METAL MANIACS zine (by Nathan T Birk)
LUGUBRUM: In With The Out Crowd
Lugubrum are a black-metalled law unto themselves. One of those bands that exist entirely in their own world. That are their own World. A world where the only “law” is lawlessness, licentiousness, defiance…pure and utter idiosyncrasy and its unfettered pursuit.
And thus far, it’s been a long, strange trip. From the Black Legions reconfigured as mischievous hicks to Autopsy-turvy stumble-drunk ‘n’ slur to Birthday Partying kraut-skronk, Lugubrum have freely, forever explored the furthest, filthiest regions of their idiosyncratic sound-as-psyche/psyche-as-sound. And it simply keeps getting better and better, weirder and weirder.
Its apotheosis comes in the form of ninth album De Ware Hond. Continuing the BM-gone-krautrock of predecessor Heilige Dwazen, here the Belgian quartet go one better…and jam the fuck out? Believe it. But don’t once think of patchouli stink or insufferable Phish bootlegs. Rather, Lugubrum live in The Moment, loose and lustily, trustily channeling unclean spirits that just happen to have a pitch-fucking-black sense of humor, riding those spirits’ wings in a haze of toke smoke and feral alcoholocaust and little else beyond the seat of their (filthy) pants. Perversely, it’s all an inviting din, a shamanistic celebration of filthy BM’s relation to post-punk skronk and vice versa, secret-weapon Bhodidharma saxually healing the soul while his erstwhile bandmates dump more and stranger sewage into that soul’s gutters.
This is poetry. That is, if you can take the plunge and free the mind (and the libation[s] of choice). No better time, then, to toast co-founders Midgaars and Barditus – guitar and vocals, respectively, and Lokis to the last.
Metal Maniacs: Have you had a chance to check out the band
The Birthday Party yet? You really should.
Midgaars: I forgot about that. I promise I will have checked it before the next album comes out.
MM: Anyway, on to the new album. De Ware Hond begins familiarly enough with your lurching, black-filthy riffing and then Barditus' trademark vocal vomit, but soon unravels, spirals, descends into jammed-out dementia. Was this strategic, beginning the album in such a way? A "trick" to lure in listeners rather than beginning straightaway with something overtly jammed-out?
M: The overall structure of the sessions was roughly planned beforehand, simply to get some balance between the “tight” and drifting parts. I think there’s no easy way into this album. People will be disappointed no matter what they expect, unless they are totally open-minded...or simply demented.
MM: So, what about "jamming" here? Was the new album largely improvised?
M: Apart from the structure, yes. Every member just did his own thing, from his own point of view, except playing live in the same room created a new kind of energy we had not yet experienced. That’s the strongpoint of the album, I think, and an important lesson we’ve learned. This will be our way of recording from now on.
MM: Improvised or no, was there a descent into dementia, a madness of sorts?
Barditus: Of course, there's always a bit of alcohol in the neighborhood, but mostly it's the atmosphere in general that does the job.
M: I think Barditus means that when we get together with this band, we sort of enter another dimension – a brown haze, if you like – where the rules of the human world don’t apply.
MM: Similarly, there are vast segments where you guys really stretch out, really chill out, moodier parts that are equally tense and tranquil – is that how you're feeling lately, tense and tranquil?
M: When we’re with the band, things are usually very laidback.
B: There's always a "Yin-Yang" in life. One can feel good lying in the gutter with an empty bottle in his hand, the other day it will be pleasing to have a nice dinner with candlelight, hence our song "In den ghoot by kaerschlight," meaning that all things can match each other perfectly.
MM: Bhodidharma really, er, blows all over De Ware Hond, and I'm guessing most of it's freeform. How much do you trust him?
M: He was there only for the Ghent sessions, so that’s half the album; he didn’t make it to the Ardennes. When he’s there, he’s given absolute free reign. He comes in and starts blowing, has a smoke, blows some more, has some drinks. When and how we leave up to his genius.
MM: With each record but especially De Ware Hond, do you see Lugubrum going further away from the concept of “black metal” or getting even closer to its truest, deepest core?
M: I think black metal has infinite possibilities and is one of the most interesting music genres because of this. I’m not sure what we’ve created this time – perhaps the first Fusion Black Metal album? Perhaps we are exposing black metal’s dark roots, gnawing at them but never letting go of them. I cannot imagine another genre that allows me to incorporate all these influences of music I like. Purists will probably hate De Ware Hond for it, but then they will hate our older work, as well. We’re going somewhere with this, and with every work we pick up some new tricks, but we don’t move in one direction without constantly taking leaps sideways. That’s why no two Lugubrum albums sound the same; we examine our surroundings to the detail, rather than dozing off on the gravy train. We’re working on new material right now, and once again it’s quite different from the latest recordings. For some reason we come up with a lot of thrashy material...smells of Boersk Blek?
B: Of course, the band has always been related to black metal, but we've been doing things our own way since the beginning – as you already know, of course! I think we still have the “evil vibe” or core, as you call it. When I listen to the music we produce, I always imagine how our dear lord Satan would feel listening to it. I think it's mostly Lugubrum that’s played in Hell; I don't think He listens to pop music or is waiting for yet another band shouting his name over and over again – y’know, like "Satan, Satan, evil one, blah blah blah." It's the dirty atmosphere which makes us stand out, and this will always stay this way. It doesn't matter what we play at all; if we would start playing ballroom music, it would still be the most rancid of all!
MM: How much does being Belgian influence Lugubrum's music? The neighboring Dutch bands I'm into – Urfaust, Botulistum, Countess, and of course Bestial Summoning – are really fucking GONE...meaning, could Lugubrum have come from another country and still sound the same?
M: I’m Dutch myself, but I can only say Belgium is far more interesting than Holland – historically, culturally, and gastronomically. Lugubrum would not sound the same if we would all be Dutch and live in Holland. We would certainly not be so laidback...Puritan mentality, much like the kind you find in the States. We wouldn’t even be allowed to rehearse on the day of the lord – our favorite day for brown worship!
B: Being Belgian has nothing to do with it. When I've won the lottery, we'll all be tanning our lazy asses on the Seychelles beaches until death, but Lugubrum will not change because of that – I promise you won't hear the difference!
MM: Looking internationally and as the Lugubrum sound continues to get more “out there,” who do you view as your contemporaries – kindred spirits?
M: I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone by mentioning their name here. Anyway, they would hardly be kindred, just bands I listen to. A lot of these are from the ‘70s, anyway.
MM: Does it take a certain, twisted mind to appreciate Lugubrum?
B: Not at all. Lugubrum is out there for all normal people; not for Christians or other religious people, only for the better and intellectual part of the human species.
MM: So, is your fanbase the true “outsiders,” and Lugubrum is truly creating “outsider art”?
M: I guess that would be a good way of describing it.
MM: How deliberate is Lugubrum's aesthetic, then, particularly as the years pass and get weirder? Or, is it simply the alcohol speaking?
M: There’s a lot that happens by chance, but we notice these things only because they appeal to us, you see. I think I’ve developed a sort of filter to cope with the world. For instance, we can spot a single midget in a crowd of thousands of “normal” people, things like that. Alcohol may be fuel, but it’s not the spark.
MM: Speaking of the alcohol speaking, please discuss your native land's rich history of white ales and Trappist ales.
B: Our country is known as "the country of beer," but I'm satisfied with the regular ale – favorite brand is Jupiler or Stella. I don't need all those special beers. I like them on special occasions, but mostly I just drink the regular ale or "pils" [Pilsner] and some wine and port; I don't need more to be satisfied. It must be very pleasing for tourists coming to Belgium, trying out all those beers they can't drink in their home country. But I'll be watching them with a cheap beer in my hand, thinking "haha, losers!"
M: The bigger brands like Jupiler aren’t even in Belgian hands anymore, but are controlled by foreign bastards who have no idea what beer is about – Brazilians, for fuck’s sake! – and you can taste this for a fact. That’s why many people here are turning to the smaller breweries/Trappists. I prefer Primus these days, or German beer, or any small brand that has little or no sweetness, like traditional Gueuze.
MM: Ah, and Lugubrum's "Beer Us or Die" creed – has anyone, in fact, "died" for not "beering" you?
B: Not yet, they all beer us! It seems that our totalitarian beer-propaganda is working...
M: No, but Julien (bartender of Den Hoorn, in Zomergem) died despite beering us...but that may have been due to him smoking non-stop, even in his sleep.
MM: And beyond alcohol, the bonds between you two, being together for so long – they must be quite strong, quite special...?
M: As you can tell by our answers, we hardly ever agree on anything...that’s why I make the decisions when he’s fallen asleep. It’s a winning formula!
MM: Are you surprised you've come this far? Y'know, building up such a body of work with Lugubrum?
M: Not really. It’s one of the few things that I really enjoy doing. It’s my gift to mankind, if you like.
B: To speak for myself, I think it's a little weird, but the fact that we're becoming more and more appreciated indicates that many people are in need for something like this. At least that's my opinion.
MM: Still, your vocals and Midgaars’ guitar remain constant, and listening to De Ware Hond compared to, say, Gedachte & Gehaugen back to back, things really haven't changed too drastically. The live album/shows really prove this out.
M: I’m glad you say that, because that’s exactly how I feel. We still enjoy playing the old stuff, even more than back when we recorded it. Nowadays, we mix the old with the new when we play live, and it all fits nicely together; it just makes the show more varied. After all, an album is just a picture of a given moment and is, in our case, heavily subject to recording techniques…or lack of! In essence, Lugubrum is truly a live band, albeit one that doesn’t like to play live!
B: I think things have changed a lot. During the Gedachte & Geheugen era, everything sounded more harsh and depressed, the way we felt mentally that time. Now, it's all more easy-going. I don't care that much about negative topics anymore; I just live my life the best I can, not forcing anything. I'm the laziest of all in Lugubrum. When you listen to the vocals, I'm just doing what I think sounds best. I'm not forcing anything – almost everything is recorded in one take.
MM: Since the beginning of last year, you guys have your own label again, Old Grey Hair, and years back you had Skramasax. You've worked with multiple labels, but are back to being DIY. What are the lessons you've learned operating in the underground and, yes, creating true “outsider art”?
M: That I should have waited a bit before ordering the 40-storey “Old Grey Hair building” in Brussels' financial center…still, it keeps the homeless off the street.
MM: Lastly, what about “brown metal”? Do you indeed search for the “brown note”
M: A fitting end note, indeed. That’ll be the last note we’ll play with our rectums, just before our caskets are lowered into the cold soil.
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