D = doro
RM = Roger-Marc

D : Did you spend your whole chilhood in Germany or just a few years?
RM : 50/50… I used to travel a lot. My father was in the army. I mean, he was working for the army. He used to be a postman in Charleroi. We were four children at home and things became difficult for him, so he decided to get a new job and work as a postman in the army, in Germany. I used to live in Charleroi until I got fired of the Athenee. In Belgium, we say Athenee, which means highschool. And so I had to go to a military boarding school. But it was a co-educational school, so it was a real paradise! It was not far from Cologne, so not so far from Kraftwerk too.
D : Did you see them live on stage?
RM : Not on stage, but I saw them on TV, ZDF TV. Autobahn… For me it was a real shock.
D : Is it how you got into electronic music ? were you already playing in a band in those days?
RM : I was playing in a band called MELODY. We used to do Rolling Stones covers, Ramones stuff... Then we started to write our own material...
D ; But, was it a german highschool?
RM : French-speaking. A kind of highschool for all the belgian military childs… with sons of ambassadors, guys from Zaïre, Gabon. A kind of french highschool.
D : So... could we say that the international side of Polyphonic Size was already there : singing in several different languages, mixing different kind of cultures…
RM : Definitely. Anyway, in Belgium you got to speak several languages : French, Flemish, English…
D : But, I thought your very first band was called BERK.
RM : yes... I was 13 years old, my grandbrother and I had this band with a friend from the Athenee. We were playing Beatles or Bob Dylan songs…
D : Then you went back to Brussels, in 1978 ?
RM : That's it. To go to university.
D : Just in the middle of the punk explosion?
RM : Definitely! There was a bunch of people called the B CLIQUE, with a B for Belgium. Rock journalists, guys like that. And Jerry, who followed us in the band then. In those years I had a punk band called the COOKIES. I mean punk like Police, more pop than punk.
Melody, decembre 1976


D : and what about the OBLIK MOUVEMENT ?
RM : It was, say... the second wave just after the punk explosion. And it was the beginning of Polyphonic Size, with Devo and Kraftwerk influences. Something more cold and electronic.
D : but, did you create that mouvement ?
RM : I did

D : who else was part of it ?
RM : just a bunch of mates and a couple of bands. Jerry, Daniel B, Michel Lambot… People who will later make Front 242, Play it Again Sam… Pseudocode was more or less around too. Daniel, Michel, Jerry… Jerry is dead now. Too bad...
D : Jerry, who was he?
RM : he was a real great guitarist. He founded X Pulsion, and Revenge, which was produced by JJ Burnel too, and Digital Dance. He was really somebody in the Brussels punk scene. Everybody knew him.. He's gone now, Aids… His punk nickname was Jerry W X. Jerry Wanker. He used to go on tour with us, taking care of the PA.
D : Let's go back to the OBLIK MOUVEMENT, did you write any kind of manifesto?
RM : Well, no… oh, yes ! We had a certain way of tagging Oblik in the trendy bars, and recently I found a book I wrote about Oblik… But there were no texts, just plastic, photos, collages… And on the back side of the book I found all the notes I wrote down during the 1st LP session, track by track! And then I found some photocopies were I used to note all the connections, cables, knobs, just like an electric diagram… Because in those days, it was really hard to remake it in the studio!

D : Beside Daniel from Front 242, did you know other bands, like Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel ?
RM : not that much… Actually, there was a kind of opposition between Cramned discs and Sandwich records. I remember one day, Michel and I went to Cramned discs, and just as we were standing at the front door, we turned back (laughs).
D : Why ?
RM : I don't know! (laughs). Maybe because they were more arty, more fashion. We came from the punk scene. It was a rather stupid opposition, but the main thing is that it pushed many people to create bands and start something.



D : Let's talk about the first EP. It's both sung in english and french. In France, in those days, people were arguing whether it was better to sing in french or in english. Was it the same in Brusselles ?
RM : It was. Our very first single didn't get any review because they say it wasn't rock neither variété française, but we never ask ourselves these kind of questions. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the Stranglers, punk music were part of our culture and we didn't see any reason why rock should be sung in english only.
D : Was there already a european concept in the band?
RM : Definitely, because, as I told you, we all had to speak several languages, and Belgium has always been pro-european. And we had the chance to work with DOMINIQUE BUXIN, who had a certain kind of magic...

D : Did you meet him in Germany?
RM : Yeah, I met him during the Melody days. He was 2 years older than me and a real Serge Gainsbourg fan, of course. He used to be in a band called Kolossal. with a K. Wait... I think I remember how things really started out. When I began the Oblik Mouvement, there was a friend of mine called Toto, who used to know Dominique Buxin as well. We both sent each other tapes, et voila.D : There's something written on the cover : Engineered by Swalens JP. Who was he?
RM : It's a thiiiiiiiieeeefff!!!!!
D : Is it the guy who ran away to Corsica with the master tapes?
RM : That's him ! Actually, he owned the studio and worked as sound engineer as well. I don't know what happened, maybe he didn't get paid, but he ran away with the tapes …. His full name was Jean-Pierre Swalens.
D : But, did you keep a copy of the tapes?
RM : Well, I'm afraid the 2 first singles tapes must be lost forever, because the guy ran away with them. And the only other person who could have a copy is Michel Lambot, to do the masters, print the records, etceteri etcetera... But he is so messy, he moved so many times, got so many flood in his places, that he certainly has no idea where his own copies might be (laughs). But I'm quite sure I've got the Nagasaki tapes at home.
D : The Algorythmic reference is 251079. Was it the date of the release?
RM : Probably.
D : The SPACE REJECTION lyrics are quite obscure. Sounds like you sing :
"I don't want to be your driver, you're fucking as a superman "
RM : no no no I think it is "happy superman", or maybe "surfing man" ? I don't know (laughs).
RM : PLAGE PRIVEE has a political side quite rare in Polyphonic Size lyrics (although it it can be found in Action Man too). Le Bourgmestre, Brussels... Were you talking about any special event?
D : Sure. It was about rock festivals in Brussels, on Brouckère square. One of the Bourgmestres did cancel the festival, and there were some fights, riots...
D : I really like the pink/black & white concrete collage on the cover. One question : What is this building on the picture?
RM : It was the Belgian finances department. (laughs), still in construction. And behind is the tunnel to get in there.


RM : There were only 800 copies made. 1500 of Algorythmic and 800 of Pragmatic Songs. Because we sold so badly the very first one (200 only!), Michel Lambot said : popopop, we will just print half quantities, 800! (laughs).
D : What about this strange title, Ommatidia ? What is it?
RM : It came from Ozymandias, JJ Burnel's Freddie Laker single B side. I think it must be a bacterium name, something like that. (actually a Shelley's poem). It was the beginning of the Burnel times.
D : And Logique polygonale ? These odd mathematics references, like Algorythmic ?
RM : Well... in those days, I was still studying psychology, so I was doing lots of statistics ! (laughs).
D : Did you meet JJ BURNEL in Brussels ?
RM : In Cologne, 1978.
R : so early ?
RM : Yes. I remember, it was just the day before we passed our baccalauréat (high school diploma). I couldn't believe it. Forget it, I said, let's go see the Stranglers! . A friend of mine used to know the place quite well, so he told me where the backstages were. We began to bawl : « Jean-Jaaaacques, we came specially from France blablabla… » You bet ! Our school was just 10 km away ! (laughs). So JJ let us get in… To tell the truth, we had 5 girls with us, and it probably helped quite a lot ! It was the first time I met him. One year later, I sent him the Algo EP. He had just released the Euroman Cometh album, with the rhythms boxes and all that stuff, and it was really something to me.
D : And he suggested to produce the next one, Nagasaki ?
RM : Yes.
D : But, what about the money ?
RM : Well, it wasn't easy. Michel Lambot had to ask the banks, take money from his own records store (Casablanca Moon)… And then, when it was time to get into the studio, JJ said « no business man ». And Michel said « what what what, what's the hell is that ? I pay for all this and I can't even come along ? » So he came too and everything was alright.
D : I asked a japanese friend of mine what the picture sleeve means and he said : " nothing, those ideograms just don't exist "
RM : I know, I did them (laughs).


RM : It was recorded in the very same studio where Patrick Hernandez made "Born To Be Alive".
D : What about Mother’s little Helper, did you send it to the Rolling Stones ?
RM : I gave it to Keith Richard himself. Actually, one of the Stranglers roadies was working for the Stones on this tour, so JJ asked him if he could fix things up. Otherwise, forget it, you just can't meet them. So I saw him backstage in Brussels.
D : and what did he say ? Did he like the record ?
RM : I don't know. But in those days you could write things on the vinyl and I wrote : « fuck the Stones » ! (laughs).

D : Girlscout, like several other Polyphonic Size songs, Irrigation for instance, sounds very erotic.
RM : Yes, that's because Bubu (Dominique Buxin) was really hot ! But his wife was watching him (laughs).
D : What means "On the way to Medora" Where is Medora ? I couldn't find this place in any atlas.
RM : Nowhere, we probably invented it.


D : Akiko is credited on vocals. Who is she ?
RM : A very well known Japanese rock journalist. Actually, we both exchanged our flats between us (Martine and me) and Akiko. She came to Europe to write some articles. We spent 2 months in Japan and met many people : YMO, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lizards (a band produced by JJ), the Plastics… We came back home with tons of records. It was great.

POLYPHONIC SIZE (illegal records, USA)

D : Who's the girl on the cover ?
RM : I don't know, but I'd like to meet her ! (laughs).
D : is RDA RFA about your chilhood in Germany ? It reminds me one time when I took the train between Berlin and Copenhagen, in the DDR days : old compartments, people in the stations....
RM : Yes.... It's about the time when I used to take the train from Cologne to Brussels. I guess I did it hundred times…