Sometimes you just need few seconds to realize you’re in front of somebody that knows exactly what he’s talking about. And that doesn’t happen very often. It’s a pleasure for us to bring you today this conversation with dEUS frontmanTom Barman. One of those underrated bands unfairly marked with a big X who keep fighting to make what they most like to do while most of the specialized media stare the baby rattle. They’ve just released Following Sea, and they’re about to have a big deserved rest right after the last stop of the tour in Spain. If you’re reading this website and haven’t heard of them yet, it’s not your fault, it’s probably because they’re not British.
1 Not even a year since the release of Keep You Close. How was Following Sea conceived? Did you intentionally want to have it recorded sooner than previous albums for some reason?
Yeah well, there was a couple of songs that were a bit too light or too poppy for Keep It Close, and we didn’t want to release them on an EP so we decided to write more songs, it was kind of a crazy idea because we were touring extensively at that time, so It was basically recording in the tour bus, then recording in the studio, and vice versa, but once it was finished it was just great because it broke our kind of habits and also we wanted to play a couple of those songs live in the summer, in the festivals, with people already knowing them.
2 From Worst Case Scenario till now, you had few changes from the original line-up but even though you’re still in contact with them as we’ve seen some collaborations on recent albums. How do you think your sound has evolved since your first album till Following Sea having those changes in mind?
Basically, if we were still together we wouldn’t sound anything like the beginning, that would be ridiculous. People change, line-ups change, life changes, times change, … I think at one point, even the lyrics also changed, they become a little bit darker when you get older. We still have good melodies and still like pop music. But I don’t think about line-ups anymore.
3. Who had the idea for the Quatre Mains videoclip? With all the new technology around us, do you think the average listener is getting used to have music to watch and not to actually listen to?
I just know it’s much more present everywhere. The fact that you can go to a party and just go to YouTube and have any song that you want on your stereo it’s phenomenal. I would prefer the people to watch my videos in a big fucking flat screen instead of their small laptops but, you know you can’t have it all. It was actually my idea the whole thing of the Quatre Mains video.
4 “Philosophy go kill Facebook scam”, as you sing in Girls Keep Drinking. Social networks don’t seem to go out of fashion. What do you think about them? Do you use any of them?
Well I don’t use any of them. It’s not that I’m against them, it’s just that I don’t feel that I miss it. I meet the people that I want to see. And I don’t really need to tell my job either. I use the email on my laptop. I’ve just seen a documentary about Facebook, and I hate the whole philosophical side behind it: “Facebook is opening up the world”. And then I went, ok, that’s an interesting point, but can you explain it please? What do you mean with “opening up the world”? I could understand it in a commercial context, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to have this big fucking promotion philosophy around, around Facebook that you are, changing human kind, then it becomes a little irritating for me. But obviously the internet has made great things, and it has become more accessible for people around the world. But the general idea of being behind your computer to talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to, it’s very strange. I think it creates the illusion that you have contacts, it just creates more nervousness, and the anguish of not being there and there and there at the same time. I think it’s creating a very nervousness generation.
5 You’ve been playing for 20 years, and that’s something not many bands can say. If you had to look back at it, would you change something?
(laughs) No, obviously I wouldn’t change anything, it’s all part of the journey. I must say I am actually quite happy of not being in a young band right now. It must be very very hard for them. You can’t forget that when we started was probably the best fucking period to be in a band. It was right after the big Nirvana thing… I use to say that the 90’s where our 60’s. When you went to a record company you really had the feeling that they were listening your music, the people were your age, there was a lot of party going on and a lot of work too. If was 20 right now, I don’t know if I would be in a band. Because at the same time, there is so many of them, everyone is working at home, so the cost of making an album has completely go down, which in a way is a good thing, but it also creates a whole atmosphear of laptop bands. People don’t have drummers anymore, and much more sadly, all fucking records sound the same. There’s no more band-sounding records. Even the most shitting fucking band, with the worst fucking song… they sound perfect. And it’s because everyone works in the same say, with the same Pro Tools, whatever… which is all fine, but it has taken away completely the mysticism, and the mystery of the good studios, not necessarily big studios, just good studios. You just have to listen to the radio. You can even visualize it. If you listen to the music now, it’s played as loud as possible, but if you go and play it at home, it just sounds like shit.
But in the other hand, I’m happy than 20 years ago we still had the generation of the old school, where you could record in good rooms and the record company was led by people who were your age and were into music and actually had the power to do something. And you know, now it’s hard for young bands.
6 You had the chance to be in the music scene of the 90’s and also this last decade, call it the 00’s or whatever, and you can arguably say you have your own sound. So from your experience and your point of view, where is music going to? Do you sense lack of originality in young bands nowadays? Is it harder now to find genuine bands like in the 90’s?
I think the technology has done something interesting; it has created a completely different way of listening to music. The ears of the consumer, the consumer fans, have completely changed in the last 10 years. The technological side has created very exciting stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I was first saying the things that I don’t think are good but I think there are many many good things. Technological influence has created a different way of listening to pop music and I think that’s great. There are many examples, like finding any chords of any song you want. It’s pushing music forward so that’s great.
7 If you had grown up, let’s say, in Liverpool, Glasgow, Seattle or LA… Will your music sound different? Or do you reckon you’d have pretty much the same influences?
Of course it would! That’s one of the reasons I’ve never consider moving to one of those big cities. Because, first of all, we didn’t need to. Our label was in a big city, so our music was being distributed by a big company who was in a big city, very well connected, so we can basically be in Antwerp. If you go to a big city, sooner or later you’ll end up sounding like everybody else, as simple as that. A lot of my favourite bands, like The Knife for example, they never tried to move to NY or anything. So I think that staying in Antwerp, just gets us more or less healthy.
8 What have been the best and worst moments of your career so far?
Oh man, I think the worst was probably in 2004, after a long break, after Ideal Crash, I made a movie, I did Magnus… and that was a great period. But then when we got back together to dEUS, everything had changed. That was pretty dramatic. There was one important show in Paris that I think is the most important show in our life because the day before, I wanted to quit. I wanted to stop. And we went to Paris and I remember there was a whole bus of Spanish fans also. It has never been a top territory in Europe, I mean we do OK there but it would never be as good as Portugal or Italy. We hadn’t played for 4 years and there was a whole bus in there who came in to Paris. I remember people going nuts in Instant Street and that was the day I decided that I wasn’t going to stop. I thought to myself: this is too good. So I would say, that was a very difficult year but I’m glad we came over. And the reaction to Following Sea is that nobody really expected it so I feel like we are doing what we want to and people who want to jump in that car will do and people who don’t they won’t. And that’s a really good feeling for a band. Everything’s fine right now.
9 But you have very loyal fans actually.
Yeah absolutely. They follow us and they give their criticism once in a while… but it’s great having that feeling with the people asking sometimes what the fuck you’re doing. I guess that’s probably the closest you can get to a real feeling of success.
10 dEUS is one of the most important bands in Europe and you’ve played gigs everywhere more than once. Do you think we could ever have something to call European Rock? Or will we always refer the bands for their current countries, as we always do, like the well-known Swedish music scene for instance? Would dEUS suit in the European Rock tag?
Well, to call it European rock I don’t think it’s a very sexy term. But it’s hard as from here for example, you get to the north and in 200 km you’re in a different country, you get to the south and happens the same… When we started out there was 2 or 3 bands in English festivals that came from Europe, and it was us, The Cardigans, Mano Negra and Urban Dance Squad. Now you go to a festival and there are bands from Switzerland, Portugal, Sweeden, France… and when we started was a pretty Anglo-accent affaire.
11. After your concert in Madrid last February you’re coming back to play DCode Festival. How do you feel playing in Spain again?
Feels great and the last show we really enjoyed it, was in a great little discotheque pub (Joy Eslava, Madrid), very sexy place. Now we play with Sigur Rós and I’ve got friends in Madrid I’ll visit so I’ll even stay longer there. It’s a kind of special one as is the last one of the tour, and then we’ll get a little bit of time for rest. We’ve been in the studio and touring a lot for the last 2 years. So Madrid is going to be sentimental, as it will be the last one for a while. I hope we don’t fucked it up.
12. How do you imagine the world in 10 years?
The US will have the first female president. There will be no separations. It will be the beginning of come back for Europe, as right now is not very healthy, and I hope there’s a whole new generation of young people who can finally solve the problems with nature, because we need to take action. That sounds very political actually! Well, optimistic, you have no chance now but being optimistic.
13. Are you happy?
Right now I am my friend. But happiness is a very scary thing (laughs). Like my good friend Marc Sandman from Morphine used to say: I want to be happy, but not all the time.
Thanks to [PIAS] Spain.