A Talk With
Hannes De Caluwe (Bass)
Questionnaire by Sloof
A score of 91/100 means that the new album is surpassing the style of music, so it’s obvious that we present our forum to this band as well. Guilty As Charged comes from Belgium and succeeded in blowing the cobwebs out of the speakers, so a chat is the least we can do to get more familiar with this outstanding newcomer!
Q: First of all, the name Guilty As Charged is the title of Culprit’ debut album from 1983. I was hoping that the band choose this name because of that glorious album, but I guess that you guys are too young to know that this band or album even exists. Why Guilty As Charged?
A: That album is indeed older than any of us. And I must confess we already chose the band name before we knew of its existence. We chose for Guilty As Charged because it fitted well with a track on our first demo called Boxed In, which is about a convicted innocent who will spend the rest of his life in jail. We thought Guilty As Charged had a cool, metal ring to it.
Q: The band was formed in 2007 and if my info is correct, the lineup didn’t change to date. That’s rather original! Did you know each other before the formation of the band, is Guilty As Charged a result of friendship?
A: Jan De Vuyssere, vocalist and guitar player is the inspirer of the band. He met me, the bassplayer and we started jamming together with another drummer, Niek Godfroid. After a couple of years Niek quit and we decided to step it up a notch and found Matthew Vandenberghe, which we knew from other bands such as Omerta and Invictrius. Then, with a simple advertisement, we found Dempsey Derous, our lead guitar player. The result is friendship and heavy metal music since 2007!
Q: There has been a second guitar player in the beginning, as Thomas Verleye was a member in 2008-2009. How comes that you decided to continue as a quartet?
A: Thomas Verleye actually replaced Dempsey for a short amount of time, but then he decided to focus on his family and we were able to convince Dempsey to come back. So we never actually played with 5 people in the band, it has always been a quartet. At the moment Dempsey is working in London for 2 months, and Thomas Verleye is now back to replace Dempsey for Wizzfest 2015. We’re lucky to be able to switch between these two awesome guitar players!
Q: What was the intention when the band was formed? What was the so called ‘dream that comes true’?
A: There were a couple of goals for us. We just wanted to play big shows at first. We achieved that goal in 2008 when we won a contest to play Tribute Rock. Then we wanted to record our music, so we did in 2009 when we released our first demo.
Then we got more ambitious. We wanted a full quality album and play some festivals. In 2011 we played Alcatraz Metal Festival and in 2012 we played Masters @ Rock. The full quality album came to be in 2014. Right now the goals are to go on tour, play Graspop Metal Meeting and other festivals.
Another video clip and another album would also be on the list, although not in the near future.
Q: Was Thrash Metal the style in general or did you evolve during the years and rehearsals?
A: Our inspirer Jan De Vuyssere has always loved Thrash and Heavy metal, as he comes up with most of the ideas for music, we’ve always gladly followed him. From the beginning we mixed Thrash and Heavy metal with more modern influences. Of course our sound and our songs evolved, but we’ll always stay true to the style that we play.
Q: What bands can be considered as influential? And is this applicable for all members?
A: I would say the greats have been most influential for us: Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Iced Earth, Testament, Anthrax, Annihilator,… We all listened to these bands when we were young and still love their music.
Although it’s funny all members listen to different genres today. Jan still goes for these bands, mixed with rock ‘n roll, Hannes got into metalcore and the more technical, brutal bands. For Dempsey it’s mainly the same thing like Hannes. and our drummer Matthew , he’s into Death- and even Glam metal!
Q: Are there any bands in Belgium that might be comparable with Guilty As Charged?
A: No, I don’t think so… every band has another sound and another vibe, I guess bands like Warckon, Civilian and After All may be compared because they’re also thrash metal bands. But they have a whole other appearance.
Q: In my review I mentioned Metallica, and I guess that this name will pop up several times when you read articles or promotional info about your band. Jan De Vuyssere can’t deny that he’s a huge fan of James Hetfield, isn’t it?
A: Yep, his entire childhood he was a huge fan, and it was definitely determinative for the way he deals with some things today. We get compared to early Metallica a lot, and we gladly take the compliment! Nowadays Jan even gets sick of being compared to Hetfield all the time because he’s just doing his own thing, using the voice he has. He was influenced for sure, but he’s more than a copy!
Q: The new album is available now as an independent release. First of all, how comes? Why independent? Do you like to hold all strings in your own hands, is it a kind of DIY attitude?
A: We wanted to make this album like we wanted, when we wanted. We didn’t need anyone telling us it should be done by then and it should have that many tracks,…
We saved up and were able to do everything ourselves. Every decision was ours to make. And to be fair we didn’t really have contact with labels or anyone who could help us promote this album.
Right now we realize we’re probably at the maximum of our potential in terms of promotion for the album. That’s why we’ve recently teamed up with Mike from Hard Life Promotion and we’re currently trying to fix labels to get our music more spread out!
Q: Was there interest from labels, and if so, what has kept you?
A: We got loads of positive reviews all over Europe, but I guess we didn’t really reach enough labels that might have been interested. We’re working on that though! Labels go where no band alone can.
Q: Other bands in Belgium told me that a lot of labels want to sign bands, but it has to be a finished product, so the financial part is very limited. This includes also that labels decide what to do, and what path to follow. It’s a kind of artistic noose…
A: Exactly. Which is why we wanted to finish our product the way we wanted to. If labels are interested in participating in our success, they’re welcome to contact us. I’m sure we could strike a win-win deal for all, but a gentle warning: we’re quite stubborn about the path we’re following.
Q: I was really surprised about the new album and songs. There is so much to discover and luckily the production and sound is truly awesome! Tell us a little more about the recording process.
A: Thanks man, we’re amazed by our own sound as well at times! The recordings went very slow actually. We started recording the drums with Christophe Depree from After All and Bart Vennekens, soundguy for After All (and has been on tour with Iced Earth). They were great to work with, cool guys!
When we recorded the drums in the More Than Music studios in Dessel, we continued with guitar and bass recordings in Christophe’s home. In a small room on the highest floor we came together during the weekend for a long time, until we were satisfied with the result.
Q: How comes that you recorded the vocals in a different studio? Why did you choose the SweetSourStudio in Eede, Holland?
A: When we were at last finished recording the instruments, Bart Vennekens was supposed to record the vocals for Jan. But he got a job as a sound guy for Iced Earth, touring the world. An offer one does not deny, of course. We know Niek Tournois from Spoil Engine, so we contacted him and he was happy to fit us in his schedule. He’s awesome to work with. He has great ideas and executes them with great speed.
Q: Finally, mixing and mastering was done by Dan Swanö at Unisound Studio in Sweden. Well, that’s a real genius, so I guess that you were proud that Dan took time to deliver such a great effort and result! Did you go to Sweden, or how did you handle this?
A: Yes, what Dan did with what we recorded we can only describe as magical. His contribution to the album is probably the greatest. When he touches shit, it just shines. We got in touch with Dan Swanö via Christophe and Bart from After All. They has their latest albums mixed and mastered by Dan and were very happy with the result.
As were we when we heard their latest albums! So we contacted him and delivered him every required file, made clear what we wanted and he was able to fix us up with an amazing sound. Although I wouldn’t have declined a trip to Sweden, email sufficed.
Q: How are the reviews so far? I guess that the first results are coming in, and it must be like a big relief, as the album is finally in the stores, and there is no way back…
A: I was baffled by the positive reviews we got! After the release, we worked with a Portuguese company called Against PR. For a small fee they got us reviews from all over Europe, which is very cool! Because of those reviews we got emails from people located all over the world saying they like our music and asking how to get an album. Our music can be purchased online via iTunes, Spotify, eBay, Amazon, our own website: www.guiltyascharged.be ,… and in some stores like Wall Of Sound, Rombaux and also FNAC Brugge.
Q: The band played already live gigs with Soulfly, Channel Zero, UDO and the Alcatraz Metal Festival 2011. How was it to play Alcatraz, albeit it a gig in the tent?
A: It was a great experience. We’d already played Tribute Rock which was also in a big tent, but that had been couple of years ago by then. We won an online contest and together with another winner we could open the festival. The amount of people that had showed up to check us out was impressive to see from upon the stage. Alcatraz Metal Festival also knows how to treat artist! I still remember how awesome the food was and how cool the guys of Death Angel were!
Q: The band has a lot of gigs on their calendar. What are the most important gigs and what can people expect?
A: The more gigs the better we like it. The first and foremost reason we’re in a band, is to perform and to promote our music. The first big show on the calendar is Wizzfest 2015, the venue is sold out already and the bands are awesome. If everything goes well, we’ll have video footage to spread afterwards. People can expect an energetic show filled with a myriad of riffs and solo’s. Whenever we play, we try to get the crowd on board. We’re so much better when we feel the energy of the people we play for and can then give that energy back tenfold!
Q: How do you look at the Belgian scene nowadays. Is there a lot of companionship or is it rather severally?
A: I would say there’s a lot of companionship, yeah. We’re all trying to fix gigs, to be seen in the scene. We’re all trying to be the best of course, but everything happens amicably. If a backline is to be shared most bands are willing to do so, at least for cabs and the base of the drum. We get along with everyone and we’d like to keep it that way!
Q: What are the future plans for Guilty As Charged? What is going to happen the upcoming months?
A: We’re planning to take over the world with our music! Working on our live shows, write new songs, pleasure our fans and drink a lot of beer.. In the upcoming months though, we’ll play gigs here and there, sell some merch, try to get elected for the Redbull Bedroom Jam, and plan our summer. Hopefully we’ll play many more shows this year. The bigger the better and the more the merrier!
Q: Well, I wish you all the luck and great times on stage! We’ll have a beer together at Devils Rock For Angels’ Wishes, as I will be there too! Any final message? Thanks for your time!
A: Thanks, we always have a blast on stage so don’t worry about that! We’ll happily drink a beer with you, two if it helps the cause. We’d like to thank you again for the amazing review and kickass score we got, hopefully it moves people to check out our music!
More info on www.guiltyascharged.be for those who are interested!