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the story of L'heure du malheur

Live at brewery malheur

Readers of CHUM will know by now that I don’t hide my enthusiasm for a number of Belgian bands, and that the guys of L’Heure du Malheur have acquired themselves an earned place alongside those bands. So we thought: we need them to perform in their own habitat, and we need them to ourselves for a few hours. To our own surprise, we found a brewery that named its beer ‘Malheur’, and they were prepared to gift us their tasting bar for a few hours.

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the brewery

Malheur is the name under which the brewery of ‘De Landtsheer’ operates. They’re part of the many small, artisanal brewery’s that grace our country and who most of all find their succes across the Belgian border. Around the parts of Dendermonde they still remember the story of the four local children on a horse (’t Ros Beiaard, a well known tale in Belgium). Those were four boys, and every ten years there’s a parade through the streets of Dendermonde with four boys from one family on a wooden horse. The family of De Landtsheer had three sons and one daughter, so jokingly they called the daughter a ‘malheurke’ (which roughly translates to a mistake or a ‘bummer’). And so the name of the beer was born.

a special way of performing

Is there a connection between their special way of performing, their life and their convictions? I thought to approach them with that in mind, but it turned out to be harder than that. They did not just show their cards, or be tempted to sensitive comments, not even after a few ‘Malheurs’.

Every time I hear their songs, I feel them too. It’s not obvious to me why, because they’re not perfect singers or performers. That makes them quite sympathetic, their spontaneity and their aversion to everything that is overly managed. To me, they’re a singer-songwriter duo that doesn’t follow the tradition, they diverge from the beaten path and put forth something that takes time to understand, that takes time to learn to appreciate.

from the gut

Judging a band is done from the gut, the vibration through the body, the thoughts it summons and the references to other known sounds. It could also be the look of the band members, which is quite alright for L’Heure du Malheur. More important than all of this though is how they perform their music.

onstage

Nine months after their CD release we check the progress together. Their first remark is that they’ve had more stage experience. Both with and without band they’ve learned a great deal. They feel more confident than ever onstage and they’ve learned to optimise their interaction with the audience. However, talking songs together through banter still seems hard, in part because Brian has trouble expressing himself on stage. Another element where positive evolution can be found is in the compositions of the songs. Brian tells us that if they were to head into the studio right now, the songs would probably sound a bit different than on the CD.

Since the release of their CD, they’ve had a show per week on average. It’s a way to grab some attention and let the fanbase grow. Brian’s thoughts: “We don’t want to reach just anyone, we want to reach the individual, those that understand our music and know its story.” Sander elaborates: “We’ll be slowing down in the following months of summer so we can focus on making new songs for our EP, set to launch end 2015.”

angel

In any case, there’s one new song ready, both because it just missed the last CD and because it grew throughout the shows. ‘Angel’ is its name and you could translate it literally as an angel, or as the stinger of a bee (in dutch). L’Heure du Malheur played this song at the end of their set in the brewery, and it sounded mature and ready to be finished. It gave us a glimpse into the how the future sound will be: dynamic. Sander: “The calmness will stay, but by performing with a band we’ve grown to love the dynamics, those moments where everything comes together with power.

unique

There’s two things that L’Heure du Malheur will always keep, and that makes them unique; the joined singing and guitar playing. 

Brian:
“We’re both classically trained guitarists and that allows us to build upon those strengths. Whenever I play chords and Sander accentuates with his riffs, our typical sound emerges.”
Sander:
“Besides that, we also work to create a positive tension between our singing and guitar playing.”
Brian:
“Finding the harmony while singing is quite a chore. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it defines us, but since we’ve started experimenting more with two singers, it has to be right.”

duality of life

The central theme of the ‘Forets d’étoiles’ CD is the duality of life. Certain things are put before you and sometimes even forced upon you. If you’re critical you start searching for, and start discovering the truth. You want to search for your own interpretation of what the truth is.

Brian:
“It’s a feeling you often find in our songs. It’s not really criticism towards society, but just our personal experience.”
Sander:
“Our task is to question things and to help the audience do that as well.”

looking up

As a spectator I get the impression that both gentlemen are a bit shy on stage. They need to work on their connection with the audience and their filler-talk between songs needs more conviction. Brian, for example, tends to shut himself off and looks up above, concentrated.

Not every show is alike, but when I saw them perform in the ‘Huset’ in Ghent, it was perfect, it all seemed to fit. It was then that I noticed that L’Heure du Malheur is at their best when they play in their own biotope. The typical bar where the audience takes the time to listen with attention, and allow the energy and message to come in.

sharing the stories

Brian:
“I think it’s necessary, because the lyrics are really personal and if I end up sharing that with stories, I feel it might come across as obtrusive.”
Sander:
“Telling stories about the lyrics? I always find it hard. It diverts attention from the why, namely: the music.

with band

A new aspect since they released the CD is that L’Heure du Malheur now also plays with a band. The drummer is the guy that recorded the CD with them in the studio. He’s not so much a drummer, but a percussionist who knows how to add to the two gentlemen. Sander: “He really is in the song, not just looking around uninterested. He believes in our music.”

Sander:
“There was no stage at Hoset. Audience in sofas. No barriers, that’s our thing. Every word we say, we sing, people hear. They listen with their eyes closed, and that’s amazing.”
Brian:
“We did a concert in a living room last week and there we saw some people with their eyes closed as well. Might be because it was 10 in the morning, on a Sunday.”

the brewery

Credits

L'Heure du Malheur

Members

Sander Bosmans – Guitar / Vocals
Brian Waterschoot – Guitar / Vocals

CHUM would like to thank

Where to now captain?

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