-- John L. gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Geert Van Dyck from FireForce invited me over to his own organized festival appropriately named FireFest. With a nice roster of talented bands aligned with FireForce such as Drakkar, The Losts and Hidden there was enough guarantee it would become an awesome event. And of course, I had to be there to conduct some interviews. The first one on the list was the young but exceptionally talented guitar hero John Lemoine, better known by his fans as John L.

And so after his show, John and his bass playing sidekick Michel joined me for a drink and a chat. And as always, I'll be presenting you a close and personal portrait of the band by discussing such topics as John L.'s beginnings and musical influences, their collaboration with FireForce and seeing John's idols Black Sabbath during this year's Graspop Metal Meeting!

Fun fact, this was the first time I conducted an interview entirely in French! ça alors ! Mais n'inquiétez vous pas, les gars ! Don't worry, folks! The entire interview remains in English for you all to read!

All pictures made by me except where noted.

BMS: Tell me, John, how did you start your band?
John: I used to play in several cover bands playing songs from the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. But I was getting tired of being restrained to just covers. I wanted to make my own compositions and put my individual mark on the metal scene. Obviously I had to recruit people for the bass and drum parts so I asked around in my entourage and eventually Michel and Jean-Yves came into the picture.

John L. from left to right: Michel Pesch (bass), John Lemoine (vocals, guitar) and Jean-Yves Mollica (drums).
BMS: You named your band after your own name. Did you have other names in mind?
John: Not really.
Michel: In fact, our band was originally called John L Band but we simplified it to John L. I believe he has the right to name the band after himself since he's the band's frontman, founding member and principal songwriter.
BMS: What are your future projects?
John: We think about recording a new album next year!
Michel: If it'll be up to John we would've already begun production on a successor to 2015's Bring Me Home album. But personally I want to take our time to fully work on this new material so that our next full release will improve on every element of our previous well-praised album.

BMS: In any case I'm very pleased with your performance here at FireFest today. Your guitar solos in particular were impressive and I also love the part wherein you walked off the stage to the courtyard outside the venue to jam a bit there.
John: Yeah, I saw you on the other side of the window, playing air guitar (BMS: check around my facebook page to find the picture).
BMS: I love it when bands interact with the audience and I love to interact with the band!
BMS: Since beginning my webzine I noticed that many young metal bands aim for more extreme metal subgenres like thrash and death metal while more veteran metal musicians go for an old-school approach. Since you're a young guy playing classic heavy metal, I think you're a pretty rare breed.
John: I grew up listening to classic hard rock and metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Aerosmith and the Scorpions. And so I became more influenced by those bands rather than more aggressive artists like Slayer, Death or Pantera.
BMS: What other things are there in your lives?
John: I give guitar lessons and Michel and I still play in a cover band. There isn't much else I do aside from music. I dedicate most of my life to becoming as great a guitar player as I can ever be!

Michel: I'm a blue-collar factory employee and I'm also a representative for the local trade union.
BMS: I see, I hope you don't have to go on strike very often. Back when I used to go to work by train it always sucked when the trains didn't ride because of a trade union strike!
Michel: Trust me when I tell you that we don't like to go on strike since it's more often than not the regular people who get the most nuisance during such days. But we go on strike because we hate how the Belgian government is constantly taxing the shit out of the working class and because they don't give any financial support to musicians, festivals or other small cultural events!

Michel: But we do are glad by the support we get from our fans and from guys like you! And after all, that's why we've got into the music business, to let people enjoy good, passionate music.
BMS: I agree with you, Michel. I've already heard from several artists and promoters how expensive it is to produce an album or to organize a festival. But still, I'm glad to experience all this music and I'll be continuing my support.

BMS: John, are there any countries you would like to visit with your band?
John: Obviously I hope to one day engage on a world tour! I particularly want to visit Japan.
Michel: And for me, it's Colombia. Colombians are friendly people who never lose the smile on their faces.

BMS: How did your collaboration with FireForce begin?
Michel: In 2014 our band was present during Titans Fest in Mons and FireForce was also present during the event. I recall that their vocalist, Flype, came to see us right after our show to personally congratulate us on our performance. We remained in contact with each other and in August 2015 we played together with FireForce in La Louvière along with their friends from Drakkar and Guilty As Charged.

John: And so we joined the forces of combat metal! We've already played together more times since then and we love to share the stage with FireForce. They are such generous, outgoing guys!
BMS: Indeed, I've known the FireForce squad for over a year now and I can't say a single bad thing about them, musically nor personally!
Michel: Plus our partnership with FireForce allows us to play more shows in Flanders as well. We've noticed that many people up north aren't familiar with our sound yet. So there's a lot of untapped potential to be found here. And next year, FireForce will be joining us once more to destroy Liege.

BMS: I've said it before but it deserves mentioning again, your guitar solos during today's show were magnificent! Did you make them up on the spot?
John: Thanks, man. And as a matter of fact, you're right! Most of my guitar solos are improvised! I like to keep my shows varied and it's a great way to test myself to figure out on the spot what riffs I'll be grinding out of my very own battleaxe!
BMS: Well, like Crystal Methal and Malism before you, you also managed to fool me into thinking it was all rehearsed in advance. I didn't notice a single botch during those improvised moments whatever they were!

BMS: John, I see you're wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt. Did you also attend the band's final Benelux show during this year's Graspop Metal Meeting?
John: Of course! As I mentioned before, Black Sabbath are one of the bands that encouraged me to pick up the guitar and to see my childhood heroes play in front of me is like a dream coming true!

Michel: Although I dig the trio of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler a lot I do have to say I had more fun watching Iron Maiden at GMM.
BMS: I also attended both Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and I personally was pleasantly surprised to see how sober Ozzy was during the show. I feared he would've arrived all drunk and stoned like fuck but he did a satisfying job that night. As for Iron Maiden, what a spectacular show! It was everything I expected a Maiden show to be and more!
BMS: Is there anything else you wish to say to me?
Michel: Honestly, there isn't much more I can do than thanking you for the chat!
John: Enjoy the rest of the FireFest and we hope to be seeing you again soon!
BMS: I'm sure we will!

John L - For The Very Last Time