You are the singer of the band THIS MEANS WAR!. Who else is in the band and how would you describe your music?
Bert: Bert (lead vocals), Jelle (bass), Robbie (guitar), Dave (guitar) and Dries (drums). THIS MEANS WAR! started with the intention to bring raw, unpolished hard hitting punk combined with melodic vocals.
You are in the process of making a new record. Can you share any information about it and do you have a release date yet?
Bert: Covid-19 has been a bitch to everyone making music so we also had to change our plans. First thing we did was keeping contact with each other through zoom meetings and then we decided to use this lockdown to write new stuff. It felt kinda awkward in the beginning but after a few months things were speeding up and we got the hang of it. Last month we went into the studio (Penthouse Studio) and recorded five new tracks. We are currently waiting for the first mix to arrive in our mailbox. So needless to say we are very excited to share these new songs with you all.
Next year you are supporting GBH on their Annversary tour. Are you exited to go on the road again even though it’s still one year away?
Bert: We said goodbye to M.A.D. Tourbooking and decided to team up with Solar Penguin Agency. Great guys and they got us a spot as support act on the GBH tour. What can we say?! After doing a club tour with COCK SPARRER we are so greatful to share the stage with another legendary UK punk band. We supporterd them once before in Belgium (Aarschot) and they were beyond friendly and supportive. This tour is gonna be a banger for sure!
Your first full-length record “Heartstrings” is one of my favorite records from 2019. What are your favorite songs from that record any why?
Bert: Thank you so much. We and Bart (producer) put a lot of effort in it and yeah it came out just fine. My favorite track? Let me think… “Why We Fight” (combines H2O with some SPARRER), “What Are Friends For”, “Greed Is Out”, “The Unseen” and “Forever!”.
Who is responsible for the amazing cover artwork? It reminded me a little bit of SHEER TERRORs “Love Songs For The Unloved”.
Bert: Yeah, it kinda does. At the time we recorded “Heartstrings” I saw the design for the ALL FOR NOTHING records and i was blown away. I found out that Ernst-Jan Smits (guitar) made that great design so i contacted him. He is responsible for that awesome eagle design. It’s stunning!
Is your bandname a tribute to OLD FIRM CASUALS? Who were your influences when you first started the band?
Bert: Yeah, it’s obvious i know but OLD FIRM CASUALS were for me and my brother a huge influence. The first we ever heard of them was on the tour bus with AGNOSTIC FRONT in 2007. They always blasted ‘Perry Boys’ through the speakers and we were swept of our feet. That’s how and where the whole THIS MEANS WAR! saga started. After that tour Dries (my twin brother) and I decided to start a new band.
You descibe yourself as “Punk from the lowlands”. For those outside of Europe, can you explain what that means?
Bert: The Lowlands refer to the ‘flat’ countries Belgium and Holland. Both have no mountains and so they are called ‘the lowlands’. Robbie and Dave are from Holland so it’s not far fetched!
Early 2020 you were booked on the Persistance tour in Europe but you had to drop out. What exactly happend?
Bert: Dries (our drummer) is starting a new business… gastro pub, he’s opening this week! So when you are in Malle (Belgium) make sure to visit ‘t Molenhuys (www.molenhuys.be). A great place to hang out and the bar keeper is a punk. What more can you wish for! The idea was to open up in 2020 but Covid changed that plan. He wasn’t able to go on tour with the band at that time so we dediced to pull out. It was hard for us but there was no other option.
Before THIS IS WAR you and your brother were in a band called CONVICT. What happend with that band?
Bert: CONVICT was our first love (: but in 2007 (right after the AGNOSTIC FRONT tour) we decided to call it quits. We toured in Europe with IGNITE and AGNOSTIC FRONT, played a lot of shows and festivals… the story was told… period.
How did you get into punk music? Did you turn your brother onto it or was it the other ways around?
Bert: My brother was 15 when he picked up the drum sticks in a coverband called EARSMEAR. The guitar player and singer were into heavy stuff and they introduced us into hardcore. It started with PRO PAIN, BIOHAZARD, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and so on. The whole old school punk vibe started to get under my skin when we toured with AGNOSTIC FRONT in 2007. They played SHAM 69, COCK SPARRER, THE BUSINESS almost 24/7 on the bus. So that’s how we got into it!
What is the situation in Belgium at the moment regarding Covid?
Bert: Well, things look a whole lot better now than a few months ago. Contaminations are dropping and the vaccination campaign is really going well. It’s been hard for everybody but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Best beer to drink when visiting Belgium?
Bert: Westmalle Trappist and Tripel beer. Dries and I are from Malle where the brewery is. It’s in a monastary and the monks are still responsible for the brewing process. It’s one of the best kept secrets of our town and it’s the best trappist beer in the world. If you pass us by I’ll buy you one.