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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

Newmoon presents Space

I still spend most of my money on vinyl records

Interview Diederik Decroix
Photographs Hannes Meier (coverphoto), Kimberley Dhollander (band) & Tom Clabots (live photos)

“When I started making music my biggest dream was to be able to release a vinyl record of my own”, says singer and guitar player Bert Cannaerts when we meet up. “I'm a record collector myself and vinyl always had that special edge to it.”

“I still spend most of my money on vinyl records. A substantial part of my record collection once belonged to my parents, to be honest. They belong to the generation that all of a sudden decided to make the switch to cd's, and I gladly took all those vinyl records from their hands”, he continues. “On top of that I'm a regular at Fat Kat record store in Antwerp, where I buy new stuff alongside old records I discover in their second hand section. I've also bought a lot of LP's in records stores around the world. I always carry a shortlist with about fifteen records I hope to find. One record highlighted on that list is Shelter from Alcest. I've been looking for it for a long time, but so far to no avail.”

One record highlighted on my search list is Shelter from Alcest. I've been looking for it for a long time, but so far to no avail

“My passion for vinyl is something I share with the other members of the band. It may sound a bit strange, but we made this record with the sole intention to be able to release it on vinyl. The track sequence, the transition from A to B side: it's all been consciously put together with the purpose of creating the perfect dynamic, a storyline that connects the first song with the last. It would be nice if people could hear that same dynamic when listening to the record.”

“The record sleeve perfectly fits the same bill. If there are things we’re not exactly skilled for or very good at, we always search for the right talent to help us out. Preferably someone who’s work and art we’re very fond of. Like Nick Steinhardt. Based on the input we gave him, he created something that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams. Nick, a graphic designer who plays guitar with our friends of Touché Amoré, has an impressive track record (Selena Gomez, Pink, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers..) but his design for the record sleeve of Deafhaven’s Sunbather is to us his signature work. Even before we knew we were going to actually record an album, we just knew we wanted him to do the artwork for it.” 

“The band name Newmoon refers to an album by Elliott Smith, but no other band had so much influence on us than Oasis. Our artwork, our track list, our merchandising, lyrics, our attitude on Facebook and Instagram, even the fan base and crowd we feel we belong to: everything that stands for us as a band reflects Oasis.” Remarkably, Bert only got to know and appreciate Oasis some eight years ago, when they had already split and stopped existing. “Oasis has a special aura as a band. In their heydays, their sound didn’t exactly stand out to what other people were doing at that time, but the whole atmosphere, attitude and vibes surrounding the band lifted them to a higher ground, the next level. We are definitely inspired by the charism of Liam and Noel Gallagher.”

“With Newmoon we also want people to be immersed in a story, our story. We also want them to be bedazzled, to lose themselves completely in what we do. In that perspective, alongside the undisputable fact that they made a few astonishing albums, Oasis was also that type of live act. At least from the footage I’ve seen, because unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to see them live. Their personality on stage is what Newmoon wants to achieve constantly.”

Newmoon drummer Steg Gouwkens is also a member of Prince Beastly (recently support act for King Khan and the Shrines). “In fact, everyone in Prince Beastly plays in other bands. That works out fine so is in a way an advantage to us as well. Stef and I also are part of Jezus Police, although that band hardly plays more than five shows a year. It provides us a loud and alternative outlet, a lot of fun without having to invest too much time and effort in it. Guitarist Philippe Corthout has a passion for photography and design, while Giel Torfs, also on guitar, is part of an art collective in Ghent that’s working on its first group exhibition. But all members focus entirely on Newmoon.”

We have daytime jobs and are involved other projects but all of us focus entirely on Newmoon

Bert continues: “We all have daytime jobs and for now, Newmoon is just a hobby that got a bit out of hand. There’s no way we can make a living from what we do with the band. That never was our ambition in the first place, though it will always be our dream, obviously. It seems totally natural to us that we continue our day-to-day lives and our day job and try to take off time whenever we want to go on tour. In combination with our family lives that’s never easy, the more since we don’t get any younger. To give an example: last summer, we went on a two-week US tour with Touché Amoré. We returned home on a Saturday and the day after our drummer had his wedding planned. So yes, sometimes it’s pretty hard to make things match and we have to disappoint the people close to us, but it’s all part of the game, I guess.”

Seriously, this is only your sixth show ever, can you imagine?

“Besides Bert, Philippe and Giel there’s also Robby Geybels in Newmoon. Robby, who was previously involved in Midnight Souls as their roadie/merchie/driver and tour manager, is our bass player. A remarkable story considering Robby had never been in a band before and had absolutely no stage experience as a musician. I remember being on tour for the first time and we played the Electric Ballroom (1.200 capacity) in London as support act for a sold out Basement gig. While sound checking in that gigantic empty venue, all of us suddenly turned to face Robby, thinking: Seriously, this is going to be only your sixth gig ever. How many people can say that? Robby and I had been discussing playing in a band together for most of the fifteen years we’ve known each other. But since he didn’t play any instrument, that dream never came true. Until I decided to switch from bass to guitar myself and we all of a sudden needed a new bass player in the band… I called Robby and we struck a deal: in exchange for my bass guitar, he would join Newmoon. And that’s what happened: I gave him a few tips and he started working hard every day. Hats off to him for pulling this of.”

“Few things make me happier than turning my back during a gig and seeing my best friend playing with us, knowing his background story. We’ve got so much respect for him. We are very tight as a band and share all responsibilities and tasks. Since we are completely self-reliant, there’s a lot to do. But we’ve learned a lot from our previous band experience. In those says, it was just two people carrying the weight, which is one of the reasons that band didn’t last. In Newmoon everybody contributes. We make decisions as a group that’s much more than the sum of all parts. At the end of the day we’re just five friends playing together in a band, you know.”

The only thing that’s pre decided when we play live is our set list. We rehearse till we drop, with the sole purpose of getting our sound as tight as possible

“The only thing that’s pre decided when we play live is our set list. We rehearse till we drop, with the sole purpose of getting our sound as tight as possible. We try to impose the dynamics of our band - a bunch of friends creating and enjoying something together – to the people watching us. If there’s people acting silly or just dancing, we’ll pick up on that on stage and get them involved in our show. Getting the crowd going, getting the people involved in our story, that’s what makes the Newmoon experience complete to me. Though I must admit that sometimes the people need some time to get to that stage, like when we played in Manchester, Oasis hometown coincidentally. We noticed it was hard to connect to the crowd, but in that case we just try harder, work harder, play harder. We could never live with the idea that people’s expectations weren’t met due to our fault.”

“Playing here and abroad has always been important to the band. Being able to play gigs in London or Berlin is magic, even though those shows attract way less people than when we play in our own country. That’s also our ambition with this new record: try to play as many shows in across the border as possible. It’s the only way to move forward, keep on going back to all those places and deliver a smashing live show. We’ll never hide behind an attitude that makes a difference between band and crowd. We’re just five guys from Ghent and Antwerp, just like Liam and Noel were just two guys from Manchester.”

MUSICIANS:

Bert Cannaerts (vocals/guitar)
Giel Torfs (guitar/backing vocals)
Philippe Corthout (guitar)
Robby Geybels (bass)
Stef Gouwkens (drums)

Newmoon
Bandcamp