The rural East Flanders region known as Meetjesland isn’t exactly famous for its musical exports (except the cringing Eurovision contestant Tom Dice). It is however home to Ping Pong Tactics, the country’s most exciting and noisy bright young things.
Dries Dauwe (drums) and Bert Huyghe (vocals, bass) formed the band in 2008, recruiting the latter’s then 16-year-old brother Thomas to take on guitar duty. With a radically DIY approach and a colourful aesthetic, their debut – 11 furiously erratic and spontaneous no-wave tinted tracks – was taped on second hand cassettes and sold in a bag with a lollipop and a balloon. Not loud enough to fit in with the local metal scene yet too deconstructed to achieve national airplay, the band ended up in the strange sonic no-man’s land of lo-fi. Although the boys rapidly gained a loyal following in Ghent, even securing an opening slot for Wavves at Brussels’ L’Ancienne Belgique, they’re still relatively unpopular back in their hometown. “It’s really hard to explain how redneck and conservative our area is,” says Bert. “Most of our songs sound like the place they’re made in – a very grey and sad zone,” adds Dries, whose parents’ shed in Lembeke serves as a rehearsal and recording studio. At first listen, their tunes carry a bright, summery and overwhelming feel. Hope shines through, yet reality always seems to catch up with the music, pervading it with melancholic undertones. And that pretty much sums up their core. “After every ambitious sentence we utter, we always just say ‘then we can go shovel shit under a train’. We want to make it, but also know we might end up becoming postmen in our villages,” Bert cynically jokes. An LP on indie label Smoke & Dust is planned for September, but “it will still be recorded on a four-track,” assures Thomas. “We’re not leaving the shed just yet.”
Below are some pictures the boys took of their homes and Lembeke shed on one of our disposable cameras.