Kloot Per W

  • Per W/Pawlowski
  • 2019-03-13

Two legends of Belgian music, Mauro Pawlowski and Kloot Per W, have joined forces to create White Album-esque, 21-song adventure Insider/Outsider. It’s not the first time the pair of solo artists and band members (Pawlowski is perhaps best known as fronting Evil Superstars while Per W has been in bands such as Polyphonic Size, The Employees and The Misters) have teamed up, but they consider this an eclectic affair that, as Kloots says, “is not an easy record, but there are a number of radio friendly ‘units’ on it”. We caught up with Kloot to find out more about his life in music and the collaboration with Pawlowski.

It’s experimental-light, crazy but without being funny. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s minimal, it’s also big at some point and it’s a perfect mix of two interesting people.

First up, tell us bit about yourself - what led you all to teaming up?
I Am Kloot, 63-years-old, I’m left-handed, my main instruments are guitar and bass, but I touch other instruments too (keys, drums, and even saxophone), and I play guitar upside down and contrary.

I have my own personal technique because nobody taught me anything. I learned it from looking at posters of George Harrison and Roy Orbison (nobody played guitar in my neighbourhood), the first riff i figured out was ‘Baby Come Back’ by The Equals. I play pop music for more than 35 years and did that in 101 bands and projects in Belgium and France, recorded more than 30 albums.

My first real record release was is 1978; an album called Change Partners by The Misters on Ariola Records. It was the first time is saw how the music business worked and how slow it was, how we had to listen to too many opinions, and how much money they spend on things that were futile for me, without any results. So I ended up doing everything by myself, DIY to the full, the first fruit of this attitude was Music For Girls (the title is a ENO parody),writing, composing, playing, recording, mixing, art work, copying and distribution… the full monty as we speak.

I got rave reviews and it sold much more than expected, the press liked it and the audience for it was much bigger than I ever expected, I repeated this construction with Murder Music, Songs in Disguise and Alcohol. I think I was a a great artistic peak at that place in time, I was probably one of the first acts to release cassette only albums (at least as a music freak I knew nobody who did that before I did), but after four releases I noticed a loss of interest by the press who hailed me, but are always on the move to something new.

Funny thing was that Belgian national radio at the time had no cassette players so they had to copy my works on 12-inch tape to broadcast it - I was lucky that punk, and later post punk, and the whole do-it-yourself attitude was breaking and radio programmers had a broader view than the actual formatted monster they created now, this would not be possible now.

One guy that really stood out and was reachable was Mauro Pawlowski, I saw him play live a couple of times, and every performance was different, I thought that guy is a bit like me so why not ask him to to do some work together.

The music was as far away as I could get from the blues and heavy rock music I started with, including electronics and self made sounds bizarre lyrics and a lot of creativity, i did not own a sequencer or sample so I had to try and imitate those sounds by playing synth basses and so live, I only had a mono-synth so to manufacture a chord I had to record three or four single notes separately and ping pong them on my Portasound 4-track to give the impression of a chord.

Funny: much later when I worked as a journalist for the music press I interviewed Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark and they used the same synth and the same technique on Electricity and Enola Gay. But still I played with great Belgian bands, like semi-ska outfit The Employees and Virgin France-signed Polyphonic Size produced by JJ Burnel of Stranglers fame.

Then I reinvented myself and became a solo artist, and played with self-recorded, basic backing-tapes on a casettedeck and won the most important Belgian rock contest, HUMO’s Rock Rally. I don’t think somebody else did this before me in an alt-rock environment.

I played many many concerts alone or with female singers mostly in Belgium, but also in Germany, France and Holland, recorded solo singles and albums in regular studio’s with regular producers and had some radio hits. My generation felt like a red matador cloth before 100 raging bulls - Belgian rock artists singing in English were not supported in radio and TV, but there was an audience for us that got together by word-of-mouth. The leading press outlets saw us as clowns and never took us seriously, the press made fun of anybody that tried to make in the music business; except for a few, rock music was never mainstream in Belgium in those years.

After a last shot with Dutch-singing, sex-pop-metal band De Lama’s, we could feel the next generation breathing heavily in our neck. This was what we called The dEUS generation, they learned a lot from our work as pioneers and had it all worked out better than us babyboomers.

One guy that really stood out and was reachable was Mauro Pawlowski, I saw him play live a couple of times, and every performance was different, I thought that guy is a bit like me so why not ask him to to do some work together. We met and it gelled en clicked instantly, he understood my persona and we started to work. and now your holding the result in your hands.

Who did you take your inspiration from when recording as a duo?
The template was The White Album by The Beatles, my favourite all-time album. I liked all the different styles and moods and sounds, the humour, the experiment and it was art.

It was more the idea of being diverse and slightly left-side and experimental, and use small snippets of songs instead of sounding like The Beatles. There is no stylish comparison, but rather an overall idea.

How would you describe your musical collaboration in terms of style?
It’s experimental-light, crazy but without being funny. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s minimal, it’s also big at some point and it’s a perfect mix of two interesting people.

Tell us about your album Insider/Outsider. What’s it about?
It’s about two people from different generations that have some kind of musical connection, we both like the weird and unusual as well as the popular an accepted styles.For example I like Reggae in all its different variations a lot but Mauro is not into that, so there was no point trying that, but never say never, He played reggae-style toy organ on the mock Country track We Won’t Lose Touch, that satisfied me.

It was Mauro who came up with the title of the album, and I thought it fitted me being the outsider wanting to get in (my last 15 or so albums were ignored completely on all fronts), and Mauro playing with one of Belgium’s greatest and biggest bands wanting to get out of alt/mainstream.

That is what I make from the title, I thought it was perfect because it said something about us, the process was completely free. Some songs are basically mine, and others are Mauro’s, but we both worked on each others tracks no law’s totally free - they are a mixture of both.

I played the wonderful Wreckless Eric two-chord-wonder ‘Whole Wide World’ live for him, and he came up with ‘The Land Of The Most Forgotten’, I feel a bit like the most forgotten artist - US recluse-outsider musician Jandek is a mainstream superstar compared to me. The thing is I want it (mainstream success). I tasted it with unorthodox records in the late 70’s early 80’s when the music business was more open-minded. But now in formatted, linking times I can’t get in…

When did you write it and where did you record it?
Some were jams Mauro recorded with his smartphone, others were done in my shack, others in open air at a friends house in warm Spain, Mauro mixed it in his home studio. We took drummer Jo Moens to a studio and he played live drums in some of the tracks.

The synth instrumentals were recorded in the Spanish heat near a swimming pool, and Mauro added some beautiful mysterious vocals to some of them. I added my John Lydon rants on some of his more funky rockers.

Originally we had two French songs on the album I sang with Armenian Beirut-based singer Sabdra Arslanian, but the Belgian record company hated them, so Mauro made a new song around my idea Eleonore Rigby. I meet The Beatles character and I wonder, “Hey, you exist in real time what are you doing here?”, and the female character which I based around Emma Bovary (Madamme de Bovary) by French writer Flaubert. It’s about typical female sexual perversity (liaisons doupteuses).

I feel this is just an introduction there is far more we can do.

Can you talk us through your favourite selections from the album?
‘Sleepless Under Water’ is an important song for me, I’m not a good sleeper so I tried to express what it is if you cannot sleep for years. I’m in therapy now and it’s getting better all the time.

‘KPW on 45’ is an experiment in power pop, it’s a nod to those Stars on 45 discs that were popular in the early eighties. It’s all snippets of KPW songs and lyrics put together as an new entity by Maestro Mauro. Some of our musical friends joined us on vocals. It’s one chorus and hookline after another. We recorded 34 songs so there’s a few left.

There is no song on the album that I dislike, I selected them, I like Mauro’s vocal on ‘Pale In The Face’, the only song on the album which allows some deep blues roots. I like the funky experiment of ‘ROOM’, I’m not a great admirer of funky music, but from the way Mauro presented it to me I was immediately inspired to write some sultry lyrics. Everybody knows the feeling of entering a full room and the magnetism of one person in the room that makes all the others like disappear.

Some little snippets of ideas I recorded 35-years-ago and chosen by Mauro are interesting and join The White Album idea. In the beginning, Mauro told me to send him every single idea and song I shelved during three decades, I must have sent hum over two hundred tracks… poor guy. I don’t now if he listened to all of them but fact is he made a selection of around ten interesting snippets.

What are your hopes for Insider/Outsider?
That it will open some doors that were kept closed for the last 20 years. I hope it sells enough or more to keep people satisfied and give the opportunity to make a second one… I feel this is just an introduction there is far more we can do.

Are there any plans to tour?
We will do concerts with a full band, but no tour is scheduled as far as I’m concerned. I don’t now how the media will react. There is no big plan behind it with all the snobbery going on in such a small country and a small audience it is very difficult to get yourself heard when you have no big defined circle or construction behind you.

I made that much recordings that the self-professed hipster people who are in charge don’t bother to listen… Kloot Per W, he was always there so why give him attention when some new things are lurking?

Compare it to Ray Davies, and that’s not a blasé thing to say, he made two great albums recently and I heard none of them, not even one single time on radio and TV, even a perfect songwriter like him cannot get their attention.

I like playing live, the Belgian situation is very different from, let’s say, the UK were popmusik in part of your culture. Here we are in fact in Chanson and cabaret land, people don’t tour over here, famous stars play a gig and then they go home and sleep in their own bed, and there are not that many clubs or pubs or small halls to play. But that’s too long a story to tell.

Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Don’t give up, believe in yourself, fashion changes, everything comes back, stay the course, keep your ears and eyes open.

I would not change anything, I do what I want without nitwits telling me how to be commercial and which clothes I should wear… you now Noel Gallagher once said “mainstream pop/rock music is not about the music, it’s about the hairstyle”. I think he’s right.

Insider/Outside is released on CD, limited cassette and digital via Jezus Factory Records in collaboration with Starman Records on Friday, April 26th. Listen on Bandcamp below.

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