Interview: Billions Of Comrades

A Handful Of Bassets

Dash Majesty speaks with Belgian post-punk renegades Billions Of Comrades, whose energetic second album Rondate crosses experimental boundaries whilst remaining close to the quartet’s roots.

Dash Majesty: For those who don’t know, please introduce yourself.

Billions Of Comrades: We are a Belgian quartet creating post-punk, math rock, indie pop music. We love mixing electronic and organic sounds, drinking beers and eating pizzas with friends and, more than anything, composing and sharing our music with billions of comrades!

DM: How would you describe your sound and how do you fit within the Belgian scene?

BOC: According to our producer, Gil Mortio, there are apparently only two ways of making music: as Bach – staying focused on the melody, or as Sonic Youth – carving the noise. Maybe we’ve found our own path in carving melodies. We love to surprise ourselves by trying new stuff and mashing up different influences and styles within the band.

The Belgian scene is rich but narrow. We feel good with where we fit within the scene, but we want to spread the word about our music beyond it – our French tours are always a blast. With the European reviews of our last album, we’re hoping to go even further.

 

DM: We have a slightly weird affinity with synths at Dash Majesty. Can you talk us through yours?

BOC: From scratch, the project started with a ten track demo, composed with just a Tenori-on, the progressive synthesizer from Yamaha. It’s an amazing machine; you can compose a song and recreate the northern lights in your room at the same time. Since the second album, we have also been using a Mini Novation to increase the amount of synthetic noises we use and to be more tuneful.

DM: Why the choice of name?

BOC: When the band first got together, we were quick to be booked for a festival in the city of our childhood, close to Brussels. We had parts of songs but nothing complete, and above all we didn’t have a band name. Billions Of Comrades was the title of one track (we really believe in the family, the crew, the human part of life etc) and one night the bassist suggested we use it as our band name and two seconds later, the choice was made.

DM: Some of the tracks from Rondate sound pretty old school – a couple seem to have an early-Foals-slash-Friendly Fires influence. Was this intentional?

BOC: Not really, but thank you for the comparison. We didn’t care about what the album could sound like. For us the most important thing was the evolution of our music and the process we go through when composing. We approached recording sessions like a playground.

Don’t try to be cool, you’re already cool.

DM: How has your songwriting process matured since your last album?

BOC: With pleasure and difficulty. Two years ago, before a catch up with our label Black Basset Records about the schedule of a new release, we decided to try a new songwriting process. Some of us took producing lessons and then each of us came to rehearsals with new ideas and demos. Three months before going into the studio, all of our tracks, besides Minor, were a mess, but magically, all of our individual work began to make sense and we finished just in time.

DM: What was the concept behind the video for Minor?

BOC: The concept was a “non concept plus a deadline”. We thought that we could manage something fun with our fellow comrades, a DIY process, parties, animated GIFs etc. After a whole weekend of post-production, it was finished half an hour before it was due to be release on the French webzine Mowno. We’re really proud of it and we’ve already scheduled two other music videos to be released next autumn.

DM: What changes would you like to see in the music industry over the next few years?

BOC: We would really like to see a more open-minded scene with fewer borders between indie culture and the mainstream. Economic issues govern the industry, which is complete nonsense considering the possibilities presented by new technologies and the new ways of sharing music and art available to all of us. Indie culture needs to be way more accessible to everyone.

DM: Any advice for up-and-coming musicians you would like to share?

BOC: Don’t try to be cool, you’re already cool.

Billions Of Comrades spend most of their time stalking your family on Facebook and sharing the pictures they take of them on Instagram.