiding light in my life, no doubt. Also, probably my brother for sticking by me, and a few of my best friends like Ed, Manu and of course Jonas (or there’d be no Grammy at all).
Jonas: First of all my parents and girlfriend for always having my back when I need it. My brothers and band mates, because without them nothing would be possible and Steven. He’s one of our best friends and a kickass do-it-all for the band doing stuff ranging from selling merch and designing artwork to being a roadie. And of course all our fans and anyone who supported Get Off My Shoes from the start.
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Stijn: For starters, I’d give myself a serious raise (I work for a record company in Belgium and run an indie label myself). Secondly, I’d rethink the whole way streaming is being handled as I’m afraid it will become a serious problem for longevity of any music, artist and release in the future. I’d probably also ask a serious amount of people to get their heads out of their assess and tell the people at Live Nation to stop being such arrogant pricks. I guess I have a lot of cropped up anger in me.
Jonas: I don’t know exactly what to change about the music industry. I guess we’re all used to the business going down the drain by now and there’s not much to do about it. So we make the best of it and we handle things the way we want to. I’m also curious what’s going to happen now we have only 3 major labels left and one mega major. I think the future will show either that’s a good or a bad thing.
Stijn: I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.
10. Memorable tour experience?
Stijn: Not exactly a tour or a single memory, but the best time we ever had as a band was probably the time we went to Berria (Spain) with the guys of BoardX (a bunch of surfers who put up the Belgian surfing championships and stuff like that). They basically invited us to tag along for an entire week of partying hard if we played one show for them in Spain. Really cool. I think Jonas even got to know his girlfriend there.
Jonas: Yeah BoardX in Spain must be one of the most fun experiences I have with the band. Party all day, play a show in the evening, party all night. I didn’t meet my girlfriend there, but it’s a strange coincidence that my girlfriend is a surf monitor at the same surf spot. So I’ve been there last summer as well.
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
Stijn: AP.net has been my main source of music information for as long as I can remember, and I’ve discovered countless bands via this site. It’s a part of my daily routine, as in “Facebook / Twitter / Reddit / AP.net”, so I can’t understate the importance of it for us and how much I appreciate getting some exposure on here (which isn’t an easy thing for European bands).
Jonas: I got familiar with AP through a very good friend of mine. And since then I spent a lot of hours checking new music and learning stuff about ‘older’ bands. It’s awesome.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
Stijn: Mine is We’re Going Doing (But We Don’t Care). It’s a banger. We use loads of guitar effects in our music and I tend to like to play the songs with a large variety of sounds in them the most.
Jonas: It depends from time to time. But We’re Going Down is a song I look forward to playing live every time. I also like to play new songs.
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
Stijn: I’d take any place that’s really warm and has a nice white beach and cocktails. I’ve wanted to go on such a holiday for about four years now but stuff just keeps popping up… also, having no money at all doesn’t help.
Jonas: I’d like to surf so most of all surfing spots will do the trick. And you know, warm weather, a beach, drinks… What do you want more?
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
Stijn: This is embarrassing, but any time I hear ABBA or Neil Young I get reminded of my mom (who passed away when I was a teenager). They were her favorite artists. Anytime I hear Queen or old Madonna stuff I think of my brother and when we were younger. My dad used to listen to a lot of classical stuff, Mozart, Verdi, Vivaldi so sometimes that takes me back.
Jonas: First concert I have ever been to must be Toto. I was like 9 or 10 years old and I went with my younger brother and my dad. I fell asleep during the concert and my dad woke me up because they were going to play “Hold The Line”, one of their biggest hits. So when I hear a Toto song it brings me back and reminds me that I got a baseball cap and got a half day off at school.
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
Stijn: Never really thought about that…
Jonas: I’m really a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender (the animated television series, not the movie - that really sucked) and I think it must be cool to be an airbender. It just seems like fun.
Also being invincible must be cool (but not whole the time, you must have a switch to turn it off, or something…).
16. Any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
Stijn: No rituals, but I have this weird psychological thing where anytime I get near a stage I start sweating profoundly. Really strange, as I don’t have stage freight and playing guitar isn’t really that much of a physical activity so it’s got to be conditioned or something like that.
Jonas: No rituals. We just try to play good shows.
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
Stijn: I never get drunk. Ever. Also, I am Superman.
Jonas: Stijn is never sober. He never is. Well, I have a phobia of birds since I was in kindergarten and I’m kinda stuck with it. And basically I hate anything that has feathers and flies. That stuff creeps me out.
Stijn: That’s good to know.
18. What is your assessment of the current state of radio? Do you think it's a place where your band could flourish?
Stijn: I never even really gave listening to the radio a chance until recently… I grew up with all of the necessary tools to constantly listen to the music you want without the intruding ads or annoying talk shows in between so I never really understood why anyone would want to listen to the radio at all. That being said, I do not underestimate the power radio (still) has to make or break artists as I work for a label myself and see the actual results of airplay, interviews and ads. On top of that, my other band got heavy airplay with two tracks a few months ago and I can definitely see the influence of that on our Facebook page and the way people perceive us. So I started listening to the radio myself from time to time, just to know what’s going on in Belgium musically.
Coupling that experience and knowledge to Get Off My Shoes, I am pretty sure that at one point we could greatly benefit of radio exposure. We’re currently working with a UK promoter/agency to achieve that outside of Belgium and we’ll most probably approach Belgium’s biggest “alternative” radio station with our next release. I think we fit their profile quite well so if we manage to actually write some quality tunes, at the risk of sounding cocky I’d say our chances are fair.
Jonas: Well yeah, radio (and the media in general) can make and break an artist. Although the radio nowadays (in Flanders that is) has changed a lot. There are more talk programs than just music programs. And when the good music programs start, everyone sleeps so that’s that. But I do think we could have some airplay at some radio stations. It could mean a lot for our band and it would definitely give us a larger audience.
19. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Stijn: Spare time? What’s that? Outside of my day job I run my own indie label and play in two bands. I’m also renovating the house I live in so that doesn’t leave me much time, energy nor money. When I do get some time to myself I tend to fire up my PS3, only to fall asleep after about fifteen minutes. I tend to watch series and movies right before/in bed as well though… am currently halfway through the second season of The Walking Dead. I used to read quite a lot as well.
Jonas: I book shows for other Belgian bands and I’m a tour manager. In my spare time I like to play football with my team. I like to hang out with my girlfriend and friends at the downtown bar or other places where there’s beer. I also like to surf so I think I’ll be doing that next summer. I watch a lot of movies and TV series and read some books now and then. And you know… music. I write a lot of music and play in a couple of bands.
20. What kind of hidden talents do you have?
Stijn: I make a badass omelet. This is only known to a select few. I might have other talents, but they’re hidden so well even I didn’t found out about them yet.