It’s nearly 15 years ago that Heerlen was hailed as the Seattle of The Netherlands. In a few years’ time, dozens of rock bands spawned from the city. The hype didn’t last. Although pop culture in the city definitely got a boost by De Nieuwe Nor.
The pop venue, only a few hundred meters away from our office in Heerlen, gave pop music underground in Heerlen the meeting place it longed for. Currently, De Nieuwe Nor is expanded with a bigger concert hall.
Rock music and Heerlen has been a strong combination since the early nineties. Influenced by New York hardcore and indie from the United States, a new scene emerged. Hardcore acts like Feeding the Fire and, later, Born from Pain became icons in the international hardcore scene. A few kilometers to the west, a similar scene emerged in Maastricht, that adopted the name M-Town Rebels. Acts like Right Direction and Backfire! would also become international icons.
Last year, a square in Maastricht was named after Richard Bruinen, a key figure in the scene that committed suicide in 1999. Journalist and drummer Niena Bocken recently made a fantastic podcast series about the M-Town Rebel scene. It is in Dutch and there are still a few episodes to be released. See the link below.
There always has been a healthy rivalry between the M-Town Rebels and the Mijnstreek Oost Crew (MOC, from the bigger area around Heerlen). The hardcore scenes definitely aren’t as big and influential as they used to be. This century, hiphop took over with Het Verzet (Heerlen) and Zachte G (Maastricht).
That doesn’t mean that there are no good rock bands in the most southern parts of The Netherlands. On the contrary. Maastricht has a lively indie scene (Ghost Bag, Grapevine, Baby Galaxy, Bawrence of Aralia).
A Minor Problem is one of the rising stars in the Heerlen region. In 2018, they reach the finals of the local pop music challenge. Debut Houston, We Have a Problem (2015) was a blend of indie rock, punk and a bit of hardcore. The combination of the guitar riffs and vocals sometimes reminds me of Arctic Monkeys during the period of their debut album.
Good Grief is even more diverse and ranged from punky indie rock (early Green Day meets Arctic Monkeys) in opener ‘Talk About It’ and the energetic ‘Whatever’, over hardcore/punk fueled ‘Positivity’, to current single ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’ that combines all the elements and influences that makes A Minor Problem such a good rock band. Original? Maybe not, but the energy and directness of their indie-rock are extremely contagious. Don’t forget to listen to their self-titled debut album (2019) too. It’s here.
Good Grief by A Minor Problem is self-released.
The M-Town Rebels Talk podcast can be listened here (in Dutch).