Front 242 (1981-present): a Industrial Metal band from Aarschot, Belgium, Belgium.
ront 242 became one of the premier acts on the European "new beat" scene and a forerunner in the whole industrial metal movement that would move into town by the 1990s. It all started in 1981 when Daniel Bressanutti (mixing console/programming/live mixing) and Dirk Bergen (keyboards), who wanted to create music and graphic design using emerging electronic tools. The team developed a sound influenced by their design school background, a sort of collage of sound that incorporated a mix of dance beats highlighted by loops, samples and minimalist repetitive beats. Through their early single recordings they gained a cult following. The "front" part of their name comes from the idea of an organized popular uprising; the number "242" was chosen because, "it's "just sort of a design work". Patrick Codenys (keyboards/programming/samplers) and Jean-Luc De Meyer (vocals) had separately formed a group called Under Viewer around the same time, but in 1982 the two groups merged. After their debut release Geography (1982) that same year. In 1983, Bergen left the band to pursue graphic design; Richard Jonckheere (a.k.a. Richard 23) joined as vocalist.
Their next album, No Comment (1984), was the first to introduce the term "electronic body music" in association with their sound. Front 242 signed with the 'Wax Trax!', and embarked their first tour in the United States along side Ministry leading to the creation of Revolting Cocks by Richard 23, Luc van Acker, Alain Jourgensen of Ministry, among others. By the time Official Version came about in 1987 the band were well on their way to notoriety and critical acclaim.
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Front by Front (1988) arrived next, and in December of that same year, the single Headhunter (with a video by Anton Corbijn), became the band's first club hit, reaching 13 on the US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs charts.
Tyranny (For You), released in 1991, became the band's highest charting album, reaching #95 on the Billboard 200, and their first for 'Sony/Epic'.
A broader public was exposed to Front 242's music in 1992 in the film Single White Female, starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Front 242's style shifted abruptly with each of their next two albums, released in rapid succession in 1993 on 'Epic's' sub-label 'RRE'. The two albums were originally planned as a single double album, but ended off being released as 06:21:03:11 UP EVIL and 05:22:09:12 OFF (the numbers correspond to letters, spelling "FUCK UP EVIL" and "EVIL OFF"). The albums were described by the band as "based on the duality of good and evil.". Neither of these albums had significant input from Richard 23, and 05:22:09:12 OFF only included their lead vocalist, Jean-Luc De Meyer, on a remixed track originally from ...Up Evil. Instead, a variety of new contributors were listed as members of Front 242 on these albums: Jean-Marc Pauly and Pierre Pauly (of-Parade Ground) on ...Up Evil, and 99 Kowalski (the stage name of Kristin Kowalski, maintaining the tradition of Richard 23's number-as-name concept), Jon Dubs and Eran Westwood on ...Off. However, strains were emerging, with the band members apparently having different artistic views. Despite these tensions, the band managed to perform on the main stage of the 1993 Lollapalooza tour.
After a list of remixes and live recordings, the band slowly broke apart, the remaining members performing under the name C-Tec.
The four core members of Front 242 regrouped in 1998 to compose radically reworked versions of many of their songs at live shows, until 2003 with the release of the EP Still & Raw and the album Pulse on 'Metropolis Records'. With a sliding membership, the band would continue to perform, mostly live, there-after. The entire back catalog being re-released early in the new century while the band members continued to persue side projects.
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