Interview with Front 242’s Daniel B on synths and the new Nothing But Noise project
Steelberry Clones got an exclusive interview with Daniel B (Daniel Bressanutti) from Front 242. Daniel B talks passionately about analog synthesizers, the future of Front 242 and his latest project – Nothing But Noise, with a scheduled album release on April 16th. Front 242 hardly needs any major introduction, for 30 years they have been shaping, defining and exploring the genre that later became the foundation for electronic body music (EBM). Several bands have followed in their footsteps since then. Front 242 started in 1981 in Aarschot, near Brussels, Belgium, by Daniel and Dirk Bergen, who wanted to create music and graphic design using emerging electronic tools. The first single, “Principles”, was released in 1981. The front part of the name comes from the idea of an organized popular uprising. Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer had separately formed a group called Under Viewer at about the same time, and the two duos joined together in 1982. Bressanutti, Codenys and De Meyer took turns on vocals at first, until they settled on De Meyer as the lead vocalist. De Meyer came to write most of the lyrics and Valerie Jane Steele also wrote several tracks including “Don’t Crash”. They decided not to use the regular waveform settings on their synthesizers, arguing that creating the waveform for each note was part of the creative process.
Dirk Bergen early on left the band to pursue other things, but Daniel tells us that they have remained friends for all of these years, and when the opportunity came up last year they decided to get back in the studio together with Erwin Jadot (a mutual friend) to bring us this new project called Nothing But Noise (NBN). The new NBN album that will be released on April 16th brings us a very different sound, then we are used to listening to Front 242. NBN, apart from being done entirely by machines, has very little in coming with Front 242 – it is a very complex sounding album with strong ambient influences, basically all instrumental and perhaps most importantly no drums. Daniel B tells us that this was a clear intent from the beginning – to do a full synthetic album with no drums in sight. Steelberry Clones has pre-listened to the entire album and we must say that it is an impressive sonic experience to listen to all these analog synths pushed into a dark ambient world – a cinematic experience. You can pre-listen to a couple of samples below on the NBN SoundCloud player below:
The members of Front 242 were heroes in the electronic underground scene all through the 80s and 90s, and have continued to record and tour to the present day. The band members has come and gone over the years but they all have one thing in common and that is their love for side-projects – all current members of Front 242 sport multiple side-projects spanning DJing, bands and film. Daniel B has produced a range of extra-curricular work over the years, including ‘Male or Female’ and ‘Speed Tribe’, a DVD and audio release based around the 2001 Le Mans motor race. Nothing But Noise, together with Dirk and Erwin, is Daniel’s latest and most anti-242 project and of course we here at Steelberry Clones needed to know more about this.
Can you tell us a little about the theme of the new NBN album
“For us it was like a new beginning, and although it had been a long time since we stopped working together, we always had in the plans that at one point in time we should do something together. So when the opportunity came we basically did not have any specific plans for the new album – we merely did for ourselves, not something revolutionary, but something we both liked.”
However, somewhere in the back of our heads we had two objectives; first we wanted to kind of explore where the music we all listened to when we were young (Tangerine Dreams, Krautrock, Kraftwerk, Stockhausen etc) would have been today if these acts had continued to produce material all the way to where we stand today. Secondly, we wanted to take on the challenge of not using any drums at all, especially considering our Front 242 background. “I would say that the only real parallel to Front 242 is the sole use of machines.”.
You have all been engaged in several side projects, along side Front 242, has this been a way to keep the creativity up
Not in relation to Front 242, I would say. Front 242 is actually more of a certain formula – you know what it is supposed to sound like, and in fact most of our fans (and the longer we keep going) want us to sound the same. At least speaking for myself – Front 242 is not my whole life. It’s the same thing with a guitar player who at points in time also wants to play the piano – there are so many things to explore, but of course all the things you do outside of Front 242 will influence the work in the band – cross-pollination in a sense. The “Male and Female” album has definitely influenced my way of making music and in general it is easier to be creative in a new format, like Nothing But Noise, to explore new things.
The announced break with Front 242, was that because of Nothing But Noise, or something else
“As you know we (Front 242) do not make any records anymore – so I have plenty of time to focus on other projects.” Front 242 still have some booked concerts that we will do, especially in countries where we have not toured a lot, so we will still do occasional shows going forward, and for how long depends a lot on inspiration. When it comes to Nothing But Noise it is easy to say that we have the time and music is our lives
Was it hard to start working again with Dirk after all these years – did you have a plan on what you wanted to accomplish
“We talked about it a lot and we did not have a master plan what we wanted to do.”