As far as The Interrupters are concerned, time may as well have stopped in 1979. The magical year in which The Specials released ‘Gangsters’, The Selector ‘On My Radio’ and Madness ‘One Step Beyond’. We’re talking about ska, which this Los Angeles quartet blends with hardcore punk -a popular activity in California. The Interrupters = singer Aimee ‘Interrupter’ Allen and brothers Jesse, Justin and Kevin Bivona. Jesse and Justin are twins, while Kevin and Aimee are a couple. All four worked with Tim Armstrong of the iconic Rancid. Long ago, he formed Operation Ivy, one of the first American ska-punk bands. The Interrupters come with impeccable references. They further cemented their ability on world tours with Green Day and Flogging Molly. In the words of Madness: “Welcome to the house of fun!”
Jan Paternoster and Dries Van Dijck have been Black Box Revelation for a good twenty years, yet they’re still fresh-faced thirtysomethings. They are the definition of ‘forever young’, a trend that continues on their latest album ‘Poetic Rivals’ (2023). They say it’s an album that will get young folks reaching for their guitars again. It has the same naive character as their 2007 debut ‘Set Your Head On Fire’ (2007) and was recorded in the London studio of Andy Savour (Arctic Monkeys, My Bloody Valentine). The duo is also looking back at its illustrious history in other ways. For example, in the summer of 2022 they toured the West Coast of the United States: exactly ten years after their first visit when they performed ‘High On A Wire’ in front of four million Americans on the David Letterman show. Everything is still possible.
Kasabian builds on the foundations laid by such names as Primal Scream and The Stone Roses in the 1990s: rock with beats, party music for the lads. By their second album ‘Empire’ (2006) they could do no wrong: it sold 600,000 units. The monthly magazine Q called the quartet the Best Act In The World Today. In 2014, Kasabian headlined the main stage at Glastonbury: pretty much the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a British band. From then on, the band became ‘the unstoppable Kasabian’. However, the machine ground to a halt in 2020 when frontman Tom Meighan had to quit. Guitarist Serge Pizzorno took on the role with aplomb. ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ (2022) is the first album to feature his voice.
Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney make vintage noise for the people of today. In doing this, the two of them have developed supersonic powers. These have taken them from obscure concerts in empty factories to the world’s greatest stages. The tipping point was when they stepped up their gritty blues with layers of soul in ‘Brothers’ (2009) and ‘El Camino’ (2011). In 2015 they took a long hiatus to work on solo projects and collaborations. Auerbach founded his own record label Eye Eye Sound. The duo have been on fire once again since 2019. On their newest album ‘Dropout Boogie’ (2022), they hosted guitar hero Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, to their great delight.
Liam Gallagher is one of the most iconic faces of the past thirty years. First with Oasis and then with three solo albums so far: ‘As You Were’ (2017), ‘Why Me? Why Not’ (2019) and the recent ‘C’mon You Know’ (2022). All three reached number one on the UK chart and all three are “80 per cent madness and 20 per cent classic”. Gallagher’s most recent album also has some unexpected guests: Dave Grohl, Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend and guitarist Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What can we expect at Werchter? Liam’s charisma + quality new material + Oasis evergreens. “Noel might have written all those great songs but people want to hear me sing ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Supersonic’. I sound good. I look cool. I talk from the heart.”
Last summer, Red Hot Chili Peppers were the closing headliner of the 2022 edition. The four-man band thanked Werchter for that honour by pulling out all the stops. Singalongs right from the start with fan favourite Flea on a cloud and a truckload of funky stuff directed by John Frusciante, the guitarist on the Peppers’ best albums. After an absence of ten years, he has been back on board since 2019. The effects of this on the production are obvious. Barely six months after ‘Unlimited’ (2022), the group announced another album. ‘Return of the Dream Canteen’ (2022) was recorded during the same sessions. The plan was to release the complete harvest of 40 songs on seven albums, but the record company thought that was too much of a good thing. Don’t forget: the Peppers are in top shape. Their concert at Rock Werchter 2023 is part of their newly announced global tour.
Robin Daniel Skinner comes from an unusual musical nest. Both of his parents are prestigious classical. Their son learned to play guitar at the age of eight and switched to pop music. In 2012, Robin started posting songs on YouTube and Bandcamp. A global community has grown up around his melodic, imaginative bedroom pop. Skinner has sold out night after night of concerts in London, Los Angeles and New York. Fans queue for hours for tickets and bring kazoos to accompany their young hero. It’s all very authentic and organic. And it’s also got very big. Some numbers: 2 million subscribers on YouTube and nearly 300 million streams for cute pop tunes like ‘Boys Will Be Bugs’, ‘Devil Town’ and ‘This Is Home’. Don’t forget your kazoo!
Spoon will turn 30 this year. The indie rock band from Austin, Texas is adored by connoisseurs for the high quality of their sharp, melodic songs. They possess an unusual gift for always sounding the same yet also different every time. The quintet has managed to stay just outside the spotlight for all these years. Medium-sized in the United States and a cult band in Europe. Things are starting to change with their tenth album ‘Lucifer on the Sofa’ (2022). It made a lot of end-of-year lists and was nominated for the Awards in the Best Rock Album category. The album is possibly their best yet. “It’s classic rock as written by a guy who never did get Eric Clapton”, says frontman Britt Daniel with tongue firmly in cheek. Following a very long absence they are finally back on a European summer stage.
Bear's Den stond op de Vrijdag van Rock Werchter 2023 in de The Barn van 15:50 tot 16:50 uur.
After almost three years of complete radio silence, Tamino returns with the powerful ‘Sahar’ (2022), which includes a duet with Angèle, who sings in English on ‘Sunflower’. This return again comes with the support of Colin Greenwood. The bassist of Radiohead – a band he admires greatly - could also be heard on Tamino’s debut album ‘Amir’ (2018). The warm glow comes from the Oud, an ancient eastern string instrument that Tamino learned to play during the pandemic, an ode to his extraordinary background. His paternal grandfather was as popular in Egypt as Frank Sinatra elsewhere. His grandson now exposes this Arab heritage to other musical traditions, with a voice marinated in melancholy, looks that made him the face of Italian luxury fashion brand Missoni and with great eagerness and curiosity.
Ben Howard found vinyl by Jackson Browne, Van Morrison and Simon & Garfunkel in his parents’ record collection. Those records encouraged him to do something similar. The fanatical surfer became a dreamy singer-songwriter whose debut ‘Every Kingdom’ (2011) featured great songs like ‘Only Love’, ‘Old Pine’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up’. After that, Howard chose the path of adventure. Every new step was full of surprise. For example, the songs on his latest album, ‘Collections from the Whiteout’ (2021) are largely inspired by true stories he picked out of newspapers. Aaron Dessner of The National – who recently worked with Taylor Swift – supervised proceedings. The record confirms Howard’s status as one of the most innovative songwriters of our time.
They’ve said a thousand times in interviews that Belgium really gets where Editors are going, and how Rock Werchter has profoundly impacted their career. Their last visit to the festival was back in 2016. It’s time to dust off the stage and get to know each other again, as Editors have a new and influential man on board. Benjamin John Power has previously worked with the band on ‘Violence’ (2018). He was previously part of Fuck Buttons, a duo known for its feisty electro. He takes this experience with him to his new place of work, making Editors brighter and louder. The title of their album ‘EBM’ says a lot. It’s a contraction of Editors and Blanck Mass, Power’s stage name. It also refers to Electronic Body Music, the dark electronic scene from the 80s in which Belgium played a central role with Front 242 and The Neon Judgement.
Berre Vandenbussche started posting videos on TikTok during lockdown. He became an internet sensation, with his catchy cover of ‘Lost Without You’ by Freya Ridings. He recorded it in a supermarket car park and gained ten million views. The calling card of this young man from near Brussels is his voice’s gravelly quality. His great heroes are Lewis Capaldi and Dermot Kennedy. The Universal Music record company took Berre under its wing. His 2022 debut single ‘Say My Name’ (2022) – his own composition – went platinum right away. This got him nominated for Zomerhit and the MIAs (Breakthrough). On 31 March this year, Berre performed his first concert in the AB Club in Brussels. He has completed his preparations for the big venues with flying colours. He has another priority for 2023: to become a certified director.
Viagra Boys are not actually a cover band for gentlemen of a certain age, but a delicious mess from Stockholm. They resemble a gang more than a band. Out front is Sebastian Murphy, an American who left San Francisco for his Swedish mother’s homeland at 17 to earn a crust as a tattoo artist. His body was his billboard: he’s completely covered. According to legend, he met the others while singing Mariah Carey in a karaoke bar. The six members are from both the world of jazz and the hardcore scene and they all listen to different things. But they do agree on one thing: the western world is heading in the wrong direction. That’s why Viagra Boys make provocative wartime blues, with the drive of Iggy Pop and the dark humour of IDLES and Sleaford Mods.
Squid is a band that likes to test the limits. Including those of people who bravely try to define them. Punk-funk is the description that suits the band from the seaside resort of Brighton best so far. These contemporaries and kindred spirits of black midi, Dry Cleaning and Fontaines D.C. started out as a cover band playing funk and soul. They quickly transitioned into a band with no rules: Squid. It’s interesting that each of the five members takes on different musical roles. Vocalist Ollie Judge is also a drummer, bass guitarist Laurie Nankivell also plays cornet while keyboard player Arthur Leadbetter is also a cellist. This creates so many possibilities that they sometimes get lost in their own musical playground. However, the power of Squid’s debut ‘Bright Green Field’ (2022) and their great potential are undeniable.
The Huns are coming. The HU is the most exotic metal band on earth. The four-man group comes from Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, and blends Western hard rock with the traditional music of their homeland, using typical Central Asian throat singing and local instruments such as the Morin Khuur (a two-stringed fiddle) and the tovshuur (a Mongolian guitar). The HU’s (Mongolian for ‘human’) first music videos went viral and led to the group appearing in American billboard lists. From then on, they’ve made rapid progress. Their first album ‘The Gereg’ reached #38 of the Ultratop in Belgium and in November 2022 they filled up Ancienne Belgique with their ‘hunnu rock’. Despite their youth, they have been awarded the Order of Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s highest state award.
The Knife was the best thing to come out of Sweden since ABBA. Under that name, brother and sister Olof and Karin Dreijer Andersson made minimalist synth-pop that was simultaneously sweet and unsettling. ‘Deep Cuts’ (2003) and ‘Silent Shout’ (2006) were inventive albums that still have a following today. In 2009, Karin created the Fever Ray side project where she ventured further into the musical shadows. It became her main activity following the dissolution of The Knife. Olof got involved with ‘Radical Romantics’ (2023), the first album in five years, producing four of the ten songs. Notable guests include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, renowned for Nine Inch Nails and their film and TV series soundtrack work. Fever Ray’s live show is quite an experience. Dreijer doesn’t just give a concert, she presents an entire world.
Ils viennent de Norvège, ils ressemblent à des Vikings – modernes – et ils font du folk sombre en vieux norrois sur des instruments historiques tels que le crwth, la langeleik et la moraharpa. Bienvenue dans l’univers de Wardruna (« le jardin des secrets »), dirigé par le chanteur-compositeur Einar Selvik et la chanteuse Linda-Fay Hella. Avec ses invités, le duo fait revivre la musique originelle des Vikings. La trilogie Runaljod est un périple à travers la Scandinavie préchrétienne. Cette musique hypnotisante plaît autant aux métalleux qu’aux hippies. Einar Selvik a d’ailleurs été batteur dans le groupe de black metal Gorgoroth. Sa collaboration à la série télévisée « Vikings » fait passer le groupe au niveau supérieur. Sur « Kvitraven » (2022), Wadruna prouve que même une musique millénaire peut continuer à évoluer.
RHEA guarantees that the Belgian guitar landscape will remain in good hands for the years ahead. The band from Ghent follows in the grubby slipstream of bands like Royal Blood and Wolfmother, which has got them a spot on the Main Stage at Rock Werchter 2022. While the band took a sabbatical year, guitarist Guillaume Lamont joined Tim Leyman, his colleague in Ramkot, an equally loud Ghentish outfit. The finalists of De Nieuwe Lichting 2021 make, in their own words, ‘ramrock’. This new term needs no further explanation. The sum total of Lamont and Leyman is Hideous: a rock monster that was formed one drunken night in the Charlatan music club in Ghent. They represent the preferences of both founders: deafening guitar music for moshpits.
As a child, Kelsy Karter put on shows in the garden and charged the neighbours to come and watch. Not much has changed, she notes today. The garden in question was in Australia where the New Zealand-born artist grew up. She moved to Los Angeles at twenty to pursue her career. “I want to sing like James Brown and entertain like David Bowie”. Karter looks like Angelina Jolie, dresses like Debbie Harry and runs amok like Joan Jett. And while she’s an excellent tap dancer, she lives for rock’n’roll. In 2019, Kelsy was in the global press with what she jokingly calls The Harry Fiasco. She had a portrait of Harry Styles tattooed onto her cheek as a gift on the singer’s birthday. But it was entirely fake. It was all a stunt to promote her new single ‘Harry’, a song about the former One Direction singer. That’s Kelsy.
It all began with a chance encounter in a bar in the Northern Quarter, a trendy district of Manchester. Jim Shaw and Hannah Mee knew immediately they’d be together for life the moment they set eyes on each other. Creatively too. They both became singers and guitarists in Hot Milk, an emo power-pop band that hit the ground running. About what you’d expect from a former concert promoter (her) and a lighting technician (him). Their first EP, ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’ (2019), earned them a support spot with Foo Fighters and a prominent place on the bill at Reading & Leeds Festival, the UK equivalent of Pukkelpop. They immediately started to do what so many British bands dream of but never achieve: conquering the United States. Travelling from one small club to the next in a van. Since then they’ve played their first shows in South America. Hot stuff!
Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson (CMAT for short) lives with her grandparents in Dublin, addicted to online shopping. She also has an exceptional gift for making highly comical yet tender songs about her daily troubles. “It’s the musical equivalent of telling jokes to hide your tears”. Plan A was to conquer the world from Manchester with the band Bad Sea’s electropop. However, during a songwriting workshop, the British singer Charli XCX advised her to take a different direction. Thompson headed back to Ireland and opted for a sweet-and-sour mash-up of pop culture, humour and a good measure of country. Portraits of Dolly Parton and Katy Perry hang over her bed. CMAT hopes to become a “global celebrity pop sensation” one day.
‘We are PUP. We’re from Toronto. We play loud music.’ That’s how the Canadian punk band PUP introduce themeselves on social media. By loud music they mean Queens Of The Stone Age and Weezer. Their name is an abbreviation of Pathetic Use of Potential, a name bestowed on them by the grandmother of bassist Nestor Chumak. She felt that playing in a rock band was a waste of talent. In 2012, the four-piece sent a demo to Dave Schiffman, a veteran who has worked with The Mars Volta and Rage Against The Machine. Not long after, they were amazed to find the man himself on their doorstep. Schiffman took a couple of years to make their speedy noise sound even more fantastic. On ‘The Unraveling of PUPTheBand’ (2022) they introduced their new coach Peter Katis, the in-house producer of The National. They are still every bit as fun.
One day, SONS want to be as feared as Black Sabbath: the band that ‘shreds’ so beautifully according to the Waasland group. The quartet was discovered in 2018 during Studio Brussel’s De Nieuwe Lichting. Jury member Jan Paternoster (Black Box Revelation) said: “I’d be very proud if my sons were playing in this band.” Their first single ‘Ricochet’ sat at the top of De Afrekening for two weeks in April 2018. Their next boyhood dream came true only three months later: the main stage at Rock Werchter. That was even before they released their 2019 debut, ‘Family Dinner’ (2019). Next, they headed abroad where they again made waves. The American radio station KEXP played their psychedelic garage punk which they described as “sensational chaos”. This spring, they successfully introduced the heavy artillery of their new arrival ‘Sweet Boy’ (2022) to our neighbours.