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Personal Trainer Announce New Album “Still Willing” out 2nd August via Bella Union & Share Video For New Single “Round”

May 22, 2024
photo credit: Tom van Huisstede

Personal Trainer Announce New Album “Still Willing” out 2nd August via Bella Union

Share Video For New Single “Round”

fast-rising Dutch collective Personal Trainer announce their new album Still Willing due out 2nd August via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To accompany the announcement, and following first single “Intangible”, the band have shared an entertaining video for exuberant new single, “Round”.

Commenting on the track frontman Willem Smit says: “Round was one of the last songs to make it onto the album. I had most of the record mapped out, but I felt it needed something that in The Netherlands I would call “een lekker nummertje”, which I guess means something in-between ‘a banger’ or ‘a tasty little ditty’. Or something. I tend to want one of those on records I make.”

Video director Kilian Kayser adds: “The idea of making a video with an orange playing the role of Willem seemed fun. So we organized a last-minute show with an orange on lead vocals at the Helikopter in Amsterdam and spent a day wandering through the city to shoot the video. A major inspiration was the video for ‘Tom Courtenay’ by Yo La Tengo. I thought it would be a fun idea to end the clip with a live show. It’s my favourite typical music video trope. A sort of feel-good happy ending with a band making everything right for the protagonist on an uncomfortably small stage.”

“Round” captures that elevated exuberance immediately. The cherished and upbeat melody pelts through the soundscape once the harsher tones emerge, leading the way for the sweeter tonalities to form.

This animated vibrance controls the direction of this exploration and offers this addictive and colourful appeal which completely rubs off on the audience, it’s a bright release that triumphantly brings this contagious joy to the listener as you embrace the voyage. Whilst the lyrics and gritty vocal harmonies fluctuate to showcase this immense range, lyrically “I feel round” repeats to hook you, through the dazzling tones and vivid instrumentation. The textures of the release pay homage to a 90’s indie-pop classic. This is a timeless track from an outfit that continues to inspire.

If you like pop music to keep you on your toes, Amsterdam’s Personal Trainer provide that service fulsomely on their superb second album. Essentially the project of Willem Smit (working with co-producer / collaborator Casper van der Lans) on record and a band live, Personal Trainer showed a facility for DIY indie-pop exuberance and experiment in sync with 2022’s debut, “Big Love Blanket”. Now signed to Bella Union, Willem returns re-energised with Still Willing, a multi-faceted album of shining contrasts and spry melodies, effusive arrangements and subliminal sounds, playful lyrics and self-reflection: in short, a pop album executed with dynamism, vim and charm.

As Willem says, this is a record fuelled by its extremes: sometimes energetic and loud, sometimes quiet and thoughtful, always full of hidden pleasures. “When I listen to the records I make, the main thing I hope is that every time something happens on them, you’re like, ‘Wow.’ I like to be taken by surprise like that on a record, to kind of be thrown around.”

Witty, welcoming and winningly melodic, Still Willing is the sound of an instinctive DIY-pop musician favouring think-on-your-feet exploration and intuition over know-it-all premeditation. Willem’s initial intent was to record the album as if live, but he realised that his chemistry with Casper would not be denied. “I felt that we had grown and built a language together. We don’t have to say a lot, but we understand each other well. There was a lot less like trying out stuff and taking stuff away compared to the last one, because it felt like we were on the same wavelength.”

As for how they work together, says Willem, the songs and sounds are assembled in detailed increments. “I write the songs and record most of the stuff, like kind of the skeleton, and then we record drums together. That’s the first step, most of the time. From there, we build. I don’t know much about compressors or weird effects. But Casper knows a lot about that and is really enthusiastic. If I want some part to work better, he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I have an idea for that.’ And there were times when I would say, ‘Do you feel like playing this part?’ And he just plays it.”

Recorded between home and – says Willem – “places that don’t cost much to record at”, the result is a DIY pop album brimming with ideas and colour. Alongside Lena Hessels and The Klittens, contributors include drummer Kick Kluiving and (for half of the songs) bassist Ruben van Weegberg, also Willem’s bandmate in the band Canshaker Pi, who numbered Stephen Malkmus among their producers. Most of the percussion comes from Kilian Kayser, and discreet sounds are served by Abel Tuinstra and Otto de Jong.

Willem is the epicentre of the band, which originated from impromptu and exhilarating live shows featuring ever-shifting members of different local bands sharing a bustling stage. The live line-up has solidified somewhat but Willem still welcomes the contrast with his recorded work: “When I make the record, it’s me calling the shots. But I can’t tell everyone exactly what to do every second when we’re on stage. There’s, like, shakers flying around or instruments being thrown all over the place, so I don’t have the capacity to control that. And that’s really exciting to me.”

Meanwhile, Still Willing arrives as a fervid expression of Willem’s home-recording and studio methods, tethered to inviting pop instincts and rich with the fertile promise of more to come. Willem doesn’t want to tell you what or how to think about the album but, he says, “It would be awesome if people like it and buy the record, so that I can make another one.” On the strength of Still Willing, he’s fit for the long distance.

Personal Trainer have added many more live dates to their already busy 2024 touring schedule including UK instore appearances around the release of the album. Dates and info below:

Personal Trainer UK & EU live dates:

(NL) – 05.07  – Wilde Weide – Kraggenburg

(NL) – 06.07 – Madness festival – Ameland

(FE) – 18.07 – G! FESTIVAL, Faroe Islands

(UK) – 25.07 – Unstead Festival, Tunbridge Wells

(UK) – 27.07 – Deer Shed Festival

(UK) – 28.07 – Truck Festival

(UK) – 01.08 – The Shacklewell Arms (End of the Road Festival take over)

(UK) – 02.08 – Rough Trade East London [INSTORE]

(UK) – 03.08  – Pie & Vinyl (lunch) // Resident (evening) Portsmouth + Brighton [INSTORE]

(UK) – 04.08 – Drift – Totnes [INSTORE]

(UK) – 05.08 – Rough Trade Bristol [INSTORE]

(UK) – 06.08 – Rough Trade Liverpool [INSTORE]

(UK) – 07.08 – Jumbo (lunch) Rough Trade Nottingham (evening) Leeds + Nottingham [INSTORE]

(UK) – 08.08 – Banquet – London [INSTORE]

(NL) – 10.08 – Nirwana Tuinfeesten – Lierop

(UK) – 16.08 – Green Man Festival

(NL) – 17.08 – Lowlands, Netherlands

(UK) – 25.08 – Victorious Festival – Portsmouth

(NL) – 14.09 – Popmonument – Bergen Op Zoom

(BE) – 28.09 – Thorn in my side, Antwerpen

(NL) – 05.10 – Come as you are, Eindhoven

(CH) – 29.10 – Zurich – Dynamo Werk21

(IT) – 31.10 – Arci Bellezza – Milan

(IT) –  01.11 – Covo – Bologna

(FR) – 04.11 – Jokers Pub – Anger

(FR) – 05.11 – La Fosse – Laval

(FR) – 06.11 – Point Éphémère – Paris

(IS) – 08.11 – Iceland airwaves – Reykjavik

(DE) – 12.11 – Schorndorf – Manufaktur

(AT) – 14.11 – Chelsea – Wenen

(PL) – 15.11 – Bardzo Bardzo – Warsaw

(DE) – 16.11 – Shokoladen – Berlin

(DK) – 19.11 – Loppen – Copenhagen

(NL) – 22.11 – VERA – Groningen

(NL) – 27.11 – Doornroosje – Nijmegen

(NL) – 28.11 – Hedon – Zwolle

(NL) – 30.11 – Paradiso Grote Zaal – Amsterdam

(NL) – 01.12 – Maassilo – Rotterdam

(NL) – 05.12 – 013 NEXT – TIlburg


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