Charles Brownstein interviews The Black Box Revelation.
Charles: You guys grew up in Belgium. Where did your love of garage-psych rock come from?
Black Box: We started listening to rock music when we were 10 years old. I had an older brother who was going to music festivals at the time, so I started listening to pretty hard music pretty early on. We started playing music together when we were 11 and 13 years old. So we just started doing crazy stuff in the garage, and we just grew into to the genre we’re playing right now very naturally. We went to the biggest festivals in Belgium, so we’ve seen a lot of bands, and they’re not really from Belgium either. But when we were young, seeing all the teenagers and craziness, it really drew us in. My first gig that really made me want to play guitar was the Datsuns when they played Pukkelpop, and it was such an amazing show, it seemed like it would be so much fun to be on stage, and every since we’ve been playing music having a great time.
Charles: How did the Pittsburgh Pirates end up buying one of your songs?
Black : We knew someone who did Hollywood movies and he was in Baseball too and he introduced us to the Pirates and they picked our song because they were a young, energetic team and they thought our music matched their team spirit.
Charles: What language do you write you songs in?
Black: Lyrics always come in English. We don’t have great grammar so some words I have to look up, but I always write them out in English. It’s a different way of thinking when you’re thinking in another language. For us, it would sound weird to sing in Flemish, most Belgium bands sing in English, but it’s something completely different.It’s not our ambition to just play in Belgium, so now we can tour the States, Canada, and all over the world.
Charles: What’s it been like touring with the Meat Puppets?
Black: We toured with them in June and now on this tour as well. The cool thing is in June we had such a great time, so it was amazing for them to ask us again. They are such nice guys, we get along really well. Chris even joined us on stage for one song. He was so excited, and it was the first time ever that we have had a bass player on stage with our own songs. The only time was when we played a Hendrix tribute show with a bass player we had never played with before, I think you can find it on You Tube, but with Chris it was amazing. We might tour with them again, they’re kind of like our crazy uncles.
Charles: What’s it like playing all those big festivals like Pukkelpop, and Pink Pop, and Rock en Seine?
Black: It feels great to play in front of so many people. Coming here to the US and Canada is cool as well. Playing smaller clubs are very charming, it’s a combination of bigger festivals and smaller venues which make it pretty cool. The first time we had a really big crowd we had so much adrenaline, now it’s not so much a nervous energy but more an excited one, and I think that’s why we play music so we can get that energy of people right in front of you. Sometimes it inspires you to play things that you’ve never
played before, and that only happens when you’re on stage. Every time is different, even if we’ve played the stage before. For instance, we’ve played the Double Door in Chicago about 4 times in a couple of months, and every time it’s different because it’s a different crowd and we’re playing with different bands. You just build a story. Even in Minneapolis we came back 4 times in one month, and every time you see more people coming and they remember us from the week before. That’s what we have to do. We’re
good on our album, but we’re more of a live band, so you have to see us to be really be convinced.
Charles: What was it like working with multi-talented producer Alain Johannes?
Black: Yeah the first two albums we worked with Mario Goossens, a Belgium drummer, so it was great to get new wind to the story, a new producer. It was the first time ever that we worked with someone that we didn’t know from before. We were really excited, we went into his home studio right after touring, and we hadn’t finished our demos, so we did a lot of new things. His way of working was a lot different, so it inspired us to know our instruments in a different way. We didn’t take any of our instruments to the studio. We were really nervous sitting on the plane, all we had was drum sticks, a pedal, and a cow bell. On our new album I didn’t use any of my own guitars. On our first albums we tried to find our sound with our proper gear trying to make sounds with it. So on this album it was more of the way we played together, instead of just using sounds, because we were using gear we had never used before. So it was an extra adventure for us and boost to try and write new stuff.