2 Belgen

2 Belgen

2 Belgen 2 Belgen was founded in Ghent, Belgium, and initially consisted of guitar player (later multi-instrumentalist) Rembert De Smet and drummer Herman Celis. The name ("two belgians") was jokingly explained as "the only thing we had in common : our nationality".

Almost all the songs are written by Rembert De Smet, who also characterizes the music by the extensive use of the guitar-synthesizer (then a small revolution), playing bass & rhythm on the same guitar and by his quite unique singing style.

They sign a deal with Antler (a firm in Aarschot best known for its productions in the alternative genre, eg. Chowchow, Poesie Noire, Nacht Und Nebel, Siglo XX ...) and record a first single with Roland Beelen as producer : this is the single "Quand le film est triste / Lena", of which they immediately sell more than 5,000 copies.

As Roland Beelen explained in Wit-Lof from Belgium : "The very first success came almost automatic. It was a very attractive formula : Herman & Rembert were only two, but between the two of them they did almost all the instruments of a complete band. They had their own material and consequently could perform live at a very low cost. 2 Belgen where kind of a curiosity and had very nice melodies too. We didn't have the means of producing those songs very well, but that wasn't necessary : the quality was there".

They soon record an untitled debut album with Roland Beelen as producer. Funny and experimental, yet energetic and danceable pop is the result, as was best shown from songs like "The third from the left in the top row" and "I totter to my feet".

For the second album "Soulsmasking" (partially produced by Michael Wadada of the english band Suns of Arqa), the band also consisted of Jean-Lou Nowé (vocals, synth), Herman Truyens (percussion) and even included Chris Whitley on guitar (American who was residing in Belgium at the time and had a band called A Noh Rodeo at that time, later on became a internationally renowned singer-songwriter). This album became a big disappointment though, despite the nice single "Call me".

Herman Celis, part of the initial duo left the band (and went on to play with Nacht und Nebel), he was replaced with the drummer of Tank of Danzig Uli Kraemer. Rembert also forms "a real band", with Alan Gevaert (A Noh Rodeo, later in the backing of Arno & Charles & The White Trash), Jean-Lou Nowé and Koen Brando (ex-Blanc de Blanc).

Rembert decided that "the audience that is enjoying or getting mad with albums at home, is not the audience that is buying albums. "Soulsmasking" made that clear. It even isn't enough to get your album out on the radio : no, the dance-circuit, that's where the money is". Thus, the successors become a bit more mainstream and do loose them a bit of their ever so important "street credibility", but all carry one or two singles which you can hear at every party in the country : "Operation coup de poign" (a song by African artist Alpha Blondy), "Lena" (a re-recording of the B-side of theirs first single, in a danceable remix. This version became a true club-classic of the time.), "Queen of mine" (with B.J.Scott in the backing vocals). These three all get to the top ten of the national hitparades.

After 1987 news about the band becomes very scarce, although it wasn't until 1993 that the band was officially declared "deceased". Rembert de Smet did some productions in dance-related territory, before landing in the Spanish cultural club in Ghent, which fueled his passion for Spanish guitars : he has released already two albums with his band Está Loco, cheerful flamencopop with Spanish lyrics
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