-- Breakfast At Midnight gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
My buddies from Turbowarrior of Steel invited me and fellow Turbothrashers to Turbofest in Wemmel (July 30, 2016). Obviously, I couldn't resist the urge to have a talk with a couple of bands present at the gig. And the first one was Breakfast At Midnight, who I first saw perform in late 2015 and it was the emotionally charged performance of the band's frontman Sten that motivated me to talk to them.

And so we did! We discussed Breakfast At Midnight's origins and creative evolution, the production of their latest demo Agoraphobia, what the band eats for breakfast (no pun intended), Charlie Chaplin's iconic Great Dictator speech and whether Sten is a real ginger or not! Yup, a lot of interesting stuff. Read on, folks!

Pictures made by Sandiya Weynants.

BMS: Hello, folks! How did Breakfast at Midnight came to be back in 2013?
Sten: Many years ago Brecht and I founded a punk rock band which we also called Breakfast At Midnight. It was our way to deal with the sudden uproar of our youthful hormones! Eventually this first incarnation of Breakfast At Midnight was disbanded and Brecht and I played in different bands although the two of us remained close friends.

Sten: In 2013 we decided to once again form a band together. We recycled the name Breakfast At Midnight out of sentimental value. Aside from the name, everything was different. We were more mature in our sound, themes and overall mentality on stage.

Sten: With this reformed Breakfast At Midnight, Brecht and I played several shows together and in 2015 we considered adding a bass player to our band and so we recruited Dries. With him onboard, we recorded and released our debut EP, Deadly Gorgeous, later that year.

Breakfast At Midnight from left to right: Brecht Stiers (drums), Sten Veiths (vocals, guitar) and Dries Hillen (bass).
BMS: I see. I hear some grunge in your sound.
Sten: Well, you're right, there is some grunge in Breakfast At Midnight as we love that genre's dirty, harsh, underground sound but overall we're influenced by much more than just grunge. I can't really put a specific subgenre to our music, but if people do ask us how to describe our band, we would say we play alternative rock.
BMS: Sten, I noticed you sound similar to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.
Brecht: Here we go again!
BMS: It's a compliment. I dig Pearl Jam a lot!
Sten: Well, many people have already given me that remark of me sounding a lot like Eddie. I don't mind the comparison.

BMS: Ok, why did you call your band Breakfast At Midnight?
Sten: Our first band name was Perfect Chance. We hated it and we thought of better names. One day, around midnight, Brecht and I decided to cook some eggs and bacon. I said: "great! Breakfast at midnight!" Brecht repeated after me, and we both thought the same thing. Breakfast At Midnight was going to be the name of our band.
BMS: I'm glad you've changed your name. Perfect Chance sounds fucking cheesy!
Sten: I agree.
BMS: Speaking about breakfast, what's your preferred meal to start the day?
Sten: Three things: coffee, more coffee and even more coffee!
Dries: I can't stand eating or drinking in the morning. I wake up and feel like a zombie! And be sure never to talk to me when I've just woken up!
Brecht: I don't eat much in the morning either.
BMS: I do have quite a big breakfast. Usually it's a pot of oatmeal or muesli with milk and banana slices and sometimes I eat eggs and bacon along with it. I've been eating breakfast since childhood and I can't start my day without bulking up on calories! A true Shredder breakfast!

BMS: Tell me about the production of your recently released demo: Agoraphobia.
Sten: For Agoraphobia we took the chance at doing everything by ourselves. In addition to drums, Brecht also took care of the recording, mixing and mastering process. And I've got to say he did an excellent job, Agoraphobia's audio quality is higher than the usual demo standards.
BMS: I listened to the demo in preparation for this interview and yes, it sounds nice and professionally recorded. Great job, Brecht!
Brecht: Thanks!
BMS: Now tell me how Agoraphobia's production went from your perspective?
Brecht: I'm aiming to get a degree in studio engineering. There's a cheap recording studio in my college but I wanted something better although a professional recording studio was too expensive for us.

Brecht: So I contacted someone from our hometown of Westerlo who has a personal studio. We used his room to record the basic tracks and at home we did everything else. We do hope to one day be able to use a fully loaded professional recording studio.
BMS: What are your plans for the future?
Sten: We're already working on a successor for Agoraphobia. We feel we can write even better material than the songs we've made in the past. We're evolving to a more progressive rock style and we'll even add some jazz influences to the mix. Overall, our future sound will be more sophisticated.
BMS: You're also rebuilding your official band website. What can we expect?
Brecht: We're giving our site a complete makeover. New pictures, colors and layout in order to make our bandpage look more professional. We noticed that in those battle of the bands contests the judges also look at your website to see how well built it is. I understand, because a good-looking, detailed bandpage already gives a great first impression.
BMS: What are your other activities aside from Breakfast at Midnight?
Sten: I studied photography but I hope one day to direct my own film.
BMS: Oh, awesome! I'm a huge fan of action, sci-fi, fantasy and horror so I hope you'll make a flick in that genre!
Sten: I certainly wouldn't stick to a single genre. But if I ever make a movie, I want to have a deep, compelling plot with one or two twists that will make you stare at the screen in pure astonishment!

Sten: I'm also a writer and I'm currently working hard on my debut novel. I've already got about 200 pages written and it's about child prostitution. The book will be called "hemels ondergronds" (heavenly underground).
BMS: When will you release it? I can't wait to read it!
Sten: When it's done (smiles).
BMS: Clever answer.
BMS: You've got anything else going in life, Dries?
Dries: Not much else, playing with Breakfast At Midnight occupies plenty of my time.
BMS: And what about you, Brecht?
Brecht: As I said earlier, I'm studying and practicing the craft of studio engineering. But finding a job in that brand of work is very difficult. The music industry remains hard as nails no matter if you try to make it as a band or a technician or anything else. But I won't give up!
BMS: That's the spirit!

BMS: Sten, I noticed during your performance today that you can get very wild and angry on stage.
Sten: Yeah! There's a lot of rage and frustration boiling inside of me! And it shows how intensely I enjoy playing and listening to music. I can't help but dance and yell and bang my head when I'm exposed to music!
BMS: I love it when bands get fully physically and mentally invested in their music! In my opinion it gives the performers more charisma and honesty. Personally, I also feel the need to headbang and mosh and sing along to the lyrics when I'm going out to a gig.
BMS: Dries, I was very pleased you did a bass solo during today's show. It wasn't perfect because at times I noticed you missed a note or two, but I'm sure you'll get better with practice!
Dries: Thanks for your feedback. I believe the bass guitar is just as effective as any other instrument. It's more than just a filler instrument. I want to include more bass only riffs into our work so the bass gets the respect it deserves.
BMS: I share your opinion. More and more often I pay attention to how clearly audible the bass lines are when I listen to music. Especially after I heard what bass legends like Cliff Burton and Steve Harris managed to get out of that four-stringed beauty!
Dries: Ah Steve Harris! I used to listen a lot to Iron Maiden back in the day.
BMS: Did you grow out of it?
Dries: No, I still enjoy listening to Maiden, but nowadays I listen to other genres aside from the occasional heavy metal tune.

Sten: That's one of the things that makes Breakfast at Midnight so unique. All three of us have different musical tastes. I love bands like Mastodon and Gojira and I also have plenty of hardcore and metalcore in my collection. Dries prefers world music and Brecht enjoys electronic music.

Brecht: Yeah, I even write electronic music with a buddy of mine. I believe that any self-respecting musician should remain open to other music genres and bands. If you explore other musical territories you can enrich yourself both artistically and personally.
BMS: Is it easy to write songs despite all those different musical influences?
Sten: We write our music together so we don't leave much on the cutting room floor.

BMS: I felt goose bumps when you started one of your songs with the iconic speech from the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator.
Sten: Yeah, it's one of the most epic monologues I've ever heard! The speech serves as an introduction for the song Circus Cell. It deals with the similar theme of society attempting to tell people what to think and what to feel so that they become part of the "machine" and become "machine men with machine hearts" as Chaplin said in the speech.
BMS: What made this final scene of The Great Dictator so memorable for me was how it drastically changed the tone of the movie. Up till that point the movie was satirical slapstick but then Chaplin broke character and talked straight to the audience. Furthermore, that speech still remains relevant even today! Hell, nowadays we need such inspirational talk more than ever!
BMS: Is there anything else you want to say?
Sten: I want a bonus question!
BMS: Are you a real ginger?
Sten: I came out of my mom's womb with a full head and chest of Ron Weasley hair. So yes! And my skin is so white that I sparkle when I'm exposed to the sun.
BMS: Ok, so you're a vampire. You do drink blood, right?
Sten: Of course! My favorite blood is O positive!
BMS: In that case I'm safe, my blood group is A positive.
BMS: Do you have anything else to tell me, Dries?
Dries: I can't wait to see this interview published, I think you did a good job here today.
Brecht: Thanks for your time, it was fun!

BMS: Then I'll ask Sandiya for a picture.

Breakfast At Midnight - Black & White