It’s been a couple of years now since Graspop Metal Meeting has started thinking outside of the box for their line-up selection. The biggest metal festival in Belgium is no longer solely boasting bands who fall into that category. That’s how last year, we were treated to a set by The Bloody Beetroots or Perturbator, the latter having been the first synthwave artist to be featured at the no longer puritan festival. This year, colleague in eighties-themed musical mischief Carpenter Brut held the synthesizer spot in the Redbull Metal Dome. I danced my ass off to their set, and after it was over, hurried said ass backstage for an interview with the mastermind behind ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Leather Teeth’.
GRIMM: So, you’re the mastermind behind the synthwave project Carpenter Brut. Allow me to start by telling you how awesome I found your show at Graspop. It was a success, wasn’t it?
Thank you. And yes, I’m happy there was such a large crowd. Playing a metal festival can sometimes be a make-or-break situation. The crowds are usually pure metal fans who don’t always consider my music to adhere to that, so I just go out there assuming there’s never going to be that many people attending. On the other hand you’ve got festivals like Hellfest for example, which was packed. I think we were the last band playing and people wanted to have a bit of fun after all the metal. Summer Breeze or Motocultor also had a solid turn up.
GRIMM: Has it really ever happened before that you’d had to play in front of an empty site? At festivals, I mean?
Coachella *laughs*. There must’ve been maybe 250 people watching. But The Weekend was playing at the same time. Then again that wasn’t really a metal festival. Still we were lucky that we didn’t play on the same day as Beyoncé. I weep for the band that had to play the same time slot.
GRIMM: Such a big festival and so few people. That’s a shame. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Carpenter Brut is still fairly young?
Yeah, that may be one of the reasons. I don’t consider us a metal band of course, and you kind of have to be in on the joke to fully appreciate the concept. But all in all we don’t do too bad at metal festivals. In general it even works rather well since metalheads are usually more open to other genres anyway.
GRIMM: I, for one, just love the concept behind the whole project. So far I have never missed one single gig you played in Belgium. I even got around to go as far as the Alsace to see Carpenter Brut.
Really? Damn. You must really dig it.
GRIMM: I really do. ‘Leather Teeth’ made it to the fourth spot in my ‘best of 2018‘. This interview right here something I can cross off my bucket list.
*laughs* Well, that’s fantastic.
GRIMM: Now, concerning the project and concept Carpenter Brut, do you manage every single aspect of it yourself? Music, merch, lighting, effects, etc.
I create nearly all the music myself. Exceptions being the riff on ‘Beware The Beast’ for example, which wasn’t composed by me. But on the whole, I would say that I come up with ninety-nine percent of all music, since it was a project that I came up with by myself. For concerts I am of course joined by two of my friends so I don’t have to stand up there alone like a fool.
I created the stage lighting with my engineer due to lack of time. While I sort of focused on the newer tracks which take on a more purple tint, he ensured red lighting for the older material.
I manage the graphical designs in the sense that I always work with the same people. Førtifem, in my case. I’ve worked with a lot of people on the video clips however. I’ve worked with Seth Ickerman on ‘Turbo Killer’, and I’ve worked with Silver Strain who did all the videos for ‘Leather Teeth’, among others.
The general idea is having a hand in everything. That way I can stay informed on everything and make sure it remains my own thing. I also make the merch, and my wife, who runs my label is the one who makes sure it’s sent out.
This interview continues on page 2.