In the very last instalment of our Les Ardentes interview series (stay tuned for more news from the Dour festival frontline next week) we bring you Belgian newcomers BRNS, who graced the main stage last Friday with their typical blend of pop and post rock. After their gig we caught up with Tim Philippe, Antoine Meersseman, Diego Leyder and César Laloux to talk about their first open air season and attacking French territory, of course. 

It’s your first festival season. How many have you played so far?

About five or six – including Verdur Rock and Fête de la Musique in Brussels. Yesterday we played in Orléans. It was raining, and only 100 people showed up instead of 5,000. But it was funny, the atmosphere was great because we played in a really historic place. Even if sometimes there are not that many people, you always learn a lot and we are still a young group, so that’s ok. And we like to play abroad, it’s always a bit like being on holidays, a bit surreal even.  Here, we just feel at home.

Do you prefer to play festivals or concerts in clubs?

We don’t really want to create a hierarchy. It’s true that our music is more made for real concert venues, for closed spaces. So this festival atmosphere here is actually really new for us. We were a bit scared that it wouldn’t work because we don’t do big rock shows like the famous headliners. What we do is more intimate and a huge stage is always impressive, but in the end we were very positively surprised: It worked really well. The audience is still a bit calm at 3pm, but very receptive.

You’ll also play a big French festival, Rock en Seine, this summer. Excited?

It’s one of the three biggest French festivals and it’s really amazing that we can play there, on the main stage! We’ve already played quite a few dates in France and will also launch our record, Wounded, there (it was released in Belgium on 21st May). It will probably come out in France in September or October and then we’ll play around 15 more gigs there. It’s impressive that our music is really starting to make an impact there, especially because the French are often quite sceptical when it comes to Belgians.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned at a festival so far?

Yesterday, for example, we played just before Gablé, a group we like a lot. It was the second time we played with them and it’s great to just be able to watch how they do everything. They always give everything, even if there are only a hundred people who haven’t even come especially to see them. That’s very inspiring and that’s what we want to do to, to always give our best, even if the location or the audience isn’t perfect. You have to try to win the audience over. We recently played the support act for Django Django in Lille. No one knew us, so we had to convince them, and after the gig some came to buy our record, so that was great.

What was your worst experience at a festival?

Generally, everything has gone well. Maybe our first festival ever, because we felt a bit lost. Or for example we played at Le Jardin du Michel, there were 3,000 people in front of us and we had never played for such a big crowd. So that was very impressive, but everything went fine anyway. There hasn’t been a really bad experience, actually.

What are your plans for after the festival season?

We’ve toured quite a lot in Belgium, so now the plan is to seriously attack France and play a lot of dates there. We also want to play more in Flanders and in Holland. And we’ll shoot a video. We’ve started to work on new songs, too, because after our mini album we’d like to release a longer record. But there’s no deadline for that yet. We have a lot on our plate!

At times the music scene can be very divided in Belgium and sometimes it’s rather hard for bands from the French-speaking part to get booked in Flanders. How is that working out for you?

It’s true that the people in Flanders don’t have the same musical taste at all and are quite alert to what’s going on internationally. The Wallonian scene can be very autocentric. Maybe it was good for us that we didn’t really know anyone when we started playing music and weren’t part of any specific scene. I think that was our big advantage, actually. And that we did something really spontaneous and very personal.

Have you come across any exciting bands at the festivals?

We don’t really have that much time to check out other bands. But we’re really looking forward to Dour, we’ll play on the same stage as Destroyer, Kurt Vile and War on Drugs, so it will be great to see them play there, if we find the time!

www.brns.be