Interviews

Having a pre-rehearsal chat with Belgian rock band Beyond Horizons

Beyond Horizons is a Brussels-based rock band, influenced by metal and pop. A year after their creation, the band is evolving into new directions – both musically and visually. I got to interview singer Maxime and lead guitarist Lionel just before their rehearsal for their next show at Rock Classic on 16 September 2022.

Beyond Horizons on the set of their music video for “A New Dawn.”

Let’s start from the beginning, how was the band formed?

Max: I participated in The Voice Belgium, and after this experience, I wanted to create a serious music project. So I started to look for some musicians in my entourage, but yeah, the first project was a bit messy so it eventually stopped. Then, just after COVID hit, I found new band members.

Lio: I wasn’t in the band until June 2020 but I understood there was a mood to try to build new things. Max had a vision he wanted to explore with the new members. And so that’s why I tried to add a new touch, tried to take the guitar riff and play it with my own sensibility, without changing too many things that were there in the first project. I think Jonas (the other lead guitarist, red.) did the same. So yeah, we kind of used Max’s former vision and reshaped it with our own individual contribution.

Which music genres were you inspired by? 

Lio: With new members came new inspirations. I play a lot of rock, metal, metalcore also. But I knew that in the band I couldn’t play something too hardcore, that the point was to make something more catchy. We wanted to go for something not too extreme, but rather something between rock and metal. So (pointing to his t-shirt) I added some influences from August Burns Red (American metalcore band from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, red.) in the next tracks, as well as some metal vibes where it was possible. 

Max: I’m mainly influenced by bands like Linkin Park as well as by pop bands. I think we’re able to strike a balance there between the other members who mainly listen to metal and metalcore and my pop influences. 

Lio: To finish on that, I’d like to say that I was mind blown by the performance of Twenty One Pilots at Werchter festival. It was like a punch in my face to see how they managed to mix pop and rock in such a flawless show. And I think that’s the direction we would like to go into, mixing pop and rock like Twenty One Pilots and Bring Me the Horizon. Maybe our style of music is something for those people who don’t always listen to the radio and who don’t always listen to hardcore metal. You see, something hybrid.

You said that the band kind of emerged after the pandemic. Is there anything that you experienced during the pandemic that inspired this new creation?

Max: Most of the songs from A New Dawn, the first EP, were written during the first lockdown. I think we all wanted to just get all the emotions out when we couldn’t physically go out. 

Lio: So you needed to do things and you had the time to ask yourself, “what do I want to do?” In my case it was playing the guitar in a band or at least with other people.

The band’s brand new logo.

So your first EP came out in September 2021, and you included a rock version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games,” which I believe must be a blast when you’re playing it live – I can’t wait to see it on Friday. 

Lio: Yeah, people usually go crazy when they hear the song live because they expect something a bit sensual while we made it really punchy. We tried to make it move in a crescendo where it begins very slow and builds up into a climax of punk metal vibes.

What made you want to cover this song in particular?

Max: It was my idea at first but everybody really liked the song in the first place. I wanted each band member to create something from each part. You know, our drummer made the first part, then the guitarists and I finished with the vocals. It was cool to be able to show the musical universe of each band member. 

You mention in your Spotify description that your main purpose is to give strong emotions to your listeners, which I thought was actually really cool. I mean, I think that’s what music is all about. What does music awaken in you? Is there a different feeling associated to listening to music and making music? 

Lio: In my case, when I hear Max’s voice I feel sincerity. I like this kind of rage and mystery he conveys when he’s singing. What I also like in our music is that you can have a kind of journey between something really chill and something really hard. In the song “Poison Tears” (4th track on A New Dawn, red.), he begins with something sensual in your voice and during the chorus it’s much more punchy. Many people told me that the song had a strong effect on them. 

Max, you write the lyrics, right? So how does your writing process unfold and how long does it take you to write good lyrics for a song?

Max: Sometimes I can be very quick, like in one day I can write a song, and sometimes it takes weeks because I have to make a lot of changes. “A New Dawn” (5th song on A New Dawn, red.) was the first rap I wrote and there were a lot of lyrics. That and the techniques of rap were quite difficult for me, and maybe one day I will change the lyrics a bit because I feel like it’s kind of too Frenchy, you know? 

Lio: I really like this kind of rap vibes merged with rock music.

Again, it shows the evolution of your style towards more hybridity. Will you be playing some new tracks on Friday? 

Max: Yeah, we should play three new songs at our next gig. “Little Sparkle” is about break-ups, “Have To” is about the gap between what you learn as a child and what you have to do to function in the world as an adult, about the hypocrisy you face when you grow up. And the third one, “Bullets in the Storm,” is about resilience – being able to survive and go through everything negative that can happen to you. 

Are the new tracks part of an upcoming EP?

Max: So the idea is to release them as singles first and record an album at a later stage. We want to release “We Have To” as a single with a music video in March 2023, then maybe “Little Sparkle” in April or May 2023, and then maybe a third single with a style that is a bit more summery.

Lio: Some Sum 41-inspired vibes.

Max: Yes, I would say a bit more upbeat. Because most of our songs are a bit intense and sorrowful, here we would like to make something that sounds happier, but still with sad lyrics. This should be out in early summer. Then we’d like to play at some festivals. 

Any festivals that you can see yourself playing at? 

Max: Definitely Durbuy Rock Festival. Yeah, maybe that kind of rock, rock metal. 

Lio: There was also a new festival, Metal Fest. We would like to focus much more on playing concerts, being able to promote ourselves more than just through Spotify, maybe reaching the Flemish part of the Belgian audience as well! I think rock is coming back to the main stages of festivals, it’s kind of like a cycle. Of course the hype is on hip hop and electronic music but rock is not really dead at all. The fact is that you need to freshen up rock and give it a contemporary twist so as to be attractive to a contemporary audience. It’s exactly what Twenty One Pilots or Bring Me The Horizon are doing, really sneaking rock vibes into pop music. And we try to do something like this as well. 

Max: We are also exploring with some electronic samples. I do not have a lot of experience with it, but it’s something we’re thinking about as well in our evolution towards mixing styles.

So, the next question is a bit more personal. Lio, you work as a camera operator, Max you’ve just obtained your Bachelor’s degree in psychology. How do you combine making music with your everyday life?

Lio: I’ve realized that, if we want to go further in developing our music, we need to put time into the band. In my case, this meant accepting fewer contracts as a camera operator. I started wondering, what makes me feel good? So I decided to prioritize the time I spent on the band rather than the time I spent on my job. I mean, if you want to do something serious and meaningful with your music, you not only have to play your instrument, you also need to take the time to promote the band and book concerts. 

Max: At first I was studying physics, but I quickly stopped because I had zero time to make music. That’s when I started my studies in psychology, and by then I might have worked more on my music than on my studies. I was playing, singing, composing and at the same time learning to mix and master because it’s useful for the band to have our mixes and mastering done. This way, it could be done exactly the way we wanted and we didn’t have to pay for it either. 

What do you expect from the show on Friday?

Lio: We want to make people dance, have fun, make our rock version of “Wicked Games” known to a wider audience. Make them discover our universe and exchange energy with the crowd. 

Max: Give strong emotions to the people. 

OK, well, I’m sure there’ll be strong emotions. I can’t wait to see you at Rock Classic on Friday 16 September!

Don’t worry, if you can’t make it next Friday, you can still see Beyond Horizons on these dates:

27 Sept 2022 at 3D Games, Namur.

23 March 2023 at Porte Noire, Brussels.

Definitely go check them out on Spotify.

A quick pic of the band just before their rehearsal. From left to right: Jonas (lead/rhythm guitar), Max (vocals and guitar), Thomas (bass), Lionel (lead/rhythm guitar), Guilherme (drums).

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