Q&A with Belgium-based singer Nico De Cock (The BluesBones) - playing blues/rock with undiminished feeling and skill

"Blues is maybe not the hardest music technically but you need to put all your heart and soul into it so people understand your story and feel your pain or joy, I hear a lot of bands playing great music and singing like pitch perfectly but it ain’t got the soul."

Nico De Cock: No Boundaries Blues

Belgium-based The BluesBones are a band of 5 Passione and experienced musicians, playing blues/rock with undiminished feeling and skill. Their original songs vary from blues rock over mellow and sensitive blues ballads, swampy slide to more heavy rock. This extended range of musical styles has gained the band a variegated fanbase. The band was formed in 2011. At the Belgian Blues Challenge 2012 they became public's favorite. The same contest they won in 2016. At the EBC 2017 in Horssens they were 2nd. The BluesBones had the pleasure to share stages, be support act or jam with bands like King King, Jimmy Vaughan, Seasick Steve, Tommy Castro, Guy Forsyth, Laurence Jones, Danny Bryant, The Nimmo Brothers, Jimmy Thackery, Dan Patlansky. The BluesBones are: Nico De Cock on vocals, Stef Paglia on Guitar, Edwin Risbourg on Hammond & Rhodes, Geert Boeckx on Bass, Koen Mertens on Drums.

Nico De Cock picked up singing at early age when his mother took him to church choir rehearsals. Later on worked with Tim Janssens in his studio recording a lot of variegated projects. It wasn't until 2004, at the age of 31, that he traded the studio for the stage and joined his first band, Bottle of Blooze. With this band he released one studio album containing a few original songs and this was the stepping stone to start writing lyrics and music. Nico loved to perform live on stage, and this resulted in bands like The Blues Conspiracy and Dusty Dollar. At the end of 2011, started The BluesBones, focussing mainly on writing original songs. All the lyrics he gathered over the years could be used in this new, promising project. Being praised for his raspy, bluesy and emotional voice Nico has been compared to Eric Bourdon and other great vocalists.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos by Frank Nielsen, Tim Janssens & Christophe Losberger / All rights reserved

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues people and culture? What does the blues mean to you? 

I think the blues people are a real community. If you visit a festival or concert you always see familiar people and you never feel alone. It’s like one big happy family, and you never see fights on festivals like on other festivals everybody is respecting each other… and I think that’s the way the world must be respect-full to each other regarding colour, race, religion, I think the Blues community is a good example how it’s done.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues researches? How do you describe The BluesBones songbook and sound?

My first contact with the blues was Johnny Winter. I was 16 years old and a friend of mine told me listen to this cd! I was really into hard rock bands like Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and he told here I have a blues cd you need to listen to….and it was an Album from Johnny Winter. I can’t recall the name of the album but I heard a raw voice and he really was going wild on his guitar. I thought hey this is Blues and I really like it.
The first Blues album I bought myself was “Second Winter” from Johnny winter and I really loved the version of Bob Dylan’s song “Highway 61 revisited” from that point on I bought 13 albums of Johnny winter and also starting to explore other bands. That’s my way how I got into Blues Music how would I subscribe our music: we want to be a very diverse band and want to explore the boundaries of blues music… and try to give people a diverse live show that everybody will have some songs that they like on our show or on our albums. I think it’s also the influence of all the band members that creates this diversity in our song writing.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? 

I must say in 2017 when we became 2nd on the European Blues Challenge! Backstage after the show we were packing our stuff and Mike Vernon who was a jury member came to talk to us. He told us that he really liked our band, that things where happening on stage, we had great songs and that we played very tight and that he really liked our music. We were standing there and the only thing we could say was "thank you sir". We were blown away that Mike Vernon who worked with and produced Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayal, was telling us he liked our band so much! That was one of the most mind-blowing acquaintances we have had. He worked with our musical heroes and this guy telling us he loved our music? Was to much for my brain to handle I wanted to talk with him for hours but the only thing I could say was “thank you Sir, thanks you Sir”.

"I think the blues people are a real community. If you visit a festival or concert you always see familiar people and you never feel alone. It’s like one big happy family, and you never see fights on festivals like on other festivals everybody is respecting each other… and I think that’s the way the world must be respect-full to each other regarding colour, race, religion, I think the Blues community is a good example how it’s done."

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Years ago, someone asked me what you want to accomplish with your music. I told them I really loved to play at Peer Blues Festival in Belgium someday. I have been a visitor for many years and saw my blues heroes performing on that stage and my dream was to play there once... In 2014 we played at Blues Peer and it was a dream come thru for me to go on stage and say “hi Blues Peer how are you? nice to be here and I hope you like our show” that was one of the most memorable moments in my life.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

My opinion is: blues is not the hardest music to play and everybody starts playing blues when they are young but evolve into other music genre’s, because they feel that blues is to easy... WRONG!! Blues is maybe not the hardest music technically but you need to put all your heart and soul into it so people understand your story and feel your pain or joy, I hear a lot of bands playing great music and singing like pitch perfectly but it ain’t got the soul. That’s the hardest part of playing blues you need to feel the music, sing with your heart if it isn’t perfect no problem. Give them your soul!! that’s the hardest part of blues to make it Good or Great… and if you listen to the old Blues from the past you will know what I’m talking about. You hear the story and you believe every word he or she sings about and you can feel the pain or even happiness. That’s what you can learn from the old blues legends.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Illegal downloads! I’m the first to tell you the music industry where very ignorant and charged to much for music in the past and they thought nothing could happen to them and were living the high life! until Napster came and all the other ways to download music illegal. People need to realize that making a record costs a lot of money and many bands in the blues industry are Independent. So, when an independent band needs to make an album the cost will be from 5000 - 10000 € to make this album but let’s take 7500 €. Let’s say you order 1000 cd’s that you sell for 15€ apiece. 150 pieces you send out as promotional material. You got 850 cd’s to sell and sell them all your income will be 12000 € you have 12000 - 7500 € (studio, mixing-mastering, production) 1000€ (promotion material cd’s and costs to send cd to radio and magazines) you got 3500€ left when your cd is sold out if you don’t have any costs anymore... Well with the 3500€ you still don’t have enough Budget to make a new cd because it costs more to make a new record then you earned from it. So, when you download music think about that maybe you are the reason why bands can’t make a new record for you to enjoy because they don’t have the money to record it anymore. This is the reality for most of the Blues Bands in Europe and around the world.

"I think blues has been an instrument for black people to forget their sorrows for a while. I also think when white people started to play the blues they investigated what drove people to playing blues. And I think that when you know the history behind it you will maybe be a better person and accept other cultures and try to live together in harmony."

What charactirize the Belgium Blues scene and community? What touched (emotionally) you from the local circuits?

As I told you previous, when you visit a festival our concert in Belgium you know you won’t be alone. Always someone there to talk to and they welcome you with open arms. It’s like one big happy family.

How has the Blues and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Well, I think that a lot of music carries a message and blues was a way to complain about the poor conditions black people where living in and treated.
We try to tell stories in our music and sometimes you will find a deeper message in music!

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

I think blues has been an instrument for black people to forget their sorrows for a while. I also think when white people started to play the blues they investigated what drove people to playing blues. And I think that when you know the history behind it you will maybe be a better person and accept other cultures and try to live together in harmony.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I want to go back to 1969 to the Woodstock festival. When I saw a documentary about this festival almost 30 years ago. I just wanted to be there to see all these great bands in a time of peace and love. I don’t know why but I want to spend a whole day on the Woodstock Festival. Take me back please…

The BluesBones - Home

Views: 154

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2018   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service