If you aren’t familiar with the oncoming storm that is Belgium’s Signs Of Algorithm, then, boy, oh boy, are you making a fatal mistake. With a combination of head-smashing, groovy riffage and breakdowns that’ll make your teeth shatter and your gums bleed, this White Tower Records signee has been taking the world of metalcore/deathcore by force with a steady stream of undeniably addictive live performances throughout much of Europe. I recently had the immense pleasure of chatting with Signs Of Algorithm’s vocalist, Frederick, about a slew of topics, ranging from his professional work in the music industry, to SOA’s most recent lineup changes, the tragic bombing of Belgium, the band’s constant tours, and a little about red stag deer.
Ouch That Hertz!: So, first, tell us a bit about yourself, Frederick!
Frederick: Hey, guys, I’m Frederick. I take care of vocals in the Belgian metalcore band Signs Of Algorithm! Besides music, my interests are travelling, fast cars, and any other adventurous activities!
OTH!: So, Frederick, as I recall, you also own and operate New Horizon Booking Agency. What are some of the challenges of simultaneously committing to New Horizon AND to Signs Of Algorithm?
Frederick: Actually, these are two parallel activities for me. The biggest task I commit myself to for Signs Of Algorithm is booking shows for the band. Throughout the years, I’ve gathered quite a few contacts, so why not help out other bands with shows if I have the opportunity? Or course, New Horizon is not a full-time commitment, so I don’t arrange many shows. Next show that is coming up is Canyon Fest on June 25th in Nazareth (BE) with Shoot The Girl First (FR/US), Elyne (IT), Out Of My Eyes (FR), and, of course, some New Horizon bands!
OTH!: Also, purely out of curiosity, are you familiar with Belgium-based Mindless Bookings?
Frederick: Yes, I do know Mindless Bookings. I never had a cooperation with them, but I think it’s a good booking agency with the heart on the right place for helping out touring bands.
OTH!: Speaking of Belgium’s music (and industry), I have to say that I know of only a handful of metal bands from your country. In fact, I’m mostly familiar with Belgium’s techno artists- a genre that primarily dominates your country’s overall music scene (given its huge role in the developments of Techno in the 1980s). Is it ever discouraging to sort of struggle to stand out as a metal band when the world seems to be mostly swept up in your electro-scene?
Frederick: Not at all because it’s a completely different scene. The heavier metal genres like metalcore and deathcore have never and will never attract the big mainstream crowd. When I started playing in this genre, I knew this up front, so I have never experienced it as discouraging. We play an extreme genre of music, so, in my opinion, it is normal that we attract a smaller amount of people.
OTH!: While we’re still on the topic of Belgium-based music, your metal scene is packed with some pretty stellar talent, with current bands such as Strains, Evening Call, Wolves Scream, and- of course- yourselves! Are there any other Belgian metal bands that go overlooked that everyone should check out?
Frederick: Yes, we have lots of shiny diamonds in our Belgian metal scene. I’m not gonna name an endless list, but be sure to check out Thurisaz, Guilty As Charged, Spoil Engine, and Set Things Right. They are really awesome!
OTH!: Now, Frederick, on to your music: if we look at an algorithm (and as your band’s bio illustrates), an algorithm is a process or a set of rules designed for problem solving- essentially, a solution made out of different parts. Speaking in terms of “different parts,” Signs Of Algorithm has undergone a few lineup changes previously. If I am not mistaken, you guys started out this year with a newly solidified lineup. Who is new to the band and how did you come to find them?
Frederick: Yes, indeed! We had a couple of lineup changes in the past. It’s difficult to find a good and solid lineup with a band if you have to play a lot of shows and when you have to be on the road a lot with each other. Kevin, Didier, and I are the only original members of Signs Of Algorithm who remain. In the summer of 2015, Roberto joined Signs Of Algorithm on drums. We gave him a few weeks to rehearse and then he had the ultimate test: a month on tour with Signs Of Algorithm. Everything worked out fine, so we found out new drummer. After the New Horizons Summer Tour we needed a new bass player and Yochi was the perfect replacement. We already knew that Yochi has very good skills and gives great live performances because we shared the stage with him and his previous band. Now we finally have a stable lineup with members who really love music and who have the passion to spread it around the world.
OTH!: Furthering on the subject of “different parts to form a solution,” I noticed that in a previous interview, you mentioned that you all take that sort of mindset/approach when writing music. Who brought what to the table when you were writing your most recent album, Harbinger?
Frederick: Well, we are 5 different persons with our own personal views on how Signs Of Algorithm should sound. We don’t have a specific style per person because we all love different genres, so it is not the case that one member comes up with specific genre influences. We just bring our ideas together and blend it as far as possible.
OTH!: Speaking of the writing process of Harbinger, I have to say, I really liked the slight nuances in terms of different stylistic elements that I heard throughout the album. That can’t be easy to accomplish all the time- to perfectly weave and mesh all these elements into one cohesive flow. What were some of the difficulties in the making of this album?
Frederick: The biggest challenge for me, personally, was adapting my vocals to different styles. For example, songs like “No Warning Shot” and “Dictator” have a deathcore approach while “The Bitter End” is more hardcore minded. The album has different stylistic elements in music, so I wanted this in the vocal parts as well. Practicing various vocal styles was the solution for that.
OTH!: I think one of the tracks I most appreciated off of Harbinger was “Terrifying Terrorist.” Besides the sick solos and crushing riffs that Didier and Kevin rip, I also really dig the intro snare snaps- to me, it closely resembles the popping sounds of gunfire. Was that the intention in the song?
Frederick: Yeah, it is a very heavy song! To be honest, “Terrifying Terrorist” is the first song we have ever written with Signs Of Algorithm. Our intention? I remember that we just wanted to be heavy as fuck in that period, haha. We always aim to reach the next level by creating better songs than the ones we wrote before, so from time to time we get rid of some tracks, but “Terrifying Terrorist” is that one song that we just can’t throw away.
OTH!: At the risk of touching on a more sensitive topic, shortly after you released Harbinger on March 19th, the horrific bombing of Brussels occurred (on the 22nd). I’m terribly sorry that your country was the subject of such terrible violence. Will any of your future music reflect the events of that day or commemorate those who were lost and/or injured?
Frederick: Yes, that was a tragic day for sure! The hospitality industry in Brussels still bears the consequences from the bombing because a lot of people avoid the city now. The events of that day won’t reflect on our music because terrorism has always been in our world. Yes, our country was recently a victim of terrorism but I was well aware of it before the bombing of Brussels happened. I can dedicate our song “Terrifying Terrorist” to the lost and injured people of Brussels, but this song was written way before this happened because the subject of terrorism was also important when other countries got faced with it. What happened in your country on 9/11 was 15 years ago, so nothing has changed for me with the bombing of Brussels- just the fact that we could have been the victims ourselves, which is pretty fucking scary.
OTH!: Now, flipping back to the subject of your music- you recorded Harbinger at Evolution Studios in Italy. I’m curious- what made you pick this studio rather than staying local or somewhere a bit closer to home?
Frederick: Because we know the guy personally. Back in the summer of 2015, we played some shows in Italy on the New Horizons Summer Tour and spent some days off over there as well. During our stay in Italy, we met the guy from White Tower Records and stayed for a while at his place and recording studio. We had a really good vibe over there and it was a very familiar atmosphere, so we decided to sign with White Tower Records and record the album over there.
OTH!: You also released a slamming new music video for your single, “Harbinger,” this past March during your stay in Italy. What made you pick this location for your video shoot- or was it more of a convenience/ “the right place at the right time” sort of thing?
Frederick: Actually, we didn’t choose the location ourselves. We just had the deal with our label to record the album and shoot the music video over there in Italy. We don’t know Italy well enough to say, “Hey, that’s a good location for shooting the video,” so we just trusted our guy and explained what we wanted in the video. It was a surprise for ourselves where we would end up shooting the video, so, yeah, it was a “the right place and the right time” sort of thing.
OTH!: I noticed that you guys are going to be kicking off a tour/a series of shows throughout Europe, with a few dates scattered through Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. Are any of these locations on these dates new to you guys?
Frederick: Yes, shows are coming in fast, so we have a lot of tour dates in 2016. We’ve already played in a lot of countries, so we don’t have a lot of new countries coming up, but we play in new locations, which is always good to reach new people and gather new fans.
OTH!: So, with Harbinger out, a music video for the title track (“Harbinger”) out, and a bunch of tour dates stacked through June, it seems like you guys are hitting the first half of 2016 like a freight train. What comes next after that/in the later half of this year? Any more music videos or hopeful tours? Or are you guys getting right back to writing?
Frederick: Some of us are already writing the backbone of a new album, but like I said, shows are coming in fast and playing live is what I love most in being in a band, so I don’t want to miss any show opportunities. For the moment we’re having a good time in the UK on the Yarp Festival in Folkestone! I’m actually doing this interview in between shows. We’re getting a good response from the people at Yarp Festival are we’re already booking another UK run for November 2016 with the people here, so things are going smooth, which is really nice. Besides that, we’ll be back in Eastern Europe for a tour in September. I’m really looking forward to that tour because Czech Republic and Slovakia are some of my favorite countries to play!
OTH!: Alrighty, Frederick, I always like to end my interviews with a silly question. If you had to pick between a wild boar and a red stag deer to ride gloriously through the streets of Bruges, which would it be and why?
Frederick: Haha, give me the red stag deer in the Christmas period! Bruges is well known for its Xmas shopping so I’ll make sure to give all the tourists a Christmas they won’t forget!
OTH!: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Frederick! Before I let you go, is there anything else that you would like to say?
Frederick: My pleasure, it was a cool chat with refreshing questions! To all the people out there: come check us out when you have the chance and have a drink with us after the show! See ya!