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Interview with Johan Van Roy of Suicide Commando - conducted by e-mail - 8/16/98

Jester: For a ten year musical career, you have fewer releases than one would expect. Why is that?

Johan: It's true that I've been active in the electronic scene for quite a long time. I started with Suicide Commando back in 1986. The first years I was very active in the tape scene, over the years I released nine demo tapes. It was only in 1993 when I released a first 12" on CD format, right after that I got signed to Off Beat where I released a full length CD in 1994 "Critical Stage". Right now there's "Construct-Destruct", the fourth Suicide Commando full length CD on Off Beat. I don't think that's fewer. I don't want to release any crap on CD like so many other bands do these days.

Jester: How did you first get involved with writing and composing music?

Johan: As I said, I started experimenting with electronic music back in 1986. At that time I was working with very limited equipment, only one synth and a small drum machine. Those first recordings were very minimal.

Jester: What were the circumstances behind you eventually getting signed to OffBeat Records after years of self-released cassettes?

Johan: Well, it was Stefan Herwig from Off Beat who got in touch with me after he got hold of some tape from me. At that time he was running his own small label Kugelblitz Records and so he asked me to participate on one of his samplers. After that we decided to release a first 12" 'Never Get Out' on another CD sampler called "Induktion, Varianz und Deren Folgen" including four singles and one CD from bands like Digital Slaughter, Genital A-Tech and Dementia Simplex. When Stefan started working for Off Beat I kind of moved together with him and so I got signed quite fast.

Jester: How did you get in touch with EDT Records to release your material domestically in the U.S.?

Johan: It was Stefan & Off Beat who had just signed Bryan's band Velvet Acid Christ. As Bryan also was running a small label, he showed some interest in licensing some Suicide Commando material, so that's how I got signed to EDT.

Jester: Why is EDT Records releasing your first two albums as a collection of the 'best' tracks as opposed to re-issuing all of the material?

Johan: Because of some problems at EDT this planned compilation won't be released. As a matter of fact we just finished a licensing deal with another promising label in the US called Possessive Blindfold Recordings. They're about to release the new "Construct-Destruct" album and there are plans for another compilation with old and unreleased material.

Jester: How did the db.F side project with David Krivel from Pierrepoint and Parick Bulheller of Page 12 originate?

Johan: As I already had some good contacts with David from Pierrepoint we decided to work on some songs together. Patrick came along as we were using his studio at that time.

Jester: Did you enjoy touring with Velvet Acid Christ this Spring in Europe?

Johan: Yes. The tour with Velvet Acid Christ was great! We had lots of fun, did some great shows, got very good reactions and Bryan is a cool guy. I never expected such a positive feedback! Especially the Leipzig concert, where we played for 1200 people. It was legendary!

Jester: What does a live Suicide Commando show look like? Who else performs live with you?

Johan: That varies. Normally there are three people on stage. Gert Haelevoet from the Belgian project Frames a Second on keys and effects, David Kirvel from Pierrepoint on drums and myself. We're also using some slides along with the songs. Unfortunately I can't depend on these guys for all concerts, so from time to time it happens that I'm just alone on stage, or accompanied by a girlfriend on keys.

Jester: What made you decide to start your own cassette only label Code Products?

Johan: I always liked the tape scene, especially back in the eighties. It's an easy and cheap way to reach a lot of people all over the world. That's why I decided to start my own label. Unfortunately the tape scene lost a lot of importance since the CD came along. Nowadays it's real cheap to release CD's.

Jester: How does someone from North America go about obtaining releases from your label?

Johan: At the moment two new Code releases are coming up soon on CD format. First there's the "Industronic" Maxi-CD from Stin Scatzor out in September and in October will follow a new "Voltage" sampler with bands like Aghast View, Sleepwalk, Sonic Unit, Digital Blood, Binar Code, X-Etem, Suicide Commando, Mezire, Pain Station, and Assemblage 23. I guess the only way to get some of the Code tapes is to contact me directly at following address : Johan Van Roy
Bivakstraat 59 B-3970
Leopoldsburg Belgium

Jester: Both "Contamination" and "Construct-Destruct" come in a limited edition format. Do you design these boxsets or does someone else?

Johan: A good friend of mine, Koenraad Cant, is doing all my designs and artwork. He also worked for bands like Dive and Sonar. He's doing a great job.

Jester: Most of your material works extensively with minimalistic textures and percussions. Why have you avoided more complex compositions?

Johan: First, I guess the new works are getting more complex. Second, I never avoided more complex compositions, it's just the way I work! I like this minimalistic approach. It can be very effective. Sometimes a few words can say a lot more then hundreds of hollow words!

Jester: What do you do outside of composing music and touring?

Johan: Well, music is taking almost all of my free time as I also still have to work five days a week in a big warehouse. So there's not much time left for other things right now, but I like to go to some clubs or parties, or just hang out with friends, catch a movie from time to time, just do nothing.

Jester: What is your favorite track on "Construct/Destruct"? Why that track?

Johan: I like all tracks on "Construct-Destruct" but if I have to name a favorite I guess it would be 'Somnambulist'. I just feel at my best in the slower atmospheric songs like 'Mortal Combat', 'Somnambulist' and 'Come to Me'.

Jester: What does the future hold for Suicide Commando & db.F?

Johan: At the moment there are no concrete plans. We'll do some more concerts and I'll be working on some remixes for other bands like Pierrepoint, Aghast View, Sonar, and Plastic Noise Experience. With db.F I still hope to finish a Maxi-CD by the end of the year.

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