A QUICK DOZEN with Ruben Block of Triggerfinger

A QUICK DOZEN with Ruben Block of Triggerfinger

By Shane Pinnegar

According to a recent press release, Antwerp, Belgium based trio TRIGGERFINGER (Ruben Block, vocals & guitar; Paul Van Bruystegem, bass; Mario Goossens, drums) have built a solid reputation across Europe, the US and Canada as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around. With their self-titled debut album (2004), What Grabs Ya (2008), All This Dancing Around (2010) and By Absence of the Sun (2014) they’ve become a mainstay on the rock scene (the last two going platinum and gold, respectively).  Their impromptu cover of the Lykke Li song I Follow Rivers became a major hit across Europe in 2012, and they were invited to open for The Rolling Stones in 2013 and 2014. After four studio albums and the massive touring that came with it, it was time for a change, and TRIGGERFINGER have added some different flavours to the mix for new album COLOSSUS. 

Here’s A Quick Dozen from singer & guitarist Ruben Block.

1. Tell us a little about your new album, COLOSSUS. Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material that only diehard fans might pick up on?

Hi Shane. Well if I told you about the possible hidden nuggets they wouldn’t be hidden anymore, would they  . We did had a lot of fun making this album. We used some trustworthy companions in the form of drums and guitars we are very familiar with and we experimented with a lot of sometimes very strange instruments ranging from very rare vintage keyboards and amps to pretty much kids toys. It delivers an album which is very worthwhile to listen to full-blast in your car or home stereo or more intimate on headphones.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realised you wanted to be a musician?

I don’t know if I can pinpoint the exact moment I realised I wanted to be a musician. I got hooked on the guitar probably a little later than most players. I started when I was 19. A fellow classmate showed me how to play Purple Rain from Prince, in the bus, on a school trip to Italy. I must say it was an amazing feeling to be able to play a song. Without wanting to minimize Purple Rain I think the song didn’t even matter that much at that point. Just the fact I could play A SONG!

After that it took a couple months to borrow a guitar from another classmate for a while and working myself through some basic chords. I met a girl, we got together and eventually started a ‘60s garage and rockabilly influenced band. She sang, I played guitar together with two friends of ours on bass and drums. I mainly wanted to play guitar. One thing pretty much led to the other. Unconsciously you take one step after another. First you rehearse every week, and that’s exciting, looking forward to play your guitar at a higher volume than at home. After a while someone asks you to do a gig… a second gig… you ask around if there’s more spots you can play in town. You play in the next town.. Just across the border… You realise it’s getting hard to combine the concerts with your fulltime job. You try to work part time. Etc etc etc.. Until a couple years down the line you realise you just recorded your 5th studio album, touring and recording have become your job and you’re still having a blast!

Triggerfinger by Diego Franssens

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

I think you don’t always know where your influences come from. And that’s a good thing. A big part of the creation process probably displays itself in the unconscious. Of course there are a lot of people you look up to, but the influences that seep through into your work might also be writers, painters, actors… or your kids… or a wonderful little Cretan restaurant… I think, for instance, Francis Bacon might have as big an influence on what I make than Iggy Pop, or Louis CK, Elvis, Jack Nicholson, PJ Harvey, Barkmarket, Tom Wolfe, Ray Charles, Egon Schiele, Grace Jones, ZZ Top, Nudie, Dali, David Lynch, Hunter S. Thompson, James Brown, Pina Bausch, Kermit the Frog, John Berryman, Robert Palmer, the Beatles and the Stones, The Cramps, Guy Bourdin, AC/DC, Helmut Newton, George Jones, Irving Penn, Slayer, Bowie, Howlin Wolf …… Or a band of young kids who play on the same festival before you, who barely can hold and/or play their instruments but manage to somehow produce a very cool sound or groove – or a very bad one. And that might also influence you.

I guess the non-musical (maybe non-musical is the wrong word… there’s also music in writing and painting but it’s less audible… or something) influences are probably as important as the musical ones.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?

I think PJ Harvey. 

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?

Basically a three piece rock and roll band focussed around drums, bass, guitar and vocals (and Colossus has a couple of songs with two basses instead of bass and guitar) The band drives for a big part around the live interaction. It might get loud but on occasion doesn’t always need to. 

6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

You can do what you love doing as a profession. It also complicates things sometimes because it’s not only playing music. You have a little business to run that helps you pay for recording albums with amazing people like Mitchell Froom, for instance. It’s great to be able to travel around the world, visit all these different places. Play on stages before people you usually don’t know nothing about but we all pretty much know what the deal is. How the whole concert/band/audience thing works. You sometimes pour your heart out in front of those people and they receive it in the way they want/can/need. And afterwards everyone goes home, some of them happy, some sad, angry, relieved, bored, confused or horny… It’s the most wonderful thing, isn’t it?

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

It depends according to the situation. When we rehearse it’s at my house. We gather in the kitchen for a couple of hours to talk about stuff – anything: Music, Family, The latest gossip… We usually take turns in who brings something to eat. When on tour our tour manager Tom usually takes care of supplies. After a show I might prepare a drink… or Mario (Paul doesn’t drink alcohol).  We don’t have a lot of acoustic guitars with us on tour but we like to jam from time to time on soundchecks. 

8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I haven’t put a lot of thought into that since I’m already living my dream job… for now. 

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep, or you would like to be able to “do over”?

I don’t think I would do things differently. I like where I am right now and it’s probably through the course of events even if some of them might have been a little unfortunate.  I don’t think you can ride this trail (or any trail in life) faultless. It’s the fuck-ups that teach you things. Keep you with your feet in the soil.

10. If you were made ruler of the world, what would your first orders be?

I don’t think it’s a very good idea to let the world be ruled by one dude. Especially not by me.

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I wouldn’t have minded to have swept a broom at Atlantic Records from the mid ‘50s through the ‘60s. The unbelievable amount of talent and craftsmanship that was signed on Atlantic when Ahmet Ertegun was A&R was staggering. Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG’s, etc etc… I would have loved to witness how they played and recorded those sessions. 

12. What, for you, is the meaning of life??

Still trying to figure that one out.

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A QUICK DOZEN with Ruben Block of Triggerfinger

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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