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Don Juan Dracula - Music With Bite

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, October 27, 2008

What do you get when you mix white suits, synths and moustaches and you’re not Soulwax- You get Norway’s nouveau new romantics Don Juan Dracula of course. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers spoke to frontman Henrik Lysell about their debut Australian release.

Start with a Casio keyboard. Mix in a bass, drum kit and guitar, and mix with disco, ’80s synth pop and really goofy names and you’ve got Don Juan Dracula, Norway’s answer to every question you’ve ever had on a dancefloor.

The four-piece’s new album, New Sensation, doesn’t sound nearly as bad as that description, though. Including Henrik ‘Francesco Dellamorte’ Lysell (guitar and vocals), Henning Krane (keyboards), Thomas Dirk Lute (drums) and Ola Magnair Eriksen (bass), the band blends live playing and programming seamlessly.

Thomas says that the story begins in 1986, with Henrik and the infamous Casio keyboard. “We’ve all played in a lot of bands, but Henrik had just finished school and he wanted to do something different, so he sat down and just started writing songs on his Casio,” he says. “He got Henning, the keyboard player, and they did shows together, but not for very long. They did write the first EP and they started from there. Eventually they got a bass player for the live shows and I was actually the last one to come in. My debut was on the release of the first EP in 2001. The sound of the band has really evolved since that time and over the years it has developed into a four-piece band built up with a lot more guitar and acoustic sound with an electronic foundation.

“We still do a lot of programming, though. It all depends on the track, but sometimes the programmed sound will add more to the track. All of the drums in our live shows we do live, but most of them on the album are actually programmed, partly because of the financial side of things. To record really good drum sounds you need a studio and there’s that time restraint hanging over you. We did plan to mock up the drums on New Sensation with programming first and then go to a studio and record them later, but we were so happy with the results, we left them there and took our time with the mix instead.”

Thomas says that he and Henrik write everything for the band now, with totally different methods. “I am a drummer while Henrik has always been the guitar player/vocalist, so he has the more typical singer-songwriter approach. He sits in his bedroom with an acoustical guitar and writes, whereas I flip the process around. I might start with a bass line or a drum beat and work from there, but it all depends on what type of track. We have different styles, but I think the combination of the two works really well together. The only help we got was the mixing and we got some amazing producers to help with that. We worked with Stephen Hague [OMD, New Order, Pet Shop Boys] and Ed Buller [Suede, Pulp] which was an amazing experience.”

WHO: Don Juan Dracula
WHAT: Young Debutantes II through DJD Music / AmpHead
WHEN: Out now