Monday, 22 October 2012

Jean-Marc Lederman - Exclusive interview for Electrospective - Elektro Diskow! (Part 3)

In the previous two installments of the interview, Jean-Marc talked us through his musical beginnings and memories, his work with Fad Gadget and then Kid Montana. In this part we fast forward to the mid 80s - here's what happened next ...

Part 3

-Can you tell me a bit about how the Weatherman came about?

Kid Montana [JM’s project after Fad Gadget] was camp and pop so I needed something more extreme so I started the Weathermen... At the beginning the Weatherman was a joke because I could hear what Front [242] was doing and I thought, ‘Well, I can do that, too. Let me try.’ I thought at the time that if you were into politics and really wanted to make an impact in the 80s you had to be in a band because this is what the media was listening to. More than politicians they were listening to rock bands. You had Bono. You had Live Aid. So I thought – what about the Weathermen who were an American terrorist group that went underground. They were very much feared.  And I thought what if they had to come back today and they had to make politics to music. So I started to do that [and took the Weatherman name]and sent anonymous tapes to PIAS [Play It Again Sam, famous Belgian label]. And PIAS loved it immediately and they decided to release it so I started with the Weatherman at the same time that Kid Montana was going. It was totally opposite. More aggressive, very ‘Beat’. Quite political but in a funny way. I did that with an American singer called Bruce Geduldig who was a member of Tuxedo Moon. That was 1985-86.  We decided to make a 12 inch every three months. And it worked! Because after a few [releases] we had a small following and people really liked it and liked the concept. People thought it was funny.  The label PIAS released an album and ultimately we had a hit. And that was somehow a little bit the end of it because after that people were expecting things from us, you know.

-Was that Poison?

Yeah. Poison was quite a big hit in Europe especially in Germany and Belgium. So we started to tour which kind of killed the idea of anonymous, you know. We were supposed to be a ‘terrorist band’ and then there we were on stage with our faces [visible]. We kept the idea of being different than into politics and fun by doing movies.  We had those motocross type of clothes on stage and we had on the rider that we need a female bodyguard on stage who must be at least 2m high and stuff like that. It was really funny to do. People were playing with it. And to this day people still remember Poison. So I think it was a good thing after all.

-That record in particular was a big record on the New Beat scene and influenced EBM. Do you have any memories of the clubs at that time?

Absolutely. It’s funny because EBM and New Beat have nothing to do with each other. It just happened that the two movements started in Belgium. Well, what happened was one DJ started to play an EBM band whose name escapes me and he played the 12” but at 33rpm [as opposed to the European standard of 45 rpm] so it slowed down the pace and everybody loved it at the time. So everybody was starting to make louder and louder slower and heavy music. So that was how New Beat started at the same time that EBM and Front 242 were getting very popular. So the two movements were kind of collapsed together but had nothing to do [with each other]. I do remember the New Beat clubs – I didn’t like it at all because it was stupidly hedonistic, stupidly heavy and had no content at all. If you take the New Beat, if you listen to the lyrics, it’s like most dance music - it has no sense and to me you need to inject at least a little bit of sense if not a lot of sense in your music.

-That’s the story of the 80s – you start off with the very political post punk early 80s, and it gets to the mid 80s and it becomes very hedonistic it becomes very drug-driven as a culture and that’s the way the clubs went …

This is why I kind of got out of it because I wasn’t into drugs at all. If you had to go to those clubs and listen to this heavy pounding music without drugs or without being drunk it was just boring, you know? I never liked seeing my friends getting out of it and then starting to act stupid. I suppose that if you take when it all started for me, which is Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, bands with a content. It’s normal that I just couldn’t stand the New Beat scene.

-Those Records From Belgium and Holland of that era had a big influence on House & Techno ..

Yeah, totally.

-Did you have much contact with those people [in Detroit and Chicago etc]? Did you go over and play?

Not at all. We toured the States in ’89 with the Weathermen but we had no interconnection with the Detroit scene. No … So that was the end of the Weathermen in 1989 we toured the States and I just collapsed I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took a sabbatical and I started working for Play It Again Sam. This is when and how I got to work with Front 242.  As their [PIAS] office manager for 4 years. From ‘90 to ‘94. So for 4 years I was with Front 242. That was very very very interesting work because they were just signed by Epic and you could just pick up the phone and say ‘This is for Front 242…’ and all the doors would just magically open.  It was really exciting!

-Just to finish the Weatherman, I think one thing you did very well and very cleverly was integrate spoken word and dialogue samples and that kind of thing which I think ended up being an influence on a lot of 90s music. To integrate the snippets in an almost Soundtrack way …

I don’t know … people tell me that when they listen to the early Chemical Brothers they hear the Weathermen all over the place but I can’t see it myself! I don’t know, to me it seemed natural to inject things like that because it was what we wanted to do with content to make music that meant something. We didn’t want to make tracks that could work in clubs. We just wanted to make great music you can listen to in clubs, maybe, but would still sound interesting when you listen to it at home. That was the problem with the dance scene. The music, once you take it away from the big speakers and the clubs and the drugs and the alcohol, they sound really bad! We didn’t want that. We wanted something that would stand attention more than 4 minutes. Something you can listen to over and over again. Just like when I was listening to Brian Eno and Kraftwerk in the mid 70s and it would still mean something. Even when you listen to it 5 times or 17 times. Whatever. So, was it influential? Well, you tell me!

-Well, I’d say so!

Thank you!

Click here for Part 4!

Jean-Marc has put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us that chronicles over 40 years of music including classics, influences and some key tracks from his diverse and unique back catalogue. Listen here ...

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