Originally published in ‘zine issue #22, 1999
What can I say about this band that hasn’t been said before? I first heard Agathocles (AG) in 1990 I think, when a friend taped me their Fascination of Mutilation live flexi. I’ve been a fan ever since. Here Jan Frederickx kindly answers a few questions.
D.U.: Tell our readers a little bit about your sound, but without using the word “mince.”
Jan: Well, our main musical influences come from old-school grindcore and extreme, fast hardcore. This means fast drumming and screaming and growling vocals. But sometimes you can also hear some death metal influences as well as some crusty tunes.
And what of the lyrics?
Lyrics deal with politics, anti-fascism, animal rights, personal stuff, humanity, philosophy …
“‘Practice what you preach’ is quite important. You cannot write lyrics which you don’t believe in. At least I can’t do that.”
It blows my mind how you can have a million 7”es, splits, LPs and compilations coming out every five minutes. How do you come up with all the songs that have to go on all these releases that you record all the time?
I guess we have lots of inspiration to write new material. It’s good to keep being busy and creative on the music side.
Do you record a large block of songs all at once and later divide them up for releases you’ve agreed to do, or do you record specifically for releases as they happen?
When we get some offers for releases, we discuss about these offers and then decide whether we will do the releases or not. For example, when we get five offers and all these seem quite interesting, then we will go in studio to record stuff for these releases. That’s how we work.
A two-part question: (a) is it important for politically and socially aware bands to “practice what they preach” in the sense of contributing to or working against things they talk about in their lyrics; and (b) do you not give a fuck what everyone else is doing and just concentrate on your own lifestyle, in the sense that, sure, it would be great if everyone worked for change, but realistically I can’t convince everyone so I should just focus on what I’m doing?
Both (a) and (b) are important, I think. “Practice what you preach” is quite important. You cannot write lyrics which you don’t believe in. At least I can’t do that. I know that with AG and our lyrics, we cannot change the world. This scene is too small for that. But it can be a good start for further change and education. Giving information to the people through music is one thing, but you can also get involved in tons of organizations which do not have anything to do with music, but which are working on change. So for me it is also important to get involved in such organizations.
Where do you draw the line between “paying homage” to another band that is one of your main influences when you, consciously or not, write songs similar to them (for example, Dahmer’s attitude of, “Sure, we sound like old AG, but so what? We love old AG, and our band sounds good even if it is unoriginal”) and being a rip-off band, lifting riffs from other bands and changing them slightly to make them your own?
I don’t really know where to draw the line. I mean, a band like Dahmer kills—even better than old AG! [laughs] And they are also very honest about the stuff they play. They don’t claim to be an original band. We, AG, also don’t claim to be an original band, because the stuff we make has been played by many bands before. It’s good to have influences, I think, and it’s really good to mention those influences.
What musical equipment brand names do you use?
Ibanez bass, Novanex amp and I don’t know what distortion I use on my bass; [for] guitar, I don’t know exactly, but I think a Fender guitar and Mesa Boogie amp; Adams drums; and sometimes a pitch shifter [for] vocal effects.
Thanks a million for your interest and support and for doing this interview with me. Sorry for my short answers, but I really can’t help it. To all the people who have helped us during all these years, thanks a lot! If you are interested in our stuff, just drop us a line or just write for some info. To all of you, keep your eyes open, keep being creative, and do it all yourself. Mincecore not war gore! ■
Photo: Jan Frederickx of Agathocles (courtesy Jan)