With a history stretching back over ten years, Blackstrobe can easily claim to be ahead of their time. Their brand of electronic music sewed the scenes for the electroclash era and their DJ sets cut a swathe across Europe wherever they played. With founder member Ivan Smagghe focussing on his DJ work, Arnaud Rebotini (vocals and programming) steered the act into a four-piece band that stands on the brink of releasing their debut album proper, 'Burn Your Own Church.' Arnaud took the time to tell R13 about the making of the album, the influences that shaped it and what the future may hold for Blackstrobe

R13: Blackstrobe have been around for a long time and this is your proper debut album, was there any reasons for this?
AR: It wasn't that long really. We had to move from an electronic producer duo to being a proper band and I wanted a very musical album, not just MC tracks. For me it was difficult to make an album with only dance elements so I wanted to be free of electronic music rules and have a proper bassline. We had a lot of different influences, not just dance and its all present on the album. It took some time to form the band and we've been playing live and to find our sound. Its been an evolution from the clubby Blackstrobe to the current Blackstrobe

R13: The 2 Lone Swordsmen did a very similar thing, have they been a help or an influence in what you have done.
AR: Not really, I like Andy Weatherall and the 2LS and their electronic production and his rock stuff. I think we are both music lovers, not just electronic stuff, we like rock and different styles. When you're a musician it can be hard to stay in the position that people put you but to me, theres not many differences between our DJ stuff or the guitar and drums stuff. Its music and harmonies, its also not new. Think of bands like New Order who made a really dancey track like 'Blue Monday', which was the best selling 12" ever and never put it on an album apart from a compilation. Sometimes we want a really big dancey track, sometimes we just want to write love songs.

R13: What inspired you to cover 'I'm A Man?'
AR: I listen to a lot of blues and old rock n roll from the 50's. At the beginning of the album I wanted to do a cover and it was hard to find one but I love this influence and I like that everyone knows the riff and they'll go "what the...." For our version. Its like Muddy Waters with 'Mannish Boy' so for me, this cover is a key thing for the album as you can see the influences. All the rock n roll or blues or even rockabilly is all dance music and we all come from dance music so it was funny to take a rock n roll track like this.

R13: Have you played any really memorable shows?
AR: We had a big gig at Punkelpop last year, a festival in Belgium. It was in a big tent, thousands of people and it was really successful. It was a great experience, people were close to us and it was good. Scotland is good for partying, Glasgow is good but I had a great night in Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh, good place. I like the people, they're like Latin UK people, they party like the people from Spain or Italy.

R13: How did you get involved with Paul Epworth, who has produced the record?
AR: I produce electronic music but I've not had much experience of recording guitars or drums you know. We felt we needed a proper producer to make the album, we drew a list and one of them was Paul and he was available when we needed him and there you have it.

R13: Looking back, Blackstrobe were ahead of their time do you think that Britain is now ready for the type of music you're now playing?
AR: Bands like Klaxons or The Horrors are good and I think we are in the middle of them. I really appreciate these bands. This thing that people call the Nu-Rave scene is a good analogy and the next thing is coming from this scene, sometimes I don't like new stuff but its strange we call Klaxons Nu-Rave, its not quite like the real rave music but its cool for people to be ravey with guitars and drums and I think we're into that. Theres a new generation getting into this music so that's good as well.

R13: It may surprise people to hear that you're a big fan of classical music, would you like bring this element into your music more?
AR:We use the guitar like an orchestra sometimes, we can detune it or shift the pitch. In doing this we can make it sound like more instruments or not just the same tune so we have a lot of tricks in the arrangement that I use in Blackstrobe. I really like to mix different instruments together and I never want to do just one sound but yes, I like to mix these things together.

R13: Are you still friends with Ivan and do you think you'll work with him again in the future?
AR: Hes in London and focussed on his DJ career. For now, Im doing the remixes for Blackstrobe alone and I've my own electronic project, releasing 12" records Kling Klang and I produce some dance music. Maybe one day we can work together again
R13: Will you continue to DJ?
AR:Yes, I really like that. Just because Im into a more rock influence today doesn't mean I don't like techno music anymore, sometimes I want to play guitars, sometimes I want to shut my mouth and program an 808 or 909 you know!

R13: And will there be another guitar Blackstrobe album?
AR: In the future yeah, hopefully there'll be a second one. I hope so.

That's for the future but for right now, surely the time is right for the band to cross over to a bigger audience and continue cutting a path in front of whoever they might find. With a wider range of influences than you would ever imagine, Blackstrobe are worthy of a listen.