Belgian grinders Leng Tch’e are set to release their fifth full-length in June, the blistering Hypomanic. Even with a new vocalist, a new drummer and a new record label, Hypomanic is happily just bashing and blasting business-as-usual for these self-proclaimed “razorgrinders.” Metal Review had the quick opportunity to bombard the band with a few questions via e-mail before the album hit the streets, although we weren’t quite sure at first which band member would answer us…
Metal Review: Thanks for answering these questions for us. First off, to whom am I speaking (or writing), what do you do in the band, and how’s your day been so far?
Nicolas Malfeyt: Hey guys, thanks for the interview. This is Nicolas, the bass player. Obviously I also handle the interviews and provide sarcastic comments during long bus rides.
MR: In the period between Marasmus and Hypomanic, vocalist Boris departed Leng Tch’e. Also, long-time drummer Sven de Caluwe (also of Aborted) left and was replaced by Tony Van den Eynde, leaving no original Leng Tch’e members in the band. How did the band find both Tony and new vocalist Serge Kasongo?
NM: Tony was recommended to us by our original guitar player Glen actually. He was this undiscovered gem in the Belgian metal scene. When he first tried out he wasn’t even sure he could play our stuff but he turned out to be an amazing talent. When Boris left a year later, our guitarist Jan checked out every Belgian metal band on MySpace and when we came across Serge we knew right away that he was the most capable vocalist in the country. We then met up with him at a show we were playing near his city and it clicked immediately. On his first rehearsal with us he totally blew us away. So yeah we went through a really rough patch with the lineup changes but thank Satan we found very capable replacements.
MR: Hypomanic is not only the debut of Serge and Tony on a Leng Tch’e record, but it’s also the band’s first release for Season Of Mist. What prompted the change from Relapse, and how has it been so far working with Season Of MIst?
NM: Our contract with Relapse was up and when they didn’t seem to show much interest in the new record, we just decided to record it ourselves and send the finished product out to record labels. A few were interested but Michael from Season Of Mist was really enthousiastic about it so we went with him. I think it’s important to work with people (agents, labels, producers, etc) who are just as passionate about our music as we are. Also it’s nice to have a label nearby (France) instead of across the pond for a change. It makes communication that much easier. So far they’re doing an excellent job.
MR: Four questions in one: on earlier efforts, Leng Tch’e incorporated influences outside the constraints of strict grindcore, creating a hybridized blend of extreme metal that the band has described as “razorgrind.” More recent efforts seem to have reigned in the outside influences, focusing on a groovier more straight-ahead and blistering death/grind attack. Can you briefly define what “razorgrind” means to the band? What are the primary influences of this newest incarnation of Leng Tch’e? Do the newest members bring any particular new influences to the established Leng Tch’e sound? Was there a specific decision to hone in on a more-pure death/grind sound and move away from the stoner-metal and other influences that cropped up on Process Of Elimination and the like?
NM: It’s never a conscious choice really, like you said we’ve been mixing it up since the beginning. That’s what “razorgrind”‘ means really. We just got tired of mentioning all our influences everytime so we coined the term as a joke and it stuck. I guess this time around we were more in a pissed off state of mind with all the shit that’s been happening to us the past couple of years. As a result this record is definitely way more extreme. But there’s still some wacky left turns here and there, no worries. I’d say this record is even more progressive than their predecessors but it’s all more complex and elaborate because of the capabilities of the new band members, therefore it maybe sounds less obvious.
MR: Can you give us an idea of how the writing process works for Leng Tch’e? How do the songs develop? Lyrically, what inspires this current version of Leng Tch’e?
NM: Mostly Jan writes riffs at his place and then meets up with Tony to mold them into songs. The entire songwriting process for Hypomanic took almost two years so you can see it’s a very tedious process. We take our songwriting very seriously. There’s lots of little twists and turns in the songs that you may not hear at first listen but it makes the whole album sound that much more interesting, and it also makes it more challenging for us to play. Lyrically, Serge is inspired by his daily confrontation with mankind’s subservience and general stupidity.
MR: For Hypomanic, the band worked with Napalm Death‘s producer Russ Russell. How did that pairing come about and how was the creative process working with Russ?
NM: We were just looking around for producers since we seem to work with a different guy for each album, and suddenly Jan came up with Russ since he worked on the last few Napalm Death albums which obviously sound amazing. So I contacted him online and he immediately was very passionate about the project. We recorded everything ourselves or at friends’ home studios, and then went up to England for the mixing and mastering process with Russ. The collaboration was very fruitful. He’s one of the hardest working producers I’ve ever worked with and a very funny guy to boot.
MR: I was first introduced to Leng Tch’e in the period between ManMadePredator and The Process Of Elimination. The earlier material featured a distinct biting sense of humor, whereas Marasmus and Hypomanic are more serious affairs, with less emphasis on overt sarcasm and wit. Was there a conscious decision to move away from the incisive humor or is it just a natural progression or product of the revolving line-up?
NM: Like I said before we never make conscious decisions, it’s just a natural evolution. Also, we don’t like to repeat ourselves too much. We’d never make the same album twice. There’s enough bands making funny grindcore out there already. Not to knock on them because it was a fun time. But we like to evolve as musicians so this is the point where we’re at right now.
MR: Any North American tour plans to support Hypomanic?
NM: Not yet, but I’d love to come back over there. We always have a good time touring America and Canada, even though it’s a financial kick in the nuts. But we have to do it to get our name out and we’re always treated very well there.
MR: What’s next for Leng Tch’e? Any parting comments or anything you’d like to say to the fans?
NM: Next up is a bunch of festivals over the summer and lots of shows all over Europe in the fall. Thanks again for the interview and keep your eyes peeled for Hypomanic coming out on June 8th in the US! Cheers.