Belgian Psych-ers Robbing Millions Self-titled debut LP out now on [PIAS]
Watch live video to ‘8 is the figure that I like the most’ here
New track WIAGW to host here
Photo Credit: Tina Herbots
Listen to the album on Spotify
“Easygoing funk verses filled with gently swaying instrumentals float down into purely astral vortexes on the bridges, coaxing the listener to go with the flow of the trip.” Consequence of Sound
“Unlike anything we’ve heard in quite some time! Damn!” The 405
“a sound that is both danceable but also features some guitar chops and atmospherics (Scritti Politti by way of Mew?)” Brooklyn Vegan
The fact is that the young virtuosos of Robbing Millions with their clash of inventive, dreamy psychedelics, bone-dry texts and the same slack attitude have already created a unique sound on 2 EPs. One that pays homage to avant-garde pioneers like Robert Wyatt and Can, but also has alluring references to contemporary bands such as Deerhoof and Ariel Pink.
On their long-awaited debut album Robbing Millions distils this sound even further. More appealing, more accessible, more of a pop influence and at the same time crazier.
Rewind the film…
It is 2010 and Lucien Fraipont is a twenty-something who is crazy about jazz music, and in particular, genius bebop guitarists like Wes Montgomery and John Scofield. The Brussels songwriter and singer-guitarist studies first at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, then at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and then at Jazzstudio in Antwerp and soon emerges as one of Belgium’s most promising improvising guitarists.
He starts the project ‘Winschovki’, an improvisation band with which he scours the smaller clubs. In this jazz scene he meets keyboard player Léo Dupleix and drummer Jakob Warmenbol, with whom he establishes ZAPF. Influenced by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, the combo makes polyrhythmic, improvised noise but it quickly becomes clear that the young man from Brussels does not wish to restrict himself to a single style of music or instrument.
In 2013 Fraipont writes a new series of songs at home for which he plays and records all the instruments himself. Surprisingly, the tracks have little or nothing to do with jazz, and all the more with a kind of astral pop interspersed with progressive keyboards, according to France’s most influential music magazine Les Inrocks.
Fraipont calls up his childhood friend and cartoonist Gaspard Ryelandt, plays him the songs and together they record all the vocals in a few hours to then put the whole thing on Bandcamp under the name ‘Ages and Sun’. Robbing Millions is born!
Almost immediately ‘Ages and Sun’ is picked up by the French and Belgian blogosphere and before Fraipont and Ryelandt know it, the first live requests are arriving. Fraipont hurriedly calls up his ZAPF buddies, Warmenbol and Dupleix, and they happily accept his offer.
A long series of gigs follows in Belgium and France, from Boomtown to Pukkelpop, as a backing band for Girls in Hawaii and Babyshambles while slowly but surely Robbing Millions’ gigs are also coming into their own, with wild performances (a dinosaur imitation? Check it out!) and plenty of scope for improvisation. Ancienne Belgique did not delay in appointing Robbing Millions as their artist-in-residence for the 2014-2015 season either.
Unique in the jazz tradition, Robbing Millions undergoes a series of changes in the line-up with the arrival of Daniel Bleikolm on keyboards and Raphael Desmarets on bass before recording a second EP “Lonely Carnivore” in the summer of 2014 with the new line-up under the watchful eye of guru Koen Gisen.
‘Lonely Carnivore’ leads to more than 80 gigs for Robbing Millions in France, Germany and Switzerland, with highlights including support tours for Metronomy and Balthazar, and amazing performances at Pukkelpop, Paleo Festival, Les Ardentes and Dour.
In 2015 Robbing Millions begin work on their debut album and 10 months later the band is on a plane en route to the Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn, New York for a 2-week mix session. With none other than cult wizard Nicolas Vernhes, known for his work for Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective and The War on Drugs, behind the controls. Between mix sessions, Robbing Millions perform in no fewer than 8 shows during the CMJ Music Marathon festival, an experience which results in their being signed by the prestigious European booking agency ATC Live.
On their untitled debut album the band not only perfects their sound but the quintet can also be heard developing. ‘Robbing Millions’ is probably their most accessible, synth-pop oriented record to date. And their most personal too singer-guitarist Fraipont obtains his inspiration from daily life.
Banalities such as leaving the heating on when he leaves home are the subjects of Fraipont’s new songs. And perhaps he has not only left the heating on, but his house is built on an old Indian cemetery? (‘WIAGW’)
Other topics examined include: obsessions in all shapes and forms – ranging from an ex-housemate’s passion for collecting Tupperware pots (‘Tupperware’) to Fraipont’s own fixation on the number 8 (‘Eight is the Figure that I like the Most’), and a series of grotesque characters whose only common factor is that they are all beginning to languish in complete misery.
‘In the No Air’ – an ode to Robert Wyatt’s number of the same name, hilariously describes a bickering couple with a dog who have fallen on hard times. Their last hope is a holiday which they then appear unable to afford. Complete with the ultimate anti-hero phrase: “When I go out I picture myself in a movie – I am the hero who’s lost a lot of weight.”
‘Inspector’ talks about Fraipont himself, unemployed and with fearful visions of a Job Centre inspector hard on his heels while in ‘The Mountain’ a couple go gently off kilter on an LSD trip: “Is it blue? Is it white? Is it black? I’m confused, there it is, it’s the Mountain”.
Musically, Robbing Millions adopt a highly imaginative image just like on their first two EP’s and the unique vocal harmony of Fraipont and Ryelandt on this debut album is one of their main strengths. To categorise Robbing Millions as one of a new collection of psychedelic bands (Unknown Mortal Orchestra, MGMT, Tame Impala) would be to do them an injustice. Fraipont and co. are influenced by pop, rock, jazz and traditional Congolese music.
Robbing Millions are:
Lucien Fraipont : guitars/vocals
Gaspard Ryelandt : vocals
Daniel Bleikolm : keys
Leo Campbell: bass/guitar
Jakob Warmenbol : drums
02 Feb, Birthdays, London
Sun 05 Feb, Sugar Factory, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tue 07, One Of A Million Festival, Baden, Switzerland
Wed 08, Depot, Leuven Het, Belgium
Fri, 10 Feb, Trix We Are Open Festival, Antwerpen, Belgium
Fri, 11 Feb, Nieuwe Maatjes, CC Westrand, Dilbeek, Belgium
Thu 23 Feb, Live Club, Liege, Belgium
Fri, 10 Mar, Cactus, Brugge, Belgium
‘Robbing Millions’ album is out now via [PIAS].
Robbing Millions Online