IF YOU'VE BEEN TO SHOWS WITH LOUD GUITARS ANYWHERE IN EUROPE - OR THE WORLD FOR THAT MATTER - IN THE PAST 20 YEARS, CHANCES ARE THAT YOU'VE SEEN CEDRIC ON STAGE. THE GHENT-BASED RIFFER ALWAYS PLAYS AND MOVES WITH A NATURAL STYLE AND GRACE, ALL THE WHILE MAKING SURE THOSE GUITARS STILL RING IN YOUR EARS THE DAY AFTER. WE SAT DOWN WITH CEDRIC TO DISCUSS LIFE, MUSIC AND THE BANDS HE'S CURRENTLY DOING; PARTISAN, BLIND TO FAITH, RAW PEACE AND OF COURSE WRONG MAN, WHO WILL BE RELEASING THEIR DEBUT EP THROUGH OUR OWN EAT DUST RECORDS.
So, I was wondering. You’ve been in bands forever, usually just one at a time, but now that you’re in your late 30s all of a sudden you seem to be in 4 or 5 fully functional bands. How do you see that evolution? Has your state of mind shifted, or are you just capable of more now?
Well, a lot of it is related to Partisan and how that band grew. After Rise And Fall stopped being an active band (Cedric was in Rise And Fall from 2004 – 2012 – ed.), it was through doing Partisan that I slowly learned new things, explored different styles and learned how to sing as well. It was a long process, one that is still ongoing. Through doing that, I started feeling more comfortable and confident. Now I know that I can do plenty of different things. It’s not like I can just do anything, but I have the confidence to at least try.
Next to that, I feel like more options have somehow presented themselves to me. I’m in Raw Peace for example simply because they asked me to join on bass. I feel like a lot of people from our generation have kind of come full circle. What I mean by that is that for some playing music might have faded to the background a little, but now at a later point in life they’re eager to do shit again. It’s this thing where you gravitate back to the music and the experiences that shaped you when you were younger.
If I’m getting it right, you’re saying that because of how you grew as a person and musician in Partisan, you acquired the confidence to do almost anything you set your mind to?
It’s also a question of skills, I guess, getting better at playing and writing songs. I’m not going to say that playing or writing hardcore comes down to the same trick, but you do start repeating yourself after a while. By moving away from that you learn to look at music from different angles. Plus, the confidence I gained as a musician is also tied to the confidence I gained as an individual.
Do you think the variety of bands that you’re currently doing reflects the very broad taste in music you have? Because I think it doesn’t even begin to cover that whole spectrum (laughs).
Partially, yes. Like I said, I kind of landed in some of these bands, like Raw Peace and Blind To Faith, and I love doing those bands too. The bands that I helped create and that I focus on the most, Partisan and Wrong Man, are closer to what inspires me personally. But there’s so much more of course. I’m always cooking up new plans, but those will come to fruition whenever the time is right. Right now, I feel like there’s enough on the table already. I try to look at all of my bands as different projects and I structure them like that in my head as well, with the focus changing with whichever band is writing or working on a new record or live shows.
But I do write other things on my own, at home, ‘cause I’m always writing and exploring. I just want to make sure the time is right whenever I decide to pursue those paths. It takes time to complete the vision or the framework I set for a certain band. That’s how Wrong Man happened as well. The idea for that band came to me and it didn’t take that long to complete the puzzle and make it make sense. I had a set of perimeters within which I wanted to do Wrong Man, and it all worked out pretty smoothly.
Basically, you want to have the framework ready so that whatever band you’re doing doesn’t go in a million different directions?
Exactly. That’s something we didn’t have with Partisan when we started, and that’s why that band took such a long time to develop into what it would become.
How do you look back on that whole process with Partisan now, after 7+ years? Are you where you want to be? Has your idea of what Partisan should be shifted with time?
I think that a lot is possible with Partisan, I don’t feel restricted to a certain sound. I also think we’ll have to reinvent ourselves, no matter what we do next. We’ve grown a lot since our latest LP, in my opinion, and I think we’re capable of a lot more. It’s all still wide open and I think we can still be a relevant band. Now that we’ve been focusing on other things for a while – like Wrong Man – I think it’ll feel good to go back to Partisan with a fresh mind.
That’s how Wrong Man came to be, right? With you guys not wanting to get stuck in Partisan mode after the LP came out?
Yeah, the Partisan LP came out during that whole Covid-era so we couldn’t play shows. We still wanted to practice together and keep playing, but didn’t want to bore ourselves either, or write new songs right away. So, we figured we’d start something new (laughs).
That Partisan LP coming out during the pandemic, do you think that was a good or bad thing?
It’s complicated. It’s obviously not great to release an album when you can’t even play shows to support it. At the same time, it’s always been a challenge for Partisan to find our place in terms of where we belong musically. So, we thought we’d just go for it. Not much was happening, so there was some space there for new music for sure. We didn’t know how long the pandemic would last and didn’t want to wait anyway. I think it made sense for us to do what we did, given the circumstances.
In the meantime, you’ve also had some sort of full circle moment with Partisan by covering a Youth Of Today track, a band you grew up with and hold dear. Do you do that type of stuff more often?
That was fun to do. On the one hand, it’s an old song that means a lot to me still, and on the other hand I tried to do my own thing with it. It’s not easy, as not every classic hardcore track lends itself to that approach. The idea came to me about a week before we played that gig (the True Colors reunion in Ghent – ed.), just by messing around on guitar at home. I then showed it to Thijs and Ivo and it clicked. It was definitely an interesting thing to do, because we usually write together in Partisan, and I did this by myself. It could definitely be something I try again later.
Going back to Wrong Man now, what I think is interesting there is that it’s hard to really put your finger on exactly what that band sounds like. You were talking about a frame of reference earlier, what is that frame for Wrong Man?
In my eyes, one of the cornerstones of that band is the way I play guitar. I wanted it to be energetic, but with a big sound, and a lot of open chords. I also wanted to do something that matched the skills that Ivo and Thijs have (Ivo plays drums and Thijs plays bass in both bands – ed.). Ivo plays with a lot of energy, and he has to kind of hold back in Partisan, something he doesn’t have to do in Wrong Man.
Another cornerstone is the vibe itself – rooted in punk/hardcore but with a musical approach that is different and that branches out. I wanted a lot of the power to come from the vocals, in the tradition of what Rollins Band or The Laughing Hyenas did. I feel like that inspiration seeps through, but it’s whole principle that inspires me, the dynamics between the music that is very open sounding, almost melodic, and then raw vocals. It felt right straight away. We’re not out there reinventing the wheel, but it sounds fresh because there aren’t a lot of bands that do what we do right now, I think.
“Running Low” was the first Wrong Man track to be put out there, do you feel like it represents the band’s sound well?
I do think so. A band’s sound always evolves and changes though. Our sound is pretty varied, so it’s always hard to pick just one song, but I think “Running Low” paints an accurate picture. It’s a very dynamic song, it’s hard hitting but with a catchiness to it.
In the meantime you’ve got a bunch of new songs ready too, for a follow up EP. What kind of evolution do you see in those?
I feel like those newer songs are even more consistent, maybe make even more sense. They do have a lot of the same elements as the tracks on the “Who Are You?” EP though, which is logical. We tried to not overthink anything; we went with what came out at practice. It feels like a very natural progression and I’m excited to record those soonish.
Switching lanes, today was your first time modelling, if we can call it that. How did that feel for you? Were you comfortable?
It was fun. And it’s cool to get asked to do something like this. It’s a different world for sure, but I felt quite comfortable through it all. I wasn’t nervous or anything like that. Plus, it’s a cool way to try different styles and different clothes, things I normally wouldn’t reach for.
You do have a lot of affinity with clothing and fashion I’d say. I wonder, what are the qualities you look for in garments?
That’s a great question. Obviously, you want something that fits well and that is durable. Plus, character is important too. There are items you always go back to and keep wearing, and there’s always a reason for that. The kind of garments that reflect who you are and how you live. Preferably timeless pieces. At the same time, I try not to worry too much. Not everything has to match perfectly, it just has to feel right.
Do you remember the first time you ever owned or tried on a piece of clothing and felt like, “yes, this is my thing”?
This may come as a surprise to some, but when I was really young, I used to play basketball. We’re talking the 1990s here, so the era of the Chicago Bulls, the Dream Team and what not. The shoes you wore were a big deal at the time, so obviously for me too. I always had 2 pairs, one for everyday wear and one to play basketball with. Those were super important to me, because of their functionality and how they looked as well. I guess that was the first time I connected with a piece of clothing – or shoes in this case – in that way.
Okay, cool. Last question. Out of everything you wore today, what’s your favorite piece?
There were a lot of really cool pieces, but I’ll pick the Captain Pants in navy wool. I love the pockets and that post-WWII military style reference. The fabric is super comfortable as well, you really feel the quality while you wear it. It’s a versatile piece, which I appreciate.
Thanks so much for your time!
Pictures by Wouter Struyf
Production & styling by Bjorn Dossche
Additional styling by Cedric Goetgebuer & Gijs Grondelaers
Words by Bjorn Dossche