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By: Raymond Westland
On continental Europe Antwerp-based Triggerfinger is a household name, playing their patented form of rock on the most prestigious festivals all over the place. However, in the UK they’re still relative newcomers. That’s all about to change with the release of the band’s latest album, entitled By Absence Of The Sun. On behalf of Echoes And Dust Raymond Westland caught up with skinsman Mario Goossens to discuss the band’s recent tour throughout France, the new album and the craziness that ensued after the release of ‘I Follow Rivers’.
(((o))): Triggerfinger is currently touring in France. How are things going so far?
Mario: Our current tour through France is going splendidly. Our last record, By Absence Of The Sun, is out for over a year now and we’ve been touring in support of it for the better part of that year. Our tour wraps up around September. So far we’ve been touring throughout Europe. Record sales are going very well, even in France. It’s a difficult country for us, but our record is doing surprisingly well, so with this tour we managed to increase the amount of visitors from 250 to 400 people on average. Everything is alive and well in Triggerfinger country.
(((o))): By Absence Of The Sun was released back in April last year, so you guys had plenty of time to really digest the album. Which elements are you still pleased with and what would you like to change if you had the chance and why?
Mario: In all honesty I’m very pleased on how By Absence Of The Sun turned out still and that goes for the whole band. When we go into the studio we try to make the best record we can at that moment and we don’t try over analyze things too much. Triggerfinger isn’t the type of band that spends 10 year in a studio to hone a record to perfection. For us recording an album is very much a spontaneous affair. It’s like capturing a certain space in time where we stand as a band and we try to have as much fun while doing it. Sometimes ideas or songs don’t make the cut because they don’t fit the overall framework, but parts of those songs may end up on future records or they form the basis for a whole new song. When a record is finished I don’t tend to go back and try to remake things. It doesn’t work that way with this band.
(((o))): Rubin Block writes most of the material within Triggerfinger. To which extent do the other members have a say in how things will pan out in the end?
Mario: It can vary greatly to be honest. It’s true that Ruben writes the vast majority of the music. However, sometimes he submits complete songs to the rest of us and there’s little we can to it and sometimes he comes up with a riff or an idea of which he isn’t sure what to do with and that’s where Big Paul and I come in and we put our mark on it. Sometimes Ruben uses a drum computer to create a beat and on other times he utilises a box full of screws and nuts to come up with a beat under the songs he brings in. Needless to say he’s quite resourceful when it comes to that. Usually a song has a certain vibe or atmosphere already, but it takes the input of all three of us to turn an idea in a genuine Triggerfinger song. We all have a vastly different taste in music and that makes for a very interesting creative process. I actually co-wrote one song on By Absence Of The Sun, entitled ‘Halfway There’. It was used as a soundtrack for a Belgian independent movie. The vocals of that particular song are actually recorded in the bathroom of a hotel where Ruben stayed the night (laughs).
(((o))): By Absence Of The Sun has a lot of variation going on, with songs ranging from more pop orientated tracks like ‘Perfect Match’ to heavy as hell tracks like ‘Black Panic’ and ‘Game’ and everything in between. How important is it for you guys to add a lot of variation to your music?
Mario: That’s something we don’t think too much about. Variation has been a part of us since the band’s inception. A lot people try to put a label on our music and categorise Triggerfinger as a stoner rock band. That’s something we don’t necessarily agree with and we’ve never styled ourselves as such. Another misconception is that people think we’re only interested in listening to loud and aggressive music. In reality we mostly listen to pop music in our dressing room. Like I said before, our taste in music is pretty much boundless. That’s what keeps the creative process fresh and exciting for us even after all those years. I like to compare our music to a David Lynch flick. Everyone has a different idea and vision what Triggerfinger is all about. Other people say that we’re a rockabilly band or that we play a form of heavy bluesrock. It’s all good to me though (laughs).
(((o))): ‘This Is The One’ features Method Man from The Wu-Tang Clan. How did the collaboration work out and what do you think of end result?
Mario: As you may know we did a cover version of ‘I Follow Rivers’, which was incredibly successful all over Europe, but especially in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Our German record company came with this luminous idea to record a follow up single, so that we could keep the momentum going. We had some unused songs parts lying about and those were sent to a Belgian DJ who made a remix out of it. Originally Snoop Dogg was supposed to put some guest raps over it and initially he was really into the idea, but after some time all contact stopped from his camp, so we had to come up with an alternative. Since we’re all big fans of The Wu-Tang Clan we thought it would be grand to have Method Man contributing some raps to it. Our management contacted his management and luckily for us he was immediately interested. He laid down his parts in a studio in New York and he really enjoyed doing this. Some time after we met him during his tour with Redman and we had a great time backstage.
(((o))): Like you mentioned in your previous answer you had a massive hit with ‘I Follow Rivers’ especially in Belgium and the Netherlands. How do you look back on the whole experience?
Mario: It certainly opened a lot of new doors for us in terms of tour offers and great slots at some the biggest festivals in Europe. It also made Triggerfinger a household name for people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in listening to us. The idea originated from a visit to a Dutch radio station in which the resident DJ asked us to do a cover from a current hit single. At the time there were many house music songs dominating the charts and we weren’t too keen on covering one of those. There was also this song called ‘I Follow Rivers’ by Lykke Li, which was more to our collective taste buds. We managed to come up with a musical format that was workable for us as a band, so we went down to the radio station, played our version of said song and before we knew it the whole thing exploded all over the place. The version of ‘I Follow Rivers’ we based our own cover on was actually a remix made by a Belgian producer called The Magician. So we actually record a cover from a reworked version of an original song. It’s quite surreal when you think about it (laughs).
(((o))): Another major highlight in your career must be the support slot for the Rolling Stones at Barclay Card Summer Festival in Hyde Park. What was it like?
Mario: It was hands down one of the highlights of my musical career! It was sheer magic. We actually opened for them again at Rock Werchter last year. Few people can say that they’ve shared stage with Mick Jagger and Co twice within the same year. I’m still very proud of that feat. I’m a huge fan of the Stones and they’re still the premier rock and roll band for me.
(((o))): Are you guys working on some new material for a possible new Triggerfinger record? If so, what can we expect?
Mario: We have some time off at the end of this year, so we might start jamming on some new material for a possible follow up record. But as far as complete songs, lyrics and assorted things go it’s still very early days to say anything definitive about it (laughs).
(((o))): Finally, what else has 2015 in stores for you?
Mario: We still plenty of touring to do, including some high profile slots at some of the most prestigious festivals in Europe, including Hellfest in France. We’re also the main support act for Muse for their upcoming European tour together with Incubus and there are some support slots for Placebo in the works as well. No rest for the wicked for us, my friend. 2015 is another busy year for us, but we wouldn’t have any other way.