Suicide Commando – what led to this choice of name?

We have to go way back in time for that. Suicide Commando actually was a song from a German band called No More back in the early 1980s, and since I really liked that song, I decided to name my project Suicide Commando, also referring to the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War 2.

Use three words to describe your music.

Electronic body music.

Pigeon-holing your music is difficult, drawing as it does from a number of genres like goth, electro and even a bit of techno. Is there a genre that you feel has the upper hand in your mind?

Yes, definitely the electro part. Ever since I discovered electronic bands like Front 242 and Klinik in the early 1980s, it was pretty obvious that I wanted to do music in that direction.

What did you listen to when growing up and did this influence the sound your music took?

I actually grew up with the new and cold wave movement in the early 1980s, with bands like The Cure, Joy Division and Sisters of Mercy. Until one day I discovered bands like Depeche Mode, Front 242, Fad Gadget and Klinik.

It is obvious that all these bands in some way influenced me and my music; undoubtedly, even the cold atmosphere of new wave bands like The Cure or Joy Division had an impact on me, not only as a human being but also on my music.

You are also credited with spawning a subgenre of EBM –  how do you feel about this?

I guess you’re referring to the harsh electro or endzeit electro. Indeed, some considered Suicide Commando as founders of that subgenre, especially after the release of my Mindstrip album which brought Suicide Commando to the top with hits like Love Breeds Suicide and Hellraiser, among others.

I’m working with a combination of both hardware and software gear. The possibilities are almost unlimited

Of course, I always felt honoured to be named as one of the founders of that genre but, in my opinion, there were already other bands having a similar sound before. Bands like Leaether Strip, for example.

So, in reality, I don’t really see myself as the inventor of that genre, but maybe the success of the Mindstrip album gave this subgenre a big boost as, all of a sudden, you got several new bands trying to make similar music.

You’ve seen the EBM scene evolve over 25 years and more. What changes have you seen?

The scene always evolves and I’ve seen many subgenres come and go, from pure EBM to synthpop, industrial... Another evolution are the BPMs (beats per minute). In the early days, a song with 120 bpm already was considered as a fast song while, nowadays, I guess the main bpm ranges between 135 and 150 bpm. In my opinion, this is also a reflection of the ever-increasing tempo of our life. We live faster, we work faster.

Especially from a point of view of electronic music and hardware – how has time affected your music?

Probably the biggest change of all in the last 25 years is the technological evolution. When I started making music we had no computers, so we had to buy expensive hardware equipment with very limited possibilities compared to today.So it’s obvious that this evolution also affected my music.

Today, I’m working with a combination of both hardware and software gear. The possibilities are almost unlimited.

What do you think of the general music scene nowadays? Would you say the digital revolution has helped or hindered – especially with a niche genre like yours?

I think it’s a knife that cuts both ways. On the one hand, the digital revolution and technological evolution definitely helped the music scene reach more people, offering a lot more possibilities to spread your music.

But, on the other hand, it certainly also hindered the music scene. Physical sales have dropped drastically due to the different and sometimes illegal download portals. Record shops are closing down rapidly, record labels disappearing and many labels are no longer interested in giving small newcomer bands a chance. But at the end of the day, this is an evolution we can’t stop.

Belgium is very eclectic, music-wise. How did growing up in this country help shape your music? Any particular memories?

I grew up in the early 1980s, right in the middle of the new and cold wave movement, which was a reflection of the cold and dark society at that time.

It was a time when many companies were going bankrupt, with the last coal mines being closed. There were lots of protest, lots of unemployment... so it was a rather dark and depressive period. I guess that probably had the biggest impact on my music. I think my music still has this dark vibe, which probably is a part of who I am.

What attracts you to this darker side of life?

In a way I’ve always been fascinated by the dark side of life, whether that has to do with death, religion, war or crimes. I guess it’s more the mystery, or the unknown, that attracts me.

Have you ever had negative reactions for your choice of themes?

It happens from time to time but I would rather focus on the positive reactions I get from fans, from people who can identify with my lyrics. Or even on those who felt that my music helped them survive some hard moments in their life.

But how do you deal with any negativity?

Like I said, I prefer to focus elsewhere. And sure, my themes and lyrics often are controversial but, after all, I’m not really telling people something new. All we need to do is just switch on our TV or radio, or open the newspapers. These are all full of themes of war, religion, murder, sexual abuse... After all, I’m just a soundboard of day life.

Will this be your first time in Malta?Yes and I am really looking forward to it.

What can we expect from your performance?

To be surprised.

Suicide Commando will perform as part of the Halloween Massacre event on November 4 at The Garage, Żebbuġ.

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