Front 242 // Belpop Documentary 2008 w/ English Subtitles by FESTIVAL FORTE


There is a lot of noise in music, but there is also enough music in noise to make it acceptable. Attending a show of Front 242 was really something. Summer 2008 Front 242 is performing in Audenaarde. The band members gather at the keyboard player’s house, Patrick Codenys. Brussels, early 80s While rock and guitars dominate radio channels and clubs around Flanders in Brussels some young bands begin to experiment with electronica. They use synthesizers and beatboxes instead of guitars and drums. One of these bands is Front 242. Front was formed in 1981 in Aarschot by Dirk Bergen and Daniel Bressanutti. The band would soon be part of the Brussels electro scene. I was also involved with the scene in Brussels and 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 equipment and being a small “Mr Nobody” I eventually found my way by working at a music instruments shop. It was “Hills Music”, a shop that still exists today. This music shop in Brussels was an important meeting place for the two new members of Front 242 Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer. At that time, he worked in a music instruments shop right 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 producing and 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 designer Jean-Luc has studied history everyone had differents interests well…different personalities actually But everyone had an interest for the same music. I have always loved Joy Division for their dramatic content… even on record, you can feel that something 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 devices I 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 things I’ve always been passionate about them. The experimental music of Stockhausen the dark new-wave of Joy Division and the electro-pop of Fad Gadget were 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 released Thanks to these releases Front 242 got a large and faithful fan base. “U. MEN” was produced by Daniel, in his studio. In general, in our way of doing things very often it is Daniel who begins with a base. So one base, that is merely a bass line with some electronic drums. Then Jean-Luc tries to put some voices on top of that I then try to bring some parasite layers. Next, all of us get together in the studio and we try to build the structure of the track- In 2008, Front 242 welcomed two new members and so there were now a band of six people The drummer, Tim Kroker, comes from Germany and Sylvain Guigon, in charge of the video effects is from France. Before each show, the electronic machines are picked up in a secured warehouse. We got the feeling that, in terms of live act we had reached a dead end and we wanted to try to go further in something and we liked to go to see Richard with his noise concept that fitted well within the “DNA” of Front. He hadn’t astonishing music, but he had loads of energy. And we thought: “That’s something that is really missing, we should have this kind of energy”. So we asked him if he would be interested in performing on stage, with Jean-Luc. And there was, directly, an instant energy some kind of electricity, going on between these two. In 1983, Richard Jonckeer became the fifth member of the band and was identified under the codename “Richard 23”. For me it was really perfect because I had bought the band’s first single and I felt very close to this kind of music. We used to read books written by William Burroughs, the American writer. He was quite focused on numerology and he paid a lot of attention to the number 23 because 23 is the association of the 2 and the 3 and added together it’s 5 and 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 differentiate ourselves from the others, when we said “23” So when I had to register an artist name for copyrights purposes I 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 Front something that had some impact. And the word “Front” in the 80s had still a strong impact (nowadays, much less) Because “Front” could be translated in many langages and the “Two-Four-Two” well that’s something universal, numbers… The name, Front 242, had in the beginning no real meaning. It was a strong name. Of course it means something: it means to stand at the front trying to stand before the others, to break some limits like an army that goes to battle. Regarding 242, the numbers just sound good. Moreover, it translates in all languages. it keeps a strong impact and has the same meaning. Their music too needed to have an impact to overcome the commercial beats of the moment like for example the beats of Marc Moulin’s electro band Telex. Yes, bands like Telex, they were good at doing their thing, very good in fact but for me, I didn’t see there… well, it’s not that I mean to be overly critical but as far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t see there any source of inspiration for us, nor any future for us. At that time, no one was able to work with a synthesizer except maybe Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk everyone wanted to give it a try. Techniques and technologies, you learn by using them, step by step, little by little. And for me, it is the combination of all those elements that 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 just have to push a button and you create a track. Then, you really had to have the skills in order to make it work. Computers had almost no memory you had a very limited set of instruments. They started to experiment with them and the results became fantastic and then it was also amplified on stage. When I play the keyboard I just cannot play “beautiful” notes. I always tend to play dark notes I don’t know why I hate myself sometimes, but that’s the way it is I start to play something, and it ends up being something sad, or underground, or dark it’s my nature. There is a lot of noise in music, but there is also enough 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 production what the others do, at least in the first two albums they used some tracks and then they “chopped” some sentences. Sometimes we thought: “ok, this word doesn’t sound that 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 anything but 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 aesthetic the aesthetic of Front 242 tracks. We had some ideas, we wanted to create something different with electronic music. With electronic music we could get to something that was impossible to reach with other types of music. To break the anglo-american rock’n roll clichés With rock, there are some “rules” a song is always 2 minutes 30 You have an intro, a break, a crash just before the refrain. With electronic music, the machines being so rigid, you cannot do that so you must find another concept, another way of performing live with the machines but also with the image you deliver on stage. First, our concept was to tell very very little about us we wanted to keep the mystery because if you tell the people everything they don’t want to know anymore. So we said as little as possible about ourselves at least during the first 3 or 5 years. It was not about the individuals in the band but rather what the band did, the concept of the band. That’s why we wore dark glasses. So people wouldn’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 by exchanging tapes between us and to get ready for the concerts, we did the same First there was one tape with the base of the track every one got a copy of this tape and everyone knew exactly what he had to do. We worked at home. I think that we gave around 800 concerts but I think that we rehearsed maybe ten times. A lot of hard work took place Daniel’s studio the B Plain in Aarschot. In 1982, one year after the release of the first single “Principles” Front released the debut LP: “Geography”. 2,5 meters by 2,5 meters, that was our first studio where “Geography” was produced. There were sometimes 3 or 4 people inside. It was really… well you could call it closet I guess. But it actually worked. We use an instrument, a computer that serves as a “master” for all the others instruments which are “slaves”… “Geography” was a self made record totally self-produced. We went to the best press company we made our own sleaves and we went to the stores with our records and leave to the owner maybe 20 records, or sometimes maybe 50 but the album had the track “Human” which had became a genuine hit, with the alternative radio channels in Brussels. And so the sales were going rather well. What we need now is a good record label to push the sales abroad a serious record label that works with a serious band that’s what we are doing right now. So the future of Front, depends on me. We had the opportunity to make a clip for RoodVonk for the Flemish television (VRT). but we had not a lot of money and also, the music was very simple because we only had a four-track recorder so it had to be simple and so the video clip was also very simple. At that time I did the recording to make this clip for VRT (Vlaamse Radio Televisie – Flemish Radio and TV) and it was not that easy, with their image, with the fact that they couldn’t be identified Well, to translate this universe in picture was not easy, it was quite an artistic challenge. The video clip was directed by Marcel Vanthilt and his his team. We were big fans of Arbeid Adelt and Marcel Vanthilt was fan of Front 242. He came over with his team at that time, we were young beginners we had no clue about what we should do, and how to do it. Eventually, we recorded this clip in Daniel’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 performances always attracted many fans but the belgian music press was less enthusiastic. I remember very well the wall of sound in the dark, with loads of flashing lights it was quite an experience. I did not very often get scared during a concert specially in my own country but with Front, it was scary The music was loud I had a strange feeling, as if something was going to happen or that they would be arrested by the police or that maybe someone would just throw them out of the concert venue, with all their gear. Sometimes we’d get into a fight with Richard, on stage I don’t know why… we decided to do it. One day I knocked him down, it was not intentional I had not realized that he was standing behind me I knocked him in the face with my elbow he lied on the floor for 2 minutes. Then I went on to kick him with my feet saying: “get up now, it’s over, get up!” These were things that could happen. Yeah, sometimes Jean-Luc and Richard would get into a fight on stage but that’s also part of the show in a way It’s true, sometimes I wanted to pick up a fight and it could detonate anytime. and if the blast occured during the show it was better, because then it served a purpose. Rather than before or after the show. You’d better not ask Richard what he wanted to drink between two tracks because you might as well get punched. Front 242’s first audience came to our shows because we were extreme They came for the concerts, and for the rest. We even used smoke grenades from the army which produced such a thick smoke that we could hardly breathe and on top of that, whatever was needed to have a stronger impact. The intention was always: “We’re gonna kill them”. We went to concerts in that state of mind and that was a shock, a commando raid half an hour, then we’d leave. No “one more”, no “encore”, nothing! Sure, when you are 14 years old, or 13, such a show you know, it’s quite impressive. Richard 23, with his megaphone and his commando outfit. You had all of the army clothes from American army shops they were rather cheap and our fans could buy them to go to the concerts, as a sort of uniform and that also became a symbol of the band. It really wasn’t my thing. You must also consider the fact that in these days you had 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 between the Soviet union and the United States. There was a lot of tension in the air a 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 neonazis because our music had strong rythms and 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 possibility of physical aggression for political ideas that were not ours. We just just couldn’t accept that. In the beginning we didn’t pay much attention to that distorted image. We thought: “Well, it’s just one journalist who got it all wrong, who cares?” It was a mistake to consider Front 242 an extremist band. Following that newspaper article, I’d go to a nearby shop, where I’d been a regular customer for ten years the owner always welcomed me with a smile the shop owner had read this flemish newspaper and told me: “I am deeply disappointed and sad, knowing that you belong to the far-right movement.” In the music world, playing with taboos was forbidden whereas in the film industry any topic can be considered acceptable. The left-wing, the right-wing, Adolf anything you can think of… Try to do that in the music industry and you are doomed. It’s like shooting a bullet at your own foot as the saying goes. From what I remember, there was an aggressive atmosphere between the press specially Humo, and Front 242. It had something to do with the so-called ideology of Front 242. Always the same criticism: guerilla music, terrorists beats… I remember that in Humo magazine everything that had guitars in it was considered cool, On the contrary, anything that had synthesizers was demonic. I can now realize how strong it was to decide to go against the mainstream. At that time, in Studio Brussels, we did not think that 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 course but 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 like Prince, Bruce Springsteen and then Front 242, who didn’t fit into a day-time radio program, like in the early days of Radio Brussels. I remember that Luc Janssens once did a Front 242 megamix, one full hour with Front 242 tracks only. This had never happened before. Front 242 was never played on radios, except maybe on Radio Panic, on their night program and the Belgian music scene, the “real” musicians took a laugh out of Front. They didn’t consider it to be real music for 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” was released, followed by a european tour. Front came out with a new name for their music: Electronic Body Music Without any doubt, 1984 was another high point with that letter, or message, from Waxtrax. Waxtrax was an American label which kept an eye on other european bands. These people were also into avant-garde For us, it was “a dream come true”. Imagine, you are involved in music, in Belgium you got strong criticisms coming from all sides and 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 to come over to give some concerts. So we were heading to the United States we packed our things up, and of course this was not a conventional backline. There were keyboards, a tape-recorder some camouflage nets. We arrive at the Brussels airport, Zaventem and 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 many thousands of Belgian francs it was. Sixty-thousand belgian francs was really a lot of money for us. One hour before the departure we decided to cancel the American tour. But then people from Waxtrax helped and also the management of a club in Montreal named “La Foufoune Électrique”, a punk venue These two, the Waxtrax label and the club in Montreal joined their forces to keep the American tour they put some money on the table because we simply had only enough to pay for the plane tickets. Thanks to them, the American tour was rescheduled and we could pay the over-weight costs. And so we eventually headed for the States. We are one of the first electronic bands that played in the United States. An electronic band, doing a live show was something really new for the people there. In America everything was formatted strongly pre-defined suddenly comes a band with a tape recorder 3 guys on stage no bass, no guitars, no drumkit…”what is this?” Front were quite famous in the States. For example, in the 90s, while K’s Choice another belgian band played in Los Angeles for 20 people, The same day Front played a sold out gig for 7000 people. They arrived in a limo I was there just staring at all of this. I was backstage with Marylin Manson and he said: “Belgium, great man I’ve listened to belgian music all my life”. He listened to bands like La Muerte Split 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 them were the opening act for Ministry. When he heard our music, Al Jourgensen, the frontman of Ministry, decided to completely modify his music. He said: “Your music is definateley more exciting I’m going to use electronic machines too”. But he had a strong guitar culture, so he kept them and then used both guitars and machines whereas we sticked to machines only, no guitars. In the beginning, the public was mainly composed of gay men, and also people from the black community because our show was considered a dance act The memorable concert in Chicago our first show in the United States I still remember that evening, as if it was yesterday. It was so intense. Can you imagine this story: you are 21 years old You are now part of a band. A band whose first single was so fantastic that you had purchased it Then Jean-Luc tells me: “I want you to join us for some backing vocals” and a few months later, our record is released in the States and the record label invites us to give some concerts over there and this sequence of events unfolds within one year and a half. Then you go: “Wow!” I sincerely believe that since then, we never lost that energy during our shows The New York seminar was some sort of festival with all new currents and Front 242 was on the bill Johnny Rotten was in the audience and 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 flowers but here, this brush, is for you because I think your show was amazing”. “No Shuffle”, I still remember exactly how it came out I was at the shop (“Hills Music”) doing a demo, for a synthesizer. I typed this sequence, to demonstrate the 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 Acker because Luc always used to play massive guitar sounds with us, So I showed him: Look what I’ve done while working at the shop this afternoon he said: “oh, that sounds good!” I went to their studio in Aarschot I brought all my stuff, my guitars, all my effect pedals They took four samples of what I played. Luc van Acker, always open to new experiments acted a few times wtih Front 242 on stage. We wanted not only a guitar, but also a performer, always. In the beginning it was Luc Van Acker, On stage, Luc becomes a beast, he’s a strong act It 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 smash the public in the face. I just took it literally So when the show began, I jumped in the crowd Daniel was staring at me, as if saying: “Luc, what are you doing?” And behind me the three young guys of Front 242 kept 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 eventually found himself in the crowd, with his guitar. Luc Van Acker, yeah, he’s my friend Ten days ago I played with him in Leipzig We both were there to perform. He played with his band The Revolting Cocks In the underground music scene from the 80s, he was the only person I really admired because he’s got balls. Now he’s 50 years old but when he is on stage, he is still a real animal. In the mid-80s, the underground got coloured in black Heavy Metal and New Wave being the most popular genres. Festivals like Torhout-Werchter attracted large audiences. In 1985, Front 242 played at the first edition 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 Judgement we shared the same audiences actually. This was the spirit of those times the 80s were depressing for the youth I still remember very precisely that. At the Pukkelpop festival concert a stupid incident happened There were some gates, with young people behind them Some of these young people started to tease the security guys, nothing serious, just some mockeries. One security guy became irritated and climbed on top of the gate he then tried to hit the kids with some kind of tool that he carried on his belt. It soon turned into a confrontation between the public and the security guards. Richard, of course, didn’t really appreciate that not at all. He started to shout at the security guys waving 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 shouted to the kids: “Don’t let hem beat you, resist!” What happened then is that the people ripped the gate off and proceeded towards the stage. Nothing more serious happened, no one invaded the backstage for example, the story stopped there. Some journalists from Humo witnessed the scene and they thought our behaviour was unacceptable. They said that our goal was to stir up a riot and that we were a bunch of stupid people. From that moment on, our public image deteriorated. They started to call us fascists Arguing that we wore SS-symbols which is totally untrue: it read “242”, not “SS” After the success in the United States the british label “ZTT Records” made a proposal to release the next Front 242 record. Successful bands belonged to that label among others, Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Front declined the offer, and signed instead with the belgian label Play It Again Sam. In 1987, the band embarked on a european tour with Depeche Mode. People said that Front played in Europe as part of the Depeche Mode tour. But what really happened is that Depeche Mode asked Front 242 to join them for their european tour. That was also a form of respect from Depeche Mode towards Front 242. We did a european tour with Depeche Mode and next we were also supposed to do an american tour. But we declined the american tour proposal because we wanted to release our album “Front by Front”. In 1988, the album “Font by Front” received international praise a success largely due to the catchy single “Headhunter”. The story behind Headhunter is an accident: the wrong floppy-disk got loaded in the machine with a sequence and suddenly everything came together with a distinct sonority and we immediately thought: “Wow, that’s something cool!” So this accident in the studio became our starting point. The inspiration for “Headhunter” comes from what was my job at that time. I worked for an insurance company and I was in charge of recruitment you really had these phases: 1. You lock the target 2. You bait the line 3. You slowly spread the net 4. You catch the man That is exactly what I used to do in order to recruit new employees. Daniel knew Anton Corbijn through his photographic work. First with Joy Division, later with Depeche Mode we all thought that he had a nice sensibility and an interesting way of putting images together. When I heard the music of Front 242 you know, it was not the music I was used to and I was a bit anxious about the idea of a collaboration because it was not the kind music I used to put images to. I was wondering if their music and my pictures would 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 music explained we were about to release a new album but we didn’t know anyone from the world of videoclips and we wanted to collaborate with someone. And he was on the top of our list because he was one of the best at that time. There is that famous anecdote During the filming, one of the guys came to me and said: You know it’s called “Headhunter” and not “Egghunter”. The story is: Talking with them on the phone I had misundertood the 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 actually Did Anton really misunderstand the song title or has he decided to make a joke about this title? We will never know. He will never clarify this, and should he one day say something, it may not be the truth. Twenty years after the clip was made I found a mashup. It’s a way of combining two existing tracks. In this mash-up Gwen Stefani and Front 242 were mixed together. “Headhunter” is for me one of the best clips of Anton Corbijn and I would even say one of the best videoclip of all times. In 1888, the band makes the cover of the british music paper, 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 car they used the music of Front 242 Water. Before the show, always water. After the show, who knows… In 1991, Front released an overly agressive album “Tyranny For You”. This time, the videoclip director, Anton Corbijn took the band with him and headed to Spain. “Tyranny For You” is an album that goes one step further than “Front by Front” in terms of sonic agressiveness. Soon after that the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein broke out. Some tracks from this album and also some of the previous ones were played over and over on the battleships deployed to the Persian Gulf. There was a selection of rather nervous tracks that got played there, in order to keep the troops morale on an agressive mode. During our following tour, in 1993 many military came to our shows joining our already existing public. There they explained us that during the war there was a selection of 40 tracks, played continously, over and over. Music from The Clash, The Ramones, Ministry and also two tracks from Front 242. We got invited to play at Lollapalooza we were the only european band and the only electronic act. It’s a kind of Woodstock festival, on tour it promoted around 40 concerts across the United States. Every single show attracted between 50 000 and 100 000 people every day. For us it was just a catastrophe actually During that tour we got so bored that we almost commited suicide. A sort of musical suicide, so to speak And yes, we did it sometimes to show to our label that we didn’t care at all. Is was indeed important to be there but 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 stubborness Looking back now, I think we can say that they could could have become super stars in America and then they produced these two records, “Up Evil” and “Off” these were the wrong records if you wanted to make a breaktrough in the United States and 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 Pias At that moment, we said to ourselves: “There’s something 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 that the series of shows went on and on and 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 Henry and a series of remixes for Underworld, The Prodigy and The Orb. The band continues to perform all over the world from 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 suggestions they 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 tape and then I try to add some drums on top of that. My role in the band is to create visuals with 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 stage We 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 its best: in the audience. Therefore I can act according to the public’s reactions watching what’s going on. For example, I can simply boost the bass drum so that the people start to move. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t, it depends. I also play and improvise during the whole concert since I always have a keyboard. I can make some noises, I can go over the top sometimes even louder that the band itself. I want to be in control, I need to know how it sounds for the people in the audience. Front 242 always had strong principles. And sometimes it was almost a sabotage of their own success. During their career, they said “No” to a lot of things. It was always very important for them to remain independent. If you see what festivals have become nowadays they 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 were financial contributors to the George W. Bush campaign. So music and politics, ok, why not, whatever… But music and Bush campaign politics no, they don’t fit together. So for ethical reasons we have always refused to play at Werchter festival. And for Pukkelpop, which is part of Live Nation too we also refused. For me, it’s still very important to be able to look at myself in the mirror. Also, I don’t need to become immensely rich If I can earn enough money to have a comfortable life that’s ok with me. For the Rock Festival Werchter one day Clear Channel comes to us and they say: “Come to play for us, we’ll pay you four times as 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 that we are not independent anymore we 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 Techno they had a proposal to go back to Pukkelpop they always said no. Honestly, I think that we’ve never been so good in terms of live performance. We are good in our music the quality of the sound is quite high our visuals are now better than ever. We keep trying to improve our music and our shows. I think that we should release some new stuff as a challenge. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have the ambition to release a new record anymore. We still have the same concept, the same desire. The music is still strong and 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 shows and keep them as strong as ever. Instead of doing a lot of concerts, and lose the intensity. When I spin records somewhere I 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 242 earned little recognition for what they’ve done. They simply pushed the borders, they were in search of something and so they went beyond the limits. They’ve been a great influence to many artists maybe without realizing it themselves. Billboard, the american music magazine considered them one of the most important music makers ever. Rolling Stone magazine reckons that they were pioneers of the dance craze in the United States. They prepared the path for the advent of electronic dance music. They influenced everybody actually. They were a sort of gateway between 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, electronica I’ve been able to start something from scratch and to get very personal, it’s just the most important thing that i’ve done in my life. All the work that we’ve done, during these 25 years we did it first for our personal satisfaction of course but we basically wanted to break the rules. And we accomplished our goal.