-- Psychonaut gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
The third and final interview I did during Metaaldetector 2016 was with PSYCHONAUT. Before I go any further, I wish to thank Yoran from the Metaaldetector crew for giving me backstage access as well as that friendly security guard from the backstage area who tapped me on the shoulder to tell me the PSYCHONAUT guys had arrived.

And talking to PSYCHONAUT was well worth the time. A chat about bromance, the meaning of life and whether I’d rather be born without eyes or without a dick! But don’t worry, folks, we’ll also talk about their upcoming EP, so it’s not all wackiness!

All pictures taken by Sam Coussens. Check out his band 

BMS: Hello there! I read on your website that PSYCHONAUT have a rather unusual philosophy when it comes to being in a band.
Peter: We love to maintain our individuality. Basically, PSYCHONAUT consists of three best friends who support and coordinate each other in every sense of the word. We don’t want to rely on a manager or a label to control our musical direction or to help distribute our material. We take care of everything ourselves and we like it that way.
BMS: I share your way of thinking. One of the reasons why I have my own webzine is exactly to maintain my independence. I write and publish all articles myself and I can decide what bands I want to review or interview. However, the technical side of things is the one thing I let some friends of mine take care of because I suck at web design!
BMS: But now back to the band. You play some kind of atmospheric stoner metal. Has it always been this way or was there a point in time where you thought about playing another metal subgenre?
Stefan: Back when we founded PSYCHONAUT we immediately came up with the idea of playing this particular kind of music. We used to play in another band but for PSYCHONAUT we wanted to create music where you can really get emotionally invested in. A sound that touches your soul and makes you feel like you’ve entered another realm.

PSYCHONAUT from left to right: Peter Le Page (drums), Stefan De Graef (guitar and vocals), Thomas Michiels (bass and vocals).
BMS: Tell me what other band you guys used to play in.
Stefan: Me and the other two guys from PSYCHONAUT used to play in a light-hearted hard rock band called Generation. In that band, we had a fourth guy who did the vocals. That’s about it.
BMS: Where do you get the inspiration for your songs’ themes?
Stefan: We love to write about the meaning of life. Experiences that happen in our lives and that give us the feeling that there's something more to life than what we can see or hear. A feeling of spiritual connection between ourselves and all other living beings. We want to evoke that same feeling of mental connectivity in our music. It’s hard to explain that sentiment in words without experiencing it for yourself. It’s a kind of magic!
BMS: You’ll be releasing new material soon. Tell me about your experiences during production.
Thomas: It was awesome. It’s been almost two years since we released our latest EP, XXIV Trips Around The Sun, and we wanted to bring something new to the table. We took our most recent songs and selected four tunes which would make it on to the track list. Later on we decided to work with Frank Rotthier and he did a fantastic job. In fact, yesterday was our final recording day. So today we’ll be celebrating that with a drink or two.

Peter: It has been an awesome experience. For the first time in our musical careers, my drum tracks were recorded together with Thomas’ bass tracks.

 Stefan: Yeah, we took our time to prepare ourselves for this live recording. Frank knew perfectly how to coordinate every aspect of the production. We actually never thought this live recording would’ve worked but it did and the end result is all the better for it!

BMS: What are your other activities aside from PSYCHONAUT?
Peter: I’ve got my own parquet flooring company, it’s a very time-consuming job but it’s fun being my own boss. And of course I love spending time with my family, girlfriend and friends. I always keep my eyes on the future and I often think about what’s really important in my life.
BMS: And how about you, Stefan?
Stefan: I teach French at a high school in Mechelen. And like Peter, I spend my spare time with my friends, family and of course with PSYCHONAUT.
BMS: I see. My French has improved considerably after working in Brussels for over a year. Ok, officially Brussels is bilingual, but most people over there communicate in French. It was a fun time. I don’t speak French that often anymore since I left Brussels, but I’m planning on doing some interviews in French when I meet French-speaking bands like Drakkar.
BMS: Now it’s your turn, Thomas.
Thomas: Since Stefan is my personal Jesus I followed in his footsteps and became a high school teacher in French as well!
BMS: Really? Or is this some kind of early April Fool’s joke?
Thomas: No, I am serious (laughing). Except for Stefan being my personal Jesus! But I do teach religion as well. I hope to give my students some sense about the meaning of life.
BMS: Yeah, and listening to Slayer during your afternoon breaks, huh! But that’s OK, God listens to Slayer!
BMS: What are your personal favorite tracks to play with PSYCHONAUT?
Thomas: Well, the third track from our upcoming EP is my big favorite. I’m not going to tell any more details about it, but it’s a magnificent track and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way once you’ve heard it for yourself in a couple of months.
Peter: I agree with Thomas’ choice.

Stefan: Our thirteen minute long epic ‘Psychedelic Mammoth’ is the ultimate track for me to play. No matter if it’s in my living room or in front of a couple hundred of people! It’s one of the final tracks we play during a gig, so go and experience it for yourself!

BMS: Do you guys have any warm-up ritual before you guys start playing?
Thomas: I drink a couple of beers to acclimatize and I wear a scarf when it’s cold in order to protect my voice. That’s about it.
Peter: I enjoy to relax in peace before the gig. I loosen my wrists and get myself in the right mood to conquer the stage!
Stefan: We do hug each other before we play. A good old
BMS: I myself don’t have any rituals before I interview a band. I rarely get nervous although I did have a little bit of stress when I was on my way to talk with the Evil Invaders. But that tension fell off me right away when Joe came to me and offered me a drink.
Thomas: What are your favorite bands?
BMS: Do I really need to answer that question?!
Stefan: Yes!
BMS: OK, then. I really love Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica (mainly the first four albums and Death Magnetic), Anthrax, Pantera, Angel Witch, Gorgoroth, Mayhem and much, much more.
BMS: As for Belgian bands: Ostrogoth, Guilty As Charged, the Evil Invaders, TurboWarrior of Steel, Bloodrocuted, FireForce… In fact, just check all the Belgian metal bands I’ve already covered on my site. And there’s still a lot more great stuff I’m going to write about in the following months. PSYCHONAUT for instance is a band I’m going to write about very soon. ;)
BMS: Anything else you guys want to say before we wrap this one up?
Peter: We hope you’ll write a review for our new EP that’s coming soon.
BMS: And not for the first one as well?
Peter: No.
BMS: Fine. But I am going to buy XXIV Trips Around The Sun anyway just for my listening pleasure.

BMS: You got anything else to say, Thomas?
Thomas: Imagine you’ve got to choose between being born without eyes or without a dick, what would you choose?
BMS: I’d say being born without eyes. I don’t need them when I’m bonking a girl. But you stay the hell away from my ears, otherwise I’ll have to retire my website!
Thomas: Imagine you’ve got to choose between being born without eyes or without a dick, what would you choose?
BMS: I’d say being born without eyes. I don’t need them when I’m bonking a girl. But you stay the hell away from my ears, otherwise I’ll have to retire my website!
Stefan: Good point! Thanks for talking to us and see you frontstage!
BMS: I look forward to the show!

PSYCHONAUT - Ferocious Fellowman