HardRockChick Interviews Creature with the Atom Brain

When the opening band for the Alice in Chains tour was announced, I immediately checked them out since I’d be seeing them a couple of times on the tour. Creature with the Atom Brain was not what I expected, but they fall neatly into my psychedelic rock bands: The Black Angels, Jesus & Mary Chain, Crocodiles, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhols.

I got 10 minutes with the guys right before they went on stage. You know they are nice guys when they offer you a drink when you get to the dressing room. So while some of them stretched, I sat on a couch with Aldo Struyf- vocalist and guitarist- and Dave Schroyen- drummer- and chatted with them about Belgian bands, vampires, Chris Goss, and how they want their music to make people feel.

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HardRockChick: How’s the tour going so far?

Aldo Struyf: Great. We have two guys who are not with us normally, so we’ve had to work them in.

HRC: How has the Alice in Chains crowd been receiving your music?

AS: Good, I think. The first time there wasn’t that many people there. But the last couple of shows there have been lots of people there, and they seemed to enjoy it. I think it’s weird music for them, different than what they’re used to…

Dave Schroyen: Exotic…

AS: I don’t know about that…

HRC: What’s the music scene like where you’re from? The only bands I know of to come out of Belgium have been very different from your music…like Front 242

DS: Good band!

HRC: Yes!

Michiel Van Cleuvenbergen (guitarist): Lords of Acid..

HRC: Yeah, Lords of Acid…

DS: That’s not so good!

HRC: There was about a year that I liked them…

AS: Do you know Deus?

HRC: No…

AS: They’ve been here a couple of times.

DS: (mentions something I can’t find anywhere!). Now that’s a good band.

MVC: Milk Inc.… do you know them?

HRC: It sounds familiar…

AS: There may be too many DJs. Soulwax is another example.

HRC: So is your music very popular in Belgium? It just seems so different than what I’ve seen come from there.

AS: Our music? It’s underground. They play it on the radio from time to time, but it’s not like Alice in Chains here or something. It’s different.

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HRC: The name of your band comes from a Roky Erickson song. That puts a certain expectation on your sound because it’s inspired by that. Do you ever find that limiting at all?

AS: No, because I don’t care at all. We are not sounding like Roky Erickson, it’s different. Here and there it influenced us because we all love them. But it’s one of many things that influenced us. But we would be a great back up band for Roky! That would be a great thing to do. But I think there are other elements in our music.

HRC: What are some of your other influences?

AS: Lately, it’s been rock music from Turkey, Pakistan, and Cambodia….Bangkok. There have been a lot of new compilations and reissues coming out on a few labels for all that music. We all have been listening to that, because, you can only be listening to like, 5 Foo Fighters albums and the sixth one, well, it’s another Foo Fighters album. I like the Foo Fighters but by the sixth one, I was a bit bored of it. So I wanted to go listen to other stuff. And also, that came into the solo-ing of the album and stuff…

DS: Percussion.

AS: It can go on for a long time without changing…I don’t know the word for it.

HRC: Your first album was called I am the Golden Gate Bridge. Since we are near San Francisco, I was wondering what the significance of that is?

DS: I don’t know where it comes from. I made a song once- ‘I am the Golden Gate Bridge’ – and Mark Lanegan was at our place in Antwerp for a few weeks. And we were listening to each others’ music. I had just written it down and said this is a solo album. And he said, ‘that’s a great album title- you should use that!’ And it’s just something- I don’t know where it came from. I was maybe also a bit inspired- I saw The Bridge movie.

HRC: Oh, the documentary?

AS: Yeah…

HRC: That’s a pretty depressing documentary.

AS: It is. So, he said it was a good album title, and that was that.

HRC: How about Transylvania? What was your inspiration there?

AS: Well, when you hear ‘Transylvania’, there’s lots of stuff that comes to your mind. You think of Dracula, murdering lots of people…

HRC: Where you reading Twilight when you wrote that? (note to self- no more Twilight jokes…I think they found that offensive…)

AS: No!

DS: Twilight sucks!

HRC: That was a joke…

AS: Most of our music is music you could use for a movie or something. It’s a word that says a lot- it’s a very visual word. And there also ‘trans’ in the title..which is what we do. We can’t do it tonight, but normally we play 15 minute songs. We like to get people into the music.

DS: Did you see that movie Let the Right One In? It’s a Swedish film.

HRC: Yes! They’re remaking it here- it’s going to be terrible I’m sure.

DS: No! That’s blasphemy!

HRC: The ending stuck with me for days after…

DS: Great movie.

HRC: How was working with Chris Goss?

Jan Wygers (bassist): Don’t go easy on him!

AS: I worked with him three years ago when we were doing the Bubblegum album. I was there for a few days. So I knew him…we were communicating good. He was nice…he’s a sweet guy. So I asked him, and I needed someone who does great stuff and knows what to do. He was a friend, and I thought, ‘damn, I should ask him’, and he did it right away, which was really nice of him. And then, he started doing it, and in the beginning because we’re used to one way of mixing, I was thinking, ‘damn, this is not working out’. Thinking it but not saying it. It was just weird. And, that was the great thing about it. He just did his- whatever he had to do- and in the end it came out great. So it was weird working with him because I couldn’t follow his….and sometimes I was just like, ‘damn, this is wrong’. It was really good but weird.

HRC: That’s usually the word associated with Chris Goss- weird..but in a good way. How do you want people to feel after listening to your music?

AS: (deep pensive silence) Dave?

DS: Umm…angry.

AS: No…I dunno.

DS: Maybe we can inspire them if they are musicians, or something like that. I like watching bands if they’re creative. It really inspires me and gives me motivation to play myself.

AS: Especially when you see a show…it often makes me think of making music. Good answer, Dave.

HRC: What are your future plans? Do you plan to come back and do a headlining tour?

DS: We’re doing SXSW , that’s great…

HRC: Oh, I’ll be there!

DS: A few weeks after this tour. Looking forward to that.

AS: I’m looking forward to going to Texas.

DS: We’ve never been there.

HRC: And Austin- home to Roky Erickson! Great city- I lived there.

DS: Cool, I hear lots of great things. And then we’ll do Europe and stuff.

AS: We’ll be back for sure.

Check out my review of the show here.

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