Midgaars of LUGUBRUM TRIO on home-brew carrot beer, maintaining artistic naivety, outsider-ism, clawhammer banjo, monumental toilet rituals, and recording new album ‘BRUYNE KROON’.

If you like the work of artists who have either a healthy disdain for their instruments, or wade into them in the same way as would an enthusiastic teenager ( ahem, cough, cough…), then maybe you could find joy in the consistently bizarre yet rather charming world-music-tinged filthy black metal output of LUGUBRUM? A bit of history first. Recently, performing as LUGUBRUM TRIO, their last three releases have maintained the same demented note sequences for which they are famous, but played cleaner. To explain, you know those guitar apps on Garageband for Ipad, where your eight year-old kid presses the frets on the screen really quickly, and somehow makes amazing black-thrash riffs that are at best uncomfortable to play on an actual guitar and even harder to remember, and in Hawaiian guitar mode? A bit like that. In fact, my daughter heard a track from 2015’s Herval and remarked, with some admiration, that it sounded like her younger brother had written it. But anyway, they’ve gone back to their old sound. Yes, the earlier black metal albums, and this latest throw-back racket, 2021’s Bruyne Kroon, are often possessing a dirty production which will offend many ears, even those within the genre itself, so it’s fair to say that LUGUBRUM have divided and puzzled audiences for some two and a half decades, yet amassed a loyal following over time, with many fans dedicated enough to even tattoo themselves as members of this strange Belgian carrot cult. Today, we are fortunate enough to encounter guitarist / vocalist Midgaars, to ‘smoke a cigar’, so to speak, and have a very serious chat about the state of the world, beer recipes, guitar and banjo tabs, plus of course the recording of the new scatalogically-inspired LP Bruyne Kroon. It’s a fine album, I must say, although my wind has been terrible since hearing it! And lastly, if you’ve ever considered that taking a dump at an important monument or historical building is some kind of ‘bucket-list’ triumph [1], then you may have ‘found your people’. Confused? I don’t know where to begin either!

Including FREE guitar tab for ‘Vergeeldetruidrager’!
New track ‘Veteranus’, from Bruyne Kroon.

Who knows, ‘Bruyne Kroon’ may be our ‘L.A. Woman’.

Midgaars, 2021

Hails Midgaars, it’s great to hear that you are back with a new album. It’s been an interesting year – how did it affect the band? Presumably nobody in Lugubrum got Covid 19?

I’ve been home a lot, there was no or little work for months on end. I used the time to work on the new album and started brewing beer. Also I drank more beer than usual.

We haven’t been infected yet, but the end is clearly still not in sight, it looks like something we’ll just have to learn to live with. A lot of people get angry about this pandemic, but I say it’s just the natural way things go. This planet is so over populated, it’s inevitable, especially with people travelling en masse all over the world. I think of it as a time of learning and reconsidering the way we live our lives. I feel sorry for my children and their peers, it’s pretty tough on them.

Tell us about the brewing…

I prefer to keep my brews as simple as possible, homebrewing in the kitchen using a large cooking pot, the only things I bought were my fermentation flasks and a thermometer. I grind the malt using and old coffee grinder with a drill attached. My first brew was a straight forward pilsener recipe, but it turned out to be something between wheat beer and a saison, not bad. I actually drank the last of it today.

The second was an experiment with carrot juice, of which I added too much, made the beer very bitter. The third and latest was a carrot kveik IPA using real Norwegian farmhouse yeast and Citra / Mosaic hops. It was a great success, fresh and tropical. I still added carrot juice, but not as much as the previous time.

Global pandemic, yes, but at least we have Lugubrum ‘carrot’ beer.

The last three Lugubrum Trio albums have been exceptional. ‘Plage..’  was a real groover. Things seem to have returned to a stripped back, fecal shade with this new recording. What was the intent with Brown Crown? How does it fit with the other releases? Is there a discernible difference between ‘Lugubrum’ and the ‘Trio’?

The way we keep this going for so many years, is not by following a strategy or plan .  I just felt like doing another stripped back, ‘filthy’ album, a return to the old days in a way, but still continuing on the path we have taken as a trio. 

Thinking about it, ’Bruyne Troon’ immediately came to mind, because I already did the vocals on that and we recorded it as a trio, exactly twenty years ago.

Right after its release in 2001, we were already talking about a follow up album, because it is ridiculously over the top but we still thought we could take it a step further.

So the idea was to make another double album of about the same length as ‘BT’, with the same scatological theme, but recorded in the way we have grown used to the last three albums. A raw, filthy sound with a powerful production.

We trusted PJ from CR Studios with recording and production, and he knew exactly what to do, as he knows us well by now and gets the whole picture. He was quite surprised when he heard the material, as he was suspecting something similar to ‘Plage Chômage’ I think.  Most people will. 

PJ came up with some great ideas like planting a mic in a glass of beer and using it as a room mic.

One for Gearslutz.com?

I think ‘Bruyne Kroon’ settles well within the discography, the boundaries of the Brown Netherworld are well stretched anyway.  It’s a typical Lugubrum album in the way of song writing, riffs, themes, instrumentation and some unexpected turns. 

We recorded two guitars, but right away we decided to drop one of them , it sounded much better as an actual Trio. By Lugubrum Trio I mean the post – Barditus era. 

The main difference for me is the experience of playing and singing at the same time, the two become one in a way, and my attention is more intuitive, I find it much more enjoyable.

Regarding the orchestration on Bruyne Kroon, the flatulator is a prevalent instrument this time around. Why did you wait so many years to use it ( again) ?

That’s a good question. We used farting on ‘De Totem’ and ‘Bruyne Troon’, during the glory years of Boersk Blek Metle so to speak, but since ‘Al Ghemist’ is seems to have been forgotten. Maybe it had to do with Barditus leaving during the BT recordings because he had had enough of it, or maybe we thought we’d save it for a special occasion? Who knows.

Anyway we definitely made up for all the lost time as there is farting on every song on ‘Bruyne Kroon’! Selected from a vast archive (which obviously took years to compile)  it was mixed with a lot of attention for rhythm and pitch.

Did you feel like you had to return to a previous life-stage of artistic ‘guitaring naivety’ to play this presumed homage to your early work? Did it make you feel young again, playing that way?

I don’t actually consider myself a guitarist, I never sit down and play for fun and certainly not other people’s music. To me it’s just a tool to give shape to my ideas. Right now, without shows or new recordings planned, weeks can go by when I don’t touch a guitar. Playing music by yourself makes no sense to me. 

Maybe there was a period of more ‘frivolous’ or elaborate song writing; titles like ’Heilige Dwazen’ and ‘Face Lion Face Oignon’ come to mind, but the naivety has always been there and since we’re a trio I think it is re-emerging at the forefront, reaching an apex on ‘Bruyne Kroon’, raw and unpolished. 

Young… well it feels fresh and powerful. Doing the vocals also makes it much more interesting for me, it’s not about the guitar playing anymore but expressing myself in the song. This has also influenced the way I write songs now.

There is talk in musicology of the nature of western bands incorporating or appropriating ‘world music’ into their musical repertoire, which is sometimes described as ‘problematic’. Well, I wonder if Lugubrum take that to new levels. Has anyone ever commented on that, in the past? I have to admit, you’ve always done it so well….

I know some people hate the ‘world’ influences in our music; klezmer, reggae, bluegrass, afrobeat and the likes have no place in western metal music, right? They have the right to their opinion, but I don’t care. I don’t see why I should be bothered with limitations when I create. In the Lugubrum world there is no such thing as a ‘faux pas’, a fancy candlelight dinner is consumed in the gutter.  If the chef cook can balance all the ingredients and spices the result will be unique, but enjoyable. Some say we are the only ones who can get away with it.

Recording ‘Bruyne Kroon’

The film samples….care to give us a little background?

The intro sample is from ‘Hidden Fortress’ by Kurosawa, we used it on ‘Bruyne Troon’ as well, both intro’s are called ‘Stinker of Stink’, part I and II. Originally I picked it for no particular reason, just because they were two Japanese farmers having an argument. I read about this scene years ago, how it inspired George Lucas for a C3PO and R2D2 scene in ‘A New Hope’.

The finale of ‘Veteranus’ is from ‘Waterloo’, because its lyric is about Napoleonic veterans. It is rumoured that general Cambronne, who commanded Napoleon’s Old Guard, was offered a final chance at honourable surrender, to which he simply shouted the reply ‘MERDE!’ at the baffled English. 

It must have been difficult to follow up Barditus’ gargling style of vocals. With this release you’ve settled into vocals well, and found your voice, so to speak. Do you have any advice for new singers, even if they’ve left it until a little later later in life, to try it out?

Indeed, it took me some time to settle in as you say, since I took over 5 years ago.  I was quite pleased with my vocals on the previous two albums, but on ‘BK’ it seems my vocal chords had reached the right degree of fermentation, when I listened back to the recordings I was surprised about how well it resembled what I had imagined.  Most of it was done in one or two takes, but I was well prepared.

I’ve never tried to emulate Barditus’ style, that would have been impossible and pointless. People still miss his unique demented ranting and so do I, but we’re lucky to have so many recordings of him.  And it may be nice to know he’s still making music, he and Svein just finished the second Doodsdrek album! And of course he sings on the song ‘Adieux aux Gênes’ on ‘BK’!

I don’t have a routine before singing, other than some basic humming excersises and definitely have a beer with you to keep the throat moist. 

And think big, you can do a lot more than you’d expect. I usually perform best under pressure of recording or a live show. 

Fan tattoo….

Going back to your earlier albums, is the Soukous and Congolese music something that Belgians were surrounded by if they grew up in recent times, ( maybe in the same way as Jamaican reggae here in the UK? ), or is it something you actively researched? 

No, definitely not. There are some pop musicians with Congolese roots, but they played western music and I never listened to them. Anyway I grew up in Holland, where Indonesian culture is very much alive and present. (Hence ‘Wakar Cartel’.)

I’d been listening to Afrobeat, ever since I discovered Fela, and music from the 60’s /70’s from Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia,…For Congo I had to do some research, I came across Konono no. 1, which I really liked but mostly I listened to old field recordings from the 1930’s – 40’s of tribal drumming patterns and singing.

When I think about it, the album that introduced African music to me and therefore was very influential was Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. When I was about 12 I listened to it a lot, then forgot about it until about ten years ago I found the LP at a flea market. When I listened to it after all those years I realized how much of the sound had stuck with me.

Did any of you ever listen to punk? You seem to me to be one of the most punk-rock black metal bands.

Not a lot, apart from the odd Misfits or Stooges album. I do agree ‘Bruyne Kroon’ has the most punk vibe of all Lugubrum albums.

There are some interesting string sounds in your work. How many instruments do you own?

I own six guitars (ranging from crap to decent), 2 banjo’s (1 crap and one very good), one bass guitar, a beat up mandolin and a very old violin (which I can’t play at all). 

I taught myself 5 finger style banjo picking and some clawhammer, I don’t play a lot but the muscle memory is there so it usually comes back after an hour or so.

What are you favourite banjo pieces to play?

My faves are probably ‘Old Joe Clark’ and ‘Devil’s Dream’. I started by learning most of the songs from ‘You can teach yourself Banjo’, then I started borrowing every banjo book from the local library, there must have been a keen banjo player working there because they had a lot of them. 

Play guitar already? Try these hardcore Clawhammer / Frailing books, should you ever wish to make life ten times harder than it already is.

Maite was recently raving about this festival in her village in Belgium, https://pickingbonesfest.com/ Any interest to you? Maybe Lugubrum could do an unplugged set?

That looks pretty interesting, I don’t know any of the bands on the line up, but I think I’d enjoy at least some of them. We don’t do unplugged, but we have plenty of weird songs that would be out of place anywhere.

I asked Alkerdeel whether being from a certain country ( Belgium ) was relevant to their art, whether there is any mileage in stereotypes, and how others percieve you. I mean, coming from an English stereotype, we do like the Belgians – we can appreciate Mercator’s maps, the stoofvlees and fries, yes, the lovely Trappist ales..mmmm….and as fellow colonialists, we know you can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs, so we can even forgive you King Leopold, but no way, not Plastic Bertrand! ‘That was not fine by us’. I wonder if England had the same experiences as Belgium – for instance if we’d been the battleground in Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel  – the world would be a very different place today, and Cradle of Filth would have songs about carrots? 

Speaking from my own experience, the Belgian mentality is something I can relate to, even more so because I chose to be Belgian, originally I’m Dutch, born in The Hague. I moved with my parents at age 13 and had the choice at 18 to go back, by then I had already met Barditus. But Lugubrum was not the only reason why I stayed. There’s the beers, obviously, but I think it’s the surrealism of this country and it’s history why I felt at home here, and I had found a bunch of friends with the same attitude towards life as me. And I probably like the feeling of being a foreigner, like all those children from former colonies who have sat on the laps of missionaries and are now trying to build a life in Western Europe. They have to find a new identity, somewhere between their old and their new home country. I think Lugubrum is partly born from this new identity I’ve created and there are undoubtedly some crazy Dutch traces in me too, but living in Belgium is definitely a huge source of inspiration.

Do Lugubrum have any superstitions, or rituals that they perform before recording, or playing live? Maybe with antique props?

It’s not a superstition but we will not play without beer. It has been so from the very start and it has become a vital part of Lugubrum. This is the main reason Barditus quit for good, forced being sober he finally realised what the hell we were actually doing…

You’ve surely played with a few black metal bands over the years. Do they all ‘get you’? Do you find that people in the genre have a sense of humour?

I find there are people with our sense of humour everywhere in the world, but that’s probably just the kind who are attracted to Lugubrum. Of course you come across bands, usually younger ones, who are still very busy looking evil and serious and you get looks of disapproval because you don’t fit their image of what BM is supposed to be. Maybe half of the bands we’ve played with in the past are like that.

Any crazy stories?

Crazy stories, not really. Embarassing, yes, but I don’t want to offend any one involved. Usually we just drink the other bands’ beer. 

There is a funny story about the song title ‘Veteranus’, it happened at our very last show in Leipzig actually, in February last year. Having saved up three days of ammunition for a revengeful blast in honour of  l’Empereur, I retreated to the men’s room of the 1813 memorial museum. (I enjoy taking a dump at historical sites or buidings) I will not go into detail, let’s just say the cannon was overloaded… When I came out afterwards I was pale and shaky from loss of blood. We took the elevator up to the terrace of the Denkmal overlooking the battlefield and I felt myself fainting and had to sit down. Svein and Noctiz, those bastards, laughed at me and left me for dead. Then a nice German couple came out of the elevator and stayed with me. They actually thought I was going to kill myself and jump down, so they wouldn’t leave me alone.  Luckily by the evening I was recovered from drinking beer vitamins and full of energy again to play the show. 

The German couple loved it.

Noctiz and Svein really do pull their weight as musicians…three pieces are always the best, do you think?

We don’t consider ourselves musicians, we play music to the best of our (dis)abilities, and it suits Lugubrum. That’s what makes us unique.  I consider myself more an outsider artist. When I get compliments on my guitar playing, the others joke and make fun of me. So I won’t credit them for their skills.

Or maybe a little bit… go on then, they do a pretty good job.

Yes, I’ve never had this much fun since we’re a trio, it’s easier to get your message across to an audience, it seems there is more connection between us as a band and between us and the crowd. 

And there’s more room in our rehearsal cellar.

Eau de Bolus, what a great track. Some great riffs in there… Which are your favourite Lugubrum songs to play? We may even tablulate one of your riffs for the visitors to oldmansmettle.com – which one would you like?

Well it’s all right, I guess… Noctiz wrote that one, and Barbarossa haha. It’s the first time he wrote complete songs and we switched instruments. 

‘Vergeeldetruidrager, Kurlerha Omugongo, Kapitaalschuim, De Vette Cuecken’ are all great to play.

Tabbed by oldmansmettle.com ( 2021 ), with kind permission of LUGUBRUM (p) and (c) 2015. Download XML file here.

And from the new album I guess ‘Trail of the Tiger, Kleiklomp,’…

‘Midgets of Evil’ has a classic riff, here’s the tab.

A/  0  0  0  0   /  0  7  0  6   //  0  0  0  0  /   0   11  10  10  //

E/  5  5  5  5   /  5  0  8  8   //  5  5  5  5  /  12  12  11   11 //

LG Petrov of Entombed said that good songwriting was just ‘good stealing’. Maybe Lugubrum has some compositional secrets to divulge? 

We did steal one of our own riffs once, or maybe twice… There are three ways I write songs, I sit down with the guitar and see what I come up with…or I hear a tune in my head, hum it and record it so I won’t forget… or I simply use a phone app. Mostly it’s just with the guitar.

Surely you know some ‘normal people’, and they know that you are in a band. How do you describe Lugubrum to ‘normal people’?

Captain Beefheart trying to play Black Metal.

What would you say to the younger Midgaars? Most important lesson you’ve so far learned in this life?

I would tell him never to have the full Indian curry menu before visiting Napoleonic battlefields.

The last track sounds like Lugubrum Trio the most, I hope you carry on forever releasing new albums.

‘Caney Balcaney’ is probably the most surprising song on the album, it’s inspired by a Congolese neighbour of mine who likes to call home naked from his balcony. 

Do you have any retirement plans?

I want to retire after every album, but those two bastards keep coming back to drink my beer! 

Who knows, ‘Bruyne Kroon’ may be our ‘L.A. Woman’. They’re both great albums. I wouldn’t mind.

To end, any messages for your fans, and what next for Lugubrum?

The fans, well, I hope to see them live again some time, if we ever get the chance to play again. Have some beers together. Hopefully in the vicinity of a battlefield.  If you’ll excuse me now, my bath is ready.

They even give the drummer beer!

https://lugubrum.bandcamp.com/

http://www.thoseopposedrecords.com/fr/

https://www.aphelionproductions.net/

https://www.facebook.com/CR.Sint.Amands/

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[1] We can certainly recommend the palatial toilets at the Museum of Freemasonry , 60 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AZ

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