Interviews: Transport Aerian

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Progressive Rock band, Transport Aerian, from Belgium. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you plan it or come out just like that?

Hamlet: I actually receive this question quite often lately! In fact, the answer is, much contrary to the album titles, which I chose very carefully in an attempt to emphasize and expand a topic of the given album, the band name was largely incidental.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

Hamlet: I don’t quite know in which genre we play. We call it progressive rock because it is a very broad definition that comprises a lot of possibilities, including more sophisticated topics, and more freedom of experimentation with the sound, without having to stick to one approach. And I definitely in no way frame it as the typical “modernized sound of the 70ies with mellotron, 7/8, and sounds like Rush, Tool, or Yes”. We are quite the opposite of that definition of the genre we choose to operate in. We just make music we think should be done, and in that sense, progressive rock seemed liberating, although it really isn’t, just as any genre. Call it marketing, a necessary evil, perhaps? Some music critics call us Rock In Opposition or heavy avant-garde rock, but those are again just marketing labels. 

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Hamlet: It was the music that put us together. I met Stefan many years ago, in 2007 or 2008, as I was looking for a guitar player with my own voice and sound and he had some very impressive demos which I found very unique. Umut and I first met at a baroque-themed improvisation session and he was a pure class with his piano, so I offered him to join the new lineup which I started to put together in 2019. At the same time, Paul got head-hunted via internet advertising, as I really liked the demos he’d send me, which I thought had something special in them.

Stefan Boeykens: No. It started as Hamlet’s project, which I joined. The current line-up is the third iteration, where I returned after a time with no gigs or rehearsals.

Umut Eldem: Apart from Hamlet, not really, no. Very pleasant surprise that it ended up being such a good fit musically.

4. Each band member's favorite band?

Hamlet: Don’t have one. But let me give you those that linger in my top ten for last 15 years – without a particular order: Magma, Peter Hammill, Lana Del Rey, Burzum, Dead Can Dance, Inna Zhelannaya, Nick Cave, The Walkabouts, Rishloo, Fish.

Stefan Boeykens: probably Marillion or Porcupine Tree

Umut Eldem: I am a big fan of 70s fusion, especially the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Very tight sound, innovative, and inspiring.

Paul De Smet: It’s different every year but right now I’m really into Joel Ross and James Francies.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Hamlet: The life itself has plenty of imagery to offer!

Stefan Boeykens: Listening to music, seeing other people play, but also watching gear movies on YouTube. At least for music. For lyrics, I try to mix between abstracted, but personally touching feelings about melancholy, frustration, apathy, technology, and love, of course.

Paul De Smet: Listening to other music and playing piano mostly.

6. Where was your last gig?

Stefan Boeykens: A small hidden club near Nijlen (Belgium)

Hamlet: By the time when this interview is published, this would be already old information, but we are currently doing a very small tour around here, titled Exit Skywound – to showcase the live album and say goodbye to the program we’ve been playing for the last two years. So I can’t tell which will be the last by then! 

7. Where would you like to act?

Hamlet: To perform? It does not matter at all, as long as the logistics are feasible and the audience is engaging in music and focuses on the listening experience, willing to hear what we try to say.

Stefan Boeykens: I don’t like to act. Probably some semi-pro rock festival or a really lovely venue like Ancienne Belgique.

8. Whom would you like to feature with?

Hamlet: There are plenty of great artists in our times, so the question is not with whom but in which context. I do not have any idols and do not harbor a wet dream to appear on somebody’s bigger record, I am simply open to pretty much anything, as long as it sounds good, has some meaning to it, and brings a better idea to the physical world.

Stefan Boeykens: probably everybody

9. Whom not?

Hamlet: I don’t like musical acts that lack originality, personality, and bravery to say something new. I would not waste my time on those. No particular names are needed, deep inside we all know what we are!

Stefan Boeykens: Nationalistisch zangfeest.

10. Have any of you ever suffered from stage fright? Any tips for beginners on how to beat that?

Umut Eldem: If I feel nervous about performing, it usually happens before getting on the stage. Having other things to focus on while playing (like playing well) kind of blocks the anxiety. I think exposure therapy is the answer - the more often you play, the more often you are used to playing. That, and accepting the fact that you will have some duds once in a while.

Hamlet: Never experience that, no. For me, a concert always feels like a magical moment of dialogue between the artist and the audience which needs to be cherished, appreciated, and turned for a good cause. What is there to be afraid of? The people who attend your concert left the cozy warmth of their homes, and drove a few kilometers just to see you deliver something new to them! As for the beginner’s tip - a very simple one. Remember that the perspective of a listener is very different from that of a musician. The listeners do not notice those tiny mistakes you make. But what they do notice indeed, is your confidence (or a lack of), your artistry (or amateurism), and whether you give them the emotions (or fail to do so). So do not practice until you are flawless. Instead, practice until you develop the confidence, your own voice, something unique to offer. And then make sure that everyone at your concert has something to carry home – be it happiness, sadness, or food for thought.

Stefan Boeykens: Since I’m not singing, I’m mostly concerned about missing my mark, tapping the wrong preset, or playing in the wrong key. But I’m a little more comfortable now. And you need some kind of tension to up the intensity of our playing.

Paul De Smet: Maybe a little. Learn your parts very well and rehearse enough, that’ll make you more confident. Also having the mindset of having fun instead of always thinking ‘I have to get everything right’ helps.

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Hamlet: too many to list here, but I can give a few milestones, whose influence was indirect, so you probably can’t hear my music at all. The first bigger inspiration was Peter Hammill, who, in my opinion heavily influenced my approach to vocal lines and forged my taste for the heavy emphasis on lyrics. Then there were some proto-punk artists, whose simplicity taught me the idea that the music is not hard to make as long as you know why you are making it. Then I combined these two opposite approaches. The most poetic, and sophisticated progressive rock method and most crude, primitive approach to technicalities. And then myriads and myriads of artists of all possible genres to expand the erudition and thus provide the dexterity to integrate very different elements into my own music. 

Stefan Boeykens: Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, Dire Straits originally. And 80s metal ballads...

Paul De Smet: A lot of bands as I play a lot of different genres. If I had to pick one it’s Animals as Leaders with Matt Garstka (drummer) as my biggest inspiration.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Stefan Boeykens: Nothing weird so far... the setlist, a guitar pick, or a signed album

Paul De Smet: My signature

Hamlet: I once had to put an autograph on the left boob of a classy 70+ years old lady who attended our show, although I can’t quite recall if it was with Transport Aerian back then, which it probably wasn’t, as I remember eating some Belgian fries and meatballs in tomato sauce at the backstage afterward.

13. What do you think of your fans?

Hamlet: Music only matters when it is heard. I love our fans - all together and each one in particular. Without fans, there is no us, but also without us, there are no our fans. It is symbiotic relations that remain healthy for as long as they don’t become mutually controlling.

Stefan Boeykens: We need more of them!

14. What do you think of our site?

Hamlet: it is lovely, as all the underground and semi-underground webzines, blogs, and other sources do their best to spotlight the countless bands and artists. The work is as noble as thankless – so I appreciate and feel thankful to be featured here!

15. Something to add?

Stefan Boeykens: Be open to any style of music and embrace originality. I don’t want to have the guitar sound of another player or play songs in the style of another band. There are influences anyway, but be ready to add some breaks, contrasts, different takes...

Hamlet: just thank you for having us and we hope you enjoy our music!

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