Posted on February 23 th. 2020
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Cyclone, originally from Vilvoorde, Flemish Brabant is the best thing that ever happened to Belgium in the field of delivering outstanding thrash metal music ! What started as an ordinary passion for metal music in the early 80’s grew into a real sensation, everywhere Cyclone performed, the roof went off. Two albums were released, countless copies were sold, no Belgian metal band has ever had as much success as them. In 1993, the success story went down for more than 26 years but anyone who thought that the curtain had finally fallen on Cyclone was wrong. The good news is that they have picked up the thread again, with a new lineup they have already completed a number of try out gigs and it seems that they have never been away. Cyclone is back and we can only be very happy with that. I have a chat with founder and singer Guido Gevels.
Stefan: First of all, thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview. How and when did Cyclone actually come into being, what did the very first lineup look like?
Guido: It all started end 1980, when I proposed to 2 guitar playing friends Pascal Van Lint and Johnny Kerbusch to form a band…we opted for the Centurion moniker but little later changed the name to Cyclone, I had the name from NWOBHM band Dervish that had a fantastic track named Cyclone on the ultrarare Kent Rocks compilation. We didn’t have a stable line-up for the first 3 years, especially the drummers came and went. Somewhere half 1983 we had the first real great line-up, Pascal Van Lint & Johhny kerbush on guitars, Michel de Rijdt on bass, Nicolas Lairin on drums and me on vocals.
Stefan: Did everyone in the band already have a musical background those days ?
Guido: Our drummer had played in several small bands in the Brussels area mostly Sabbath and Deep Purple influenced….al the others were never in a band before.
Stefan: What were the ambitions when you started ?
Guido: None….we just were over the top metal fans….and playing in a band was fun.
Stefan: Your style of music was unprecedented in Belgium at the time, how do you describe Cyclone from 1981 onwards ?
Guido: Well it started by being influenced by the new wave of British heavy metal bands such as Angel Witch, Diamond Head, Holocaust, Tygers of Pan Tang, Savage, Satan, Jaguar, Deep Machine, Sweet Savage, Hollow Ground, Chasar etc…. but also bands like Riot ( especially the Fire down under era ), Anvil 1st 3 albums ) had a serious impact on our playing. Those bands brought a faster pace of metal with more aggressive picking in the riffs and we just took over the picking style and as we started to rehearse nearly daily the riffage became tighter than tight and faster which resulted in more aggressive and faster songs. By 1982 we had faster songs like The Gravedigger, In the grip of evil, etc….
Stefan: What was your vision on the Belgian metal scene back then, which bands you really liked ?
Guido: As we were metalheads in an almost maniacal way we followed the whole scene, inclusive Belgian bands…. Early Killer and Crossfire (Metalclogs era) were our faves. But some early Acid & Ostrogoth stuff also.
Stefan: Who wrote the lyrics and what were they about ?
Guido: I wrote all the lyrics….some are fiction some reality, mostly macabre related sick stuff, serial killers, the end of the world, incest, inner struggle .
Stefan: If you want to achieve something as a band, you have to work hard to achieve – how much time did you spend in the rehearsal room ?
Guido: The era 1984 til 1991 we rehearsed every day, week, Saturday, Sunday…from 91 til 93 about 3-4 times a week.
Stefan: Your very first performance took place on 2 June 1984, as support for Acid and Thunderlord you had the opportunity to prove yourself in front of a live audience. I was there in person and was immediately seized by the throat. Loud and fast with a variable strong voice, this was unseen in Belgium. How did you experience this evening ?
Guido: Well after being 4 years in a rehearsal room it finally was going to happen…we didn’t have a clue if people were going to like our stuff but the reactions were fantastic and from that day on it did spread like a rapid fire. We couldn’t believe it ourselves that all could change so suddenly by one show…it really motivated us to go on and get better.
Stefan: I suspect that this performance, and the release of a couple demo’s has been the springboard to further success. Agreed or not ?
Guido: Indeed it was….we got some publicity in mags and several new shows were booked… and we finalized some new songs we were working on like Fall under his command, Incest love…it still lasted a while before we finally recorded those songs but once we had the In the grip of evil demo out it really became crazy.
Stefan: More and more gigs were booked and Cyclone shared the stage with big names from the metal world. Because the list is very extensive I only ask you to name the most memorable gigs Guido.
Guido: Yeah it’s hard to believe when you see the list of great bands we shared a stage with, but here you go : Overkill, Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, Metal Church, Agent Steel, Whiplash, Blessed Death, Sadus, Destruction, Kreator, Sepultura…are the first that come to mind…there’s surely a lot more… 🙂
Stefan: You also toured with the Blessed Death and Sadus, both are favourite US thrash metal bands of mine… how was touring with these guys ?
Guido: Blessed Death were like our brothers, we had a strong friendship already before the tour which became even stronger during and they were a fantastic live act. Sadus started out slowly but along the tour we became good friends, good laughs and always great in later years to see some of the Sadus guys on the road with other bands.
Stefan: Your debut album “Brutal Destruction” was launched in 1986 by legendary Roadrunner Records. Back then a big label, were there strict conditions attached to the contract ?
Guido: Well we had to agree on the release of the Metal race compilation where we had 2 live tracks, at first we didn’t wanted to be on this album as we didn’t like the idea. Further there was a contract for 4 more albums but in fact Roadrunner could break up the agreement after every album.
Stefan: The effort hit the fans like a bomb, everyone was talking about Cyclone and had to own a copy of this extremely dynamic album at all costs. Do you have any idea how many times this killer effort has made the checkout ring ?
Guido: Back in the day more than 100.000 worldwide, no exact figure on how many over 100.000. In later years they also released a cd-version of it as well both on Axe Killer and Metal Minded labels of a few thousand more issues.
Stefan: By whom and where the cut has been produced – who wrote the songs and can you tell a bit more about the lyrical content ?
Guido: We recorded it in Brussels at I.C.P. studio’s…produced by Gus Roan but in fact we did it ourselves as both the engineer and the producer had ever heard anything like this. All songs were written by or Van Lint-Kerbusch-Gevels or Kerbusch-Gevels and also Stefaan Daamen had some bits in there as well like ‘Prelude to the End’ for example. Lyrics see earlier.
Stefan: What has the album brought about in the camp of Cyclone? Besides the big success, also less good moments you had to deal with ?
Guido: Well it brought us a lot of great gigs but barely any money…but we became well known in the metalworld outside of Belgium. Less good was the fact that after the Slayer show in 1987 Johnny and our drummer Nicolas decided to leave, due to the fact no money was coming in and Roadrunner kept on delaying the recording of the 2nd album as there was always a more important band like Anthrax or Toxik that had to bring out a new album first. So it resulted in the first line-up changes where you loose another several months finding the right guys.
Stefan: Why the cooperation with Roadrunner Records came to an end ?
Guido: As they kept on delaying our 2nd album to be recorded we finally got into a big argument with the head of Roadrunner where working together became impossible and they dropped us and we wanted to leave.
Stefan: Four years later your second album “Inferior To None” was released via the Belgian label Justice Records. It became an extremely limited edition, not so many fans didn’t know anything about the release. Collaboration with this label didn’t go smoothly, I suppose. What happened ?
Guido: After Roadrunner we started looking for a new label but other labels were not so keen on working with us, they said stuff like if you were not happy at Roadrunner you won’t be happy here either. This caused a lot of shitty situations which led to various line-up changes where in the end just Stefaan Daamen (guitar) and I were original members (hence the long period in between the albums). So we decided to go for a smaller label but willing to treat us as their most important band so we went for Justice records as we new the manager very well. So little after we recorded Inferior… in only 3 days we did the whole deal inclusive mix, recorded at ACE studios in Aertselaar, this time with engineer Al Pangelinan ( guitarist from Darklin Reach ) and producer Eric Greif who had worked with Acrophet, Death and Dark Angel. We had a great result but sadly just before the realease the label went bankrupt so we had 10000 cd’s ready and waiting at Sony, Austria but as long as they didn’t get their money they wouldn’t release the cd’s, so the finished cd’s stayed almost a year in Austria before another label took over and payed the bills to Sony.
Stefan: Eric Greif (Death, Acrophet, Invocator, Morbid Saint, Viogression, …/co-promoter of Milwaukee Metalfest) produced the album. How does a Belgian band come into contact with a producer of world fame ?
Guido: A mutual friend got us in touch, I mailed out a tape to Eric and he was immediately wild about it… I remember how overwhelmed he was in the studio when he heard the rest of the songs….he just couldn’t believe on how good the song structures were and how tight it all sounded.
Stefan: This follow up to “Brutal Destruction” sounded convincingly good, but do you agree when I say the success of your debut wasn’t matched ?
Guido: Obvious it sounded way better but of course the worldwide promotion and distribution were a lot less than in the Roadrunner days plus the fact due to all the shit that had happened the album was nearly 14 months too late in the shops, by that time the Death metal scene was firmly growing and thrash lost interest, those factors alone were the cause for that, I don’t think it had anything to do with the band or our music…there was a lot of change happening in the scene at that time.
Stefan: With only you and guitarist Stefaan Daamen at the helm as original Cyclone members, who completed the line up at the time ?
Guido: We had Didier Capelle (ex-Warhead) on lead guitar, Ger Van Overloop on Bass and Giancarlo Langhendries on drums.
Stefan: Was the mood as good as it was in the beginning of Cyclone? Speak freely.
Guido: I think in the beginning we were all good friends so you can’t beat that feeling, but even before Johnny left it was already trouble in paradise as Pascal was the kind of guy that would regularly skip rehearsals or not show up at rehearsal ( that’s where Stefaan Daamen our bassplayer would play nnd guitar and co-write on songs ) so Johnny kinda had had it with him, also partionally one of the reasons why Johnny threw in the towel. The line-up’s in between the 2 albums was always negotiating stuff to keep everybody satisfied which was for Stefaan and I a pain in the ass, we wrote the songs and the others would comment but never add anything. The line-up of the Inferior era was better but we had some issues with our drummer Giancarlo, he could be a real pain now and then, so finally we re-placed him but by then the spirit was broken.
Stefan: Have you often performed with this line-up ?
Guido: We did perform quiet some shows, also the Sadus tour was with this line-up
Stefan: From 1993 to 2019 Cyclone disappeared from the radar, what kept you busy during this period ?
Guido: I started my own small club Negasonic in Aalst where we have a lot of shows…part from that life goes on as ever before but just without being in a band, you continue to buy and listen to music, see shows, etc….
Stefan: Knowing you, you would do anything to get Cyclone back on its feet, and you did ! Last year you suddenly showed up again, with renewed members on board. Maybe an annoying question, but for what reason did it take so long to return to the metal scene ?
Guido: Well it kinda grew on us….we never said to ourselves that we would never play again….and there was a time when we just didn’t feel like playing…the last 2-3 years we once in a while would talk about Cyclone and so it grew to the point where we said maybe we should jam to see where it brings us…once we started jammin’ the click was there immediately and little after that we trying out some old Cyclone songs and auditioned for a complete line-up.
Stefan: Besides guitar player Stefaan and yourself you will be assisted by three newcomers. Who are they and why you have chosen them. I suppose more musicians wanted to complete the mighty cyclone ranks, right?
Guido: The new guys are Matthias Debaets drums, Kevin Verleysen leadguitar and Vincent Heyman bass. Matt and Kevin I knew from seeing them play at my club with their previous bands and they caught my attention when seeing them play, so I asked them to jam without really knowing we were reforming Cyclone… Vincent responded to an add Matt had placed on his Facebook page, but both Matt and Kevin knew Vincent from the past, also Vincent didn’t know he was auditioning for Cyclone, we wanted motivated people that play for the love of music and having a great time when playing, if we would have went for Cyclone is looking for….we would for sure have attracted the wrong guys… now we know we have the right guys… talented, motivated with a heart for music and most of all a good sense of humor and friendship which is the basis to have a real band where there is a connection….believe it or not but we are more of a real band than ever before.
Stefan: In the meantime a few try out gigs have been completed and a few more coming up next. I’d like ask for your opinion on the ones which have already been passed.
Guido: We didn’t know what to expect, of course during the years there was often the question on when will you guys finally play some reunion shows…but that doesn’t mean that the scene is still waiting for you. We did know that when we would come out it had to be as good or even better than before…so we rehearsed twice a week during 18 moths…until we said, this is starting to sound great. We were really overwhelmed by the response after the 1st and the 2nd try-out…people that where there, according to what they said, were literally blown away…which gave us a great feeling and an extra boost, so we are more that happy and lucky with the outcome, after all we just play because we like it ourselves so if other people like it also you can’t be more satisfied.
Stefan: Cyclone is also on the bill of Germany’s heavy metal birthplace Keep It True and Belgium’s finest Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival… …what can they expect over there?
Guido: A motivated spontaneous band giving the best of itself….with a set being a great mix of our 2 albums where we play all the classics.
Stefan: Is it still too early to ask if a new album will be released later on?
Guido: Yeah too early….but we intend, in a first stage, to pick up some songs (there’s a few) that got lost in between the 2 albums and in the meantime we have roughly recorded some new small bits of new riffs that have come out of our jam sessions which we have at the beginning of every rehearsal, but not really songs, just some snippets of riffs that we like.
Stefan: Wouldn’t it be a good plan to re-release both Cyclone albums “Brutal Destruction” and “Inferior To None”?
Guido: We think so yes….we will try to re-release both albums if possible. There is still a lot of demand…and both albums have become very sought after items.
Stefan: Tough one, what do you think of the contemporary, world-wide metal scene and all is genres/subgenres? Are there certain bands/gems that draw your attention?
Guido: Of course a lot has changed over the year and I do think the metalscene is far from where it ever was. I miss that connected feeling from the old days, where metal was a lifestyle and the scene was one scene. I miss the true vibe and soul. Nowadays there is for sure more interest in metal, more festivals, a wide scene of all types of metal ( some which I think haven’t got anything to do with metal ) which draw a wide scene of people, devoted and a majority of so called metalhead which you only see at the big events, selfie taking day or festival tourists.
I don’t feel connected at all but to be frank I couldn’t care less. Music wise there are little bands that can grasp my soul, there is an overkill, 666 rip-off bands ( that lack any form of originality) in a devilish dozen. Mainly I listen to the old stuff or recent stuff being released by the old bands. Again I always see these old bands re-appear at all the festivals…it looks like there is no real follow up to bands of that caliber and so is prove that these old bands still do very well both to old and new fans which is remarkable.
In the last 20 years there are very few bands that deliver stuff that knocks me out of my socks…but I like stuff like Corrosion of Conformity (Deliverance, Wiseblood), Alice in Chains (first 3 albums), Voivod, Angel Witch (last 2 albums )
Stefan: Then I wish the renewed Cyclone all the best and as soon as physically possible, I will definitely come and admire you guys on stage. Honored to have you hear at MTI webzine Belgium, the last word is yours Guido !
Guido: Thanx for the support Stefan….we appreciate your time and effort all for the cause….to all the true believers that support pages like this and the great bands listed….Metal til’ you die.