Belgium – a quaint and historic country famed for it’s luscious pastures and serene cobblestoned streets. However, beneath the nation’s charming facade a musical creature of utmost peculiarity contorts in perpetual restlessness. Enter the surrealist world of the ever idiosyncratic beast that is The Guru Guru, Belgium’s latest musical export of top tier quality.
A band that deals in what they define as ‘borderline-rock’, the quintet's output obtusely disregards both genre conventions and musical norms. Fronted by music schoolteacher Tom Adriaenssens, The Guru Guru are a unique breed of artist. Collectively, they journey roads so far untravelled, travels that are soundtracked of their most recent offering, Point Fingers.
A viscous and intoxicating sonic beverage composed equal parts of indie-math, off-kilter post-punk and alien psych-noise, the group’s fantastic sophomore release Point Fingers see’s the band dive headfirst down the rabbit hole of undocumented musical madness. Produced by Wouter Vlaeminck (Raktekanon), mixed by David Bottrill (King Crimson, Tool, Coheed & Cambria) and mastered by Heba Kadtry (Chelsea Wolfe, Deerhunter), whereas their 2017 debut PCHEW turned heads, Point Fingers snaps necks in the way it demands attention. To understand more of the release and hear more about their current tour with math-rock prodigies Poly-Math we got in touch with the band for a little chat.
‘Point Fingers’ is a highly original and distinctive album that blends a number of genres. How did you find the sound? "We recorded in the studio where we tracked PCHEW (and the Brutus split) and with the same producer. It gave us a chance to evolve from the previous sound. We used some new gear but mostly we were true to our instruments, amps and effect racks. We record all of the songs a few times during the writing process. It makes the songs grow a bit more before going to the studio, so you can really focus on getting the right takes." What’s the national alternative scene like in Belgium? There seems to be a lot of progressive and innovative bands from the area, is that something you’ve encountered before? "The alternative scene in Belgium has grown and become pretty diverse. I think many people do understand the difference between art and entertainment, though there is a thin line. I also think our music education, the media and public opinion has become more rewarding towards innovation in music. More people are looking for something with real content/authenticity. There are lots of interesting bands in Belgium... Many people are looking to express themselves and that’s a very good thing in my opinion."
You used a number of unorthodox and contemporary recording techniques on Point Fingers, such as rubbing beards on the microphone for example. What’s the inspiration for such techniques? "Boys and their toys having fun. Looking for interesting sounds to put the listener’s mind at rest before going to the next set of songs. Like the ginger you eat in between sushi." What was the writing and recording process of Point Fingers like in comparison to your debut? "We all went through some rough personal stuff while we were writing this record. There is a lot of our pain that went into the record. Creating these song was somewhat therapeutic for all of us. We knew the studio and the house we were living in, next to the studio in the same building, for two and a half weeks. We recorded in September so a downside was that Tom had to go teach during the days so he couldn’t cook his delicious meals for the band. But Siemon (Theys, Drums) was also a very good cook. We all are." What are your collective inspirations?
"Stake's latest album is great. Eefje de Visser, Grandaddy, Ititanita, Raketkanon, METZ, Idles. We listen to many things in our tour van. Phil Collins 'Easy Lover', Dire Straits 'Sultans of Swing' and Wim De Craen to name a few favourites." How are you feeling about your upcoming tour with Poly-Math?
"We are very excited to play with Poly-Math. We think their music is played with the same intensity, dynamic and energy as we try to do. Hmmmm some Mars Volta vibes. We love that! Check out their track ‘Sensors In Everything’. It’s polymath’s contemporary equivalent of 'Moby Dick' by Led Zeppelin. Lengthy outspoken ‘improvisational’ (that’s a good thing) parts. Let’s get it! We are so stoked. I can’t wait to see them live and the wonderful people in our northern neighbour island. We have gotten better at driving on the left side of the road too."
The Guru Guru are currently on tour alongside math rock instrumentalists Poly-Math. They will also be appearing at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. Dates can be found below. Point Fingers is out now via Luik Records and Grabuge Records. You can purchase the record here.