Marc Heal interviewed about C-Tec

While Front 242 was on hiatus, vocalist Jean-Luc De Meyer proved to be very prolific. Among other things, De Meyer lent his vocal talents to The Cyber-Tec’s excellent “Let Your Body Die” ep. Now that group is back, with the shortened name (C-Tec) and a few other changes. They have a new album, “Darker,” on TVT and toured the US earlier in the year. Chaos Control was supposed to meet up with them before their NY show, but once again it wasn’t meant to be (an in-person interview during their last visit was canceled due to equipment problems during soundcheck). The band arrived at the venue late, so instead a telephone interview was conducted with member Marc Heal (also of Cubanate).

Besides the shortening of the name, how is C-Tec different from Cyber Tec?

Marc: “Originally, it was called Cyber Tec project, which was when a guy called Paul Green in Manchester had a label called Cyber Tec and it was originally meant to be a one-off thing. Therefore, the name ‘project’ was used. We started to make the album, the personnel changed, and we found that it was becoming a permanent thing. We didn’t want to call it ‘project’ anymore, it wasn’t connected to the label anymore. So we wanted to drop that. But we wanted to keep some link with the original ‘Let Your Body Die’ ep. So we just abbreviated it, and all like it. So that’s the basic reasoning behind it.”

How did you personally get involved with the project?

Marc: “I was touring hard with Cubanate, three years ago now I guess. I was originally asked to contribute some songs for it, which I did in fact write, I didn’t have time to participate in the initial few songs. Then when I was touring with Front Line in Europe, with Cubanate, I hooked up with Jean-Luc, had a few beers, and we decided to work together sort of on a more permanent basis. Then after that, we just threw ourselves into the album.”

What was it like working with Jean-Luc De Meyer? Had you been a Front 242 fan?

Marc: “I was a 242 fan, not an ardent one, I sort of knew all of the big ones. Let me just say one thing about Jean-Luc – he’s brilliant to work with, he’s very creative and quick. Because of the way we wrote a lot of the songs you see, within the studio, that’ a really positive advantage. So artistically, he’s excellent to work it. And on a personal note, he was just great. I was kind of expecting him to be more sort of stand-offish about the whole thing, but he just threw himself right into it and was a total professional. Which really eased the process.”

How did the collaboration work?

Marc: “The way that most of the songs were created in the studio was for me to do the initial programming and get the idea up, and then we’d toy around when Jean-Luc would write the lyrics. But we sort of tossed the ideas back and forth. Most of the music was mine, and most of the lyrics and lyrical ideas were his. But Jean-Luc was still good at saying ‘no, I don’t think we should do that there, i think we should do that there’ and all the rest of it. So it was a 2-way process, and once you get to know and trust somebody’s judgment, and you trust their ears, then that’s a really good thing. Nobody’s always right, even I’m not always right.’So it’s good to have that kind of relationship.”

What was the time frame for the making of “Darker”?

Marc: “Well, the difficulty was, because we’re both involved in other projects, me obviously very heavily in Cubanate and Jean-Luc with various things. It was hard to find time to do it consistently, so the very first songs were recorded in about January/February of 1996, but a lot of the initial ones were dropped. And then we worked hard, from this time last year and finished it in around April or 1997. But wasn’t to say we were continuously working on it, it was sort of snatching a week here and there.”

How do the songs that were dropped and other early material compare to the later tracks?

Marc: “The early ones like ‘Stateless’ and ‘Epitaph’ had more of a four on the floor beat and I think they were less complex on the rhythm front. And the later ones, like ‘Random Shift’, you can hear how much more complicated the programming has got. Just a slight change in feel, I think if we got tougher as the album went along. But that’s good, I like albums with a range of stuff. I don’t like getting ten songs which are all the same and sound like remixes of each other.”

You did some unreleased songs live. Were those once dropped from the album, or new material?

Marc: “There were one or two that just didn’t make it onto the album, and I think there’s one new one that we’re jamming with on the tour. So it’s a bit of both. I quite like the way they’re working out live, and I expect that they’ll end up on the next album even though they didn’t make it onto this one.”

Does working on other projects have any influence on your work with Cubanate?

Marc: “All the time, which is just natural. when you’re working with someone else and you’re getting their ideas, just different ways to work, you’d be crazy not to learn from it. The more time I spend in the studio in any case, the more I .. you can never know too much about equipment and the ways to use it. Not so much in the technical sense, but in creative ways to use it.”

Do you try to keep your projects separate, and if now how do you decide which one a particular musical idea is used for?

Marc: “That’s a really good question. I instinctively know the feel of Cubanate compared to C-Tec, but in the end, I suppose it’s still coming out of me. There’s obviously bound to be some cross-over. You see, it’s never quite the same. Because of Jean-Luc’s vocals, which are very, very different from mine, therefore even if the original idea might have sounded like Cubanate, in the end, it will sound like C-Tec because of Jean-Luc’s influence on it.”

Do you C-Tec songs usually start with the musical or vocal idea? Or does it vary from track to track?

Marc: “Because a large part of it’s done in the studio, all I’ve got is a rough musician idea, but when i hear the vocals you might think ‘oh, we’ve got to complement that with another sound there or let’s extend that and have a new middle piece, or whatever. You have to be flexible about that. I like that way of working, you see, it’s a more spontaneous approach, and sometimes it doesn’t pay off. But when it does pay off, I think the results are much better than having a formula, like this is the way it goes, verse-chorus-break.”

Have you considered doing a joint C-Tec/Cubanate tour?

Marc: “I have thought about it, but I’m not even sure if even my ego could quite … I think two bands with Marc Heal is a bit much. I think you can have too much of a good thing! {laughs].”