Not Your Average Band – An Interview With Belisha
(photos graciously provided by the band)
“Good afternoon, this is Dan from Belisha. Testing one-two-three.”
He had brought me things.
“Bear with me, I have torn all the muscles in my neck.” Dan met me in the Dev and was in agony. Later on we found that it wasn’t just torn muscles, it was also a dislocated shoulder. Too much weight training.
As the interview began, we both realized how “virginal” we both were at this. Belisha’s first interview. My first interview. Oh dear. Trouble just loomed ahead.
We sat down and as we waited for the rest of the boys to arrive, we looked over some of the insert of the first album and talked about the similarities to the Nephilim symbol. He’s never heard any Nephilim songs…what planet is he from?
Where are Belisha from?
“We are gothic virgins,” Dan smiles at me behind his blue tinted glasses as Byder (cute as the dickens with those three spikes at the front of his head) and Pit (the sweetest rockabilly looking dude I have seen in a while) come in and take their seats.
They had never been to the Dev, never really
went out and are just now splashing themselves onto the scene. Really –
where did they come from?
Dan: “The idea started when we were about 12. We were sitting in a music lesson, horrible arrogant little shits, and we went ‘we’re going learn instruments and make it in a band in America.’ And that was it….We were thinking money then.”
Their goal still is to conquer America. Doesn’t matter where….no favourite city, just America. Byder adds, “There is something cool about the British scene, but it’s a bit despondent.”
Byder and Dan did separate for a bit as one went to Uni (that would be Dan) and reunited four years ago, yet always remaining good friends. They went through a couple of drummers, including a particular one who Dan nor Byder didn’t have too many lovely comments about. “I hate you.” and “you are a c&^t” where just two of the comments. (you two drummers figure out who’s who, shall you?)
Which of course brought up a conversation about the “c” word. Here in the UK it’s more commonly used than in the States, sort of calling someone a bitch or a dick. Dan made sure I had a bit to type as he repeated it about ten more times directly into the recorder.
And then the interview could continue.
Back to the cast of Belisha, a new drummer had recently been found and that evening was to be their first rehearsal. Hawl is his name. Of course, we didn’t know the spelling at the time and we were off for a bit with the jokes about that name. (My question if he had a friend named Oates just seemed to go over their heads.)
And then the interview could continue
Pit joined about two years ago after finding them through Mick Shiner (owner of Filthy Sonnix, their label), who had brought him in to do some video work. Belisha’s keyboard player had quit. “They made me join. I didn’t even want to be in a band. I had no ambition to be in music at all. I went to one practice and I loved it and now it’s my life and I have nothing else.”
Dan adds, “As soon as I met him I knew he would be in our band because he is so up for doing things. He’s organized and he’s efficient. That’s what we need.” Coincidently, Pit also went to the same childhood school, but much later than Dan and Byder. Something in the water? “We were different, but we were very energetic. We weren’t reclusive.”
The name Belisha comes from German ancestor of Dan’s. “My father did a whole family tree history going back some serious years. He committed a few murders. He’s not the minister of transport. He’s the murderer one.”
Which of course starts a conversation about family history and whether or not Byder’s or Pit’s were bombed. Byder adds, “Everyone’s history ends with a German bomb.”
Dan: “We like the Germans, they rock.”
Byder: “We love them, just don’t mention the war!”
Dan: “Everyone thinks we are German anyway! Look at Byder!
Alright well, Byder is a picture of an Aryan little boy.
Which leads to a conversation about Picts and if Dan is…..or whether he is a Celt.
Again – not just a bunch of guys in a band.
And then the interview could continue.
As their sound is so much more than just gothic rock, one needed to know where the sound comes from and who their influences are. Dan is “inspired more by what people do with their music as opposed to styles so I am really inspired by what the Sex Pistols in the ways that they started saying ‘fuck you all’ and started saying some truths especially about the monarchy. I suppose, people who have made through adversity. I really like the Cure. They were one of my big ones. And the Cult.”
Byder concurs, “I have always loved the Cult and Kate Bush. I mean you have bands at the moment, but these are the ones I buy their album.”
But Pit, what about dear Pit, the one who
didn’t even want to be in a band in the first place? “I was never into
music. I shouldn’t be here. Rammstein. When I was in school at college
no one was listening to anything good so I was swept along with that. And
not really into anything. Once I joined Belisha then, I guess the Mission,
I tell them to avoid Slimelight.
And this energy is pure and natural. I sat with them for about four hours (it whizzed by like 20 minutes) and Byder and Pit had about three beers. Dan does not drink anything but tap water. None of them smoke, none do drugs. Gosh you almost want to take them home to your mom! You wonder if it makes them more of an “outsider” in the world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Byder: “Not after our last gig…”
Dan: “People always ask us “what are you on, man?” We are more rock and roll than rock and roll when it comes to attitude.”
Pit: “We are just fuelled by water.”
Dan: “I would be dangerous if I drank.”
Byder: “I am worse when I don’t drink. It calms me down.” Calm on three beers in four hours??? That doesn’t normally affect a teetotaller!
Jeez, could the interview continue?
The interview continued.
Actually, the video also continued. I was, well, we were all being videoed by Pit. They video tape everything they do. They plan to make it into a video for their fans. Which leads to a conversation about Linkin Park.
“Boy band!!!! Boy band!!” screams Dan. The boys are surprised to hear that Linkin Park has already put out a video chronicalling much of their careers so far.
“But we have real, raw , gritty, dirty rubbish. In the bathroom….”
Back to the interview.
But despite the excessively tight budget a video was made. Choices of camera and editing was as much part of the concept as it was because of budget. “We had to go up against million dollar budget nu-metal videos, even though they look incredible, I’ve got to admit they are a bit fucking boring – stupid umimaginative c*&^s. Corporate twaddle. Imagine what we could do with a £121 budget, Hollywood would weep.” Dan really does hate those corporate suits.
I can’t describe the video. Sitting and
watching it in my office (imagine the surprise of my co-workers), we decided
that it was a cross between some kind of zombie movie/flowers in the attic/blair
witch theme. But I asked the boys about, like what are those kids doing
Explaining further about the words etched and shown throughout the video, “some lyrics, but mainly direct attacks upon people we hate and will have vengeance upon, you see vengeance is one of the driving forces of this band…Seriously, I have a list.”
Byder’s mission was to spoil Dan’s concentration and make him laugh as Dan was miming to the camera, who felt “pretty stupid when you have 30 kids staring at you expecting you to perform.”
So – how did they do it on £120?
Dan is quick to lay the credit to Pit who,
“has to take credit as the director and editor and camera operator of the
project. The geezer is a genius – and he’s ours…all ours I say! He scoured
car boot sales looking for 8mm cameras and projectors and shit. We have
enough equipment now to start a small video production company. Me and
Pit are starting work on a script for a psychological horror.”
Byder: “We have been able to do it because of the computers.”
Dan joins in, “All the technology allows working class and poor musicians to make releasable stuff so they can stick their fingers up at the industry.”
I rally back agreeing that for production – especially for smaller bands like themselves, computers were great tools, but what about the creativity side? What about ~creating~ music with computers?
Dan: “I write my songs on a guitar with a bit of pen and a bit of paper. Just because technology is used to record doesn’t mean that anything is lost at all and it’s got to be better because everyone can start to record and not rely on those twats in the music industry.” (Catch the recurring theme here? Dan definitely hates those suits)
What about those that do use it?
Dan: "Depends on what it is I suppose. If we use electronic sounds as we do we don’t do just for a laugh. It’s because we really feel it.”
Byder contends, “We don’t use many anyway.”
Dan: “When I write it on my guitar I know exactly on my head what it’s going to sound like when it’s recorded and if I can hear a certain electronic voice and the only way we can get that sound then fine. And things like string sections, we can’t afford to hire an orchestra.”
Pit: “It’s in there because it works. We want it there.”
Dan “At the end of the day all the volume numbers are on ten and we blast the shit out of anyone that is electronic based even if they have a drum machine only. We still blast the shit out of them.”
Dan continues: If it’s technology used
to create the songs, are writing from the heart I don’t have a problem
with it. If the song is from the heart, then it’s good and it doesn’t matter
how much electronics are in it.” Awww what a sweetie – no wonder I loved
Dan: “When it comes to four to the floor dance mainstream dance and pop and chart, they are the enemy and I want to burn them alive. I want to see them as human torches.”
Byder: “You have to mention Basement Jaxx.”
Dan: "Basement Jaxx are c*&^s. Oh shit I can’t say that. They said ‘rock and roll are dead, it’s what your dad listened to. We make music for heart and soul and mind.’”
Byder: “Ever since they said that, nu-metal has become massive. And they have had to eat their words.” And a small, but very obvious grin grew on all three faces.
And what about nu-metal? Dan yells over the every loudening pub, “I would rather they listen to that then chart bullocks. We can convert them you see, they’re halfway there. We can bring them over to the true dark side.”
And with that, the second round of drinks, (water for Dan, thank you), Sergeant Dan was ready to recruit.
“There is the battle going on, see? We have got the chart and dance people who are 80% of the country. Versus 20% of the alternative scene which is fragmented into a million bits who argue with each other. If we just united a little bit, all of us. Then it would be a bit better. We can take them on.”
“Even the new Slipknot types are infighting with each other. You now have the Greebos and the Fraggles. Now the Fraggles are the younger ones into blink 102 who are under 12 and the Greebos are the older ones and now they all hate each other.
Join Dan’s “can’t we all love one another campaign”….sign me on.
Byder: “He’s also a guitar teacher so he gets to know all of them.”
Dan: ”And they are all great. I encourage them to burn their schools down.”
Somehow I believe that.