The Drumcomputer starts with ear-deafening noise and three strange beings suddenly appear in the emergent fog, wrapped in enormous sweat protection helmets, beating protection wests and dark fight suits. Finally, three extraterrestrials turned out of course as Front242 which try to take the Münster Odeon audience in a surprise coup. While anti-aircraft floodlights in the background nervously search on the stage and torn camouflage nettings swear manoeuvre atmosphere monotonous-urgent synthie figures cheerfully chug from the tape gloomily.
After a partial demask the three front-line soldiers (apart from Daniel at the mixers), nevertheless, turn out as three very different characters:
Richard who looks with his mohawk and otherwise accurately like Travis Brickle from „Taxidriver“; jumps and jogs round his synthetic Drum-Kit, shouts the intercommands in his head-mike with rebel’s manner and tries obviously hard to heat up the audience with cheers and „flashing the finger“ which is paid to him with the distance that’s usual known from hardrockers. With his controlled clumsy movements and his dominant firm voice Jean-Luc works rather more like a mediator. Nevertheless, he seems to have most force wear, must have a crouching breather now and again and regenerate hisself with mineral water (internally as well as externally). while Patric throws the disks around himself at the emulator. He probably is more the quiet inventor who sticks to his instrument almost all the time.
Like gearwheels the quite equally sounding Titels of “body to body“ to „Quite unusual“ interlock without losing the tension, until it suddenly ends and only the compulsory addition follows which, actually, nobody required so properly. Instead of this the audience waits patiently that Front242 come back by itself. After the concert Patric is (quite involuntarily) a little bit disappointed about the cool reactions (however, there was also dancing)‚ although he stresses to be contented with every audience. During a short impromptu short-interview on the court (in the kitchen the cooking was too loud) he tried to explain to me – still easily groggy from the volume — some of their positions then.
Question: There is a whole series of Techno pop bands in Belgium. Bands like à; GRUMH …, Neon Judgement, Pseudo Code and just also Front242. Do you think that there with you is a special climate, a special fertile soil for this kind of groups?
Patric: Certainly. Even if these people are’nt always so connected with each other, nevertheless, general things happen there. But what you call Electro pop groups, for us also means that we collect an amount of influence from Germany. I think the first electronic groups in the 70th came from here. Kraftwerk, Can, Neu. But things from England, the whole Industrial scene and also the rather poplike side also influence us. Yes, Belgium is a communication platform and so has big influence on the music. We have more than 24 TV programmes. This means, we can also receive 3 German programmes, 2 English, Holland, France etc.
Question: Then you see yourselves rather than a European band ?
Patric: Yes, even more. Because we have, actually, no right connection with Belgium. It is a very young state, and if you grow up there, you cannot feel in Belgian manner. Not as well as in Germany. So, e.g., my father is Flemish. And my mother is a Frenchwoman. Thus I have grown up in the different cultures which came from the outside.
Question: Why do you use this military outfit?
Patric: I think what we do or what we try to do, is, that we take up information from everywhere. So, e.g., from the television. And in our shows we can’t reproduce as many images as sounds. If one would have a big screen and could change the clothes, one would have different moods which one could show, but this is impossible for us at the moment.
Therefore, we had to make a choice, and thus we have taken military clothes and also many sports things, particularly from martial arts. And then we still have
the helmets which deal rather with industry and work. Thus is our outfit however, surely mixed. We try to reflect the world so. And if switch on your TV, nevertheless, the military presentations leave the biggest impression.But what we bring on the stage, is only energy and has no political ones influences and real aggressiveness. Maybe it is aggressive, what we make, but it has no adjustment. It is neither positive nor negative.
Question: Nevertheless, an amount from Synthi bands work with similar pictures, and with a similar image. Can you imagine a reason for this obviously strong presence of harder Synthi sounds with connected with war pictures and army presentation ?
Patric: I believe, this is a reaction. At least in such a way for me this is. I cannot speak for the others from the group. For me it´s a reaction against this classical rock stuff. Since all these people are not especially experienced musicians. But they look more for new sounds and try to make something else with other sounds. Not so much melodies and in such a way. The time will come for a heap of bands which try to make something else. The young people from today make a lot. They work on the computer, play Videogames, everything very much elaborately with many variables. And they have an lot of information in the head. And if they hear rock music‚ it seems very easy, only thus pling piing. Without these references.
Question: But, nevertheless, these are not the same people who go to your concerts. The people who are here today walk around in black half of it and, nevertheless, are not interested in computers: Nevertheless, moreover, they behave rather like in a right rock concert, with raised fists and so on.
Patric: I know (laughs). However, this depends on the audience: In Belgium skinheads with Hitler’s greeting come, e.g., to the concert occasionally, but also a few yuppies which have heard before „Quite unusual“ come and think: 0H, trendy ! Let’s go to Front 242. But we have great success with very young people, we were really surprised. In Sweden possibly we had concerts for the younger audience which can go only with 21 to concerts, and they were really enthusiastic. This was fantastic. Then we have given the second concert in Stockholm for an older audience to more than 21, and they reacted quite differently. I cannot say that I prefer this or that audience. In Berlin we were told that the people liked the appearance very much‚ but they have not reacted at all, very cool. Maybe this is the German mentality, but this makes no difference to us‚ we make our show. And the people should take it like they want.
Question: Do you feel a relationship to other bands ? Laibach just try to avoid reactions with the audience possibly.
Patric: I personally like Laibach very much. I like Test Department, such kind of music. Some records of Nitzer Ebb are also not so bad. But I also hear Petshop Boys, Prince – such a thing. One must stay open. The difference between Front 242 and Laibach is, I think, that Front 242 is more evil more commonly. Because Laibach has an idea on which they place special emphasis. And one knows which kind of music they will make, what kind of band they are. The same is valid for Test Department. I believe, we are more common in the kind that we have a very much trendy, tuneful side and we also look for new sounds.
Nowadays in ’87 one must mix such things to be evil and to pack the music business at its „balls“. You cannot be authentic. Maybe inside in it, but not externally. I think, this is the kind how we work: TV sounds, melodies, drums, sound research. Thus we leave it a little bit ambiguously and unclearly. This is the way.
Question: You even try to avoid a position towards the things which you reflect. Is this part of the concept ? Some people, like the before mentioned Skinheads, could have the idea that you represent their ideals.
Patric: THIS is the evil way, you can seduce skinheads as well as yuppies.
Question: Is this okay for you?
Patric: Yes‚ sure ! Because nobody can escape from this complete flood of information. I want to have no gigs with a clearly specified audience. Everybody has to go for his own interpretation of that what he sees. What he gets in his ears, everything. The most important is to do it with strength and energy.