El Garage de Frank: Interview with The Telescopes

  • 04 December 2019

In the current The Telescopes, there is not much left of the band that became famous in the early nineties. Stephen Lawrie’s project has been changing steadily since its reactivation in 2002, searching for new paths for the electric guitar. They will be flooding the W-Fest with distortion on the 21st of May. At the end of the interview, you can find the new video of The Telescopes, Strange Waves, also the name of the new limited 12″ that has just been published.

—The band has always been labelled as shoegaze. Are The Telescopes happy being part of that scene?

—The Telescopes area parts of everything.

—Early this year, Roky Erickson sadly passed away. What do you find interesting in 13th floor elevator’s music? How do you think it has been important for The Telescopes’ sound?

—I find everything about their music interesting. Roky’s voice caught my ear through his earlier records with The Spades, but The Elevators had a real groove that emanated all kinds of possibilities from within. The Elevators are more important to the way The Telescopes go about things than how The Telescopes sound.

—To finish with your influences, you said that the discovery of the music of Sun Ra was an important moment. Was he an influence for your more free-form music?

—No, those inclinations were there from the start, that’s natural for everyone. When you create free-form music, it’s good to know there’s a guy from Saturn out there waving a flag of liberty for you.

—You have commented that the noise scene was quite brutal, with the public spitting at you and throwing bottles to the bands. Honestly, I never imagined it that way. Do you have any interesting story of those days?

—It wasn’t just the noise scene, 80s underground gigs in general were often that way. It was a kind of perverse hangover from punk. I had a guy spitting and throwing bottles at me all night, then afterwards made a point of telling me his girlfriend thought he looked like me and asked me if I thought he did. There are too many stories to tell.

—Is it true that Alan McGee was manager of the band when The Telescopes was in Creation? Also you said that he did not like the sound of The Telescopes the first time he saw them live, right?

—For a while he managed us. He thought we were intense when he first saw us, but then he decided the next day that was a good thing.

—How did working with Füxa influence you?

—Randall used to come over to my house and the days would just slip away while we played around with all kinds of ideas, some reminiscent of work I’d done previously with The Telescopes, but he was taking it elsewhere. Working with Füxa inspired me to start thinking about where I wanted to take The Telescopes again.

—You said that you wrote Third wave after going out with break beat artists. Are you interested in electronic/dance music?

—Not in a big way no, it was more the technology I was interested in. I’m more interested in the experimental side of electronic music.

—In your fourth album, the description of Bandcamp says that it was done using home-made / improvised instrumentation, can you please tell us more about this? Also it’s compared to Metal Music Machine, do you like that “famous” Lou Reed’s album?

—I like the sound of Metal Machine Music, but the actual pieces don’t really go anywhere exciting for me. It’s interesting to listen to. I don’t think #4 really sounds like MMM, there are loose but definite song structures on #4. The instrumentation is listed in the album notes, there was a lot of unusual stuff used, chains, bed springs, tin foil, even the way the guitars were played; using found objects to manipulate them. Anything that made an interesting sound was fair game on that album.

—Do you think that Infinite Suns is your most difficult album? How was the creation of this record?

—No, it’s actually one of my favourites. It was recorded live with just one microphone and a cassette deck with the input set slightly too high. The whole thing was improvised and then we chose the bits we liked and I edited it all together.

—Harm, your album from 2013 consists in two long songs with material “inspired” in the first Telescopes’ album, right? Is this a normal way of writing your material or is this just happened for this record?

—Harm was mostly improvised, except there were parameters set which I explained to the musicians 5 minutes before we recorded each track. On the track TORN on side two, I instructed the musicians to keep the riff to Suicide from Taste in mind, but without actually playing it. That was the extent of any inspiration taken from the past.

—In As Light Return you worked with members of St Deluxe and you have worked with people from other bands in the past. Who would you say that have adapted better to your way of working?

—It’s not a case of people adapting to my way of working when I work with other musicians, it’s more a matter of finding the right way to work together, which can depend on environment, time scales, material and where the connection between us lies. It’s different with whoever I play with.

—In the same year you also published Stone Tape. Was the album recorded on your own? Do you think it’s a reaction to As Light Return?

—No, it wasn’t a reaction to anything, it was an accidental album. I was asked to write a book for an Italian publishing house called Yard Press, which turned into an album instead, I had a lot of song ideas welling up and I just wanted to get them out quickly and move on.

—The band last album is Exploding Head Syndrome. Your music is sometimes described as sad or dark, do you agree with that?

—It is what it is. My role isn’t to review my music it’s to create and deliver it. Everyone has their own interpretation, I’ve no desire to interfere with that.

—I saw you live a few years ago in Milan and your concert really surprised me as it was really different from what you do in record. How do you plan your live shows?

—It’s just the way we work together. There are very definite songs, but we like to keep everything in flux, so we are playing the whole time we are on stage, even if our instrument is silent, we don’t stop/start between the songs, I think that breaks the spell and negates the intensity of the performance. It’s interesting because some people think the whole set is just one song.

—You created Antenna Records and released a few references? What happened with that label? One curiosity, which was the first reference? In Discogs it says that an Italian singer, it must be wrong.

—No, there’s no release from an Italian singer, Antenna is on hold at the moment as I have too many records I want to make with The Telescopes. It isn’t fair to commit to working with other artists when I can’t dedicate myself to it 100%. I need help with Antenna really. Maybe one day help will come and it will awaken from dormancy.

—How is going to be your concert at W-Fest?

—Beyond the realm of natural vision.

El Garage de Frank: Interview A Slice of Life

  • 04 November 2019

A Slice of Life is a Belgian post-punk band with a 80s vibe, authors of Restless, one of the albums of 2018 that you should have listened to. With them, we are starting our series of interviews to the artists that are going to play at W-Fest 2020. In their concert in the Belgian festival on the 24th of May, they will give as a piece of their experiences, a piece of their souls… a slice of life.

—How was the band created? I read that everything began when Dirk met online Guy Wilssens.

—Yes, that’s correct. Somewhere in 2014, Dirk and Guy met online and made a Bauhaus’s cover. Late 2015, Guy had worked out a few instrumental songs and asked Dirk to do some vocals. They found it sounded good and wanted to play those songs live. In 2016, they started looking for musicians

—Slice of Life is the name of a Bauhaus’s song. Also the first song made by Dirk and Guy was a cover of She’s in Parties. Would you say that the most important influence of the band is Peter’s Murphy’s band or The Cure?

—No, we do not think those bands are our biggest influences. The band name was also chosen more or less as a reference to our first cooperation before there were original songs. Of course because of our age and preferences these bands are influences but also for example Joy Division, Chameleons, Pixies, Interpol… are influences.

—Which modern bands are an influence for the band?

—We are six and all have our own influences from The Editors to Rammstein… It’s this blend that makes our sound.

—Dirk, where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?

—I do not consider myself as a good writer and lyrics are hard to find for me. I almost always let the song and the music dictate the lyrics to me. I do not have a book with notes or little poems or whatever available. I listen to the music over and over and over again and sometimes a phrase starts to popup or a singing line and then the rest rolls out. One of the main reasons to call the band A Slice Of Life was not only the reference to Bauhaus, but the fact that the music and lyrics needed to be an expression of what happens/happened in my, in our, in everybody’s daily life. The concerns we have about ourselves, others, society… the pleasure, the pain we encounter during our lives. A song as “Panic Attack” or “Life As It Is” for example is very personal and autobiographical. A song as “Restless Gods” is personal as well but reflects more on society.

—From a duo, the band developed to a sextet quite quickly. Was it to be able to play live?

—Yes indeed. When we made the home demo, we started to realize that even if we released an album as a two-piece project, we would love to try to bring this live as well. But therefore we needed to form a band.

—How would you say that each member of the band contribute to the sound of A slice of life?

—Whereas most of the songs on our first album were based on demos made by Guy, we tend, more and more, to write songs from scratch during rehearsals, where everyone adds it’s touch and brings new ideas or new directions.

—For a band like yours, do you think you could have had better luck in the 80s or nowadays?

—That’s an easy one: undoubtedly and this for a couple of reasons: this kind of music was not as niche as it is now and national radio, but also television streamed this music. So, young people could at least hear this music on the radio and even see it on television. OK, MTV at the time streamed more the bigger names in the scene, but at least this music was available. Nowadays, young people but also people of our generation mostly do not know this music exists because the press, the media does not give it a coverage. Of course this kind of music is available if you look for it, but in these times everything needs to go fast and easy.

—And that Demo that you mentioned before, how was it recorded?

—The Demo EP contains 5 songs of which 3 were home recordings. Two were home recordings where Guy did all instruments and Dirk the vocals (“Marionnette” and “Restless Gods”). 1 was actually not really a song from A Slice Of Life: “Feel Like Crazy” was written by Dimitri Desmeth from Brussels and Yannick Rault from France (Dirk had a project with Yannick called So What? and Yannick now operates as Closed Mouth). Since Dirk wrote the lyrics for “Feel Like Crazy” we already quickly adapted “Feel Like Crazy” as our song. On the demo you hear the So What? version recorded by Dimitri, Yannick and Dirk at home. On our album Restless, it is played entirety by A Slice Of Life, but with a guest appearance of Dimitri on keys. On the demo ep “Sorrow” and “Panic Attack” were recorded in our rehearsal room. Bart, our former keyboard player recorded and mixed this.

—A few months later, the band was signed by Wool-E Disc, right? How did they contact you?

—From the very beginning of the project, we were in contact with Dimitri from Wool-E Disc. He always showed a great support to us, even from the start when we only had a few home demos available. It came quite naturally when he offered to release our album on his label. Wool-E Disc is well established in Belgium for some time now and it helped us spread our band name in the Belgian wave scene.

—Restless was mixed by Koenraad Foesters, and the band said that his experience was really useful for final result. Can you please tell us more about it?

—Indeed, we were extremely satisfied with Koenraad’s job. Considering that most parts on the album were home recorded, except mainly for the drums, we were amazed to hear how the final result sounds. He gave us many tips during the mixing process and we even recorded some extra parts at last minute based on his advice. Given the great job he did, we also consider keeping him on board for the production of our next album.

—The album was re-printed after the sold out of the first edition, right?

—We were already happy with the sold-out status, but when left in June to play at WGT Leipzig, we had around 50 copies or so left and they were all sold at WGT. So, we had nothing left anymore, but we still had some good and big gigs to play this year: Summer Event (Schoten), Neetwave (Retie) 23rd November (with Agent Side Grinder and Silent Runners) and we are thrilled to go to the Netherlands for the first time this year (Geleen Calling 14/12). It would be stupid that people that discover us there do not have the opportunity anymore to buy our album. That’s why we decided to do a reprint.

—Restless got very good reviews, even a very interesting and long video one. Are you happy with the reception of the album?

—Yeah, for sure! Far above expectation! It is really a shot in the dark to expose what you created to an audience, and leave it open to comments and reviews from outside. A very exciting period that was. The fun and good thing is that we got reviews not only in Belgium but also in Germany, Italy, the USA, Spain …. And all were very positive. The fact we got in the national newspaper in Belgium and received 4 out of 5 stars was one of the greatest surprises, next to the unexpected great fan video which really dived into every song.

—Is it difficult for a new band to get known? The band also takes care of part of the promotion, right?

—We do everything ourselves and given the fact we do so, we can be very proud about the results so far. However, we hope we can find someone in near the future who really likes us and is willing to help us with bookings and promotion. At that point, we could focus a little less on the practical and administrative side of things and create music. Because after all, that is what we love most.

—Do you think that festivals are helping new bands get better known?

—Yes, definitely. We are a 6-piece band and all have our professional and family obligations. Touring and doing smaller places a couple of weeks in a row is not easy. Therefore we think festivals are the perfect way to introduce a band to a bigger audience, and to people that otherwise would never discover us.

—At the end of the nineties, a lot of bands made songs for soundtracks, like The Cure’s “Burn” in The Crow. In which movie do you think that the music of A Slice of Life would have better fit?

—This is a difficult one. We don’t hear real soundtracks in our music …but if we have to mention some…we would say, “Fight Club,” “Smoke,” “Kill Bill”…to name a few

—In real life, you look quite happy and funny people. Instead your music is a bit dark. Do you need to find a special place or be in a particular mood when you write your songs?

—We would say it’s more a feeling than a mood. The darker music is just a part of our youth. It’s nostalgic and feels very natural to write songs in this style. The music dictates the lyrics most of the time, so listening to the music will create the right mood and atmosphere to write.

—What would you do if the band were booked wrongly instead of the other band called “Slice of Life?” By the way, do you like Crass? (Slice of Life is the new band of Crass’s singer)

—We would play the hell out of it and thank the organization for the opportunity :-). To be honest, we’re not big fans of Crass…

—A couple of you guys, also play in the obsCURE, quite a successful tribute band of The Cure. How did the band start?

—As a drunken idea in a pub when someone said my voice was similar to Robert’s.

—Is it easier to get gigs for A Slice of Life or for the obsCURE?

—In fact, it’s more or less the same.

—While I am writing this interview, I am listening to Disintegration. According to you, what elements get together to create an album like that one? Do you think that A slice of life would be able to do in the future an album like that?

—Disintegration is on the list of all time favorite albums for three of our band members. For us, an album needs to be a reflection of who we are as human beings: sometimes playful, at times, serious, dark and sad… It should contain a lot of variety both in sound as mood. This makes it exciting for us and we also hope for the audience. We try to create the same vibe of variety in our live shows as well.

—What are the band’s plans for 2020? Any tour outside Belgium?

—We just surf on the wave and see what crosses are paths or what we can achieve. We are already thrilled to play at W-Fest at the end of May 2020, and this for the second time. We think we grew a lot as a band in those few years. We think our music is varied, radio-friendly, and can overlap the wave/goth/postpunk scene with the broader alternative scene and we like to work on that as well: both on airplay and alternative festivals of which in Belgium there are a lot. We hope to be able to perform at one or two good festivals in Germany and like to play a couple of times in the Netherlands as well. Since our bass player is Portuguese, we also would love to go to Portugal as they also have some great bands, venues and festivals over there, and who knows one day in Spain?
But most important for next year is working on a new album. We are already bringing a couple of new songs live, but are working on a lot more and would love to start recording a new album. We don’t to fix a date on this, but no later than begin 2021 a new album should be released. In the beginning of next year, we already booked a studio to start recording what we have and we want to release a new single in spring 2020.

—Still a lot of time before it, but what are you planning for your concert at W-Fest? How do you remember the band’s previous concert at the festival?

—To be honest, at the moment we’re not really focused on next year’s gig at W-Fest. At rehearsal we are mainly working on new songs and preparing ourselves for this year’s gigs. We have good memories about our first time at W-Fest 2018. We actually were booked more than a year before and at the time of booking we only had some demo material and had no EP, no live gigs. It was incredible for us to receive this offer at the time and the feeling that someone really trusted us based on that demo material. That gave really a big boost. The organization at W-Fest was incredibly professional. The crew was so kind and warm, and we felt really supported by them. We performed the last day as opener and there was not that much audience b ut the sound was great, we gave everything and the audience was just going into each song and dancing and even singing along. Incredible experience. We are very thankful for that.


Four bands to join the 2020 line-up!

  • 20 September 2019

Three weeks after the first presale wave has opened, Wfest already announces 4 bands to join the 2020 bill.

Check them out! Time to LOCK your presale tickets ? We believe so. :-)

  • The (new) Bavik outside stage got even more interesting with 2 top bands to join the line up
    - Trisomie 21 will celebrate their 40th anniversary and
    - Front 242 will headline the stage on May 21st
  • Both Aux Animaux and Belgian top talent Tylaine van den Broeck (known from Praga Khan) will play an accoustic set in the VIP, on a daily basis




Book your favorable flight to W-Fest with Brussels Airlines!

  • 05 September 2019

Good news for all foreign visitors of Wfest ! Brussels Airlines is joining Wfest as official 'carrier' offering a 15% discount on all flights into Belgium (European and North Atlantic) from the 19th till 26th of May 2020 !

Promocode will be launched here very soon ! Going to W-fest by airplane ? Book with Brussels Airlines at the best possible fee !