As a prelude to inclusion in the forthcoming issue of Optical Sounds Fanzine, as well as a precursor to my getting to witness these guys at least twice in the coming months, I caught up with Tony and Glenn from Radar Men From The Moon for a flavour of what makes them tick…
Tell me about the formation and development of RMFTM?
(Tony) We started out as a three piece rock band. In the beginning our approach was rather riff based and over time we developed an interest in repetition and minimalism, more psychedelic and industrial music. Glenn, me and Titus always have been the core members of the band. At the moment we have Bram on synths and it’s been great so far!
How did you all get into playing music, where did that all begin?
(Glenn) The idea that I had something to say. It’s great that you can freeze your ideas and thoughts and throw them into the world. (Tony) When I was little I smashed up mum’s pots and pans; my parents quickly decided to buy me a drum kit for my 10th birthday. Essentially I’m still doing the same thing 17 years down the line.
I thank my lucky stars that Fuzz Club Records introduced me to ‘Surrealistic Appearance‘. This sent me frantically searching out your back catalogue, how did you first encounter Fuzz Club?
(Tony) We got in touch with Casper via facebook I think. Someone on our page recommended Fuzz Club (about when they just started releasing stuff) as the perfect label for ‘Echo Forever‘. At the time Fuzz Club released their first reverberation compilation on vinyl with RMFTM on it as well. Casper invited us over to London for the release party and we had a blast, it really took off from that moment.
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I love that RMFTM encompass a broad artistic expression, can you talk me through this evolution?
(Glenn) Since the beginning of RMFTM, the music and visuals were very important to us.
Artistically we created a context for ourselves in which we can make our work and constantly do something different that still sounds like RMFTM. Also working on the boundaries of our own context and questioning ourselves is part of our practice. There will always be something in our work that only can exist in the context of RMFTM. The visual part and artwork is mostly from my hand. Next to RMFTM I’m a visual artist, the autonomous work that I make as an artist has some similarities, but is a bit different from the artwork that I make for RMFTM.
When I think about, the first “major” gig I ever attended was Pink Floyd in Rotterdam on The Division Bell tour in ’94. I seem to have developed a habit of travelling to the Netherlands for great music! What were your early influences, and how accessible did they feel to you at the time?
(Glenn) Early influences for me were lots of punk, noise and metal, Melvins, The Butthole surfers, Earth, Neurosis, and even Napalm Death but also groups like Sonic Youth and Swans. We always had and still have a venue like De Effenaar, personally I visited a lot of punk and noise shows in squats and we also always had great international festivals like Roadburn and Incubate here in the area. Plus, Belgium and Germany are closeby.
Would I be right in describing Eindhoven as being the Dutch Manchester? The music in a way defined by the grittier, industrial heartland setting?
(Glenn) Absolutely, it’s kinda funny, cuz’ when we’d played Manchester last year we said the same. Haaaa! Manchester looks like Eindhoven.
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What is it like having a landmark venue like De Effenaar, on your doorstep as a music fan?
(Tony) Obviously it’s really cool to live in a city with such a venue. Honestly a lot of cities in the Netherlands have really great venues such as the Effenaar, and in their turn also are a ‘ landmark’ for those particular cities. De Effenaar provides Eindhoven with the opportunity to see great live music on a regular basis, and we all grew up going to concerts there. Essentially a meeting place for a lot of music fans and a pillar of society for Eindhoven.
I understand you have developed a longstanding relationship with the venue, can you tell us about that?
(Tony) As stated above, we grew up going to concerts there. And I think that is also a fact for most people working at De Effenaar. A mutual interest in Psych music turned out in the development of Eindhoven Psych Lab, which is a great opportunity for us to showcase our favorite bands and get the ‘ community’ to come to Eindhoven once a year.
What has it meant for RMFTM and for Eindhoven, to have now hosted two groundbreaking Psych Labs? For me easily the best indoor gigs I have ever attended.
(Glenn) Thanks! To be one of the initiators and curators of Psych Lab means allot to us. We see it as an extension of our practice. Psych Lab is a very international festival, so on a cultural level it’s very interesting for a city like Eindhoven.
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You recently released your latest album, ‘Subversive I’ – can you give some insight on the recording process?
(Tony) It took a very long time for ‘Subversive I‘ to come out (has to do with production queues and all that jazz). We finished recording this in January 2015, and we literally just finished the recordings of ‘Subversive II’. I think ‘Subversive I’ has a clear structure writing wise, though we wanted to open up that process throughout the development of subversive as a whole.
How does the gear used to record, differ from that used for the live show?
(Tony) Eh, it doesn’t really. We used to have a roland chorus echo for in the studio, but it broke down on us. At the time we just purchased a Roland Spd sx drum pad which we experimented with quite a bit during recordings. Right now with ‘Subversive II’ its fully implemented in the live set as well.
Having just finished recording for ‘Subversive II’ – can you give anything away on what to expect? When will it be released?
(Glenn) Subversive part two is written, played and produced by the core members of RMFTM and recorded by Bob de Wit in the Super-Nova Studios, with a field-recording addition by Hermann (Droste Effect). You can expect some songs that have a more open structure and electronics that are more present.
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Does the time lag between project realisation and release become a drag?
(Glenn) Pretty much, we constantly are in flux and working on new stuff and projects. So mostly by the time a record comes out we’re in a different place with our heads. Part two of ‘Subversive’ is just recorded, ‘RMFTM meets The Cosmic Dead‘ is still in it’s mixing stage, our split with White Hills will be released very soon and we are already working on part three of ‘Subversive’.
Last year’s Psych Lab installation with The Cosmic Dead was something else! Is that environment of collaborative exploration your preferred medium?
(Glenn) It’s not per se our preferred medium, but collaboration are very interesting to our practice. Working with different bands, musicians, artists or whatever opens up new ways for approaching our music. In the collaborative process you make different decisions and share ideas; it’s a dialogue. The environment of collaborative exploration can shine light on different qualities of two groups mediated in one work. Next to making collaborative recordings, we also sometimes bring people with us for doing some live shows, for instance Hermann from Het Droste Effect joined us a few times, Joep from Cairo Liberation Front performed with us as a second drummer, and of course we had RMFTM meets The Cosmic Dead last year. This year we’ll do a collaborative project with Gnod.
How much are you looking forward to this process this year with Gnod? I for one cannot wait!
(Glenn) Very much! I think it’s going to be very interesting working with Gnod and share ideas with them. (Tony) Yes, very happy we get the opportunity to do this for a second time. Gnod has been one of our favorite bands for a long time.
Fuzz Club Festival in London was another landmark happening. Does an event like that give you hope that the underground nucleus, will survive the hype of the inevitable mainstream intrusions?
(Glenn) the ‘underground’ or the idea of it can exist only by the grace of something that is ‘mainstream’, and vice versa. But then again ‘the mainstream’ music never functions as “itself” but only as a disguise or embellishment behind which the scheme can always be perceived. It’s a system of response mechanisms. In ‘the underground’ you can also find structural standardization and codes which are in some cases very clear. It is the role of the protagonist to try to break free of it, by questioning yourself and to be critical before you get lulled to sleep. Cultural philosopher Theodor Adorno has enough essays written on this topic, which I recommend.
I also get to see you guys at Reverence Valada later this year, how did that come about and where else will you be popping up this year?
(Tony) Planning on doing a tour around Reverence. More information will be announced as soon as possible.
Thanks guys, a pleasure as always…