Published on May 12th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Belgian quintet Balthazar left Rocksucker quite entranced with their broodingly groovy second album Rats, so we’d urge you to catch them while they’re in the UK this week. Their show tonight at Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut will be followed by dates in Leeds (13th), Bristol (14th), London (15th), Brighton (16th) and Birmingham (17th); see their official site for more details.
We fired over some questions to Jinte Deprez from the band and received back the following set of replies, which you should read either after or while acquainting yourself with their brilliantly smoky and shuffly tunes…
Congratulations on a wonderful new album. Was it all written in the time since Applause, or do some of the songs date back further?
Thanks. Most of the songs were written immediately after Applause came out, so they were brand new, but some of the themes are older unfinished ideas. The oldest tune must be the chamber-music-waltz ending on “Any Suggestion”. It’s something we wrote when we were fifteen years old, but never found a nice way to use it. Now it’s the farewell ride of our album, quite fitting.
Why did you decide to sing in English? Was it more to do with your musical influences, or your potential audience?
Both I guess. Most of the music we heard as a kid, up to now, is sung in English. It feels more natural as a singing language than Flemish, our mother tongue. In a way it’s nice to have a language for daily stuff, which is very direct, and another language for more emotive, almost sometimes oracular use, for singing. It feels like a big playground. Anyway, as Belgians we are used to speaking a lot in foreign tongue, since not a lot of people are eager to learn Flemish.
And how does it feel to be told that you write in English more eloquently, intelligently and thoughtfully than most English bands? Especially for ones so young!
That’s a big compliment. Lyrics are pretty important to us. I think it’s interesting for us not to know how English feels like as a mother tongue, we approach things a bit differently. And the books we read are in English, all that classic stuff, we love it.
Who are all the ballerinas in the video for “Do Not Claim Them Anymore”? And what is it that you do not want to see claimed anymore?
Well we didn’t want to explain the song in the video really, but they do tend to be the narrators of the song. They sing to their new lovers to open up for the new love, something like that. Letting go of everything they held onto, free fall.
What was it like touring with Local Natives?
They’re really great, such a good live band. We already knew each other a bit because we played some festivals together in the past on continental Europe. But UK is a whole new thing for us, and it felt good to do it with a band we like that much. It was an oldskool tour, with going bowling on the last night, a Disney ending you might say.
Which festivals are you playing this summer?
We’re playing a whole bunch of festivals through whole Europe, it’s getting quite busy. We’re stoked to play at Reading & Leeds, actually our first festivals here. Reading reminds me of the Nirvana live footage. That’s the reason I once let my hair grow. Great.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your life with the entire works of just five different artists, musical or otherwise, whose would you choose?
Steve McQueen, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Disney.
Balthazar, thank you.
Rats is out now on Play It Again Sam. “Sinking Ship”, the next single to be taken from the album, will be released 3rd June.
Balthazar play the following UK dates this week:
Sunday 12th – Glasgow King Tuts
Monday 13th – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 14th – Bristol Louisiana
Wednesday 15th – London Borderline
Thursday 16th – Brighton Albert
Friday 17th – Birmingham Rainbow
For more information, please visit Balthazar’s official website.