Hey Jeroen, how are you doing?
Fine. I am on holiday in France. So if the connection fails, it’s France’s fault.
The last time we talked was earlier this year around the release of the album ‘De Kerk Van Melculy’. Now here’s ’Live @ Graspop Metal Meeting ’18!’, your new live album. An orgy of fifty minutes of metal, violence, humor and the better Belgian music?
Did you regret that the show was on the smaller Jupiler Stage and not on the big main stage?
No, on the contrary. People have asked me that question many times. Why the Jupiler stage, you didn’t prefer main stage? But I thought that was the right place at the right time. We played right before the main act at seven o'clock in the evening which was Madball. And that was a very nice spot on that poster. The Jupiler stage is also more like the hardcore stage at Graspop, which is nice for us. If they put a Belgian band on the main stage, it is usually to open the festival and then you see just people entering the terrain. So I am satisfied with what we had.
You knew, of course, that a live album was going to be recorded. Did the rest of the band know that too?
No, I did not tell them. That's the funny thing about it. We came off stage and every band member was like: what the fuck was that? The intensity of the audience was awesome, just like the great interaction between the band and the public. That was just off the tracks. It was then that I said that the show was recorded. If I had told them before the show, everybody would have played with the recording on their minds. It had to be something spontaneous.
To me it seems quite thrilling to listen to the recordings for the first time. Did it all get on tape> Did we suffer from mechanical failures? Stuff like that…
Yes of course. Those recordings were far from perfect, up to the fact that at the last song of that show, 'T-Shirt Van Metallica', our recording equipment started failing. So we got a recording of the song with I do not know how many flaws in it. Just a piece of gruyere. Isn’t it ironic, off all the songs we played that gig the one that started our rise. At home when I was mixing the album, we tried to solve it. I repaired it with Dirk Miers (mix). We have tried to patch it up in some way that you do not hear that much. So the original recording of that song was not sounding good. Most bands record six or seven shows and then make a choice of that best sounding performance. People do not know that. We didn’t do that and used what we had. That is always exciting.
For me, it integrally contains that drive and energy that you always have when Fleddy plays live. Are you satisfied with that yourself?
I wanted to achieve that feeling, but without saying it to the rest of the band. If I had done that, the band would be careful to play all those riffs or drums perfectly. But now I said nothing at all. So everyone throws themselves on the stage, let everything go and then you have that pure energy that you hear. That is much more fun than those perfectly played songs as on our studio albums.
Will this album also be released via Sony or is it more a self-release?
It is released through Sony. The special thing about this release is that for such a huge label a live album is not really a commercial gift. A label does not earn a lot of money with it. Nevertheless I mentioned the idea of a live album and it would be explosive. Sony had no doubts at all. Of course there is less budget for the promotion, but now it is also being promoted abroad. Germany, France, Slovenia and the rest of Europe. And not only Belgium and the Netherlands like usual. That's the cool thing about it. The interviews come in and there is also a lot of demand from abroad. We will keep singing in Dutch though. This record is also a bit of a test what we can do next summer abroad. Are other labels interested in getting that story outside the Benelux?
Last song on the album is 'T-Shirt From Metallica', the English version of the song where it all started with. And I must say that it sounds good. A joke or the first step for mankind Fleddy?
Actually, that was meant as a joke. I had already received a lot of comment on the fact that we sing in Dutch and not in English. I can speak English, but I prefer to sing in Dutch, which is my native language. Also writing in Dutch is easier for me. Anyway, I kept getting that question that often I thought like: “If you want to hear a song in English, well you can get it”. I pulled out my worst English to translate the song, but in the end it turned out to be not so bad after all. It is actually quite good. But I still think it's a lot of more fun singing in Dutch.
The cover is another small masterpiece full of the most absurd details. Naked women in a mud bath, earthworms or something like that, a monkey-like, a nun, Satan, a protester with a sign 'Do not walk on the grass'. Does the artist all found it himself or did you helped him?
The draftsman is still the same person who has did all Fleddy artwork. Robin De Groote or Citizenpanic as they call him. I come up with the basic idea. That I see as a framework that he can use. I let him do completely his way. Ninety percent of the audience's content on the cover is his idea. I sometimes end up with silly suggestions such as a barbecue on the PA tower. All together we came to a crazy cover. That is so nice about Fleddy Melculy. All albums have that. There is a red line in it. It is also a fixed pattern. The logo at the top and the title at the bottom left. You always find something crazy when you look at it.
Of course you work closely with Urbanus. Has it ever been suggested that he or Willy Linthout should design a cover in their typical comic style?
I have never thought about that. If I had asked Willy Linthout, you would immediately have seen that it came from the artist who does the Urbanus comics. A while ago he made his own comic series: “The Year Of The Elephant”. Those were very tragic stories that he drew. But when you saw them, you immediately had noticed that it was the same artist who did Urbanus. He nevertheless tried to work so seriously. That is dangerous. I find it fun working with Robin. He has his own style.
Meanwhile, the news reached us that the character Apu from The Simpsons is going to die a silent death because being too stereotypical for Asians. Have you actually received any comments from the Indian or Pakistani community? And now we're mention it: vegetarians, BMW drivers, diehard self-makers and so on.
Actually, that is all good. I have never had an Indian, Afghan or Paki who complained about it. On the contrary. At Graspop, during the signing session, I saw an Asian dude coming to have his albums signed. I asked what country he came from. He replied: I came from India but have been living in Belgium for twenty years. You know that song about Apu, are you offended by it? He even thought it was an honor. Also a photographer of Asian origin thought also that was an honor. I think that can even be with anything. The Simpsons laugh almost with everything and everyone and that is something that every humorist must be able to: put himself in perspective. If you are not allowed to do that anymore, you better stop laughing at anything. Apu has that stereotypical image of how we went to the night shop when we go out. That is recognizable because everyone has an Apu in the night shop of his village. Is that racism? Not at all. That should be possible. It is not racist and is never meant to be so. And also the answer to your question. Or it had to be a lonely keyboard warrior who writes on YouTube that it sounds like a racist. Such people, I do not listen to.
You played a lot of metal festivals in Belgium, like Graspop and the Lokerse Feesten. Are there any festivals that you still have on your list?
Yes, the bucket list or what should you call that, starts to thin out a bit. Now in terms of the Belgian metal festivals, there aren’t many and we have already done them all. One of the exceptions was Groezrock, but that show was announced yesterday. We would still like to play more in the French part of Belgium. Like a Dour festival, les Ardentes or the Durbuy rock festival or those things. The list has become somewhat short in Flanders. We played in Werchter Classic with Guns N 'Roses. The original Rock Werchter would be fun. Or Fortarock in the Netherlands. But we also focus abroad. Hellfest and Wacken, we still want to try those.
When we spoke the last time, a single was released in South Africa. How did the story of the conquest of that continent end?
That has actually drifted a bit out of focus. I always thought it would go like that. When we released a single there was no metal scene in South Africa, apart from some gigs here and there. There is no real scene or rock circuit. I was talking about it with a couple of people from Fokofpolisiekar. That is one of the best known punk bands in South Africa. The song was recorded with François Van Coke, their vocalist. The other was Arno Carstens from the Springbok Nude Girls,another big name over there. When those bands perform, it is still in the same small pubs. Not even clubs. They do huge venues as well, but you can count those on three fingers. It is like the same situation here thirty years ago. It is extremely difficult to get a foot on the ground as a foreign band there. We have tried that but it is very difficult. So for now it is finished business. We were already working on the promotion of the second album. And two things at the same time was too difficult to focus on.
I have watched your tour schedule. Between November 9, 2018 and April 27, 2019 there are eight shows announced in Belgium and Holland. That is actually not that much. Is that to avoid any form of overkill or due to acute time constraints?
No, those who are online now are the ones that could be announced. If I check now what is actually fixed. There are already thirteen shows booked in 2019 in Belgium and the Netherlands. And eight this year. We will also focus on abroad. I am a bit worried that we will break our own when the audience is going to see us too much in these parts. We have already done more than 180 shows in Belgium and the Netherlands and that’s actually a lot.
So four weeks ago I had an interview with When Plagues Collide about their ‘Tutor Of The Dying’. A fantastic album. They were very proud to be part of your Fleddy Melculychlistmas show in Leopoldsburg. Belgian bands will also play on your own Fleddypalooza. Is there a lot of talent in Belgium?
Hell yes. There is a lot of talent here in Belgium. It is great to let them play with Fleddy Melculy in the slipstream of the success we have. Hence with Fleddypalooza and Melculychlistmas that now a shitlist of bands are mailing me with their music and ask to check them out. Often I hear bands that sound very good. I had that same feeling with When Plagues Collide. If you can give it those bands a push in the right direction, you just do that. But there are so many examples lately. There is The Curse Of Millhaven who play on the other Melculychlistmas show. We are also very impressed by the new H8000 band Crowsview. In the meantime we have already become good friends with them. That is music that we like to hear ourselves. It has the pure nineties Arkangel vibe and we all like that. Off The Cross is also such a promising band. There are many bands that deserve more attention.
Fleddy Melculy got their big break with ‘T-Shirt Van Metallica’, but still the band needs to put in a lot of work to maintain the momentum. How do you do this?
Yes, of course and always remain yourself. The important thing is that you always keep doing your own thing or without twenty-five different turns to get there in some way. That just does not last and does not work. Just do your thing and go for it because it has to be fun. Otherwise it will not last long.
I have two big Fleddy Melculy fans here with me. My sun Arno of nine years and my daughter Lena of eleven years. They have autumn holiday and had to come up with a question as homework. Do you have five minutes of time for them?
Yes of course.
Arno W: Will you ever write a song about Five Nights at Freddy's? About those murder dolls in a pizzeria.
I know that from somewhere. I'm going to think about that.
Arno W: Does your bird already fits in the hole?
When it is very cold, it fits.
Lena W: would you like to make a song about Pink Fluffy Unicorns?
Especially for the girls then. I will once ask my daughters and if they say yes, then you will see if it will come around.