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INTERVIEW: ANDRIES BECKERS of Diablo Blvd – December 2014

| 9 January 2015 | Reply

Seldom does a new band totally rock me with a debut release from first song to last, but the upcoming disc from Diablo Blvd did exactly that.  This Antwerp Belgium based band grabbed the attention of Nuclear Blast and now we have one of the better debuts in a long time headed our way in early 2015.  Just before the holidays hit tilt, guitarist and lead song writer Andries Beckers took time out of his busy life and spent it with us on the phone…

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Toddstar: Andries, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule today. We really appreciate it.

Andries: Yeah, no problem at all. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Somebody from Belgium of all places.

Toddstar: Awesome. There’s great rock and roll from all over the world.

Andries: That’s true. I mean thanks to modern communication, nothing is a problem anymore. It still amazes me every day.

Toddstar: Sure. Let’s talk about the big news. I mean Diablo Boulevard has a new album coming, Follow The Deadlights. What can you tell us about this great, great record?

Andries: Well, I hope you think it’s a great record. At least I’m very proud of it. It’s our third album. I mean for everybody in Belgium. The is the first record that will be released internationally. For people that don’t know us, we’re an Antwerp Belgium based band that kind of mixes rock and metal. That’s what we’ve always been doing. With this third record, that was the first time we’ve managed to get out of Belgium and Holland. You know Nuclear Blast set a release date for the end of January, and now we’re talking.

Toddstar: Yeah, I mean Nuclear Blast sent over a new copy for me to check out. I’m floored from song one to song ten man; from the first notes of “Beyond The Veil,” all the way through to “Inhuman.” You guys have a couple songs out there that are just killer rock tunes. You guys have kind of led with these ones in the beginning; you have “Rise Like Lions” to “Son of Cain.” What about these songs stood out to you, and made you want to make these lead singles?

Andries: Well, you know the thing is, like I remember with the first record. I mean we kind of picked the singles ourselves, but you know, actually with the third record we did the same thing. I mean to see why they chose those songs to lead. The singles thing, I mean I like the singles songs they play and I understand why. I think “Son Of Cain,” you know the thing is it had already come out in Belgium and Holland. The first single they had was “Follow The Deadlights.” Actually, “Son Of Cain” was the second single. So we made a video for that one, only to be released in Belgium and Holland. Timing wise, it made sense for Nuclear Blast to just pick it up because you know, we spent a great deal trying to make the video. We kind of picked it up, so actually that was a reason for them as well. Oh yeah, “Rise Like Lions.” “Rise Like Lions” is funny. “Rise Like Lions” I think … You know Markus Staiger, the big CEO of Nuclear Blast? He’s completely in love with that song. People say that’s the reason he really wanted us. I think it’s one of the reasons why that song is the first song, as a first single. I mean he completely loved that song. We were at the Nuclear Blast office in Germany. We kind of played a surprise show for his birthday. We really had to play the song because it really makes him happy. If the boss is happy, you know, it’s probably everywhere in the world, then good things happen to us.

Toddstar: Well I love both those songs. Again, I love the album from top to bottom. I almost wish it would have come out earlier, so it could have hit my top list of 2014, but I’ve got to wait for 2015.

Andries: Thank you very much.

Toddstar: Going through the album, are there any songs on there, looking back, that were just hard to complete? Hard to finish?

Andries: “Son Of Cain,” actually. I remember like I wrote “Son Of Cain,” you know, that went quite all right. I remember we wrote with the chorus, with the vocals in a studio at home, we basically worked especially with the vocals. We sat down and we experimented. I remember, I think we had at least four different choruses for “Son Of Cain.” We finally settled for one. In the back of my mind, I was always, I wasn’t really happy with it. I remember finally recording it in the real studio. I was like, this is not working. Why don’t we do this? Yeah, that’s what was actually, you know, became. The chorus you hear now is something that I came up with like literally a couple of minutes earlier. In hindsight, that song was, yeah that song really took a long time to complete.

Diablo Blvd - Follow The Deadlights - Artwork

Toddstar: Which song was the easiest?

Andries: I think “Rise Like Lions.” The reason, “Rise Like Lions” was the first song I wrote for the album. It was written a year earlier. A year before we actually wrote all the rest of the songs. I actually had everything in my mind already. The vocals, everything was ready. It was more or less fine tuning everything, and finding the right beat. That song, actually, we finished that rather easily. Because it was the first song of the album. I think the first song you write for a new album is always an important one. Because it kind of sets the tone. Yeah, I remember I was very happy when that song was ready. Then I knew what direction the record would go into. Everything kind of grew out of that song.

Toddstar: Cool. Any plans to tour behind this album?

Andries: Yes. I mean we already did some touring for this album. It’s going to be released in January, but we already started. In Europe we did a tour with Machine Head and Life of Agony. We did back to back dates with them. That was November and December we did that. Yeah, of course now it’s holidays. Then in half of January, we’re going to be touring Europe with a Dutch band Epica and Dragon Force. These are our plans for the immediate future. I know February, there is something lined up. I know Festival season is going to be kind of busy for us. This is a good thing, because Nuclear Blast wants us to be everywhere, so hopefully there’s going to be some US dates as well. Although, we’ve already played in the US last summer. We did one show with Life of Agony in New Jersey. They invited us. They had like sort of a homecoming show in Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. They invited us. We played our show, which was a lot of fun. Now of course, with the new album, we want to do something more consistent. Something that actually makes sense tour wise.

Toddstar: Yeah, we’d love to see you here in the US. Especially here in Detroit. We love good rock and roll.

Andries: Oh, you’re from Detroit? I was wondering where I was … I was in Detroit once. With another band, I toured the US already, and I remember playing the Detroit area.

Toddstar: Then you know we love good rock and roll here.

Andries: Detroit Rock City. There’s a reason for that.

Toddstar: That’s true. Tell me about you, Andries. Who made you want to play guitar?

Andries: You might be surprised, because it’s a band that … It’s a US band called Helmet. I was a huge Helmet fan. I still am; a big Helmet fan. I remember when that Meantime record came out, I was like thirteen or fourteen years old. I thought they looked so cool on MTV. I thought they were the heaviest guys I’ve ever seen in my life. Which is kind of weird, because actually they don’t look tough at all. Back then I thought they were. I don’t know; it was the first band I loved when I was a teenager. You know Page Hamilton back then, he was the guy that played guitar in my favorite band. So I picked up a guitar and kind of, you know, learned how to play guitar with Helmet songs. Later on I had many other heroes. I mean I have to be honest that was the first one.

Toddstar: Great. I’m sure Page would be glad to hear that.

Andries: I hope. Actually I saw them a couple weeks ago. They were doing this reunion tour. They play their third record, the Betty record in complete. They played Brussels, which was an amazing show. I still love it. I know, I read some interviews with him. He receives many questions where journalists ask him, and tell him like so many other musicians are influenced by him. He probably knows that. I mean I know there are a lot of bands that… especially bands my age. We all grew up in the nineties, and he’s definitely one of the people that shaped the sound of the nineties, I believe.

Toddstar: I’d agree. If there is one thing about the record, going back to Follow The Deadlights, coming out in January 2015 on Nuclear Blast. Is there one thing about the record that you could change?

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Andries: Nobody ever asked me that question. That’s why I don’t have an answer yet. Yeah, little things. Things, maybe, but not that much actually. In all honesty, no. No, actually there’s not that much I would change. I think a record is a… I mean you could always look back and think, “Oh I could have this better.” Sure I had that kind of feeling with all the records we made. With this one, I don’t think we could. I mean I hope we can make a better record in the future, but when we recorded it, I think it was the best record we could make. I don’t think you should regret anything you did while you were happy. I mean I’m so happy with the record. Yes, I think when we go to start writing a new one in maybe a year or year and a half. I will listen to it again, and I probably will try to improve. Right now, I’m very happy with it.

Toddstar: Awesome. With everything going on, we have the holidays and a new year coming up. With the new year, comes the new album and some touring. That said, for you at this juncture, what’s the meaning of life?

Andries: Well there are a lot of things changing my life. I mean I’m going to be a dad in January. To be honest, it’s going to be the about the same date as the release date. Which is kind of weird. I remember my wife is due for the twenty first or twenty second of January, and the record is coming out the twenty third. There are a lot of things going on in my life right now. People tell me that even with the busy schedule, and all this, I mean, it’s nothing compared to becoming a father. While I hope that they’re right, at the same time I hope they’re wrong. I don’t know. It’s cool, I like it like that. I mean we’re not the youngest band anymore. I mean I’m the second youngest in the band, and I’m already thirty six. I literally have been playing bands for as long as I can remember. I’ve done cool stuff. I mean I was mainly involved in hardcore scene. The metal scene before. You know, with this band, you feel that there’s more potential. It’s because it’s a bigger sound. Vocals are a little bit more, how do you say it? They’re cleaner, so more people can listen to it. I mean it’s a different ball game now. I’m very excited. I’m used to having a like a busy life. I mean if you’re a punk musician, cool things about having that kind of background is that you learn to be creative. You’ve learned not to complain, because it’s one of those things where not that much is available. Now, here on Nuclear Blast, with all the benefit. Being as big as it is, it’s very exciting. I’m not complaining at all.

Toddstar: Cool. Well Andries, again thank you so much for your time. We hope you enjoy your holidays, and the birth of both of your children: your child and the new album. We look forward to seeing you guys hit Detroit as soon as possible.

Andries: I will, and you will always be the first guy that did a US interview with this band. So if we are ever going to be huge, you can always tell everybody, ‘well I did the first interview with them.’ I don’t know if it’s that much of an honor, but at least it’s a sense of…

Toddstar: It’s definitely an honor for me. Especially because I love the band. It just means I get the exclusives from now on.

Andries: Yeah, certainly.  You were number one.

Toddstar: Cool. Again, Happy holidays Andries. Hopefully we’ll see Diablo Boulevard very soon.

Andries: Same to you. Bye.

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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