This weekend in Austin, Texas at Emo's, come on out for three days of chronically pummeling punk rock from all corners of the globe congregating upon the third annual Chaos in Tejas Fest. With a grab-bag of bands mostly orbiting the hardcore sector and featuring such underground acts as Punch In The Face, Sex/Vid, Brain Handle, Persuaders and most notably Belgian first-wave punk legends, The Kids, this is one three day drink-a-thon that cannot be missed. On this special occaision, we've decided to run an unpublished interview with The Kids, originally slated for a future issue of Horizontal Action (along with an extensive spread on the history of Belgian Punk), for your reading pleasure. The Kids headline Friday night's show and ever since their sensational reunion in New York at the second Dot Dash festival a few years ago, it's been unanimously agreed that these guys are one band that has not allowed age to affect their music or their energy whatsoever. So if you're anywhere near Austin this weekend, it's your duty as a citizen to check this show out and pick up advance tickets right HERE.
Were you in any other bands before The Kids? What was Crash about, and how did you meet the De Haes brothers?
Ludo: I formed my first band in 1975 with my cousin called Underground Station, which was influenced by the Velvet Underground. One day my cousin told me about a fabulous 12 year old bass player he saw playing. Then, some months later, our band split after one gig and I was looking to form a new band, and I saw an advertisement in a magazine where a 12 year old bass player was looking for a band, so I remembered the words of my cousin and decided to contact this bass player. That was in May 1976, and it turned out to be Danny De Haes. Because he had just formed a band called Crash with his brother Eddy on drums, and which also had a singer and solo guitar player, we decided that I should join the band as a rhythm guitar player. After a while, it became clear that I sang the songs (which I wrote most of the time) better than our singer so he decided to leave the band shortly afterward, followed by his friend Fret, our solo guitar player. So we ended up a trio looking for a style we could play with just the three of us.
Tell us about your first live show. Who did you play with and where?
In those days I travelled to London regularly and there one weekend I saw Eddie & the Hot Rods at the Marquee and it was a great and energetic performance. And I heard something new and exciting coming up: Punk Rock. This, together with the first album by the Ramones made us decide this was the music we could play, so we changed our name to The Kids, I started writing songs, and a month later, October 9, 1976 we did our first concert as a support act. We played thirty minutes and half of the set list were Ramones covers, and songs like "This Is Rock'n Roll" and "I Wanna Get a Job In The City." This was in Kapellen, near Antwerp.
How did you get hooked up with Phillips/Phonogram Records?
Shortly afterward, we had a gig in Antwerp and there was a guy, Alain Ragheno who introduced himself as a concert promoter/manager after the show, and he offered to record a demo for us. So we did and Alain took the demo to Phonogram, who signed us.
What was that label like in the 70s?
Phonogram in those days was like any other major, they were selling products.
What was it like playing with Iggy Pop in 1977?
With Alain as our manager, we got more and more concerts, and when he booked Iggy Pop in Antwerp, it was obvious that The Kids, with a growing live reputation, and based in Antwerp, would be the support act. That was September 16th, 1977, and it was our first "big" concert (more than 1000 people) and we played like hell.
Who was the first American punk band you got to see live?
The Ramones, of course.
What was the experience like at the Jazz Bilzen festivals?
Our first album was released in February 1978 and was received very well so we were booked that summer for Bilzen. In Bilzen, we were the first opening band to have the fences brought down, which separated the public from the stage, so the concert ended with fans in front and onstage, and it was great.
What did you think of the Elton Motello, Hubble Bubble, Plastic Bertrand groups? Was Plastic Bertrand liked or hated once " Ca Plane Pour Moi" came out?
The early Brussels bands I knew were Chainsaw, Mad Virgins, X-Pulsion and Hubble Bubble. Of course, at that time, many bands were formed as punk rock inspired many kids to start. In the beginning, we were close with Hubble Bubble, we played together a couple of times and became friends. Roger Jouret (Plastic Bertrand) was the drummer and we used to arrange concerts for them in Antwerp and they did the same for us in Brussels. After the release of their LP, we lost contact, and then I heard "Ca Plane Pour Moi." It was written and sung by Lou De Prijck, who was a member of the band Two Man Sound. He used to write funny songs from time to time, and he needed a face to play it back through. So Roger took the job and made a career out of jumping up and down like a puppet on a string, while playbacking a song he didn't sing. Most people liked the song as a joke, while more fundamentalist punks hated it. Most of the time I didn't care as I was too busy with my own music.
Did you see any of Plastic Bertrand's earlier bands like Les Pelicans or Passing the Time?
I didn't know Plastic Bertrand until he was with Hubble Bubble, so I don't know about his earlier bands.
Were there any punk zines around Belgium in the late 70s?
There were lots of punk zines in those days but like the punk records (who were mostly released by independents with bad distribution) it was sometimes chaotic. They came and went, sometimes after one issue, but that was the spirit of the time.
What did you think of the 70s English punk look? Did "Razorblades For Sale" have a sarcastic attitude toward this?
Everybody wanted to do something because it looked easy to do. But then big business smells profits and moves in and then it becomes fashion and before you know it, there are boutiques selling golden razorblades and silver safety pins and then the wannabes start taking over.
Tell us about your first tour. Who did you play with, where did you go, etc?
We played in Holland, Germany, and France but never did a tour because I don't like to stay too long in the company of a bunch of smelling, drunken, adolescent-behaving assholes called The Kids.
Who is the song "Sex Queen" about?
"Sex Queen"is about a woman I knew at the time. I went out a lot in the red light district in Antwerp where a friend of mine had a bar. As a harbour, Antwerp receives lots of sailors who were good customers of the neighborhood. They want to forget their lonliness, or just to have fun, or sex, or both, and my sex queen was a woman who fulfilled those wishes. But she did it to survive and she was marked with misery because of a hard life, but with some makeup, and under the neon light, she looked like a queen. She made men dream of her, but she had no one to dream of.
We've gotta know this: In the song "For the Fret," what is the backup chorus, sung in a high voice saying?
Now, "For The Fret" is about our solo guitar player, the one from Crash, who always used to start his solos the way like the high voices in the refrain of "For The Fret." Some mystery! It's just a nasty joke.
What kind of negative feedback did the song "Jesus Christ (Didn't Exist)" bring forth?
We didn't get any negative feedback with the song because most Belgian Catholics don't speak English.
We had some changes on the way. First, Luc joined us in 1977 and in 1978, Eddy had to serve in the army, so we had to replace him, and Cesar Jenssen became our drummer. All of this, of course, had an influence on my songwriting, and the fact that I got a bit fed up with the over-hyped scene in punk rock made me explore the new possibilities with the band. And that's why (there's) this evolution on the third album, which contains songs written before and after Cesar and Luc joined the band.
What were some of the early venues Belgium punk bands played and what were they like?
In Antwerp you had a little square where two clubs were situated, which were punk clubs. In the first place, The Cinderella, which opened only on the weekend from midnight 'til noon, and the Kids played twice. And on the other side, Match Club where the Kids also played. The first time we ever played the Cinderella, they wouldn't let Danny in because he was too young, until we explained that he had to play there. The music there was punk, new wave and ska, but the Match Club was more mixed. In Brussels you had the Rocking Club which was situated underneath Vorst Nationaal, a big concert hall.
What's the most expensive price tag you've heard or saw your records going for?
The most expensive I heard was $500 for the first album in Japan, I wish I had a box of Lps!
Thanks to Ludo Mariman for all his help, and check out a rare early TV appearance of The Kids here...
and here's a recent clip of them performing "Razorblades For Sale" in Belgium in 2007...
Just added! The Kids performing "Through The Night" from Belgian TV 1978...