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A Slice Of Life return with "Tabula Rasa" and emotions linked to all aspects in life | Interview

 A Slice Of Life mixes elements of post-punk and alternative rock to an emotional but catchy cocktail of sounds.

A Slice Of Life are back with their second full length album "Tabula Rasa", released on September 23rd. Post-punk 6-piece band from Belgium, push their music boundaries and blends their influences in a unique way, to offer us a composite album, telling 12 different stories of things that happen in personal life, in friends’ lives and society.

A Slice Of Life formed in 2016 and consists of Dirk Vreys (lyrics and vocals), Guy Wilssens (guitars), Wim Kempenaers (guitars), Nelson Da Silva (bass), Fix (drums) and Emmanuel Schaeverbeke (keys). They released their debut album, "Restless" in 2018.

ElektroSpank had a, really interesting, chat with the band members about "Tabula Rasa", music and life!

photo credits: Gitanes Photography, GROOVELINEPICS, Noisy Pictures (Werner Lenaers)

ES: Hello A Slice Of Life. New album is out, but before going into details on "Tabula Rasa", would you like to tell us some things about the band? Would you like to introduce A Slice Of Life to our readers?

ASOL: We are from Belgium and since 2016 or so we form this band. We play a mixture of post-punk music mixed with alternative guitar rock and some electronics. The people that follow us and like our music do like us for our variety as well: our albums and live shows are very diverse and most songs have some kind of familiar catchiness which makes people to sing along pretty quickly.

ES: It is really interesting to me that the band, despite the initial form as a duo, it quickly became a six-piece project. It is really difficult to find a band like this in our days and especially in the dark alternative scene. How this did came up and how is that working for you? In the studio, live shows and everything?

Dirk: when we started and finished a couple of songs I thought we did a good job and it came to my mind that we would really regret it if we would not be able to play them live without backtracks. So it was clear we needed to form a band. That we would grew into a 6-piece band is a coincidence. Everyone in the band has his part in developing the songs. As you say yourself nowadays you hardly see new bands emerging that have 5 or 6 bandmembers. Most of the newer bands in the scene are 1 or 2 piece bands. It’s convenient, cheaper to book, easier to travel, easier to find spots to play but hey wouldn’t it be boring if we all do and sound the same? We are proud to be with 6 on stage and do everything live. What you see is what you get: 6 musicians giving all they got.

ES: Let’s go to the new album. "Tabula Rasa" is out and it's your second full length album. 12 completely new tracks balancing through various influences and genres, compiling an amazing concept and album. What is the first thing that you'd say to someone who asks you what "Tabula Rasa" is about?

Dirk: “Tabula Rasa” is the natural follow-up of our debut-album “Restless”. Except we tried to push even more the boundaries in terms of songs variety. We brought some new atmospheres that were not present in the first album, like in “Fortress of Solitude” for example. We also spent more time both in the composition and production process than for “Restless”, which makes it a more consistent album.

ES: Going through "Tabula Rasa" I think we find several "faces" of the same person, in many aspects. The most obvious, though, is through the many voices of Dirk. Could you tell us about this? Is it coming out of, perhaps, being in a different state of mind while writing each song?

Dirk: My 3 biggest musical heroes are Bowie, Robert Smith (The Cure), Peter Murphy (Bauhaus). All of them use/used their voice in different manners: they sound different between songs and sometimes in the songs as well. They play with their voice but they do it in a natural way: it never feels forced. Their voice is completely being used as a separate instrument and maybe subconsciously I am doing it the same way (without pretending my voice is as strong as what they do/did). I love to play with my voice and since the music is always first I let the music dictate how I sing: it comes by itself.

ES: It seems to me that, music-wise, you love to blend different influences, and this is something you have been praised for, on the debut album. Which are those influences? I mean, all the things around the band bring a sense of darkness (Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division) but when someone listens to A Slice Of Life song can understand that is far beyond this.

Dirk: This is mainly due to the fact we are 6 in the band with different musical influences. We therefore naturally blend those influences in the composition process. Not all our songs have a dark vibe. In some songs you can also hear the influence of alt-rock bands like Interpol, The Godmachine, Editors, Pixies.. We don’t want to set boundaries in terms of genre and just follow our instinct when writing a song, without necessarily having in mind a typical post-punk scheme. It makes it more fun for us and less repetitive.

ES: Do you have a "safe home" when writing music and lyrics? Is there any physical place you love to be, perhaps isolated, in order to create? Any emotional state that unlocks the thoughts and heart and let them be captured in some lyrics?

Dirk: I am a very slow writer and personally do not think I am a good poet. I do not write lyrics without music so you can say I’m a bit lazy on it as well. My process on the lyrics is to listen to the demo recordings over and over again and then wait till inspiration strikes: a singing line, a spark of a lyric to elaborate on,.......... It is hard to explain a process which seems to be completely based on feel and on which there is absolutely no thought process whatsoever.

Wim (guitar): most of the songs I write are just written in between normal busy work/ life on my accoustic guitar and send around for the others to pick up and add things at home or on rehearsals.

Guy: I don’t really have a ‘safe home’ for recording the demo’s. On the contrary, I often get inspired by different settings or places. When I travel with my wife or family, I always bring my guitar and laptop so I can record any idea that comes to mind. Even abroad. The demo versions of Cavern and Fortress of Solitude were written somewhere in the Morvane in France, Matterhorn at the coast in Zeeland. Other songs at home at the dinner table with a view on my garden. I find this to be a very inspiring place.

ES: I know that you would prefer to leave the listeners interpret the songs and the lyrics according to their own experiences and emotions. I would love to ask, though, which were the main influences while writing "Tabula Rasa"? Which is the story behind the songs, even emotionally?

Dirk: The process for every song (also on our debut album) is always the same: first there is music, then there is vocals, then there is lyrics. So the music always dictates the direction of where the song will go to, although nobody knows in the beginning.

Guy: I often start recording demo’s by recording guitar or bass riffs. The mood I’m in dictates the ‘feel’ of these first ideas. This mood can of course be influenced by different things: things that happen in my personal life, in my friends’ lives, society in general but also music I’ve been listening to. For instance, when I made the demo for Restless Gods, I was listening a lot to the album ‘Pylon’ by Killing Joke. Fortress of Solitude is influenced by The Cranes and the way they use piano in their songs. The basic idea of Goodbye is something that I’ve recorded 15 years ago but never really could mould into a full song. Until a trip to France got me the inspiration to finish it. At that time some friends were dealing with the loss of loved ones while others struggled with health issues. In both situations, they were confronted with the fact that they needed to let go and say goodbye to people they loved or certain aspirations in their lives and move on.

ES: I think, at least to my ears, that "Tabula Rasa" is a 12-turns trip through romanticism, love, sometimes lost, struggle with the difficulties of one's life in different views, and self-respect. If you had to choose three songs in order to describe the album which that would be? What is the story behind this songs?

Dirk: What you describe is exactly what our band name A SLICE OF LIFE stands for: emotions linked to all aspects in life with a big personal touch (for now we have not written a lot of political songs, or songs about society, most of them are personal). It is very hard to come up with 3 songs that are crucial for the idea behind the lyrics on the album as every song merits it’s place and collaborates to the whole (even though the songs are very varied), so I can not pick three but SEVEN DAYS is without doubt part of them.

Guy: I think Matterhorn is also a relevant song. It’s more light-hearted and up-beat. It flows on a simple punkrock-ish riff and rather playfull drums. The song tells the story of a puppy love in a naive and fun way. The upcoming video for this song will illustrate this feeling of youthfull carelessness even more. Just to say we’re not a band of sad doom & gloom people. ;-)

ES: Apart from those songs you talked to us about, I would go for these, as well. "Fortress Of Solitude" is a deeply depressive song describing the rejection that someone feels which leads him to isolation. Do you believe that the situation that our world has been in during the last years has affected people in such way?

Dirk: You actually hit the nail to the head. I believe and see around me a process that has been going on gradually for a longer time (decades maybe). A process which has been accelerated by the whole COVID saga: because of society, because of social media, because of pressure from all sides a lot of people are struggling and do not feel at home anymore in this world. We are made into competitors of each other (competing with each others’ happiness, money,......). People have become alienated from friends, family and even from themselves: one more than the other, one suffers more from it than the other. It’s a very scary strange process. Loneliness and solitude is one of the greatest pains there is and causes a lot of side effects as well (physically and mentally)

ES: What is coming next for A Slice Of Life? Are there any plans for the near future, perhaps for promoting "Tabula Rasa"? Are there any concerts scheduled?

Dirk: We have several shows planned in Belgium and Germany in the coming months and hope to be able to also perform in France and the Netherlands. The situation in the event sector has become pretty difficult with the economic crisis. You see bands canceling their tour one after the other due to low presales. But we stay positive and try to make the best out of it. We will also release a new video clip in October shortly after the album release. I’m sure it will surprise some of you.

ES: Closing this conversation what would you say to our readers? Would you like to add something more?

Dirk: Thanks a lot for your interest in this interview. Have a listen to our new album, and if you like it, buy it on Bandcamp, stream it, share it with your friends, tell organizers of events you go to that you know a great Belgian band called A Slice Of Life. That’s the best you can do if you wanna support us. ευχαριστώ!

ES: I would like to thank you for this chat and I wish to A Slice Of Life all the best for the future. I am really looking forward to see you on stage sometime in the near future.







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