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Funeral Dress is a classical punk rock band that has been active for more than 30 years now. The current line up is: Dirk (Vocals), Strum (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Qrizz (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Stef (Bass) and Joost (Drums). The band's called Funeral Dress because near Dirk's house there was a Funeral Parlour.
__ First of all, we would like to thank you guys very much for the interview.
It's kinda a known fact why the band is called Funeral Dress. Apart from a funeral parlour, there was also a punk scene near you? Tell us how the band was born and which goals you had in mind back there?
There was hardly a punkscene in Begium & Europe anymore. The main goal was to bring some new life in the Belgium/European punk scene.
__ Which bands or facts were the most influential to play punk rock in the 80's of Belgium? Can you recommend another belgium bands?
In the 80’s there was no punkscene left enymore. One of the only punkbands that was and is still playing are ‘The Dirty Scums’. There was a huge hardcore scene (Hageland Hardcore) with bands like Ear Damage, Heibel, Capital Scum...
Funeral Dress got influenced by mainly english bands such as UK Subs, Exploited, GBH, Adicts etc....
__ Did you expect the band to be rockin for more thans 30 years? We are talking about a huge part of a person's life.
No. When you just start a band you don’t think about the future. You’re just happy that you can play shows and before you know it, you’re playing for 30 years.
The first years we only played in Belgium. In the nineties we played our first shows around Europe. Record labels showed interest in the band and released several albums all over the world. We did our first USA tour in 1997 with the Casualties & The Unseen, and before you know it ‘s 2016 and you have played more than 1000 shows all over the world.
__ Funeral Dress has an unique sound, but it also changes from album to album. Is it totally on purpose or it is just adjusting to what the members are doing or listening at the moment?
It's all of that and more. We strive to improve in what we're doing. We always looked for a sound that suits us as a live-band 'cause that is what we are.
And if it changes, over the years, well, like I said, we want to improve instead of getting stuck in a routine. We are a 'now'-band, not a piece of history, at least not yet :)
__ Belgium has 3 official languages and none of them is english. Why did you choose english for the Funeral Dress music?
Our inglish is perfekt we spiek it better than dutch :)
It just makes more sense to sing in English; we play lots of shows outside Belgium, where people obviously don't understand our language. It is also a difficult language to sing in, it sounds so much better in English. But we did have some songs written in Dutch.
__ You guys were talking about "Pogo Punk" since the 90's, obviously the first, and nowadays Japan has a big scene with the same name. Do you have some connection with these japanese bands? We know I'm in love with Oi! got covered by The Erections...
Actually we don't play only "Pogo Punk", but "Singalong Pogo Punk" :)
We do know & like the cover version by The Erections. And we also like bands like The Discocks, Tom & The Bootboys. We used to trade albums and stuff with them. We don't have a real connection with the current Japanese scene, but would like to tour there.
__ Funeral Dress always dressed leather jackets, mohawks and studs. Still, nowadays a mohawk is one of your symbols. How important you think it is to keep the punk style connected with the music, specially nowadays?
Everybody should wear whatever the fuck he/she wants to. It doesn't matter which clothes you wear, of how your hair looks like. Of course, we're punk band, this is the stuff we like to wear, this is how we grew up and how we are basically.
__ The band was always appreciated by punks and skins? There was ever any animosity on the Oi!/Punk Belgium scene?
Over 30 years of entertainment :)
It used to be a heavy scene back in the days, with lots of fights and stuff, but it's better now. People get older & wiser. Nowadays it's no problem to have a punkband, a hardcore band and an oi! band play together.
__ The band has toured more than 11 times in the USA. Is there a special place for the band? In which countries do you get more feedbacks? And how is to play in your own country singing in a different language?
The Wild Orchid in Reno was a crazy place. Check www.thewildorchid.us for more information on that one :)
On a serious note, The Punk Invasion in L.A. must have been one of the craziest things that ever happened to the band; riot police invaded the venue with helicopters, tear gas, thousands of punks got into a fight with the police, CNN, Fox News all over the place, and as a result, in the whole state of California it was basically forbidden to organise punkshows anymore because of that incident. The first time in CBGB's was magic for us, to play in such a legendary venue, or The Troubadour in Hollywood which was also great, or Ashbury Park in New Jersey. Playing at the Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas was also very special to us. Lots of good times in the USA, so I guess that is besides Belgium the country where we get the best feedback and followings. Every land does have it own charm; Italy, Greece have been great to us.
Singing in English in our own country is not that special, as most of the bands do it. People here are very used to listen to Belgian bands singing in Dutch.
__ The band has more than 30 years now. Tell us if there's still a goal to achieve or if now is about grabbing the fruits from the seeds you planted?
Funeral Dress is like a box of Belgian Chocolates: you really (really!) never know what's gonna happen next. Even for us, it's like jazz, we make it up as we go along.
__ Being on tour all the time has it's ups and downs moments. Tell us a funny story that you can remember and what you have learned from the years to keep you alive while touring. Btw do you have any free time to enjoy cities you visit or hang out with locals?
Mostly it's all about playing, driving a lot and a little bit of partying. We usually don't have a lot of time to visit the cities we play in unfortunately, but do try to hang out with local punx.
We do get to meet a lot of funny, crazy people when we're touring.
Downs might be the occasional hangover, the ups are most definitely the shows themselves. To stay alive: a healthy dose of crisps, (veggie) junk food, spicy V8 juice, not taking things too seriously and us 5 sticking together.
__ There is a consensus among brewers that Belgium has the best beers in the world. Any country could come close?
No mate, Belgium has got the best beers :) No country comes even close hahahaha
__ We saw bottles of the Party On beer by Funeral Dress on internet. It was just for anniversary or there's still a small party punk brewery bubbling with smoky clouds?
Although we wouldn't mind to run that small party punk brewery bubbling with smoke coulds, the "Party On" Beer was just a limited edition one, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band.
__ What was the craziest and the greatest Funeral Dress experience you had?
Dirk: playing the first time in CBGB's, as this is the place where it all started
Joost: also CBGB's. In Lille, I once got into a heavy argument with a skinhead onstage, which was a pretty strange experience to me :)
Stef: San Bernandino riot (Punk Invasion). Most funny has to be Moscow, where we got offered women's underpants onstage.
Strum: also the San Bernadino show
Qrizz: joining this band was already both crazy & great enough to me
__ Which band was the most fun to share the stage with?
Most bands we play with are actually fun to share the stage with. Toy Dolls, Adicts, etc.
__ Can you pick a favorite album and song?
Dirk: Hello from the Underground (album), Cops are no Human Beings (song)
Joost: Global Warning (album), Marching Tune (song, because it's fun to play that one)
Stef: Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll (song), no idea which album I like most, should listen to them first to all of them again :)
Strum: Suicidal Riot Girl (song), Hello from the Underground (album)
Qrizz: Hello from the Underground (album), Angel Suicide (song)
__ How do you book your tours? Based on the DIY principles?
Mostly on DIY-principle, yes. In Belgium we have a booking agency who takes care of the shows in Belgium, when we are playing outside Belgium, we mostly talk directly to organisers & promotors.
__ Send a message to the fans and to every kid around the world who wants to start a punk rock band
Just make noise, no matter if you're talented or not; have fun, keep punk rock alive, because if no new punkbands are being formed, this scene will die out.
Thanks for this interview!
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