Returning like a crack of thunder, heralding the storm that is their first full-length LP Savage Peace, Belgian post-punk act Partisan are back with the followup to 2017’s 6 track EP We Have Been So Terribly Betrayed.
In celebration of the beginning of a new chapter in the band’s history and songwriting, we had a chat with Partisan on their forthcoming new record to be released on Isolation Recs this spring:
Has the Belgian Post-Punk scene grown or evolved since your last record?
There are many great, active bands here in Belgium. I do feel there is a lot of influx from various scenes that can be linked somewhat to the genre, which keeps things interesting. I will recommend two Belgian records that just came out that deserve your attention: Crowd Of Chairs ‘Mod Kid with Dog’, and Deathmaze ‘Eau Rouge’.
How has the songwriting evolved since “We Have Been So Terribly Betrayed”?
With our new record, we have found much more our focus both musically and thematically. Ever since our first EP, we have been constantly evolving and searching for what defines us sonically. During the writing process for ’Savage Peace’, our proper first full length, we felt the songs came to us more naturally. We were much more aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. Playing out live and the experience that comes with it was also a defining factor. Inspiration is never an issue with Partisan and sometimes it feels our songs just write themselves. We value that organic character and basically just run with it.
Any personal changes experienced by members of the band that have shaped the way forward?
Definitely, for me personally, I feel the past 2 years are heavily reflected in the record. I’m sure it’s something many can relate to but to me, it was this feeling of losing a certain foundation in life and having to question many things once again. Much like when you’re a teenager and you start to question the world around you but this time with that bitter taste of life’s experiences and maybe in a less naïve way. When we were writing, this uneasiness got embedded in the songs and melodies pretty naturally, so when it was time to write the lyrics I felt the story was already there and I just had to find the right words.
There seems to be a greater emotional intensity to the subject matter of the songs on this record. Themes that seem somewhere between faith and despair, and perhaps a bit of anger too?
I would agree with that statement, the emotional investment in the new material is bigger and much more direct. Thematically it originates with that certain element of despair, but that grows and evolves into some sort of acceptance. That transformation, to me, is the essence of “Savage Peace”. It is about accepting that feeling of despair.
But also some dynamic range with songs like Patience, and Heaven, the latter of which is very beautiful. There seem to be some hopeful elements too?
I like that you use the term dynamic range. On the one hand, this is our first full-length record which means there is more room to be loud and quiet, to keep things interesting. On the other hand, it’s where the songs took us. When they come to life it can be in any form: from a loud jam session, from some intimate bedroom recordings or from a place in between those two. Once the first sketches of a song are drawn, it’s all about capturing and guarding that essence.
That interplay translates also into the themes of the record. “Patience” definitely lives in that zone between faith and despair as you mentioned earlier. It’s about that tipping point in life where things are still bad but you realise it will or must someday get better. At that moment you start to see the beauty in the pain because you know that as all things, it will pass. It might never entirely disappear, but you’ll be able to handle it.
Can you tell us what some of the songs mean on the album? Savage Peace is such a bold and striking name, for example, and what a brilliant closing and title track…
Thank you. To me, “Savage Peace” is the defining track of the record. It captures best the emotion of the record. It’s stripped-down, built around a simple and pure melody. It took us into a territory we hadn’t yet been. It was only months after writing the song that I finished reading Narziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse which expressed exactly what I meant by Savage Peace. At the end of the book Goldmund is jealous of how Narziss seems to be at peace with himself and how it is not fair that he, Goldmund, continuously struggles. At that point, Narziss tells Goldmund that he struggles every day in solitude but that it’s not because Goldmund doesn’t see it, that life is so much easier for them. Hesse is the true master and I can’t recommend his books enough.
What songs are your favorite to play live on the new record? Any music videos in the works?
We will soon release our first single and video of a track titled “I Believe In You” and we’re very excited to get it out there. Live we are already playing many new songs. I like the drive in the songs I Believe In You and Shame. Savage Peace is also a personal favourite to play as it really quiets things down in our high volume set and it taps some different kind of energy.
How do you feel about the signing with the new label Isolation Recs?
It’s great, they are very cool to work with. Isolation Records just released the live record ‘Alive In Sin’ from Rise And Fall in which I played guitar and they absolutely did a stellar job. Both Ivo and me know Pascal from our previous bands and we all have a shared musical background from the punk and hardcore scene so he exactly knows where we’re coming from and that’s important to us. By signing us among heavier sounding bands, they’re showing their broad vision for the label and we’re stoked to be a part of that!
Any touring plans?
We’re planning some release shows, obviously one in our hometown Ghent. Next to that, we’re planning on playing The Netherlands, Germany, France,…
28/03 – Maasbree (NL)
Savage Peace is out May 15, 2020.