Front 242 // Belpop

There is a lot of noise in music, but there is alsoenough music in noise to make it acceptable.Attending a show of Front 242 was really something.Summer 2008Front 242 is performing in Audenaarde.The band members gather at thekeyboard player's house, Patrick Codenys.Brussels, early 80sWhile rock and guitars dominate radio channelsand clubs around Flandersin Brussels some young bandsbegin to experiment with electronica.They use synthesizers and beatboxesinstead of guitars and drums.One of these bands is Front 242.Front was formed in 1981 in Aarschotby Dirk Bergen and Daniel Bressanutti.The band would soon be part of theBrussels electro scene.I was also involved with the scene in Brusselsand at some point I thought:"I'm going to begin to work with synthesizers"because I couldn't see myself as a guitar player,but with the high prices of equipmentand being a small "Mr Nobody"I eventually found my way by working ata music instruments shop.It was "Hills Music", a shop that still exists today.This music shop in Brusselswas an important meeting placefor the two new members of Front 242Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer.At that time, he worked in a music instruments shopright around the corner, at "Hills Music"we were already regular customers of his shop.And at some point, he asked us:"You buy electronic instruments?""What kind of stuff do you make?"And we described him our way of producingand he said: "I do more or less the same thing"and that's how we started to work together.Daniel was a graphic and interior designerJean-Luc has studied historyeveryone had differents interestswell...different personalities actuallyBut everyone had an interest for the same music.I have always loved Joy Divisionfor their dramatic content...even on record, you can feel thatsomething really strong is going on.I have been strongly touched by this band...I think it is a great group...with great personalities...and then I said to myself: "That's the way to go!"At that time, since I enjoyed electronic devicesI was involved with "Musique concrète"and other projects.All the avant-garde "noise"as many people would call it at that time..Stockhausen, all these thingsI've always been passionate about them.The experimental music of Stockhausenthe dark new-wave of Joy Divisionand the electro-pop of Fad Gadgetwere all a sources of inspiration for Front.In 1981 the band released their first single"Principles"The track on the B-side, "Body to body", was a hit.The following year, the single "U.Men" was releasedThanks to these releasesFront 242 got a large and faithful fan base."U. MEN" was produced by Daniel, in his studio.In general, in our way of doing thingsvery often it is Daniel who begins with a base.So one base, that is merely a bass linewith some electronic drums.Then Jean-Luc tries to put some voices on top of thatI then try to bring some parasite layers.Next, all of us get together in the studioand we try to build the structure of the track-In 2008, Front 242 welcomed two new membersand so there were now a band of six peopleThe drummer, Tim Kroker, comes from Germanyand Sylvain Guigon, in charge of the video effectsis from France.Before each show, the electronic machinesare picked up in a secured warehouse.We got the feeling that, in terms of live actwe had reached a dead endand we wanted to try to go further in somethingand we liked to go to see Richard with his noise conceptthat fitted well within the "DNA" of Front.He hadn't astonishing music, but he hadloads of energy.And we thought: "That's something that is reallymissing, we should have this kind of energy".So we asked him if he would be interested in performingon stage, with Jean-Luc.And there was, directly, an instant energysome kind of electricity, going on between these two.In 1983, Richard Jonckeer becamethe fifth member of the bandand was identified under the codename "Richard 23".For me it was really perfectbecause I had bought the band's first singleand I felt very close to this kind of music.We used to read books written byWilliam Burroughs, the American writer.He was quite focused on numerologyand he paid a lot of attention to the number 23because 23 is the association of the 2 and the 3and added together it's 5and there was "23" everywhere...and so we started to call each other...well, you had Patrice 23, Gérard 23, Richard 23...It was a bit of a joke, but also a way to differentiateourselves from the others, when we said "23"So when I had to register an artist namefor copyrights purposesI naturally chose "Richard 23".Everyone calls me this way.Soon after that, Dirk Bergen left the band.Front 242 was now composed of 4 members.The band's name remained unchanged.I wanted to make something more serious with Frontsomething that had some impact.And the word "Front" in the 80shad still a strong impact(nowadays, much less)Because "Front" could be translated in many langagesand the "Two-Four-Two"well that's something universal, numbers...The name, Front 242, had in the beginningno real meaning.It was a strong name. Of course it means something:it means to stand at the fronttrying to stand before the others, to break some limitslike an army that goes to battle.Regarding 242, the numbers just sound good.Moreover, it translates in all keeps a strong impact and has the same meaning.Their music too needed to have an impactto overcome the commercial beats of the momentlike for example the beats ofMarc Moulin's electro band Telex.Yes, bands like Telex, they were goodat doing their thing, very good in factbut for me, I didn't see there...well, it's not that I mean to be overly criticalbut as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't see there anysource of inspiration for us, nor any future for us.At that time, no one was able to work with a synthesizerexcept maybe Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerkeveryone wanted to give it a try.Techniques and technologies, you learnby using them, step by step, little by little.And for me, it is the combination of all those elementsthat allowed Front to become "Front 242".At that time, you had the first synthesizers.It was quite primitive.You had to follow the machine. Today you justhave to push a button and you create a track.Then, you really had to havethe skills in order to make it work.Computers had almost no memoryyou had a very limited set of instruments.They started to experiment with themand the results became fantasticand then it was also amplified on stage.When I play the keyboardI just cannot play "beautiful" notes.I always tend to play dark notesI don't know whyI hate myself sometimes, but that's the way it isI start to play something, and it ends up beingsomething sad, or underground, or darkit's my nature.There is a lot of noise in music, but there is alsoenough music in noise to make it acceptable.There never was any message in Front 242 really.What we've always tried to do was taking some snapshots.Since I contribute very little to the final productionwhat the others do, at least in the first two albumsthey used some tracks and then they"chopped" some sentences.Sometimes we thought: "ok, this word doesn't soundthat good", so we'd simply put it away, discard it.So when I'd hear the final result, I said:"this doesn't mean anything anymore."And they would say: "No, it doesn't mean anythingbut it sounds much better."I would then listen to it again, and had to admit:that's true, it sounds better, so ok, let's keep it this way.Everybody worked for the end result.that was the most important thing for us: the aestheticthe aesthetic of Front 242 tracks.We had some ideas, we wanted to createsomething different with electronic music.With electronic music we could get to somethingthat was impossible to reach with other types of music.To break the anglo-american rock'n roll clichésWith rock, there are some "rules"a song is always 2 minutes 30You have an intro, a break, a crashjust before the refrain.With electronic music, the machinesbeing so rigid, you cannot do thatso you must find another concept, another wayof performing live with the machinesbut also with the image you deliver on stage.First, our concept was to tell very very little about uswe wanted to keep the mysterybecause if you tell the people everythingthey don't want to know anymore.So we said as little as possible about ourselvesat least during the first 3 or 5 years.It was not about the individuals in the bandbut rather what the band did, the concept of the band.That's why we wore dark glasses. So peoplewouldn't know who was who in the band.Also one important thing:they were not musicians, they had no musical training.We never rehearsed.We actually worked on the tracks byexchanging tapes between usand to get ready for the concerts, we did the sameFirst there was one tape with the base of the trackevery one got a copy of this tapeand everyone knew exactly what he had to do.We worked at home.I think that we gave around 800 concertsbut I think that we rehearsed maybe ten times.A lot of hard work took place Daniel's studiothe B Plain in Aarschot.In 1982, one year after the release ofthe first single "Principles"Front released the debut LP: "Geography".2,5 meters by 2,5 meters, that was our first studiowhere "Geography" was produced.There were sometimes 3 or 4 people inside.It was really... well you couldcall it closet I guess.But it actually worked.We use an instrument, a computerthat serves as a "master" for all the others instrumentswhich are "slaves"..."Geography" was a self made recordtotally self-produced.We went to the best press companywe made our own sleavesand we went to the stores with our recordsand leave to the owner maybe20 records, or sometimes maybe 50but the album had the track "Human"which had became a genuine hit, with thealternative radio channels in Brussels.And so the sales were going rather well.What we need now is a good record labelto push the sales abroada serious record label that works with a serious bandthat's what we are doing right now.So the future of Front, depends on me.We had the opportunity to make a clip for RoodVonkfor the Flemish television (VRT).but we had not a lot of moneyand also, the music was very simplebecause we only had a four-track recorderso it had to be simpleand so the video clip was also very simple.At that time I did the recording to make this clip forVRT (Vlaamse Radio Televisie - Flemish Radio and TV)and it was not that easy, with their image,with the fact that they couldn't be identifiedWell, to translate this universe in picturewas not easy, it was quite an artistic challenge.The video clip was directed byMarcel Vanthilt and his his team.We were big fans of Arbeid Adeltand Marcel Vanthilt was fan of Front 242.He came over with his teamat that time, we were young beginnerswe had no clue about whatwe should do, and how to do it.Eventually, we recorded this clip inDaniel's sleeping room.At that time we had sold about 800 records.Meanwhile, more than 300 000 copies were sold.However, it hasn't been easy at all.Front 242's infamous performancesalways attracted many fansbut the belgian music press was less enthusiastic.I remember very well the wall of soundin the dark, with loads of flashing lightsit was quite an experience.I did not very often get scared during a concertspecially in my own countrybut with Front, it was scaryThe music was loudI had a strange feeling, as ifsomething was going to happenor that they would be arrested by the policeor that maybe someone would just throw themout of the concert venue, with all their gear.Sometimes we'd get into a fight with Richard, on stageI don't know why...we decided to do it.One day I knocked him down, it was not intentionalI had not realized that he was standing behind meI knocked him in the face with my elbowhe lied on the floor for 2 minutes.Then I went on to kick him with my feetsaying: "get up now, it's over, get up!"These were things that could happen.Yeah, sometimes Jean-Luc andRichard would get into a fight on stagebut that's also part of the show in a wayIt's true, sometimes I wanted to pick up a fightand it could detonate anytime.and if the blast occured during the showit was better, because then it served a purpose.Rather than before or after the show.You'd better not ask Richard what hewanted to drink between two tracksbecause you might as well get punched.Front 242's first audiencecame to our shows because we were extremeThey came for the concerts, and for the rest.We even used smoke grenades from the armywhich produced such a thick smokethat we could hardly breatheand on top of that, whatever was neededto have a stronger impact.The intention was always: "We're gonna kill them".We went to concerts in that state of mindand that was a shock, a commando raidhalf an hour, then we'd leave.No "one more", no "encore", nothing!Sure, when you are 14 years old, or 13, such a showyou know, it's quite impressive.Richard 23, with his megaphone and his commando outfit.You had all of the army clothesfrom American army shopsthey were rather cheap and our fans could buy themto go to the concerts, as a sort of uniformand that also became a symbol of the band.It really wasn't my thing.You must also consider the fact that in these days youhad the C.C.C. bomb attacks happening.Acting on stage wearing combat clothes...I didn't fancy that, really not.There was the cold war going on betweenthe Soviet union and the United States.There was a lot of tension in the aira sense of emergency between the two blocks.A lot of movies were inspired from that conflict"Apocalypse Now" for example.It was of course a conjunction of all those concepts.The press called us neonazisbecause our music had strong rythmsand on stage we dressed with army outfits.That's totally untrue.Our political ideas are rather the complete opposite.A rather disturbing idea was the possibilityof physical aggressionfor political ideas that were not ours.We just just couldn't accept that.In the beginning we didn't pay muchattention to that distorted image.We thought: "Well, it's just one journalistwho got it all wrong, who cares?"It was a mistake to consider Front 242an extremist band.Following that newspaper article, I'd go to a nearbyshop, where I'd been a regular customer for ten yearsthe owner always welcomed me with a smilethe shop owner had read this flemish newspaperand told me:"I am deeply disappointed and sad, knowingthat you belong to the far-right movement."In the music world, playing withtaboos was forbiddenwhereas in the film industry any topiccan be considered acceptable.The left-wing, the right-wing, Adolfanything you can think of...Try to do that in the music industryand you are doomed.It's like shooting a bullet at your own footas the saying goes.From what I remember, there was an aggressiveatmosphere between the pressspecially Humo, and Front 242.It had something to do with theso-called ideology of Front 242.Always the same criticism:guerilla music, terrorists beats...I remember that in Humo magazineeverything that had guitars in it was considered cool,On the contrary, anything that hadsynthesizers was demonic.I can now realize how strong it wasto decide to go against the mainstream.At that time, in Studio Brussels, we did not thinkthat Front 242 was a very good band.We had the same issue with Queen for example.I am not saying that it wasn't music of coursebut it didn't quite fit our mentality as a radio station.We never included them in the playlists.It's a shame actually, and I should apologise for that.The radio played things likePrince, Bruce Springsteenand then Front 242, who didn't fit into a day-time radioprogram, like in the early days of Radio Brussels.I remember that Luc Janssens once did aFront 242 megamix, one full hour withFront 242 tracks only.This had never happened before.Front 242 was never played on radios, exceptmaybe on Radio Panic, on their night programand the Belgian music scene, the "real" musicianstook a laugh out of Front.They didn't consider it to be real musicfor them it was just a joke.At last, from Belgium, is something to challenge that.Ladies and gentlemen, Front 242.In 1984, the second album "No Comment" wasreleased, followed by a european tour.Front came out with a new name for their music:Electronic Body MusicWithout any doubt, 1984 was another high pointwith that letter, or message, from Waxtrax.Waxtrax was an American label whichkept an eye on other european bands.These people were also into avant-gardeFor us, it was "a dream come true".Imagine, you are involved in music, in Belgiumyou got strong criticisms coming from all sidesand then people from an american label come and say:"We want to release your record in the United States".And a few months later, they want you tocome over to give some concerts.So we were heading to the United Stateswe packed our things up, and of course thiswas not a conventional backline.There were keyboards, a tape-recordersome camouflage nets.We arrive at the Brussels airport, Zaventemand proceed to the check-in.A few moments later there was a bill...we had to pay for the extra-weight.Now I can't remember how manythousands of Belgian francs it was.Sixty-thousand belgian francswas really a lot of money for us.One hour before the departurewe decided to cancel the American tour.But then people from Waxtrax helpedand also the management of a club in Montrealnamed "La Foufoune Électrique", a punk venueThese two, the Waxtrax label and the club in Montrealjoined their forces to keep the American tourthey put some money on the tablebecause we simply hadonly enough to pay for the plane tickets.Thanks to them, the American tour wasrescheduled and we could pay the over-weight costs.And so we eventually headed for the States.We are one of the first electronic bandsthat played in the United States.An electronic band, doing a live showwas something really new for the people there.In America everything was formattedstrongly pre-definedsuddenly comes a band with a tape recorder3 guys on stageno bass, no guitars, no drumkit..."what is this?"Front were quite famous in the States.For example, in the 90s, while K's Choiceanother belgian bandplayed in Los Angeles for 20 people,The same day Front playeda sold out gig for 7000 people.They arrived in a limoI was there just staring at all of this.I was backstage with Marylin Mansonand he said: "Belgium, great manI've listened to belgian music all my life".He listened to bands like La MuerteSplit Second, Front 242. And other bands too.The type the average belgian was not even aware of.In 1984 we gave about ten concerts, and six of themwere the opening act for Ministry.When he heard our music, Al Jourgensen, the frontmanof Ministry, decided to completely modify his music.He said: "Your music is definateley more excitingI'm going to use electronic machines too".But he had a strong guitar culture, so he keptthem and then used both guitars and machineswhereas we sticked to machines only, no guitars.In the beginning, the public was mainly composed ofgay men, and also people from the black communitybecause our show was considered a dance actThe memorable concert in Chicagoour first show in the United StatesI still remember that evening, as if it was yesterday.It was so intense.Can you imagine this story: you are 21 years oldYou are now part of a band. A band whose firstsingle was so fantastic that you had purchased itThen Jean-Luc tells me: "I want you tojoin us for some backing vocals"and a few months later, our recordis released in the Statesand the record label invites us to givesome concerts over thereand this sequence of events unfoldswithin one year and a half.Then you go: "Wow!"I sincerely believe that since then, wenever lost that energy during our showsThe New York seminar was somesort of festival with all new currentsand Front 242 was on the billJohnny Rotten was in the audienceand he saw our concert.After the show, he came on stage,He picked up a brush,you know, one of these cheap fluo brushes,He told me: "I don't have any flowersbut here, this brush, is for youbecause I think your show was amazing"."No Shuffle", I still remember exactly how it came outI was at the shop ("Hills Music")doing a demo, for a synthesizer.I typed this sequence, to demonstratethe capabilities of the machine.It stayed in my mind directly.You know, I'm not a musician.We were working on a concept with Luc Van Ackerbecause Luc always used to playmassive guitar sounds with us,So I showed him: Look what I've donewhile working at the shop this afternoonhe said: "oh, that sounds good!"I went to their studio in AarschotI brought all my stuff, my guitars, all my effect pedalsThey took four samples of what I played.Luc van Acker, always open to new experimentsacted a few times wtih Front 242 on stage.We wanted not only a guitar, but also aperformer, always.In the beginning it was Luc Van Acker,On stage, Luc becomes a beast, he's a strong actIt was fantastic.We were at the "Ancienne Belgique"backstage, just before the show,We were bracing ourselves, getting mentally prepared"We're gonna kill them all".Their intention was always to smashthe public in the face.I just took it literallySo when the show began, I jumped in the crowdDaniel was staring at me, as if saying:"Luc, what are you doing?"And behind me the three young guys of Front 242kept dancing, like some sort of majorettes.So of course this motto "We're gonna kill everyone"was not meant to be taken literally.He took the concept, the typical energy of Front,and he translated it in its own way, and he eventuallyfound himself in the crowd, with his guitar.Luc Van Acker, yeah, he's my friendTen days ago I played with him in LeipzigWe both were there to perform.He played with his band The Revolting CocksIn the underground music scene from the 80s,he was the only person I really admiredbecause he's got balls.Now he's 50 years oldbut when he is on stage, he is still a real animal.In the mid-80s, the underground got coloured in blackHeavy Metal and New Wave being themost popular genres.Festivals like Torhout-Werchterattracted large audiences.In 1985, Front 242 played at the firstedition of the festival Pukkelpop.In the mid-80s, Pukkelpop was only starting.You also had the Seaside Festival, at the belgian coast.There you could see the public, all dressed in black.If someone had a white T-Shirt he really wouldn't fit in.It was black, black, black...It was our public, of Front 242 and also Neon Judgementwe shared the same audiences actually.This was the spirit of those timesthe 80s were depressing for the youthI still remember very precisely that.At the Pukkelpop festival concerta stupid incident happenedThere were some gates, with young people behind themSome of these young people started to tease thesecurity guys, nothing serious, just some mockeries.One security guy became irritated andclimbed on top of the gatehe then tried to hit the kids with some kind oftool that he carried on his belt.It soon turned into a confrontationbetween the public and the security guards.Richard, of course, didn't really appreciate thatnot at all.He started to shout at the security guyswaving his drum stick at them.We interrupted the show, and I asked the man:"What are you doing? Stop the beating!"But they just carried on, so naturally I shoutedto the kids: "Don't let hem beat you, resist!"What happened then is that the people ripped the gateoff and proceeded towards the stage.Nothing more serious happened, no one invadedthe backstage for example, the story stopped there.Some journalists from Humo witnessed the sceneand they thought our behaviour was unacceptable.They said that our goal was to stir up a riotand that we were a bunch of stupid people.From that moment on, our public image deteriorated.They started to call us fascistsArguing that we wore SS-symbolswhich is totally untrue: it read "242", not "SS"After the success in the United Statesthe british label "ZTT Records" made a proposalto release the next Front 242 record.Successful bands belonged to that labelamong others, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.Front declined the offer, and signed insteadwith the belgian label Play It Again Sam.In 1987, the band embarked on aeuropean tour with Depeche Mode.People said that Front played in Europeas part of the Depeche Mode tour.But what really happened is that Depeche Modeasked Front 242 to join them for their european tour.That was also a form of respect fromDepeche Mode towards Front 242.We did a european tour with Depeche Modeand next we were also supposed to doan american tour.But we declined the american tour proposalbecause we wanted to release ouralbum "Front by Front".In 1988, the album "Font by Front"received international praisea success largelydue to the catchy single "Headhunter".The story behind Headhunter is an accident:the wrong floppy-disk got loaded in the machinewith a sequenceand suddenly everything came togetherwith a distinct sonorityand we immediately thought:"Wow, that's something cool!"So this accident in the studio became our starting point.The inspiration for "Headhunter" comesfrom what was my job at that time.I worked for an insurance companyand I was in charge of recruitmentyou really had these phases:1. You lock the target2. You bait the line3. You slowly spread the net4. You catch the manThat is exactly what I used to do in orderto recruit new employees.Daniel knew Anton Corbijnthrough his photographic work.First with Joy Division, later with Depeche Modewe all thought that he had a nice sensibilityand an interesting way of putting images together.When I heard the music of Front 242you know, it was not the music I was used toand I was a bit anxious about the idea of a collaborationbecause it was not the kind musicI used to put images to.I was wondering if their music and my pictureswould eventually merge together.I went to Brussels to meet them.I don't think he knew our band very well.But I told him about our musicexplained we were about to release a new albumbut we didn't know anyone from the world of videoclipsand we wanted to collaborate with someone.And he was on the top of our listbecause he was one of the best at that time.There is that famous anecdoteDuring the filming, one of the guys came to meand said: You know it's called"Headhunter" and not "Egghunter".The story is:Talking with them on the phone I had misundertoodthe song title: "Egg Hunter" instead of "Head Hunter".like the choreography of "Bring on the Dancing Horses"by Echo and the Bunnymen.It was simple a choice.We'll never know the truth actuallyDid Anton really misunderstand the song titleor has he decided to make a joke about this title?We will never know.He will never clarify this, and should he one daysay something, it may not be the truth.Twenty years after the clip was madeI found a mashup.It's a way of combining two existing tracks.In this mash-up Gwen Stefani and Front 242were mixed together."Headhunter" is for me one of the bestclips of Anton Corbijnand I would even say one of the bestvideoclip of all times.In 1888, the band makes the cover of the british musicpaper, Melody Maker, dressed in Front battle dresses.Bridget Fonda watches the clip of Front 242"Rythm of Time" in the film "Single White Female".And when Citroen Paris launched its new XM carthey used the music of Front 242Water.Before the show, always water.After the show, who knows...In 1991, Front released an overlyagressive album "Tyranny For You".This time, the videoclip director, Anton Corbijntook the band with him and headed to Spain."Tyranny For You" is an albumthat goes one step further than "Front by Front"in terms of sonic agressiveness.Soon after that the first Gulf Waragainst Saddam Hussein broke out.Some tracks from this album and alsosome of the previous oneswere played over and over on thebattleships deployed to the Persian Gulf.There was a selection of rather nervous tracksthat got played there, in order to keepthe troops morale on an agressive mode.During our following tour, in 1993many military came to our showsjoining our already existing public.There they explained us that during the warthere was a selection of 40 tracks,played continously, over and over.Music from The Clash, The Ramones, Ministryand also two tracks from Front 242.We got invited to play at Lollapaloozawe were the only european bandand the only electronic act.It's a kind of Woodstock festival, on tourit promoted around 40 concerts across theUnited States.Every single show attracted between50 000 and 100 000 people every day.For us it was just a catastrophe actuallyDuring that tour we got so bored thatwe almost commited suicide.A sort of musical suicide, so to speakAnd yes, we did it sometimes to showto our label that we didn't care at all.Is was indeed important to be therebut at the same time it was really a whole industry:money, press, promos.Always on the road.For me, it was a true rock'n roll circus.That was too much.That was everything I had always hated.This is about the integrity of Front members,their obstination, their stubbornessLooking back now, I think we can say thatthey could could have become super stars in Americaand then they produced these two records,"Up Evil" and "Off"these were the wrong records if you wantedto make a breaktrough in the United Statesand from the United States to the rest of the world.No one understood these two records.In a way, these were also suicide records.Suicide against the american labels, against PiasAt that moment, we said to ourselves: "There'ssomething wrong, it doesn't work anymore".And we decided to stop our collaboration.We all began to work on own personal projects.It actually lasted 4 years .But in 1997, we came back for a series of shows.The initial idea was to do 10 concerts.But we received so many requests thatthe series of shows went on and onand it never stopped.And so at some point, we asked ourselves"Should we make a new record or not?"This new album was called "Pulse"and was released in 2003.Front members were involved in 9 different projects.Amongst others are a collaboration with Ozark Henryand a series of remixes for Underworld, The Prodigyand The Orb.The band continues to perform all over the worldfrom Russia to the United States.They are now joined on stage by a berliner drummer.Our work together usually goes like this:A new idea comes out, from Daniel and Patrick.They give me a tape, or any suggestionsthey say for example:"We would like these kind of drums, here and there".Do you think it can work?Then we work together on the drum layer.So the ideas are there, I get a playback tapeand then I try to add some drums on top of that.My role in the band is to create visualswith my friend Etienne Auger.We do this with a computer.With the music, the lyrics, the slogans.We then play these on stage.I've always hated to be on stageWe have done it before, in the beginning of Front.I was bored to death.For me that was terrible.You don't know what you're doing.So I decided to go where Front has always been at itsbest: in the audience.Therefore I can act according to the public's reactionswatching what's going on.For example, I can simply boost the bass drumso that the people start to move.Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't, it depends.I also play and improvise during the whole concertsince I always have a keyboard.I can make some noises, I can go over the topsometimes even louder that the band itself.I want to be in control, I need to know how it soundsfor the people in the audience.Front 242 always had strong principles.And sometimes it was almost asabotage of their own success.During their career, they said "No" to a lot of things.It was always very important for themto remain independent.If you see what festivals have become nowadaysthey are like some sort of supermarket full of bands.To name just a few: Werchter, Pukkelpop...It's not about a music event anymore.For us, it was against our ethics.For example, we discovered that these people werefinancial contributors to the George W. Bush campaign.So music and politics, ok, why not, whatever...But music and Bush campaign politicsno, they don't fit together.So for ethical reasonswe have always refused to play at Werchter festival.And for Pukkelpop, which is part of Live Nation toowe also refused.For me, it's still very importantto be able to look at myself in the mirror.Also, I don't need to become immensely richIf I can earn enough money to have a comfortable lifethat's ok with me.For the Rock Festival Werchterone day Clear Channel comes to us and they say:"Come to play for us, we'll pay you four timesas much as you've ever received".And after that, here is the deal:"You work exclusively for us".Patrick just answered them:"Thank you, we're not interested."Well, you have to consider thatwe are not independent anymorewe are now part of Live Nation, that's true.We are a multinational company.And that's still the case today.They had an offer to play at I Love Technothey had a proposal to go back to Pukkelpopthey always said no.Honestly, I think thatwe've never been so good in terms of live performance.We are good in our musicthe quality of the sound is quite highour visuals are now better than ever.We keep trying to improve our music and our shows.I think that we should release some new stuffas a challenge.As far as I'm concerned, I don't havethe ambition to release a new record anymore.We still have the same concept, the same desire.The music is still strongand the live acts always have to be powerful.Maybe that's why we give less performances now.It's better to have a smaller number of showsand keep them as strong as ever.Instead of doing a lot of concerts, and lose the intensity.When I spin records somewhereI always play Front 242 classics"Funkadafi" for example.It still sounds modern, still sounds really good.People are still reacting and dancing to it.It's true that in Belgium Front 242earned little recognition for what they've done.They simply pushed the borders, they were in searchof something and so they went beyond the limits.They've been a great influence to many artistsmaybe without realizing it themselves.Billboard, the american music magazineconsidered them one of the mostimportant music makers ever.Rolling Stone magazine reckons that they werepioneers of the dance craze in the United States.They prepared the path for the advent ofelectronic dance music.They influenced everybody actually.They were a sort of gatewaybetween electronica and rock.Above all, their live performances were extraordinary.To attend a Front 242 show, that was something.I love rock'n roll, but I'm not a rock'n roll person.I am belgian, I live under that crap weather.I belong to both flemish and french culture.For me, the fact that with this music, electronicaI've been able to start something from scratchand to get very personal,it's just the most important thingthat i've done in my life.All the work that we've done, during these 25 yearswe did it first for our personal satisfaction of coursebut we basically wanted to break the rules.And we accomplished our goal.


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