“Hello, this is Roger Bechirian and I really like your music. We should work together!” That’s probably what Helge Slikker, Storybox front man and songwriter, heard when he picked up the phone and found out he was talking to legendary British record producer (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Tom McCrae and others).
A week later Helge was in London, where, over lunch, they decided that Bechirian would be producing the Storybox album.
Fast-forward to May 2008, when the whole band took off for Chapel Hill Studios in Lincolnshire, England, to start work on You Can Be Replaced. That meant intense, long days focusing on music and nothing else. “The fact that you’re in England and working with an English producer keeps you on your toes. It makes you want to show what you’ve got as a musician,” says Helge.
And they did. The tracks on You Can Be Replaced are hard-hitting and compact, which is where the Becherian influence comes in. “Roger gets right to the heart of a song, both musically and lyrically,” says Helge. “He can really set the tone of a song. We’re always thinking like musicians, and sometimes we might get a little too into it, but he sticks right to the essence and the power of the song.”
The songs are pure pop, but always with a retro sound that is both open and organic. They might look simple at first glance, but there’s always a clever underlying structure. A Storybox song is always straight from the heart. It’s a self-contained, engaging story that draws the listener right into it. “What I like is songs that zoom in on a particular place or person. That’s where the storytelling aspect in our music comes from,” Helge says.
Storybox formed in 2006 for the show Vernon God Little by Amsterdam theatre company Huis aan de Amstel. The band followed this theatre tour with a CD of original music, the well-received A Fool’s Attempt. From there Storybox went on to a club tour and performances on major Dutch stages like Crossing Border, Noorderslag and the Uitmarkt. Soon they found themselves opening for names like Calexico, Ilse de Lange, and most recently, Pete Murray, who took Storybox on his German tour.
In an age of instant pop music, Storybox simultaneously embraces and challenges the proposition they present with the album’s title, You Can Be Replaced. “Just like everything else, in music it’s all been done before,” says Helge. “But not by us! Storybox is all about the authentic band feeling. We don’t go for a genre; leave that to everybody else. We aren’t out to make it big overnight. What we want to do is make another ten albums.” Which makes You Can Be Replaced, with its eleven irreplaceable tracks, just the latest episode in the continuing Storybox serial.
Hot on the heels of the first single, “High,” You Can Be Replaced was released on March 9th on [PIAS]. On March 26th, Storybox appeared on national Dutch talk show ‘De Wereld Draait Door’ before heading straight to their sold-out tour kick-off concert at Tivoli De Helling, Utrecht. They could hardly have asked for a better start.