Front 242 Bring The Beats Back To L.A.

FRONT 242

FRONT 242 play the Regent Sep 27; photo James Christopher

Front 242 return to SoCal as part of the Cold Waves Festival, appearing at The Regent Theatre with Severed Heads, Romy, and Das Bunker DJs Sep.27.

This is a must-see for longtime fans of industrial music. Front 242 always put on a great, energetic, show and Severed Heads is also a rarity in Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles is a particular place which has always had a strong ‘dark’ community,” said long-time member, Patrick Codenys. “To me, it is such a contradiction to the image most people have of the city: cinema, plastic body culture, glam and fake, etc.

“As a matter of fact, there is a real creative underground scene far from those stereotypes. You just need to know where to look to enjoy it.”

Although the band no longer tours, they enjoy working with people who are willing to bring them to the U.S. under good conditions.
“This allows us a more relaxing time and even a chance to meet fans and friends,” Codenys said.

Their live performance will consist of playing a sort of “best of” set with the classics. While some versions of the songs have been changed and modernized, each will be represented graphically.

“Sound-wise we are back to analogue sounds, close to our early albums,” Codenys said. “The new technology allows us to be more sharp and precise with our sound without betraying the spirit of the time. The show remains purely physical with projections and clips for each song. Bringing back the aesthetic of the 242 album covers and imaginary world. We worked close with people to design the graphics and stage costumes.”

Front 242 began creating their brand of pre-computer electronic music in Belgium in the mid-80’s. This meant finding creative ways to recreate music live that sometimes lead to unexpected mishaps while performing.

“In the very early 80’s, sequencers were not stable and any variation in the electric stream could make you lose your programming,” Codenys said.

“Also, clubs in the U.S. have a tradition of rock/jazz/country/blues bands and were not ready for electronic music. People working in a club would say, ‘Place your drum on the riser.’ We would answer, ‘We have no drums.’ Then they would show us where we could place our guitar stack and we would say, ‘We have no guitar.’ Finally they would say, ‘You are not a band.’ It was very difficult to change the mentalities at the time.”

When Front 242 first started to use samples, soundtracks, speeches, etc. they weren’t copyright-protected like they are now. They would use tape recorders to align the voices onto a track.

“Around the 90’s we needed to ‘mask’ the origin of our vocal samples by using effects, cuts, plugs, etc.,” Codenys said. “As for the sound samples, we always designed our own sounds – sometimes sampling synth sounds to restructure, filter and reshape into a sampler.”
For example, the track “Welcome To Paradise” includes lines of sampled lyrics such as, “Hey poor, you don’t need to be poor anymore. Jesus is here (don’t tell the devil).”

“‘Welcome to Paradise’ is an ambiguous track as some people took it first degree and others found it cynical,” Codenys said. “Of course, it is more of a joke if you listen to the message; but what is the real interest of that song is the way words are singing. We started from that preacher’s speech/singing and built the track around it. Generally, it goes the other way around, first music then lyrics.”

Today, as in times past, a live Front 242 performance is a way for them to experiment with all the facets of their music through mixing different technologies.

“But what remains the most important is the emotional communion that we experience with our audience during the show,” Codenys said.