Anno February 2006 PN will present his 6th full-length album ‘Through Satin Veils Gropes Desire’. So present this album in a few words?
“People can expect a next trip in the journey that’s called PN. The music is definitely paced slower than before and the general vibe has become a little bit darker still, more melancholic. But we are convinced that all of this contributes to the musical experience and the potential of the album to grow over time. I think that we’ve achieved to make an album that sounds right, despite the fact that some influences are pretty daring.”
Every release from PN is different. For example ‘Daybreak Serenity’ was very aggressive, ‘the art of being we’ was more intense, more grooving and on ‘Live at the MOD’ we heard an acoustic PN. Was it planned to evolve this way or did it just happen?
“It was certainly not planned…We never planned anything with this band, except a lot of rehearsing, recording albums and playing lots of shows. We initially started making music cause we all love it from the bottom of our heart (how cheesy this may sound:)- and because we wanted to do something creative, something unlimited by any musical borders or rules. We have this common thing/passion that’s called hardcore. It’s the scene we’ve been involved in for many years now and we always liked music with lots of power and the possibility to expose your emotions in a both fragile and extreme way. Music with certain ethics, a common feeling…anyway, that’s the common thing we started with when starting up PN and all the rest came naturally. Certain moods and influences (both personal and musical) during different periods of your life, influence the way you write music. Combine this with learning to play your instruments better and trying to experiment a whole lot more and you get the musical evolution of PN. The semi acoustic experience was something that happened to us incidentally. Some years ago, we were asked by Club 9 in Zoersel to play a special semi-acoustic/intimate set together with a special setting of the band .Calibre. So we started rewriting some of our older songs and transferred them into other versions. We also wrote some new songs and to put a different angle to it, we asked a friend of ours on Rhodes to ad something extra to all this. The reactions on the set were very good and we got offered other semi-acoustic shows without looking for it, so we planned a kind of mini tour with shows in different Belgian clubs. The set at the MOD in Hasselt even got recorded and mixed and was released by the label Dokument records. You see, it all went a bit out of hand (in a positive way):)- And then we decided to leave it that way. It was a great experience, we found out that some of our songs have an impact when they are stripped down to the essence and through the jamsessions with the piano player (Tom Bessemans). We experienced a different approach to writing and playing music, which shines through on some of our new songs on the ‘through satin veils gropes desire’ album.”
Just like the Sparkle Of Hope debut CD ‘Through Satin Veils Gropes Desire’ is mastered by Alan Douches. What makes him so special?
“Well, we like a lot of his work for other bands like f.e Silverstein, Sufjan Stevens or Thrice and we got his contact through the people of Antillectual. Their last album was also mastered by Alan and they were really happy about the collaboration and the result. So we decided to go ahead and do it. Mastering is something really important, cause it’s the final process of the CD and it’s important to do it the best possible way. We always worked with the same mastering studio in the past and they do a good job, but we wanted to go for another approach now and it turned out real fine!”
There will also be an LP version of the CD as a limited edition of 500 copies with different artwork and every LP will include a CD too! Why did you decide to bring it also out on vinyl, is it just for the love of vinyl or what…?
“One of our best friends came up with the idea. Some of us are real fond of vinyl, so it didn’t took us long to accept his offer. We wanted to make something special out of it, cause it’s clear that a lot of kids aren’t interested in vinyl anymore. Some might even consider it as something prehistorically. But anyway, that’s why a beautiful gatefold LP version was made and you get the CD as an extra when you buy the vinyl. We’re really happy about the result and very grateful towards Matti for giving us this opportunity to release a vinyl edition on Rearviewmirror records.”
PN is going on for almost 14 years now. Is there something you would change when you could start it all over again?
“Not really, we’ve started this band out of the passion for hardcore and music in general and we’ve always been honest to ourselves, written the music they way we thought it felt best and we’re still doing it that way. We’ve recorded a whole set of records, played tons of shows and most importantly: met a lot of new people, seen a lot of new places and heard a lot of great bands. That’s what makes it unique and as long as it stays like that, we’ll stick to it. Of course there are some things you would do different, looking back to the mistakes you made and so on, but that doesn’t matter compared to the ‘big picture’… The thing we would change starting all over again, would be our bandname. We started playing as 4 young and naive kids with a funny bandname just because it sounded so lame and after a whole set of shows, we realised we got stuck with it:)- haha…so you can pinpoint that as the one and only thing we would do different!”
Any special tricks to stay together for so long?
“I don’t know. I think (but I’m speaking for myself then, so I can’t judge for the other bandbro’s) playing music with people you consider as good friends is one of the most enjoyable and valuable things when being in a band. And just for the sake of writing music you all feel related to and not because this or that sound is hip. Or because you’re dreaming of becoming that famous rockstar that wants to have his own tv show, hitcharts and whatever crap. If you play music with the right/most honest intentions and you get the chance to do that with people you really feel close to, that’s already one step forward to create a long band history together. I might be wrong though and to be honest…we don’t think about the past too much, we love working on the future.”
Who writes the lyrics to the songs and where does he gets his inspiration from?
“Most of the lyrics are written by myself, although Jurgen also contributes to the lyrics. On the former CD’s, I used quite some lyrics by Jurgen, ad to mine, but on the new album, almost all lyrics are written by myself. That wasn’t on purpose or because I don’t want to use Jurgen’s lyrics anymore. It just turned out that way. I was in an inspirational mood and wrote quite some stuff the last two years, so I had some lyrics I could choose from… Inspirationwise, I’m mainly writing lyrics out of my personal feel, which doesn’t mean that some of the lyrics have a socio-political reference. But we’re not a preacher-band (nothing against those bands, we just aren’t one) I try to give reflections or expressions in the lyrics…something people can think about or at least I hope they do…”
Do certain social and political events like the evolution to a more right wing society encourage you to write songs?
“Yeah, certainly…like I just said, I’m not a manifesto writer concerning the lyrics of PN, but I definitely want to encourage people to start thinking about things and shit happening in and out our small country. There’s a real need for that I think, cause a lot of people in the hardcore scene don’t seem to care about politics and stuff anymore.… I get the impression that a lot of people are more interested in the kind of make up they wear then in the kind of shit that puts people down in our society and that’s a real shame. We’re a luxury bunch of people in a golden country, but we all behave like this is the most shittiest place on earth. We’re jealous at our neighbours, frustrated about the things we don’t have instead of being happy with the things we do have and a lot of our fellow countrymen blame all the shit on foreign people on top of all this… Weird and scary at the same time….”
Do you find it important that bands have a message to tell or do you think just having a band for the fun without any message at all is also ok?
“I think there’s place for both things. It’s important to have bands with a message (be it political or personal) but it’s not necessary. There’s a place and time for both.”
To end with, let’s talk about Funtime Records. Funtime Records had and still has together with the Funtime Magazine an important impact on the Belgium scene in general and the Hageland scene in particular. How come?
“Well, we’ve always done what felt right and we never limited ourselves to one hype or scene. And the most important thing: we’re one big family (that really sounds cheesy, doesn’t it?) with a lot of helping hands and dedicated people that were there from day one (or 2) and still work their asses of on shows, for the label, the funtime radio. All these people are passionate about the music and also connected through the friendship involved. With the label, we’ve always tried to work with dedicated, hardworking and open minded bands and we always try not to limit ourselves to one kind of thing/vision and that’s important, I think. There are a lot of great bands out there and Belgium has a fantastic scene with lots of shows, lots of people who put of shows, play in bands, do a zine, take pictures and that all contributes to eachother…”
So Johan isn’t it hard to combine your work at Funtime with being the frontman of PN and Homer?
“It’s busy sometimes, even way too busy sometimes, but I get a lot of help. The funtime stuff is taken care of by a lot of people and especially people like Matti, Bert, Pirre and Hanna are taking a lot of work on their shoulders too, which makes it bearable.”
Final Question: will there ever be a next issue of the Funtime Magazine again?
“Never say ‘never’, but at this point, there’s really no time or whatever left to start the resurrection. We never buried the zine, so all options are open…who knows what the future brings…I would really like to see it happen, you know…funtime zine has a special place in our hearts, but we have to be realistic. Because of all the other funtime work, it’s simply not possible to pull it of now and release a new issue…”
Thanks for the interview Johan and PN