“Rock ‘til you drop. That’s what our shows are all about”
Black Leather Jacket is a four headed rock band from Antwerp. The best way to describe their music is in your face-rock ‘n’ roll with a lot of fuzz. Black Leather Jacket just released their new album, Tranquilizer. This Friday (November 29), they will play a sold out release show at Trix Antwerp. We had a chat with Alexander (vocals & rythm guitar) and Nicolas (lead guitar). Put on your leather jacket and get ready to rock and roll.
TiA: You’ve been a band for some time now. When did you decide to bring these fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll riffs to the next level?
Alexander: After “‘De Nieuwe Lichting’ (2017), a Belgian music contest, things got a bit more serious. But it wasn’t until we heard our song ‘Village People’ on the radio for the first time that the ball really got rolling. We realised that if we wanted to keep growing, that we had to do something. So, we recorded our first EP.“
TiA: Let’s talk about Tranquilizer now, your first studio album. What’s the meaning behind this album?
Alexander: “Tranquilizer is a metaphor for all the songs on the album. The lyrics of the songs deal with problems in today’s society. ‘Western World’ is about consumerism, ‘Intoxicated’ is about someone who wants to drink away his sorrows and in ‘Dead Soul’, I sing about someone who feels depressed and has to work a shitty job day after day and year after year. Tranquilizer is the pain killer.”
TiA: You’re telling me that Tranquilizer is a pain killer, but the lyrics on the album are really dark. That sounds a bit contradictory.
Nicolas: “It’s not. Tranquilizer is about escapism. A lot of people don’t feel well in today’s society. Music is the best way to escape from reality.”
Alexander: (laughs) “That sounds so cliché! But it’s true."
TiA: That’s some deep stuff. Are you guys sure everything is okay?
Alexander: “Don’t worry. We’re all positive and happy people. The album isn’t self-reflecting. There are just so many people in the world who can’t handle today’s pressure and workload anymore. It’s such a topical issue.”
TiA: How do you get in the zone?Nicolas: “We jam a lot. Jamming is really important to find ideas. After a while, everyone is just waving on the rhythm and the riffs.”
Alexander: “Don’t forget beer!”
TiA: Speaking of alcohol. Is there a no-alcohol policy at the concerts?
Nicolas: “We played a lot of shows after ‘De Nieuwe Lichting’. Our soundman drove us to all the concerts. In his van, we could drink and smoke cigarettes and do what we wanted. Yeah…one time it got out of hand. We just weren’t experienced back then.
Right now, each one of us takes the music very seriously, so we know that there are limits. We don’t have an alcohol policy or something like that. You can drink whatever you want, but if you fuck it up, you’re responsible. Also, people are paying to see us play. You can’t disappoint your audience.”
Alexander: “I guess we’re not so rock ‘n’ roll then.” (laughs)
Tia: Do you get an adrenaline rush from performing on stage?
Nicolas: “Definitely. When you get on stage, the adrenaline runs trough your veins. It’ s such a cool feeling to realise that people are there just to see you perform. It feels like you’re on a natural high. We rock ‘til we drop. We’re so exhausted after our shows. But that’s what we do it for.”
TiA: How do you try to differentiate your music from other bands?
Nicolas: “We don’t have the ambition to become ‘the next big thing’. We’re more than just a garage band. We try to bring a lot of different influences together and create a unique style. That’s what makes our music really sound like Black Leather Jacket.
People often put us in boxes. We have been compared to Equal Idiots and Sons so many times. And that’s such an easy thing to do. These two bands are the most popular garage bands in Belgium at the moment.”
Alexander: “And of course, they totally deserve their success. But we just don’t want people to listen to our music and think: that song sounds like this band, and this song sounds like that band.”
TiA: Trix Antwerp is the breeding ground for Antwerp’s music scene. It’s also Black Leather Jacket’s rehearsal space. I guess it became a bit like a second home now. What are some other inspirational places in Antwerp?
Alexander: “We often go to shows in Trix, of course. But also arthouse ‘Het Bos’ and Café Cabron are amazing.
Nicolas: “Cabron is the heart of the underground rock scene in Antwerp.”
TiA: How would you describe Antwerp’s music scene?
Nicolas: “There’s happening so much in Antwerp right now. Antwerp has such a wide range of diversity in music. There’s avant-garde music, there’s a large techno -and hip-hop scene,…Everything. We also see a big rise of guitar music in Antwerp. A lot of young punk and garage bands are putting a stamp on Antwerp’s music scene.”
TiA: Which Antwerp music should everyone check out?
Alexander: “Sons! We’ve played together with these dudes so many times now. We’ve become great friends.”
Nicolas: “Definitely Danny Blue & The Old Socks, an awesome rock band. And Roedel! They’re a really cool hip-hop group.”
Text and pic by Anella Sepp