5Les (I And I And Me #2)

In the heydays of De Finkel, a youth-centre and HC/punk venue in Jette (Bruxel, Belgium), scenester Patrick ‘Kockie’ De Kock (vocals), Dirk Jans (drums; also still in ‘Deviant Gedrag’ at that time) and Onno Hesselink (guitar; Peace Or Annihilation zine) got together with Filip ‘Boule’ Burgelman (bass; school-buddy of Onno & volunteer at De Finkel) and rehearsed there under the name ‘Hyperactive Children’. They soon noticed ‘Kockie’ was “good at a lot of things, except singing”…

Dirk, Filip & Onno teamed up with Chris(tophe) Dexters (vocals) and that became For ‘Indecency’. Izzy (‘Deviant Gedrag’ guitarist) also played for ‘Indecency’ a little while… These did shows during the second half of ’87 and beginning of ’88; 2 of them were for Smurfpunx: 87-07-05 & 87-12-12. ‘Indecency’ never recorded anything.

At a certain timepoint Chris Dexters didn’t feel like singing anymore (a bit before their first recordings; these would be released as ‘5Les’) – even though he kept writing lyrics – and for a moment they considered of going instrumental but it turned out that Dirk was a good singer… So ‘5Les’ came into existence (Dirk, Filip & Onno) and later Fons Ceuppens joined (vocals; ex ‘Anguish’ & ex ‘Taartje Aardbei’ bassist). In the beginning Chris was still mentioned as lyricist. They did 3 ‘official’ releases (on Werner Excelmans’ label Hageland recs): 100.000 Eyes (7”, recorded 88-03-28 with Dirk doin’ vocals), Two Fisted Politics (7” released in ‘88, with Fons singing) and Wild Daze (miniLP, recorded Dec. ‘88 & presented @ Democrazy in Gent on 89-06-30). The band mentioned they were inspired by the somewhat softer Wasinghton DC HC-bands à la ‘Scream’. Some used the term emo-core or even jazz-core… Later (when ‘Boule’ had quit, shortly after followed by Fons), Onno & Dirk recorded a last demo (92-03) with Koen on bass & Kristof singing.

This interview was done at a show @ ‘Jagersborg’ in Maasmechelen (Belgian Limburg) on 89-11-19 (where ‘5Les’ played with the Welsh ‘CowboyKillers’ and the Dutch ‘Swampsurfers’ – from Dutch Limburg; also a band on Hageland recs). The editor (Maurice Kamps from Sittard, The Netherlands) was a correspondent of mine and I believe I helped distribute the zine. If my memory serves me right he did 2 issues. #1 (entitled I And Me) contained a lengthy exploration of ‘Lärm’, a piece on Clause 28 (British law regarding homosexuality), reviews (vinyl/zines/film), and interviews with ‘Instigators’ & ‘Swampsurfers’. #2 gave attention to Marcel Ruijters (Dutch cartoonist), ‘Fugazi’ and ‘5Les’; and had odd bits (e.g. animal-experiments) plus reviews (gigs/vinyl/zines/film)…

The people playing in ‘5Les’ come from various bands: ‘Deviant Gedrag’ (Dirk – drums), ‘Anguish’ (Fons – now singing, bass) and ‘Indecency’ (Onno – guitar & Chris – now lyrics and then singing), but let me get started with the interview, otherwise I will summarise its content in one sentence. Due to the lack of questions in this interview, Han [van der Gouw, ‘Swampsurfers’ drummer] has interviewed ‘5Les’ on another occasion but afterwards it turned out there was only background-noise on the tape.

Situation 1: Han & I [Maurice Kamps] interview Fons, ‘5Les’ singer, backstage at the venue Jagersborg (that name !?) where they play together with the ‘Swampsurfers’ [Dutch HC band] and the currently sound-checking ‘CowboyKillers’ [from Wales].

(M) How did the band evolve, by playing together?

(F) Yes, just play together a lot, do other things.

(M) You never took any lessons or so?

(F) No, well, I think Onno took lessons classical guitar.

(M) Do you know anything else? You guys still play Space For Hire, an ‘Indecency’ song. Do you play more songs from previous bands?

(F) There are still a few songs that are actually ‘Indecency’ songs but we’ve changed them. Space For Hire was originally something different; we changed the vocals and some other things.

(M) I’m not entirely sure but in my opinion you already changed your songs from your last EP?

(F) Yes, there are 2 songs we don’t play anymore and also songs we have changed since we got a second guitarist.

(Then one of the ‘CowboyKillers’ asks Han something about his bass-drum.)

(M) You wrote on the EP “And we don’t care at all whether or not the VPRO [Dutch TV broadcast] gives us airplay or not.”?

(F) That was a joke by Onno, but it was the intention that our music got played by the VPRO…

(M) Are you still going to get work together with ‘Political Asylum’?

(F) We toured together with them last year but we haven’t heard anything from them. I think they split up.

(M) Split up? I happened to meet Ramsey [Kanaan, ‘Political Asylum’ vocalist] in Amsterdam at the Europe Against The Current festival and he said they were doing a new LP, it was already recorded and it would be a benefit for Ecomedia.

(F) With the same people? Because the bassist was emigrating to Canada…and the guitarist lived in Rotterdam for a while.

(M) You deliberately chose to play autonomous youth-centres and squats with ‘Political Asylum’, but on the other hand I think that you’re also trying to reach a bigger audience?

(F) Yes, it’s always more fun to play for many people, to be known; in the beginning you don’t care that much but later it’s more fun.

(M) But in my opinion you can really reach a big audience that way?

(F) No.

(M) Isn’t that also the intention?

(F) No, just get as many people as possible into the music.

(H) How far would you take that? When I look at our country: Rough Trade (distribution) is pricing the LP for fl. 16.50 [a DIY distro usually sold an LP by a HC/punk band at fl. 12.50 at that time], just like that…

(F) As long as you have things in your own hands everything is OK but if you start denying your own… (incomprehensible because the ‘CowboyKillers’). Principles change of course but you have to try and keep everything under control.

(H) But suppose, for example, Enigma [commercial record-label] comes up to you and tells you just to do a record and pay for it, OK. But you know that the record is gonna end up in the stores for 25 guilders [double of what was usually payed for a HC/punk record at that time].

(F) Record companies: I don’t really feel attracted to them; we would rather record something ourselves and release it and keep control, keep the price low and make records the way we like. When you sign for a record-label, they’ll go “You have to play that kind of music and that’s the way it should be and that we don’t want.”.

(H) But then it’s not about reaching a wider audience because you can only readh that by seeing things big.

(F) No, but with a wider audience I do mean not playing at big festivals. (The ‘CowboyKillers’ start to play and the lights go out.) Shit! Haha, do you got a light? (Fons takes his cigarette-lighter but the lights stay out, the tape-recorder goes out.)

Situation 2: The tape-recorder is on top of the car of someone of ‘5Les’ (according to Han) and the interview continues…

(H) Let’s have a look, shit, I’ve lost track completely.

(F) Where were we?

(H) How does Belgium respond to your band?

(F) Pretty quiet, usually. It’s something unusual for most people, they don’t know excatly how to react. They find it a bit too complicated sometimes.

(M) Don’t you ever get any reactions like it’s too soft or too slow? (At that moment, the driver of the car where the recorder sits on, arrives and says she wants to leave…)

Situation 3: The ‘Swampsurfers’ bus has been chosen as new location. Present are now: Paolo [Melis] & Vital [Gerets] [editors of the Belgian zine Rednecks Not Allowed] and Joop.

(M) Are you satisfied with the LP? (Fons told me before they believed it was sounding too flat.)?

(F) No, not really.

(H) You guys live quite some distance apart, how are you working that out?

(F) By car.

(H) How often do you practice?

(F) Normally once a week and when we have gigs twice; we have a small space in the back at our drummer’s house, where we have everything set up.

(M) Let’s just leave it there, it’s not really a lot.

(F) Yes, we have to do that again some time.

‘5Les’ – Onno Hesselink, Italiëlaan 14, 1900 Overijse, Belgium.

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