In 2010, when Jasper and Jente of Antwerp band ACCEPT THE CHANGE were on the lookout for a new band, they crossed paths with an old and a new friend and started playing music together for the sake of playing music together. Now, five years later, they have self-released their first album called ‘Israel’, a record that is definitely influenced by bands like BLACKLISTED, CEREMONY, FUGAZI and SHIPWRECK A.D. The band premiered the record in November 2014 and their amazing record release show was hosted by their pals in PULSE, FEVER., IMAGINARY DICTIONARY and THIS ROUTINE IS HELL. LOTUS’ highly explosive performance is at its swashbuckling best. Fueled by vicious fierceness and great energy, it has consistency and diversity built into its nature. I’m very pleased to give you more details on the band and the record! Read the full interview below.
Hey there buds! What’s up? How are you this fine Winter? :)
Hello Karol. We’re doing great, we’ve just had our release show last weekend with some old and new friends. It was pretty intense, but we had an awesome night to say the least. It felt good finally releasing something physical with this band after working really hard on those songs.
I’ve been wondering… Is it a crime not to visit a country full of bands you’ve been loving for years? Belgium has some really great bands, there are more and more popping up recently and you are no exception! Do you share the same belief about your national and local music scene? :)
It is definitely not a crime to not visit a country with bands you like. If so, I’m guilty of doing it myself. But I consider myself lucky to live in a country with such an extensive history of great bands. There are loads of new bands in Belgium, which is really positive, but there aren’t that many that get me super psyched at the moment. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side other fence?
Ha! Exactly! Ok, but how would you describe and rate your local music scene and how important is it in terms of your touring and development plans?
Well, there are a lot of new people booking awesome shows or doing cool stuff for the scene these last few years. We’re lucky to have so many motivated people to set up shows in Belgium, we’re spoiled to say the least. Throughout the years, and by playing in other bands, we’ve got to know awesome people that believe in us and that we can always count on if we’re in need of shows. And I think it’s really important to have such a personal connection with show promoters as a band and never take anything for granted.
Playing abroad, however, does sound really appealing to us and we’d really like to play some shows in Germany or Holland more often. I think we’re all super psyched to get out of our comfort zone and visit new places. We’ve talked about touring and future plans with this band a lot when we were writing our record. And I’m not sure when, but our plan definitely is to tour this year or maybe do a couple of weekenders or so. We’ve also had talks with an awesome Dutch hardcore band about maybe doing a tour together someday. Already crossing my fingers to let that happen.
How was the release show?
It was awesome. We had a dream line-up with SWAIN (f.k.a.THIS ROUTINE IS HELL), FEVER, IMAGINARY DICTIONARY and PULSE. It was more than we’ve hoped for, knowing that it was really hard at first to find a date that fitted for every band while making sure that the record would still be there on time. All bands played a solid set, but Swain really tore the place apart. A lot of friends attended the show, but it was nice seeing a lot of people coming to the show to see us play for the first time. But the best feeling for me that night was finally releasing a piece of art you’ve worked really hard on and something you’re really proud of.
Was writing for your debut album, ‘Israel’, a complicated process? How would you describe your approach to developing a punk tune?
When we started this band we just wanted to make straightforward music. We never think about creating a particular sound, all the songs you hear on Israel came quite natural. Everyone in this band is equally important when it comes to writing our songs. That’s why we have different approaches to writing them. Sometimes it’s a guitar/bass riff, a drum part, but it could also be a feeling or a metaphor Jelle is trying to express. Writing the most suitable lyrics, however, proved to be pretty hard. Jelle really wants to tell a story and is his own worst critic. That’s why we had to record Israel in two sessions, one in November 2013 and one in April 2014 when the last lyrics were written.
How did you hope listeners would respond to this record? What is the initial feedback?
So far the reactions have been really good. We were all satisfied with our own record in the first place, but if feels good that other people are into it too. We’ve been compared to bands like BLACKLISTED, CEREMONY and SHIPWRECK A.D., bands that happen to be in my top 10 hardcore bands, so I’ll take that as a huge compliment. Without having any expectations, the first responses were great to say the least.
I love the manner and style of the vocals on ‘Israel’. Where did you find the inspiration for your vocals?
I think this is more of a question for Jelle, our vocalist, but I can tell you this: his voice has changed a lot since we first started writing music together. He used to have this really barking sound, a bit guttural even. But I think that had a lot to do with him not feeling at ease singing. It changed gradually over time with him getting more and more comfortable playing among the four of us. What I think really caused the shift was when the decision was made to book the studio to record ‘Israel’. That’s when he started writing really personal and it was as if he could completely lose himself in our music from then on. As for inspiration or the manner of singing on ‘Israel’, I don’t think Jelle ever gave it any thought. He just stepped outside his comfort zone, got into the singing boot and went at it. Maybe that’s what defines his sound: raw emotion. That’s it, really.
What were the first things you wrote for this record?
Before we had the idea of putting out a record we had already written a couple of songs. We were still searching for a ‘sound’ for LOTUS back then. So, of those 6 or 7 songs, we only held on to ‘Brink’, ‘Steppewolf’ and ‘Sleep’. Except for one song, that we still play once in a while. Everything else of our pre-Israel period ended up in the trash bin. But ‘Brink’ is definitely one of our first songs ever written.
Considering your experience in punk music, how has your view on incorporating various important issues in music developed throughout the years?
My taste and views on those subjects has definitely changed throughout the years. At first it wasn’t the message that got me connected to punk music, but the heaviness, the feeling and the outlet it brings. Just something to take your mind off of things. While growing up, however, the lyrics got more important to me. Not only lyrics about political or social issues, but a lot of emotional lyrics stuck to me. Actually, every issue or theme that is incorporated into lyrics that got someone through a rough time or made them feel they aren’t alone in their view on things, I consider an important issue. But most of all, I believe it’s really important to sing about something that you really care about. Not something you hear other bands sing about or someone has said you should sing about. Music and punk in general are still an outlet to express yourself and to do your own thing.
What is your aim regarding the artistic direction of the record? What is hardcore punk in general for you guys?
We just try to create loud, fast and aggressive music with meaningful lyrics. Our main idea is not to think about it too much and just go with the flow of the songs. But to me, punk isn’t that loud and aggressive riff; it’s a mindset and a way of looking at certain things. It’s more than a music genre. That’s why I hate putting labels on music and rather think in terms of bands.
Do you feel that this selection of tracks will achieve your pre-defined goals? Did you have any?
We’re really satisfied with our songs on Israel so it would be nice to achieve our main goal, which is to play as much shows as we can to promote the record. Besides that, we just want to continue what we’re doing right now, write new music, see new places and make new friends.
What other projects are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m just focusing on LOTUS, but there have been talks about doing a DINOSAUR JR.-inspired band with Jente and Bert. Jente, however, plays in acouple of pop/rock bands and Bert plays in REDDING, a LED ZEPPELIN kinda rockband.
Ok guys. Thanks a lot for your time. Feel free to add anything you like!
Listen to FUGAZI.