Star Scene: Ruben Block ~ Triggerfinger

Ruben Block’s scene is basically somewhere with “people who like to enjoy an energetic live show”. The vocalist and guitarist of Belgian band Triggerfinger states: “The advantage of Triggerfinger might be that we have been able to play on very different kinds of places. From alternative pop, rock, and indie clubs and festivals like for instance Rock Werchter or Pukkelpop in Belgium and Rock am Ring In Germany over the more heavy fueled Download festival in Madrid and even more roots oriented places.”

The road to enjoying their energetic live shows was the one less travelled by, but it was one that made all the difference. Block states: “We were all part of other bands before I started Triggerfinger. I used to play guitar and sing backing vocals in a rockabilly/garage influenced band. When that band stopped I wanted to try to sing myself and widen the electric guitar pallet a little further. Mario (drums), Paul (bass) and me were all fans of each other. I met Mario when I had to fill in for Paul (who was mainly a guitar player at that time). We hit it off immediately. I explained the idea to form Triggerfinger. He brought a friend, Wladimir Geels, who wanted to play bass. That must have been December 1998. We played for a couple of years every little bar that would have us, but Wladimir couldn’t keep doing it for personal reasons. We saved a little money by that time to record an album. We knew Paul had a recording studio. (He was an ace guitar player and played lots of sessions). So one day we met up and asked him if we could record our album in his place… and if he wanted to join the band and play bass.” All falling into place, Block continues: “We had an amazing amount of fun playing. From the beginning. It didn’t matter much where. Just go out and play and try to connect the groove and vibe on stage. Pretty fast we were getting a small amount of people who liked us. Airplay on the radio was very modest in the beginning, but we had fun. We played the music we liked and little by little we could expand our playing field.”

The music they liked and were influenced by was diverse. Block in particular had his parents’ record collections and many eclectic mixed tapes. He explains: “When I was around 16 and started to be interested in music it kind of helped build your “identity” as a teenager with what you listen to. I noticed that certain types of music required a certain look and/or attitude to be able to “fit in”. Because I was a skater (skateboarder) it was ok to listen to a lot of different stuff and look accordingly. We were all skaters. Which resulted in mixtapes with a wide variety of styles. Slayer, AC/DC, De La Soul, Iggy (with or without Stooges) the Cramps, Beastie Boys, Joy Division, Happy Mondays, The Ramones, D.R.I, Bob Marley, the Clash and Pixies could find themselves rolling around, back to back on any given compilation cassette. My parents didn’t have a big record collection. They were teenagers in the 60’s so there was some albums from the Doors, Dylan and Leonard Cohen lying around. With all those ingredients I realized there was a lot of cool stuff to be found in lots of different areas. Later on I also got into American roots music like Rockabilly, Blues, Country…” Currently, Block is listening to a band that was forged from a friendship formed in Melbourne, Australia: Xylouris White. He states: There’s different stuff flying around, depending on the mood of the day…  I got Black Peak by Xylouris White as a present recently and I’m listening to that one regularly. The band consist of Cretan Georgios Xylouris on laouto and the amazing Jim White (Dirty Three) on drums.”

As for the path Triggerfinger follow now with song-writing and recording process, Block states: “There doesn’t seem to be one golden path to walk when recording an album. With the two previous albums we focused a lot on the energy, sound and interaction of playing live. We were very prepared, pretty much worked out and rehearsed the majority of arrangements so the basics of each track were more or less a live performance.”

Now the band are set to release their sixth studio album, Colossus, on 25th August, and Block feels that he changed course. He states:  “For Colossus the whole album was pretty challenging and in the end rewarding since we tried to work a little different than before. Sometimes when you make a demo there’s already exiting stuff happening. Every detail of the song might not be finished yet but some elements might connect or disconnect in a very spontaneous and cool way. In changing the way I recorded those early demos we could integrate stuff into the “final” form of the track if we wanted. It’s not that all those early ideas needed to be on the album, only if they made sense or worked in an exiting way with what we recorded in the studio.” The lyrics, even maybe subconsciously, reflecting his own life, Block muses: “I think every day life will reflect in what you write in some way. Maybe not even deliberately. It usually doesn’t start with a topic with me. More from a sound, words, a sentence, and then I take it from there. I go to work. In an ideal situation something starts to build and things start falling in place, even if I have no clue what they might mean in the  beginning. The words need to fit the music in some way and the whole thing needs to sound good.”

“First of all,” he continues, “what you read is what you read. The words that are there in front of you. But I like it when you can give your own interpretation to the words or where they might take you. A song like Colossus can be a love song, or have a political vibe, or can be about a big enchilada you ate for breakfast…” As for politics in music, Block states: “In music anybody can write about anything. You just have to try to find your own voice I guess. I don’t think I’m very good at writing political lyrics that are very specific. My concerns about what happens in the world might reflect in a song but they might be hidden in there somewhere. In the end I try to write a lyric that’s still gonna be interesting to sing a couple years down the road. Hopefully.” 

Block explores Triggerfinger’s sound in food form: “Every band will say their sound is a bit of a mix of lots of influences of course, but looking back at Colossus it might be a Greek mezze table, displayed like the inner sleeve of ZZ top’s Degüello album.”

 Certainly confidence should be had with the Triggerfinger discography, and now moreso with the addition of Colossus to the fold. Block’s favourite work at this point in time is the latest. He states: “I’m pretty happy with our most recent album, Colossus. We had an enormous amount of fun throughout the whole process. From writing the songs, making demo’s and recording in Santa Monica. We were already lucky to be able to work with Greg Gordon on our previous two albums and working with Mitchell Froom as producer on Colossus also proved to be a very cool experience. He’s a very inspiring, creative and open minded guy. Together with his engineer David Boucher it really felt like a team effort. Everyone was in it to make the album as cool as it could be.” The development was successful, with Colossus already receiving rave reviews.

Next, with touring and promoting the album, Block states: “At the moment we’re doing a lot of promo for the new album, rehearsing the new songs and doing some warm up shows to get ourselves back in shape. There’s a new single coming out in August and accordingly we’re also working on a new video.” He continues: “Touring is a welcome change between making albums and vice versa. They’re two very different beasts but we like them both a lot. When playing live you deliver output. It’s an outgoing energy. Writing and recording seems to be the other way around. You gather input, play with it, pull it apart, put it back together until it’s song. We’re looking very much forward to go on the road with this album. It’s interesting to see how the older songs also seem to change a little when they’re shoulder to shoulder on the setlist with new sisters, cousins and dirty uncles.”

Though the band “don’t have any dates planned for Australia yet”, Block states: “we would love to come over there and tour. Urgently have to talk to our agent about that.”

Australian fans would love that as well.

 

 

TRIGGERFINGER are a 3-piece outfit from Belgium – home of excellent chocolate, beer, waffles – and rock n roll. Known as Antwerp’s loudest band, Triggerfinger have a predilection for dark, enigmatic, left-of-centre rock.  Think QOTSA meets The Black Keys with a dash of Led Zep and copious amounts of style and swagger.  Dished up with a fiery vengeance and lashings of their own particular brand of special sauce, the band’s new album COLOSSUS is due out August 25.  And we think you’ll like it.

FLESH TIGHT sounds like a catwalk strut across Sunset Boulevard driven by pulsating guitars. Vocalist/guitarist Ruben Block about the song: “The basic ingredients for Flesh Tight were written pretty quickly. More or less one flow, connecting the driving guitar-strum and struttin’ beat with the “flesh-tight-feelings” image. They stuck to each other. I preferred Flesh tight opposed to skin tight because it sounded more.. fleshy… There’s something uplifting, yet private and personal in the words.

The accompanying music video is quite associative, according to Block: “For the video we were very happy we could work with Pieter Van Hees and his team, a  very cool Belgian movie and television director who, in his field always practiced an out of the ordinary, very personal approach. He created his own spin on what the lyrics and music brought him. And that’s just the start. Everyone should feel free to connect whatever images they want to it. Maybe the most important journeys are the ones we make in our minds.

MORE ABOUT TRIGGERFINGER

The Antwerp, Belgium based trio (Ruben Block, vocals & guitar; Paul Van Bruystegem, bass; Mario Goossens, drums) have built a solid reputation across Europe, the US and Canada as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around. With their self-titled debut album (2004), What Grabs Ya (2008), All This Dancing Around (2010) and By Absence of the Sun (2014) they’ve become a mainstay on the rock scene (the last two going platinum and gold, respectively).

Their impromptu cover of the Lykke Li song I Follow Rivers became a major hit across Europe in 2012, and they were invited to open for The Rolling Stones in 2013 and 2014.

COLOSSUS out August 25, 2017 on MASCOT LABEL GROUP / MASCOT RECORDS.

PRE-ORDER COLUSSUS HERE

 

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About Mary Boukouvalas 638 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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