The Neon Judgement Interview (with Dirk DaDavo)

The Neon Judgement Interview (with Dirk DaDavo)

A prominent band in Belgium hailing from Leuven, The Neon Judgement have been actively involved in the independent music scene both in Europe and the US.

  • A prominent band in Belgium hailing from Leuven, The Neon Judgement have been actively involved in the independent music scene both in Europe and the US.

    1. Where are you from originally Dirk?  And what was the music scene like growing up there?

    I’m originally from Belgium and I grew up in a town called (Leuven) about 25 min. drive from Brussels.

    2. What music or bands were most inspiring to you as a teenager?

    At 16 I was listening to Garry Glitter and The Sweet. At the age of 17, I saw a live concert of the band Wire on German television. I was so impressed by that band’s power and attitude… The threat that came out of that music… Cabaret Voltaire also had such kind of power, in a more electronic kind of way.

    3. Did your family have any influence on your interest in music?

    Nope. My father owned a butcher shop and I was surely not predestined to get involved in the music biz…

    4. How did you first meet Frank Vloeberghs and how soon after did you start working together? 

    I met Frank at the age of 18 I believe. It was in a café and Frank did certainly do his best to sell me his bass amp. After talking a bit, it seemed that we lived in the same neighbourhood… We met up at each others houses, and soon we started to do jam sessions, about a few months after we first met.

    5. Who handled the vocals and the electronics?  Was there a division of labor?

    It was different song by song…. The same with playing the instruments … It was a principle that the one who wrote the lyrics, would do the vocal part of the song.

    6. What was your approach to lyric writing? 

    In the early stage, we were kicking against everything. I think the lyrics speak for themselves, (as Tv Treated, Please Release Me Let me Go Go…). We felt that we had something to say about the world and the mentality that was surrounding us. We didn’t like it so we said it through the means of a song… But unfortunately it didn’t help the world, it only became worse on this planet.

    7. Do you remember where and when you bought your first synth?

    Yes I do. My first instrument was a guitar. After I became to play it, I began to discover the distortion pedals, delay effects etc… I was fascinated by the sounds that I could create with this equipment, without actually playing the instrument , just making the ‘white noise’. Then synths came on the market, and for me they were the perfect tool for making these ‘noise trips’ . I went to the shop and bought the Yamaha CS 10 synth. 

    8. When was the first cassette released, and how many were issued?

    I think it was released in the very beginning of the eighties… I don’t remember that well…. A lot of things have happened in the meantime …

    9. What is the story behind the fist album 1981-1984?

    The album is a collection of recordings we did in the early eighties at different sessions. At the time we were really playing lots of concerts, mainly in our own country. The album also contains our first 12” “Cockerill Sombre” and a 7” titled “Concrete”.
    Labels became interested in making a record release. So we decided to put all our recording sessions and previous releases on 1 album: 1981-1984.

    10. Were you ever aiming to write pop hits, the dance floor, or something completely different?

    We were only aiming to play da music!

    11. What image do you think your music conveys?

    It’s a rather ‘gloomy’ image … It seems that for instance in Germany we get a gothic audience for our shows…(but I don’t feel gothic) …But I think it says a lot about the ‘dark edge’ in our music…

    12. Factory Walk is enjoying some renewed popularity.  Please tell us the story behind this amazing track.

    The title is a ‘prototype’ TNJ sound first developed then. When we first originally recorded Factory Walk, it was for a demo. Out of that demo the song was chosen to become a first cd-single release. The record- label booked us a large and expensive recording-studio, were we didn’t have much experience at that time. We were full of high expectations for the session, but at the end, we ended up with a result we didn’t like too much… We still believe that some of the live – recordings we’ve released of the track, are sounding much more powerful and to the point. So far our first major studio result hmmm

    13. Where did the Neon Judgment tour during the early years?

    We started to play European tours around 1985/86. A bit from the North to the South, the East to the West of the continent. In 1989 we did an American/Canadian tour.

    14. What equipment did you use for your live shows during that time?

    In the very first beginning we used a TR808 drum machine ‘live’. But sometimes the sequencers became a problem. From then on we’ve putted our drums and basic loops on a tape, a Revox recorder I believe.. Nion was recorded live with the BOSS “Dr. Rythm” drum machine. Maybe it was the first drum-machine ever invented , gosh ..; !

    15. What other bands have you enjoyed touring with?

    Most of the tours we did, we did TNJ – shows only. We never toured with other bands, except for once we went to Sweden with front 242. We had fun !

    16. Do any songs from TNJ tracks give you a particular satisfaction?

    They are all our children, so that’s hard to say …;-)

    17. It’s great that the double CD will be issued.  How did this come about? 

    The idea started to grow some years ago. DJ’s from all over the world were pointing to our music as a big influence on what they produced in the present. TIGA was the first one who did a remix of TV Treated. The rumour got spread and after a while we got offers from Fixmer, The Hacker, etc…During the period we also played more and more gigs, so we got into the spotlight again. Also it seemed that a very young audience (the children of our previous generation of fans) really enjoyed titles like ‘The Fashion Party’… Sometimes they come up to me to tell me how great our new cd single (The fashion Party) is. When I tell them that we recorded the track 20 years ago, they find it very hard to believe …So; by the concept of this 2cd (remixes and originals), we can reach a wide range of audience. The old fans out of nostalgy maybe, the ‘kids’ are into the remixes and trough this release, they will also get ‘the originals’ introduced.

    18. Tell us about the essential differences in attitude between your current projects and back then when you started out.

    When I started, things were easier. They’re were possibilities to release 12” records without having high production costs…There was a way that bands could slowly develop there sound.
    Now bands have immediate pressure to come up with 15 new tracks, record them as fast as possible and get it on the market. 12” these days are not having so much commercial value.
    When the record works out commercially well, the band can make a new record. If it didn’t work, you get dumped. Also there is a large pollution of the market. Everybody can record at home and release something . With so many record releases , it’s harder to find the better work. These days quantity rules, not the quality.

    19. How you think technology has affected music creation these days and do you welcome the changes? 

    During the eighties it all developed very fast… In the beginning they were nice tools to play with. But at the end : a track is a track. It will not get better by working on it with Protools or so…
    Our 81-84 album was completely recorded on a 4 track recorder? The tracks are still known and popular. That’s the prove that technology doesn’t create better music. It’s all in the artists mind and talent.

    20. What are your goals for the next few years re: Neon Electronics?

    In February/March2006 we are releasing a new studio-album. For this album, I collaborated with some young music players, which is really a nice way to work. I have the experience and they are so ‘wild at heart’ ..; It’s a ‘cool’ combination. After the release we intend to perform N.E. as a DJ – ‘semi-live’ set, and on the other hand we will also make a live-band so we have 2 options to be able to reach the stage. The project has to stay ‘flexible’. Basically, I don’t want to make N.E. too complicated to move around with. I want to make a lot of live shows for the project. It’s the best promotion!

    21. And what is your typical day like? and what do you listen to these days?

    Well, I get up early and I start to work like everybody else does I guess. The TNJ ‘BOX’ project took a lot of my time in the recent past. I like it when I can keep control on things such as the development of the sleeve, delivering mix parts to the re-mixers… Last week I finished 2 remixes for a German and Swiss band and I recorded a vocal part for an Italian project…Together with my co-management , we also arrange all the contracts for our gigs, find ways to get our records released, interviews, etc etc … When you want to stay alive in this bizz, it surely will not happen by sitting on your sofa… There’s enough to do when you see the work that has to be done!
    These days I mostly listen to electronic music. Lots of DJ mix stuff from like Tiga, Ivan Smagghe, Junior Jack, Chemical Brothers… Warren Suicide is a great band I think… Keep them in mind !

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