‘You can’t confuse this record with anything from Triggerfinger’

Ruben Block has been part of Triggerfinger for almost a quarter of a century, well known to you thanks to hits such as ‘All This Dancing Around’, ‘Is It’ or the Lykke Li cover ‘I Follow Rivers’. Today the frontman steps forward with a highly intriguing solo debut.

Gunter Van Assche

It took Ruben Block four years to Looking to Glide but without time pressure he could continue to work on his firstfruits until all the details were right. The Triggerfinger frontman consulted a striker brother who had sent earlier studio recordings of the same power trio. ‘s secret weapon Colossus (2017)? That was the producer, Block thought. “Mitchell Froom taught us to look at Triggerfinger in a different way,” he explains today. “We don’t necessarily have to sound big and loud to impress.”

We stroll through the Antwerp Zoo with Block and Froom. That evening, Froom will play with Crowded House a little further down the road in the Lotto Arena. Block is the support act. We decide to rest at the monument of gorilla Gust. “If I have to compare this record with an animal, I think of a flamingo”, Block thinks. “A strange, but beautiful bird that moves angularly and idiosyncratically. By the way, on this record you also hear samples of a gecko, and of ducks in the Venetian canals. There is music in life. Why shouldn’t I mold that life into a song?”

Froom constantly challenged Block on the recordings, just as he did years ago on iconic records by Los Lobos, Elvis Costello or Suzanne Vega. When a full-blooded rock group from Belgium came knocking on his door about five years ago, the producer raised his eyebrows at the time. “I like rock,” he says, “but I had never worked with such a hard and loud band like Triggerfinger. I asked them if they were sure they wanted to work with me. But afterwards I was so impressed with Ruben that I told him: ‘If you ever need me, call me, I’m your man’.

“And promise is debt. Suddenly he was at my door again. We saw each other about twice a year for an extended period of time, and for the last two years we worked remotely. It was all very informal, with no fuss or interference from outsiders. Maybe that’s why it turned out to be such a daring and good record, I think.”

The urge to experiment on Colossus even seems like a cautious stepping stone for the sound on this solo debut, where Block pulls out all the stops. Well, what a solo: “Mitchell and I have done everything together: writing, recording and producing. And Tchad Blake also sometimes gave new life to a song in the mix. I thought it was important to tinker on my own, but it was equally nice to go deep into the woods with Mitchell. “For example, in the title song you hear a sample of my lawnmower at home (chuckles). It makes such a weird noise when you turn it off: wa-wuwuwuwu. That doesn’t mean anything in itself, but if you tinker with it a bit, it becomes a fantastic sound.

“I can’t imagine anyone would confuse this record with anything from Triggerfinger, except maybe for my voice. And then again. Triggerfinger’s thunder usually forces me to sing a certain way, and here it was different. Very liberating.”


Froom says that as a producer he closely monitors all the strong points of an artist: “I try to highlight them, but not too much. The trick is to never be too respectful. Otherwise, the result will be too soft and colorless. Ruben wanted nothing more than a lack of respect (laughs). His strongest point? That must be his colorful character. You notice that in his choice of clothing, but you can also hear it in his music. He is also a great guitarist and singer. And his ego doesn’t stand in his way: the first chords of ‘Awake’ come from me, for example. He could have thrown it to the trash can, but he saw a challenge and came up with something fantastic about it.”

The lyrics of Block once again read cryptically, like a Rorschach test that especially seem to hold up a mirror to your own perversions. For example, ‘The Key’ seems like a song about a stalker: “Could be”, Block smiles. “A cryptic form once worked better within the whimsical nature of some songs. As a result, sometimes multiple entrances present themselves and listeners may find their own secret back door. I like how, for example, Frank Black or David Byrne can also create a mood with images and impressions.”

In the freezer compartment

We read on social media that Triggerfinger would remain “in the freezer for a long time”. Now that drummer Mario Goossens and bassist Lange Polle are also busy with their own projects and hand-in-hand services for other artists, you would think that the trio will miss its silver jubilee next year. Block widens his eyes. “On the contrary.”

Froom chuckles: “I don’t think the boys are challenging each other with their own projects. It’s not an adultery or ego trip like Mick Jagger, who occasionally wants to prove that he can be just as successful without Keith Richards.”

Block nods: “After the summer we will write new material and after my tour next year it will be Triggerfinger’s turn again. The group is therefore not ready to jump. I’m glad this came through. It was high time to take some pressure off the kettle. To let in some air.”

Looking to Glide appears 30/9 at PIAS.

Ruben Block plays 1/10 in the AB, Brussels and 8/10 in the Handelsbeurs, Ghent.

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