Your Highness is an independent act based in Antwerp that boasts a dirty, aggressive sound – think heavy stoner rock with hints of blues and metal. Or as they like to call it: “gut feeling” music. Since the band’s start, they followed a “do it yourself” philosophy: no bosses, no label and no obligations, just their music. “City in Ruins” is their last album and counts ten solid tracks, including a critique on their home-town, which has lost all of its pride. In a very sincere interview, lead singer Ben opens up about the pros and cons of going-at-it-alone, his first concert ever, brewing their own beer and how they got a chicken wings overdose during the recordings sessions.
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Your Highness, what does it mean? What does it stand for?
Your Highness stands for trying to live your own life, being your own boss. Not just work-related but in everyday life too. Doing it yourself, taking care of your own life before interfering with others. Be your own highness and not belong to one …
A word about your music …
We never intended to play a certain style of music and I personally think we still don’t. Some like to call it metal, stoner, hardcore, blues or whatever. We just keep it heavy and dirty, being it aggressive or melodic. There will always be what we like to call a “gut feeling”.
A word about the Antwerp scene …
It’s definitely alive, but it’s recovering from some rough years. Lots of cool underground clubs in and around Antwerp were forced to end their activities. But it’s getting better and better again. We’ve got two great underground clubs, “Music City” and “Het Bos”, and another more commercial and bigger one named Trix. People are coming back to shows and lots of cool festivals and other initiatives are popping up. Definitely worth your visit!
Has Antwerp really fallen?
It’s a beautiful city but it seems that the majority of people who run it or live in it don’t care anymore. There’s no pride, just apathy … but I can’t blame them. Whether you vote right or left, it’s one big mess. People are bedazzled with negativity and blurry messages.
The best show you’ve ever done?
I can’t think of one in particular but our last release show was pretty crazy. Seeing so many people in the room was just mind blowing. Also Desertfest, Roadburn and our first appearance on Antwerp Metal Fest were pretty intense. Small venues, packed with a great crowd. Awesome nights! We’ll be playing Groezrock and Graspop in a couple of weeks, and I have the feeling at least one of them might end up on that list too.
The most exciting/funny story during the recording sessions of this album?
Chicken wings overdose (by the bloody meat eaters in the band), Mayonnaise-pizza, Guido Belcanto dropping by once in a while and being able to record in one of Belgium’s top-notch studios …
Do you guys produce your own videos?
The video for “Desertkater” was directed by Philippe Geubels, a Belgian stand-up comedy artist who works for TV and happens to be a friend of ours. Together with his crew and lots of other friends we spend two days filming. It was a crazy weekend, but we’re very happy with the outcome.
What was the first concert you ever saw? The most memorable? The worst?
I think one of the first bands I’ve seen – and remember – is Rage Against The Machine. Followed by NOFX and Sick of it All.
Most of us grew up and met each other at a place called “Lintfabriek” aka the CBGB’s of Europe. Lots of legendary shows took place over there, including some of the first and best shows I’ve seen. The first ones that come to mind are High on Fire with Mastodon supporting, Botch/DillingerEP, Sick of it All, H2O, the final DeadStop show, Refused/Ink&Dagger, Propaganda, Nashville Pussy, Bolt Thrower … and lots of Belgian bands like Facedown, Unsure, Kindred, Gwyllions, Rubbish Heap, Rain … Too bad it suffered the same fate as CBGB’s. There’s not enough space to list all the bad shows we’ve seen …
In the video for “Counter Cursed” you’ve done a mix of stoner music and hardcore moves. Why?
We wanted to put a new song online and also wanted some visuals to go with it. I met up with our bass player one night, several Bourbon-Coke’s and blunts later we ended up with this … Still don’t know why …
What do your parents think about your music?
They support us, but they still think its “teringherrie”.
Your favourite debuts by other bands?
Rage Against the Machine “s/t”, Vogue “Dickfaced”, The Sword “Age of Winters”, Cursed “one”, Black Sabbath “s/t”, Queens of the stone age “s/t”, The Bronx “s/t”, Dillinger Escape Plan “Calculating Infinity”, The Doors “s/t”.
Some Belgian bands that we should keep an eye out for?
You have a minute? BARK, Bliksem, Tangled Horns, King Hiss, Miava, Brutus, Cheap Drugs, Priceduifkes, We’rewolves, Imaginary Dictionary, Aguardiente, The Grave Brothers, The Sha-la-lee’s, Blackie and the oohoos, Hootka, Grimmsons, Marginal, Black Swarm, San Diablo … Sorry to the ones we forgot, there are just too many. If you’re in Antwerp and you wanna see good local bands go to a Rodeoshow.
Besides music, what do you guys do?
Some of us play in other bands, we have families and kids, we go to a lot of gigs, have a drink, have a smoke, do some drawing and designing … And we have jobs: I am a graphic designer, our drummer Jo is a tattoo-artist, guitar player Bart is a Youth Coordinator while Jean is a salesman and our bass player Jorn is a teacher.
What is the experience that you would like to re-live again for the first time?
As a band? Definitely our first appearance at Antwerp Metal Fest! Totally unexpected it turned out to be one of the craziest shows we ever played.
The writing process, how does is work in your band? Do you work together as a team, or does someone come up with the ideas or…
Most of the times one of our guitar players comes up with a bad ass riff and we start building around it. Sometimes it takes months to complete a song, sometimes only a week or two.
Music and beer – the perfect combination. How do you guys manage that? And where can I buy some?
We made it with the guys from Vleesmeester brewery. It was pretty intense in the beginning, especially since I forgot to send out the labels to put on the bottles so we had to stick all 5000 by hand. But we managed and a lot of people seem to dig it, so mission accomplished I guess. More info on how to order some is to be found on the Vleesmeester Facebook.
DIY band: the pros and the cons?
You don’t have to answer to anyone, that’s the main pro. It takes a lot of money, time, sweat … and alcohol, but it’s worth every drop and penny. I also think the satisfaction is way bigger when you do almost everything on your own.
Where are you currently based ?
We’re artist-in-residence at Trix Antwerp for 2015. Check their website once in a while, we’ve got some exciting collaborations coming up: trixonline.be.yourhighness.bandcamp.com