of the more popular bands Rudy is in, Dead Man Ray combines influences
as Adamo, techno, rock, country and pop, and mixes it into a wonderful,
fresh and highly original synopsis. Never have I heard Dead Man Ray
being referred to as 'they sound a bit like...'
Also one of the 'youngest' of Rudy's bands (one that doesn't have it's origin in the Heavenhotel
days)- It started all when Daan Stuyven met Rudy Trouvé at a wedding
party. The two started talking, and found out about each other they were both musicians who worked with four-track. Some days later, Rudy went over to Daan's place, and the both started jamming together, without saying a word to each other. Half an hour later, the foundations for a first song, 'Chemical' had been laid.
Both Daan and Rudy had very different pasts behind them. Rudy had his whole dEUS-history behind him, and was still in numerous bands as Kiss My Jazz, Gore Slut, Cynthia Appleby and Lionell Horrowitz. Daan on the other hand, hadn't been in a band for over three years. In the late eighties, he made it to the Rock Rally finals with Citizen Kane, recorded a couple of singles with Running Cow, and released an album in '93 with Volt.
After that, he got fed up with the entire music industry, retiring himself from any band at all, and earning a living as a full-time graphical artist. In his spare time, he kept on recording and writing down ideas and songs, but never got around to release anything.
After a few jam sessions of Rudy and Daan, it became clear the two connected, and Dead Man Ray was born.
In the absolute beginning, there was no intension to play live. They recorded the jam sessions, and cut them into pieces on computer. Everything was done solely by Daan and Rudy- guitar, bass, vocal, samples and even drums.
After a few months, as Dead Man Ray evolved and got the intention to play live as well, Elko Blijweert from Kiss My Jazz (guitar) and Herman Houbrechts from Nemo and Mitsoobishy Jacson (drums) joined the band.
January 1997, Dead Man Ray played their first gig at De Nachten, in Berchem. The band had in the meantime compiled several tracks on computer, which they studied and rehearsed to play them live.
By the end of 1997, a first promo single 'Beegee' sent out to a few radio stations, got regular airplay on Belgian radio station Studio Brussel. A second promo, 'Inc.' followed march 1998. While the two singles already indicated Dead Man Ray wasn't an obvious band, they managed to captivate the attention of press and public.
Dead Man Ray's debut album 'Berchem' was released in March ‘98. It enjoyed several great reviews, and the band soon got invited to do several radio sessions, including a radio 21 and a 2 meter one.
The title Berchem is simply the name of Daan’s
hometown, nearby Antwerp. A true commercial
success was Berchem not -nor was that ever a goal. Still, it sold more than a few copies, and they were immediately invited to come play at several bigger summer festivals in Belgium. The Netherlands and Germany also welcomed Dead Man Ray on a few festivals.
At the Dour festival of '98, the band even did two sets: one regular one, and one where the band played the soundtrack to the finals of the world cup football. It was an improvisation, with guest musicians from DAAU, Zita Swoon and Kiss My Jazz.
Two 'real' singles were released from the album: Chemical and ‘Copy of ‘78’. Regular airplay was guaranteed, and Chemical became even a small hit in 'De Afrekening', an alternative chart.
In 1999, the band started up a new project, in which they’d make a new soundtrack for an already existing film. Zita Swoon also did it a year before, for an old film called 'Sunrise'. Because Daan didn't want to ape them, he wanted a Belgian film, and preferably one which nobody had seen before.
Coincidentally, the band found out Bobbejaan Schoepen, a famous Belgian yodeling cowboy from the fifties and sixties, had featured in a film once, in 1962. Café zonder Bier was the title, a cheesy comedy-adventure with Bobbejaan himself in the leading role.
Bobbejaan ‘accidentally’ travels back into time, where he somehow has to face the Napoleon army. It’s all fairly cheesy, but pretty humorous in a retro, camp kinda way.
Because of the large budget the film was made with, the film was recorded twice: once in Dutch and once in English. The English version was called At the Drop of a head, and to that one, Dead Man Ray build an entirely new soundtrack, combining Dead Man Ray's compositions with bits and pieces of the original soundtrack.
Initially, the intention was to play the soundtrack live only once. The project got out of hand though, and considering the time and effort the band had put into the project, they decided to build up a small tour with it. Starting at 'De Nachten' in '99 and ending at Pukkelpop '99, the band did seven performances in Belgium and two in the Netherlands.
While the project was most definitely a success, the band decided not to release an album of their soundtrack, because they felt the music needed the film to come to its right.
Due to popular demand, a single of 'Brenner'
from the soundtrack did get released, although in the form of a 500
copies limited blue 7” vinyl split single, which has been naturally
sold out by now.
In the same period, early 1999,
Daan Stuyven also released a solo album called ‘Profools’, with tracks he made in the period between Volt and Dead Man Ray, which he now refined and finished.
They were more or less the same style as Dead Man Ray, but with a bit less
emphasis on guitars, and with a somewhat more poppy sound. Daan also played live
on some smaller festivals with a handful of musicians helping out on stage.
After Rudy’s last Kiss My Jazz cd was finished and released, and the 'At the Drop of a Hat'-tour over, work started on a new Dead Man Ray album in autumn '99. The band deliberately chose to use even more primitive recording methods than the
first album, now recording jam sessions on basic audio tapes. The
procedure remained the same though; jamming, selecting, cutting and
Prior to the launch of the album, the first single Toothpaste
was released February 2000, and promised ‘more of the same’ for Dead
Man Ray’s second album. One of the B-sides on the single, ‘Salzer’ featured Rudy doing the
lead vocals- a first in Dead Man Ray.
To affort a decent printing of the album, a record deal was signed with Virgin. Obviously Dead Man Ray secured themselves from any creative restrictions or promotional obligations, Virgin's aid was there to secure a good distribution and the possibility for releasing the album across Europe.
In March, Herman Houbrechts
announced he would leave the band, favouring playing in Mauro
Pawlowski’s new band, The Inferno’s. He preferred
playing with Mauro because he feels more comfortable playing in a band with less unorthodox methods, Mauro's band is more ‘cosy’ than playing in Dead Man Ray. Karel De Backer, a jazz
drummer Elko Blijweert knew before, replaced him.
All the dums on the album were still by the hand of Herman, though.
On the 7th of April, Dead Man
Ray gave a surprise gig in a Brussels subway station to promote the new
album, which would be released one week later.
The album, ‘Trap’ turned out to be an absolutely beautiful soundtrack-style piece of music. It was full of gorgeous tracks, all inspired by three different motion-pictures; some tracks came straight of their 'At the
Drop of a Hat' soundtrack, although altered a bit so they would remain
interesting without the film images. An animation film,
‘Transatlantic’ by someone named ‘Gert’, inspired some other
tracks, while some other songs came from a soundtrack for a video installation called ‘The Hamlet Machine’, by ‘Hanzel and
Gretzel’, which are Parisian artists.
In general, Trap didn’t contain as many potential radio-hits as Berchem
did, and it was a less accessible album as well. That aside, it was still a brilliant successor to 'Berchem'; not a predictable reprise of the
same ideas, structures and sounds of the first album, but still with a
strangely familiar Dead Man Ray feel to it.
Together with the release of
Trap, the single 'Brenner'
was re-released, this time in CD single format. Daan Stuyven said this
was probably the best track on Trap, which has the potential to be a
In July, the third single 'Woods' followed. It was less ignored by radio stations than Brenner and Toothpaste, but because of its inaccessiblity, Woods didn't get continuous airplay either.
Dead Man Ray did a club tour across Belgium and the Netherlands, and of course played at some festivals as well.
As a result of the Virgin-deal, a Dead Man Ray compilation-album was made, called 'Berchem Trap', and was released in Spain, France, Switzerland, Portugal, and probably some other countries.
By fall 2000, all the band members started working on their other projects again.
Rudy started working on a new Gore Slut album, Daan made a soundtrack for a Belgian film called 'Verboden te Zuchten', continued working on his second solo-album, and has also been helping out a band called Rumplestitchkin with their upcoming album. Elko played some gigs with his jazz-combo 'Franco Saint De Bakker', and released 'Last Cries', an album with his punk band 'Bad Influence'. Karel is also playing in Franco Saint de Bakker, and also has been drumming in the live band of Novastar. Wouter finally, has produced the debut album of Antwerp's classical combo Boenox.
In between all this, Dead Man Ray is still active though. In april and may 2001, the band did two short tours through Switzerland and France, and they did the finishing touches on 'Le Marginal EP', which contains bizarre and freaky outtakes which didn't make it to Trap.