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Utrecht Suite

by Dave Depper

In the fall of 2015 I was a few days away from leaving for a three week European tour, and had an idea: what if I recorded a whole album on the road, entirely during our soundchecks? Stuffing a modest recording setup into my backpack, I jetted off across the Atlantic and set some ground rules for myself: it would consist entirely of a single guitar played into a loop pedal, there would be no overdubs or editing after the fact, and I would force myself to record for at least a half hour every day of the tour, onstage. And so I did, beginning in Glasgow and ending 20 days later in Vienna. By the end of the project, I’d amassed over six hours of material. 

On November 13, we’d just finished our show in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, on the French border, when word reached us about the attacks at the Bataclan Café in Paris. Like the rest of the world, we were flattened by the news. It hit especially close to home as we’d played Bataclan a little over four months prior. I could still picture the interior precisely, where the entrance was, where the exits were, where the merch table was. How it must have looked. 

Two days later we set up in Utrecht, Netherlands, a charming city about 25 miles south of Amsterdam. We’d had the prior evening off, so this was the first show since the events. I still felt sick to my stomach, grieving, and genuinely unsettled and frightened about the prospect of playing a show that evening. I instinctually scanned the room for the exits. 

I didn’t feel like making music that day, but I dutifully set up my recording equipment and went to work pouring my feelings of sadness and resignation and hope into what I was doing, and an hour passed almost without notice. 

Listening back to what I recorded, I’m struck by how clearly it brings me back to my mindset at that moment in time. I was scared and sad and angry, but also filled with gratitude for the healing power of music and the community it can engender during times of strife. Though I’m still sorting through everything I recorded on the tour, I decided to put out what I recorded in Utrecht that day while these feelings are still fresh. It’s a small, honest tribute to those who lost their lives, and hopefully provides twenty minutes of peace for the rest of us.