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Interview with Patrick Codenys of Front 242 - conducted via e-mail - 6/29/98

Photos by Christian Mueller Copyright © 1997

Jester: What were the circumstances around Front 242 being dropped by Sony?

Patrick: A major label is looking for commercial exploitation of a band by definition. Front 242 had specifically put in their contract that we wanted a full control on an artistic level. Epic Sony could not deal with our decisions and artistic point of view. However, when it came to involving people and distribution, they did a great job.

Jester: Have you found a new US record label?

Patrick: Yes, Metropolis. We are happy since they have a full independent label spirit. However, it could have just as easily been WaxTrax, who we also respect a lot.

Jester: Why did you decide to tour again without the release of a new album?

Patrick: We just released a new album called Re:BOOT 98. As a matter of fact it is a new live album with totally new versions of old songs. Front 242 has several ways to manifest itself, we can go the classical way Studio/record/press/tour/etc, but we did this for about ten years. The other option was to go in studio and quickly work on existing songs to change them completely with new versions, sounds, research and present it live; which is the direct contact with your fans and other people. A healthy way to get a response and test out the new direction we might take for our next album

Jester: Why did you decide to release a double CD of live material for the Re:BOOT tour that contains much of the same material as the 1993 "Live Code"?

Patrick: It is not a double CD and the material is different as explained above. Live Code is a record from 1993 with guitar samples, Re:BOOT is purely electronic and based on Industrial dance beats.

Jester: Are you working on any new material that will be released after the tour?

Patrick: Yes, Richard has a band called Tchackm who will have a release at the end of 1998. Jean-Luc will tour with Cobalt60 and Daniel and I have a lot of tracks ready for a new album with a release in early 1999 featuring a female singer called Grisha Zeme. If Front 242 goes into the Studio, I believe it will be in 1999.

Jester: I heard that Tim Kroker from Sabotage will be playing drums for the tour. Will the remaining four original members also be present?

Patrick: The four original members; Jean-Luc, Daniel, Richard and myself are on the tour and we enjoy the new stuff more than ever on stage. Tim Kroker will play electro virtual drums.

Jester: Several years ago, I wrote for information about the band from a organization called Transmission 242. Is that agency still around? if so, what is its current purpose?

Patrick: It is a sort of fan club although I hate that word, and merchandising; but it is more than that since they really answer all questions coming from people.

Jester: Can you explain what the graphics company Art & Strategy has in common with Front 242?

Patrick: Art & Strategy is a unit run by Daniel and myself. It includes Front242's music & graphic studio, booking and management, but we work also for other projects and people.

Jester: Who contributed vocals to the track 'Born to Breathe' available on the "Animals" vs. Angels" remix album?"

Patrick: Eran Westwood, a New York based musician and studio technician with a lot of talent, but I don't know what he is doing for now.

Jester: I have seen bootleg versions of videos for 'Religion' and 'Animal'. Were there any other videos releases for "06:21:03:11 Up Evil" and "05:22:09:12 Off"?

Patrick: Yes, there is a video called 'Happiness' with the Underworld remix of the song. It is generated by computer graphics realized by French artists and I really like it. The images are superb and entirely synthetic.

Jester: Will those videos ever see a public release, much like the "Integration 8x10" video collection release by Sony?

Patrick: No, I believe Transmission 242 or are the only way to get it.

Jester: Front 242 has always used unique imagery in it's videos, live performances, and press photography. I was wondering where you came up with such concepts as the swim goggles for "Tyranny For You" Album and the robot/mannequin of Jean-Luc for the 'Tragedy For You' single?

Patrick: We are just looking for the strong images seen on TV and branded in peoples mind. Most of those images are linked with human extreme performances for the best (sports, swimming, goggles) or worst (military, commando feelings). In each case we start from a basic picture and we try to bring it into a full artistic concept. For the swimmers+goggles for example, we took a sport picture; then we reproduced the effect in a controlled environment. We took a transparent bath tub ; full of cold water ; hung it at six feet in the air and I jumped into it. With the lights around, some fluorescent powder in the water and my face freezing cold, you got the effect.

Jester: The various members of Front 242 have been keeping very busy with projects such as C-Tec, Cobalt 60, Holy Gang, and Grisha Zeme. What are the status of those projects? Are there any other projects you are working on?

Patrick: Except remixes for Cubanate, The Orb, Juno Reactor, Project Pitchfork, and Talla 2x all I can say is that there are tons of recordings waiting in our studio computers ready to be released but we do not find the time to concentrate on a time schedule. I made a promise to myself that September - October will be for creating full completed tracks.

Jester: Jean-Luc contributed vocals to most of the Birmingham 6 album "Error of Judgement" as well as the BiGod 20 track 'The Bog'. How did those guest vocal appearances occur?

Patrick: You should ask Jean-Luc, but from what I know, Jean-Luc is one of those rare singers who can sing on different types of electronic music, even noisy, and like some remixes, he just used his voice as an instrument on the track.

Jester: How did you meet 99Kowalski and invite her to contribute vocals to tracks on "06:21:03:11 Up Evil" and "05:22:09:12 Off"?

Patrick: We tried to record a young talented New York City act called Spill. Spill consisted of Eran Westwood, 99Kowalski, and John Dubs. They came to Belgium to record the album and finally happen to work on Front242. Their project was unfortunately never released .

Jester: Whose idea was it to have Techno artists remix your material for release on "Mut@ge.Mix@ge"?

Patrick: The band members have always been interested in new and upcoming artists. The Electronic/Techno music scene was ready for new mixes, far from those early basic beats, and the underground feeling was back. In this case, I have to congratulate Epic since Underworld was one of their hints. We might do another positive experience in that sense with other artists. Since industrial electronic music is blooming more than ever and this makes me feel great.

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