Punkrock and Belgium, it appears that in every corner and crevice of Belgium a band is formed. From city, town to the smallest village possible, everywhere people are getting together, making music and building their own scene while they are at it. One of those particular vibrant scenes is the Hageland scene and Homer has been fronting the banner for the Hageland for over 17 years already. With their latest release “Loved Loss” being released end of last year and plans for a new full album buzzing around, we thought it was time to hear what the members of Homer liked to share regarding their future endeavours.
- Last year you released “Loved Loss”, a six-track EP. How has the crowd responded so far?
Johan: So far the reactions are really good; a whole lot of people that follow us for already for a long time were surprised because it sounds different. Still Homer, but different; or like some of our friends expressed it: ‘Homer – the next level’. The reviews so far have been great too and now we’re booking the shows for his year, it’s looking better and better!
- The new EP seems to be one the most diverse records Homer ever released. From different voicings to the musical styles applied, almost a magnus opum for Homer. How do you feel about the new songs?
Mattias: It seems like the older we get, the more diverse the songs become. It’s not interesting for us to keep doing the same thing over and over. We are influenced by so many different styles and they all find their way into the music. We are also trying to approach the way we write songs from different angles and keep growing. These songs have been more refined in preproduction together with Edje (Arizona, NØFX,…) and in the studio with Ace.
- One of the songs that has taken a twist is “Death Is A Threat”, with the blastbeats and guitars I'm guessing some black metal influences. Is metal and extreme music an inspiration to the band?
Mattias: Metal has always been an influence for all of us. In “Death is a Threat” they might be more visible with the blastbeats and chaotic parts, but you can probably find traces of metal in most of our songs.
I don’t really pay attention to it.
- During the release the band also incorporated visuals into the show. How did this enhance your performance?
Mattias: Hard to say because we were on stage looking in the other direction. We had the opportunity to work with Sam for visuals. I hope it made the show a bit more special for our audience. They made an effort to go out and paid money to have a good time and to support us, so it’s cool if we can give them something extra.
- The artwork for “Loved Loss” is very tight and a visual treat. A graphic representation of some sort of gem stone on a blue background. What was the main idea about this design?
Mattias: Hanna has made the artwork for pretty much all of our records. She came up with this design. It’s very atypical for a heavy record, but who wants to be typical? We didn’t even make a typical Homer records, so it’s perfect.
Johan: To be more concrete about the design: it kind of reflects the title because you can recognize a diamond in the design which stands for something precious, something of a certain kind of value (literally or symbolical). It stands for something nice, something you love. The diamond is shaped as a tear, which stands for loss, grief and regret. If you look at the design, you have a visual interpretation of the title “Loved Loss” and it has the Homer logo in it too, so that makes it complete.
- Your producer on the EP was Ace Zec, known as drummer for Customs and his Oceanside recording studios in Ostend. Ace also has quite a punk and hardcore background. Did that help out when working with a producer?
Mattias : It probably helped that he has the punk background, just because he understands where we come from and where we are trying to go. But he knows music in general, which helped us to do things we haven’t done before. It makes no sense to work with people if they don’t have anything to add to our ideas and knowledge. Our last record was self-produced, this is the first time we worked with a producer and it takes it to the next level. I think finding the right person for your band to produce your record is essential.
Johan: For me it turned out great. Ace is a very creative person and someone who isn’t afraid of pushing the people he works with. He’s that kind of guy that gets things out you didn’t even realise you had in you. He can give constructive comments and makes you look at things from another side or perspective. That worked great and made me discover some new musical ranges.
- “Loved Loss” is actually more of a teaser for the upcoming album that is ahead. Could you let us in on how and when we can expect the bomb to drop?
Mattias : That’s not really how it is. “Loved Loss” is an example of what you can expect from us in the future. We are currently not working on a new album. The plan is to play shows with the new songs this year and we’ll start writing new stuff soon.
- In the new track “Indifference” there's a line about 'These times I see'. Given the political and economic climate. Could you give us an insight on what Homer sees as the sign of the times?
Johan: Wow, first off: we’re not that kind of band that likes to shove our opinion down someone’s throat. In the lyrics, be it personal or more related to socio-economic topics, we like to touch issues we are confronted with. “Indifference” deals with the fact that people these days are treated like puppets that are a part of the economic system. It seems that leaders and politicians look at all problems from an economic side of view. The economy has to become bigger, better, have more results and if that turns out great, people will get better too. That’s kind of the way things are treated these days. While a lot of the global problems like war, refugees and environment issues are things that should be looked at from an empathic, social and caring kind of way. People should be put in the first place, not economy or whatever. Luckily enough, if you look for it, you see that there are people standing up who offer alternatives for a society that’s based on economy. But those people, collectives are often shouting in the dark. It all has to do with the sort of collective of ‘individuals’ our society has become instead of a collective consisting out of united individuals. It’s sometimes hard to be positive these days, still I think it’s very important to stay positive. Becoming a fatalist about everything is standing still and that’s never a good thing.
- On title track “Loved Loss” you get some backing vocals by fellow punk rockers: Hans from F.O.D. and Teun from Generation84, both great vocalists from Belgian bands and an excellent choice for this track. Where they the first who came to mind when you searched for backings?
Mattias: They are two of the best voices we have around us. It’s really a no-brainer. We invited them to the rehearsal room, we made some bad jokes, they nailed everything in the first takes and we were done.
- Homer always releases on the label of vocalist Johan, Funtime Records. What are the plans for Funtime in 2016, new releases we need to know about?
Johan: Well, since about two years, the label is a collective again of eight people who work with their heart and soul for everything Funtime-related, so you can consider Funtime Records and concerts anno 2016 as a collective, just the way it started about 20 years ago with the magazine and the concerts. It has always been a family of likeminded people and it still is today. We have been releasing records on Funtime since the very beginning and it always worked great for us; although we also worked with other labels in the past like Indiebox in Italy, Bad Mood in Switzerland, Meter Records in Canada and Thanks But No Thanks for the live CD/DVD we put out a couple of years ago. But as said before, it’s great and easy working together, so why change it? About other releases on the label: Funtime is putting out the new Belvedere record in May, F.O.D. is planning a new album and there are some more things coming up, but I can’t tell you much about that at this very moment.
- Thank you for the interview, any last words?
Johan: Well, it has been said a thousand times before but seems more relevant than ever these days: become an active participant of the scene, put up shows, write, participate, go support local and underground bands. That’s very important if you want to support music that operates outside the mainstream. And in general: don’t let negativism get you down!
– David Marote