Big in Belgium and beyond, Alison Lee talks to dEUS before they touch down in Dublin.
dEUS are no strangers to these shores, having previously played the Olympia, the Point (opening for Blur), Oxegen and the Electric Picnic. Although not exactly a household name in Ireland, their upcoming appearance in Tripod is set to pull in a full house, if their previous experiences are anything to go by.
This is good news for frontman Tom Barman. “I have an absolute allergy to places that aren’t full! Playing bars is nice, playing big festivals is nice… so long as the audience is there.”
Playing big festivals is just another day’s work for the indie rock group, who have achieved something close to cult status in their native country. Appearances this year include Rock Werchter (Belgium), Melt (Germany) and T in the Park (London).
But why play at other people’s festivals when you can start up your own? This month marks the two-year anniversary of the 0110 Festival for Tolerance, organised by Tom Barman himself in order to oppose racism, extremism and gratuitous violence.
These issues came to a head in Belgium before the 2006 elections, when it seemed that extreme right-wing party, Vlaams Belang, had a serious chance of getting into power. According to Barman, the party “was getting out of proportion. It was getting too big and didn’t rhyme with what I saw on the street and what I felt. We just wanted to act against that.”
But why did he and his band mates decide to take such a controversial political stand, especially when Barman himself admits he has “never written a political line in [his] life!”
“I would say, in retrospect, it wasn’t going to change anything. It was just kind of a naïve, fuck that extreme-right shit kind of thing”.
Vlaams Belang went on to lose the 2006 election, so perhaps dEUS did, as Barman puts it, Musichelp to “put them back into opposition where they should be”.
The band’s popularity doesn’t stop in Belgium. They’ve gained the approval of an extensive international fan base since their first tour in 1992. Part of their appeal could be that most of their lyrics are in English, the second language of much of mainland Europe.
However, according to Barman, he started to write in English because “I was listening to Nirvana and The Stooges and Talking Heads- if they’re singing in English, then why can’t I?” So perhaps it is Barman’s language of choice that gives the songs more accessibility than if they had been sung in his native Flemish or French.
Though their material tends to veer towards indie, it incorporates pop, jazz, punk, and progressive rock. Barman says, “We’ve always been a band that likes to change once in a while… we just want to surprise ourselves”.
This approach seems to work- their most recent album Vantage Point is being cited by many fans as their best effort yet, although Barman isn’t shy about admitting, “I like all our albums!”
So this month sees them back on the Emerald Isle, where dEUS always try to “schedule time to visit bars” and sometimes “hang out with the guys from the Frames”. This time it’ll be a flying visit however, as they jet off to Manchester the following day for another gig.
So maybe Colin Farrell is wrong when, in In Bruges, he announces that the only thing Belgium is famous for is “chocolates and child abuse”. dEUS prove this isn’t true so don’t miss your chance to check them out here in Dublin.
dEUS play Tripod on the 13th October.