The derelict builders’ yard and precarious stairs which lead to a former artist’s loft in a tatty area of downtown Antwerp belie the fact that you have just entered the kingdom of Belgium’s premier rock act. At the summit of the vertigo inducing climb, however, you’re treated to a panoramic view of the Flemish capital’s distant spires and welcomed into the homely nerve centre of the dEUS family and enterprise.
The Vantage Point studio, built during the band’s most recent hiatus, is not only dEUS HQ but also the womb in which the band’s latest baby has been conceived. The first album since 2005’s Pocket Revolution is due on April 18 and drummer Stéphane Misseghers can’t wait to proudly announce its arrival to the world.
“We’ve been working on the new album for the past year and we think we’ve made a good one,” the drummer says. “You’ll notice a different sound from the other songs, it’s a good vibe, but it’s not like the songs are radically different. There won’t be that big a difference between the old and new songs on the tour. We’ll mix them up and we’re sure it’ll work. We are proud of this record and we want to scream it from the rooftops and bring it to as many people as possible.”
After the mammoth 160-show Pocket Revolution tour ended in October 2006, dEUS have hardly been sunning themselves on exotic beaches. “We’ve been working pretty hard since that tour ended,” says Misseghers. “We’ve worked on other projects, our singer made a film, we built up our own studio…We haven’t been sitting around.”
Judging by the studio which is now their base and the crafted nature of the songs on new album Vantage Point, one can tell the band has been busy. “We’ve built up our own studio in the time between albums,” Misseghers says proudly. “It’s also called Vantage Point but there is no connection with the album title. It’s not like the next album will be called Vantage Point 2 just because we record it here as well. Vantage Point as a name for the studio works for us because this is our base, where we look out onto the world.”
The world dEUS looks out on now could have changed irrevocably in the time they’ve been away. Since the band’s first incarnation in 1989, many musical movements and trends have come and gone. But one of the band’s secrets to survival has always been to follow their own way and never conform or compromise, even when their eclectic tastes have created experimental soundscapes which have not gone down well with everyone.
“The fact that our sound changes a little from record to record is due to the fact that the line-up has changed with almost every album,” Misseghers says. “This album is the third with the same band and that’s unusual for us. And that gives it a stable and cohesive feel. It’s more straight forward and the songs are tighter. Half the songs, including Slow and The Architect, have been written by the band and they came out of jam sessions, the others were written by Tommy (Barman), the band’s mastermind and brain.”
Eighteen months may have passed since they last played live, but the expectation surrounding the new album and tour remains huge. Venues have been sold out in minutes across Belgium but Misseghers is quick to tone down talk of a revival. “In Benelux, the band’s popularity has always been at a crazy level,” he says. “We don’t need to make a big statement saying ‘hey, we’re back’ because we have always been there and the fan base has always been there.”
The new album also signals a new change in approach to work. At various points in the band’s almost 20 years of existence, long breaks between records and huge tours have slowed their momentum. This is all about to change.
“The new tour won’t be as harsh as the last one,” Misseghers says. “We’re going to start off with 20 shows before the summer, then we’re going to do some festivals and in the end of the year we’re going to do another tour with bigger venues. In between that, when we have a couple of months off, we’ll write another record. We want it to roll a bit more, keep the releases closer. You start to feel it when you haven’t played for a year and a half, it’s hard. So this time, we’re going for a smooth start and then build it up and by the end of next year, hopefully, we’ll have a new record.”