TARGET

TARGET in 1986 (L - R : Chris de Turck, Christ Braems, Johan Susant, Guy De Grave, Franky Van Aerde) (picture supplied by Franky Van Aerde)


Biography

Attending the third Heavy Sound festival (as a fan) in Poperinge on May 26th 1985 made Franky Van Aerde realise that being in a band and playing on a stage was something that he wanted to do as well. He spent the entire summer vacation of 1985 (July & August) rehearsing on his own at home, in order to improve his guitar skills. By September Franky felt comfortable with what he had achieved and decided to start searching for other other guys, in order to compile a full line-up.

By accident Franky stumbled upon an advertisment in Belgiumís largest Youth (& Music) Magazine Joepie : Werner Dedecker (vocals and bass) and Danny Van De Meirssche (guitar) were looking for a guitarist and drummer, in order to complete their new band. As a matter of fact, they had previously been playing together in a band called VON RAVEN. Anyhow, what attracted Franky most of all was the fact that Danny lived less than I mile from where he lived. Despite the fact that both Danny and Werner were well over a decade older than Franky, the three of them decided to stick together and give it a try.
TARGET (Franky Van Aerde) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


Shortly after hooking up with Danny and Werner, Franky bumped into Christ Braems at The Smash, a metal pub located just opposite of the railway station in Zottegem. The two of them were playing truant that day, started talking, and it turned out that Christ was a drummer, and that his band (FIST ATTACK) had just fallen apart. One week later, Franky managed to persuade Christ to become the drummer in his still nameless band.

Another few weeks later the line-up was completed with the addition of lead vocalist Guy De Graeve. Once again, this happened by chance. Franky reacted to another advertisment in Joepie, announcing the sale of a Boss guitar-effect pedal. He eventually bought it and when he went out to pick it up, he told the seller that he was in a band, and that they were still looking for a vocalist. Up until then bassist Werner had taken care of the vocals, but he wanted to be able to concentrate on playing bass only. The other guy told Franky that he knew a vocalist in the vein of Ronnie James Dio and Brian Johnson. To make a long story short : Franky hooked up with this unknown vocalist the very same day, and asked him to join them during rehearsal the next week. Thatís how Guy joined the ranks of what was to become his first metal band experience. In fact, Christ and Franky were especially impressed by the fact that Guyís voice sounded reminscent of METAL CHURCHís David Wayne. Not surprisingly, TARGET would later incorporate the likes of Metal Church and Ton Of Bricks during their gigs.

With this quintet line-up the band started to rehearse for the next six months or so, yet they turned out not to be all too creative, as only two songs were composed : Free & Born For The Future. Besides, both former VON RAVEN members turned out to be too slow when it came to making progress. To them, being in a band was a hobby, more than anything else. The others wanted to take the band to the next level, and as a result both Danny and Werner had to retire from the field.

In April of 1986 the band was completed when Christ, Franky and Guy were joined by guitarist Chris De Turck and bassist Johan ďWannesĒ Susant. Both had been playing together for several years already, in both TRAIN and BATTLECRY. And, just prior to joining this new outfit, Johan had enjoyed a short spell with CROSSFIRE as well. Actually, Johan initially recommended Chris to the others, but didnít join them himself at first. It wasnít until after he had attended a couple of TARGET rehearsals (including Chris and ex BLACK SHEPHERD bassist Patrick Minnebier, who was trying out to join the band at the time as well) that he decided to join as well. CROSSFIRE was more or less at a dead end to begin with, and TARGETís music suited Johan way better.
TARGET (Guy De Graeve) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


The band decided on TARGET (picked by Franky from a long list) as a moniker and started to rehearse and write songs at a ferocious pace for the next two months. That was a real necessity, as they intended to record a first demo as soon as possible. In June of 1986 the TARGET guys felt ready at last and, together with co-producers Alex Raes and Jos Van Geit (ex guitarist of OVERDOSE, TRAIN and BATTLECRY), they entered Josís home studio in Erps-Kwerps. The result was the bandís debut 5-song demo, entitled Mission Executed. TARGETís music in those early days could easily be described as melodic speed metal.

TARGETís maiden gig was during the second Heavy Metal Night at Zaal Pede in Sint-Lievens-Houtem on September 13th 1986. Later on that same month TARGET recorded four more songs in their rehearsal room : They Walk In Front, The Gathering, Nuclear Waste & Warriors Of The Holy One. All of them had been written during the summer vacation, and the least you could say is that the band had matured a lot since recording the Mission Executed demo, which was recorded only some three months ago. This new tape wasnít made available to the public, yet it was used as a promotional tool to try and convince concert promoters and record labels alike of their abilities.

On November 1st 1986 TARGET was part of the Halloween Thrash & Stagediving Party in Ternat, being second on a bill that also included openers DEVIANT GEDRAG (a Hardcore outfit), X-CRETA, Hollandís LńRM and local headliners CYCLONE. Around that time the band had already acquired the services of manager Peter Van Kesteren, who was also one of the people behind the Battle Of Death festivals.

In fact, on January 17th 1987 TARGET was part of the line-up for the third Battle Of Death festival at De Kriekelaar in Schaarbeek. Also on the bill were fellow countrymen BLACK SHEPHERD, EXPLORER, LIGHTNING FIRE and German labelmates LIVING DEATH. In the end all of the bandís hard work paid off, as TARGET received an offer to record a test-tape for Axel Thubeauvilleís Aaarrg Records during the spring of 1987. This was solely a result of the band sending out a professional promokit, including the promotape as well as copies of the excellent reviews that had already fallen to their share.
TARGET (Chris De Turck) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


The band signed a deal to record this proposed test-tape and headed off (by car) to Aaarrg Recordsís Phoenix Studio in Bochum (Germany) one early morning in April of 1987. In fact, the trip to Bochum almost had to be cancelled at the last minute : just before the band was about to embark, bassist Johan injured his hand by slamming the door of his car in an unorthodox way. Johan normally never used a plectrum, but he simply had to this time, as his index finger was still sore. Besides, by the time they got to Bochum, all members were already exhausted from the trip. Nevertheless they set up their gear in the studio and proceeded to record no less than 8 songs in 4 hours. The end result however was another 4-song promotape. The remaining four songs were not included because they had already been included on the bandís Mission Executed demo. Label boss Axel Thubeauville (of Earthshaker Records fame, and later on Shark Records and US Metal Records too) was convinced of TARGETís abilities on the spot, and sent the band some record contract proposals soon after. These turned out to be so bad that the bandís lawyer advised them not to sign any of them. Fortunately Ralph Hubert took Aaarrg Records over shortly after, and he offered TARGET a way better deal. Although there were still doubts as to the labelís distribution was concerned (in fact, the band was more into signing with Noise International Ė had they been offered a deal Ė because of this aspect) the band did sign a deal with Aaarrg in late May of 1987.

In between all of this, TARGET also managed to pay live a couple of times. On April 25th they supported RITUAL and OSTROGOTH in Sint-Lievens-Houtem (Zaal Pede), and on May 29th they played outside of Belgium for the first time, at De Kajuit in Ubach over Worms (Holland), alongside GRIFFITH. The very next day TARGET played at JH Kameleon in Eindhout-Laakdal.

In the meantime guitarist Chris De Turck had been tied by marriage and decided to quit TARGET as a result. With recordings for the bandís first full-length release being scheduled for July and August already, the band was in desperate need of a second guitarist. Ex SULFEET guitarist Johan Luyckx was about to become TARGETís new sixstringer at one point, but in the end he only lasted a couple of weeks.

In fact, several guitarists were invited to audition, but none of them turned out to be capable of playing the bandís intricate material adequately. Until a TARGET interview surfaced in Dutch metal magazine Aardschok, that is. After reading said interview, Lex Vogelaar (formerly of Dutch band LYCANTROPE) expressed an interest in auditioning for TARGET by calling the band directly. That was just three weeks before the band was set to head to the Phoenix Studio in Bochum again. The band first met Lex in person on June 8th 1987, in the centre of Eindhoven, Holland. That very same day the second Dynamo Open Air festival was held there as well, which was very convenient for both parties. Anyhow, Lex proceeded to audition for the band, managed to convince the rest of the guys on the spot and thus became TARGETís new guitarist.

TARGET spent most of July and August of 1987 in the Phoenix Studio in Bochum and this resulted in the Mission Executed LP. And although the albumtitle was identical to that of the demo, none of the old songs were re-recorded for it, simply because they were no longer representative of the bandís current style. When they were over in Germany they got along very well with the other bands that were also on the Aaarrg Records roster, such as HOLY MOSES, LIVING DEATH and MEKONG DELTA. In fact, Johan helped HOLY MOSES out (after their bassist called it quits all of a sudden) by becoming their temporarily bassist, in order to complete a tour with D.R.I. Johan played two festivals with HOLY MOSES too, and also recorded a videoclip with them. TARGET themselves played a show at Die Zeche in Bochum as well, during their extensive recording stay over there.
TARGET (Christ Braems) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


The Mission Executed LP clearly marked a step forward in the bandís development. Gone was the straight-ahead speed metal style from the bandís demo-days, as Mission Executed was definitely more in the (progressive) thrash metal vein. Letís just say that Mission Executed turned out to be an excellent combination of both speed and thrash metal ingredients. Although Englandís Kerrang! still described TARGET as ďBenelux Speed MerchantsĒ, and Mark Putterford gave Mission Executed only two Kís (out of a maximum of five), the majority of the other reviews turned out to be more objective and to the point, not to mention positive.

The only thing that may have kept people from buying a copy of Mission Executed is the cover design that wasnít up to par with the music. Designed by drummer Christ, it turned out to be an ameliorated version of the demo cover design, but in all honesty, it still turned out to be rather dreadful. Johan once claimed that the entire band was behind the idea of using this particular design at the time though. Luckily the logo, also courtesy of Christ, was way cooler.

Once Mission Executed was released, in November of 1987, TARGET started to play live again, especially in Belgium and Holland. On November 28th they supported VOIVOD and headliners KREATOR at De Kriekelaar in Schaarbeek, and on December 6th they shared the stage with the likes of LńńZ ROCKIT, M.O.D. and TANKARD in Tielt. Prior to these, TARGET had also played a show in Lokeren. By that time manager Peter Van Kesteren had already been replaced by Gina Van Den Hove (Progressive Music Promotions).

Early on in 1988 the live activities simply continued. On January 8th TARGET supported TANKARD at Zopo in Horst (Holland). A couple of weeks later the band ventured off to Holland again, as they played a show with Dutch band MANDATOR at Staddijk in Nijmegen. This was quickly followed by another couple of shows across the border, supporting PARADOX : at Scum in Katwijk (January 30th 1988) and at Willem II in Den Bosch the next day. Actually, on that occasion PARADOX didnít play a full set (only three songs - two covers and one instrumental), since vocalist Charly Steinhauer had lost his voice.

Shortly after those shows with PARADOX, TARGET vocalist Guy De Graeve slowly but surely started to lose interest and failed to show up for rehearsals every once in a while. Nevertheless the band played at De Steile Trap in Deventer (Holland) on April 8th 1988. The next day they were also part of a Metallysee festival (alongside INSANE, SIXTY-NINE and TANKARD) at Zaal Pede in Sint-Lievens-Houtem.

As the situation with Guy evolved from bad to worse, the band was forced to get rid of him in early June of 1988, and thus the search for a new vocalist commenced. Johan remembered a guy named Yves Lettanie, who had already fronted IRON GREY a couple of years earlier. In fact, IRON GREY had morphed into STEVE GREY (the band) in 1986.

The band managed to track Yves down and tried to convince him to join TARGET. By that time however, Yves had already quit the metal scene and had continued his career as a pop singer. He had also changed his name to Steve Gray. At first Steve was very hesitant to join, as he didnít want to sing in a speed metal outfit anymore. He did however agree to do some try-out rehearsals with the band, and in the end Steve agreed to become TARGETís new vocalist.
TARGET (Johan Susant) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


With the line-up back in full force at last, TARGET immediately started to rehearse and write new material. After all, Aaarrg wanted to release a follow-up to Mission Executed, and the studio had already been booked for September 1988. From then on, the band started to rehearse six days a week, three to four hours a day. Another pre-production 2-song demo (Digital Regency & Secret Of The Dome) was recorded as well, just to find out exactly how Steveís voice would match with the bandís new material.

For almost the entire month of September 1988 TARGET were back ay the Phoenix Studio in Bochum. Despite the fact that the band had less time to complete the recordings, compared to their debut, the end result turned out to be even more impressive. This was of course thanks to the musical progression that the band had made over the last year, but also because the band was better prepared this time. Nevertheless the vocals and guitarsolos had to be recorded in a rush, as they were running out of time. Needless to say that this caused a lot of stress within the band.

The material displayed on Master Project Genesis could best be described as progressive or techno thrash, not unlike such acts as SIEGES EVEN, MEKONG DELTA and WATCHTOWER. In fact, bassist Johan Susant once described it as techno speed. Excellent reviews all over were the result. Kerrang!ís Paul Miller give it a KKKK review. Even the ever critical Andrť Verhuysen of Hollandís Aardschok Magazine was convinced, and gave it a 9 out of 10. Fellow Dutch fanzine Crionics did the same. Germanyís Horror Infernal awarded them 13 out of 15, and another 9 out of 10 was their share in Blackthorn. Norwayís Morbid Mag was overwhelmed as well, and considered TARGET to be ďone of Belgiumís best exporting bandsĒ. Needless to say they were right, as could be proven by mentioning plenty more marvellous reviews. But Iíll stop here, as listing all possible reviews isnít what biographies are all about Ö

Lyrically, Master Project Genesis turned out to be a concept album, which was a fashionable thing to do in those days. Explaining the entire story (courtesy of bassist Johan) here would be hardly possible either, so suffice it to say that it is a fantasy story covering a certain period in the future, in which mankind is about to become extinct. Thatís the story in a nutshell, but thereís really a lot more to it, and I urge you to check it out yourself. And as far as the cover art for Master Project Genesis is concerned : this time around it was done by a professional artist, and the futuristic design tied in perfectly with the lyrical content of the album. In my opinion itís one of the best artworks to ever grace the cover of a Belgian metal release!

The release date for Master Project Genesis was set for October 28th 1988. However, shortly after the recordings had been completed, guitarist Lex Vogelaar made it clear that he intended to leave TARGET. The main reason for this unexpected move was to be found in the fact that Lex would have to fulfill his (mandatory) military service in the near future. Although it must be said that Lex was already thinking of forming his own band (which would be known as ORPHANAGE) by then as well. Anyhow, being the nice bloke that he was, Lex did agree to do the shows that were already scheduled in support of Master Project Genesis. In the mean time the band would be able to start searching for yet another member to complete the line-up once again.
TARGET (Lex Vogelaar) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


One of the gigs in support of the new release was on December 24th 1988, when TARGET (together with Hollandís MARTYR) played at the Dynamo club in Eindhoven, Holland at last. On the 26th of January 1989, TARGET was the opening act at a festival held at the Karregat venue, also in Eindhoven. Hollandís own JEWEL were called in to replace HOLY TERROR on short notice that day. Also on the bill were RE-ANIMATOR from the U.K., New Yorkís NUCLEAR ASSAULT and San Franciscoís Bay Area headlining thrashers EXODUS. This was also the last show for Lex Vogelaar. As TARGETís guitarist anyhow Ö

Around the same time TARGET received an offer from German thrashers ANGEL DUST to support them on a European tour. At first the guys were promised to be paid a monthly fee, but by the time the first date approached things had been changed to board and lodging only. In the end TARGET declined the offer, as both Steve and Johan already had a steady dayjob by then, and would thus be forced to take three months off without salary. And as a direct result, plans of a tour of the West Coast of the U.S.A. (also in support of ANGEL DUST) fell through as well.

In early summer 1989 the TARGET guys acquired the services of MEKONG DELTA guitarist Uwe Baltrusch (aka Mark Kaye) to join them for a European mini-tour. Aaarrg boss Ralph Hubert (aka BjŲrn Eklund, and as such being MEKONG DELTAís bassist) considered this a good idea, as Uwe had only recently joined MEKONG DELTA and thus could do with some extra live experience. Anyhow, performing those intricate TARGET songs as a one-guitarist-band simply wasnít an option Ö

The Chaos Over Europe tour consisted of only a handful of gigs, both locally as well as in Holland and Germany. On June 30th 1989 the Chaos Over Europe tour visited Zaal Sint-Martinus in Oordegem : supported by SIXTY-NINE, TARGET were able to display Master Project Genesis on home soil at last.

TARGETís record company Aaarrg also had an offer to let the band present Master Project Genesis at the Marquee Club in London, England, but since they would have to pay U.S. $ 3.000 they backed out at the last minute. There was also talk of TARGET performing at the Dynamo Open Air festival in Holland, yet that never happened either, for reasons unknown.

On August 12th 1989 TARGET was part of a festival line-up (at Zaal Ped in Beerse) that featured 7 Belgian bands (including MYSTERY and KILLER), plus Dutch headliners EMERGENCY. TARGET was the fifth band on the bill, just prior to MYSTERY, and they played a cover of RAVENís Mind Over Metal on that occasion. Another thing that Franky remembers clearly from that particular day, is that his Marshall amp was stolen!

By the end of 1989 vocalist Steve Gray had cleared out already. The remaining TARGET members (Franky Van Aerde, Johan Susant and Christ Braems) continued to rehearse as a trio for another while, but when it turned out that they couldnít find a suitable vocalist and guitarist, they eventually laid TARGET to rest.
TARGET (Steve Gray) (picture courtesy of Franky Van Aerde)


Bassist Johan Susant joined Belgian Rock band THE CANDY DATES and released one CD (Candied Orange Peel Ė 1993) with them. Drummer Christ Braems did one European tour as the tour manager for American Techno Thrash Gods WATCHTOWER. As mentioned earlier on already, former guitarist Lex Vogelaar started ORPHANAGE and would become a producer (i.e. for WITHIN TEMPTATION) later on as well. Vocalist Steve Gray continued in the music business afterwards as well, even up until today, albeit that nothing ever related to his heavy metal roots. Original vocalist Guy De Graeve is rumoured to be still singing sixties, seventies and eighties covers these days.

Guitarist Franky Van Aerde joined a buch of friends that he had known for years already, in a Pop / Rock band called TEEN SPIRIT. Eventually TEEN SPIRITís style changed more towards the FAITH NO MORE vein. Their biggest claim to fame was a support slot to Dutch Rockers GOLDEN EARRING in Sint-Eloois-Vijve. After a couple of years of hiatus, Franky started to experiment with electronic music as of late 1998. These days (2009) Franky continues to experiment with music at his home-studio. In fact, he had his old Kramer and Fender guitars being patched up during the summer, so who knows whatís in store for the future Ö

On September 9th of 2009, American label Stormspell Records released a limited edition (1.000 copies) double CD, including remastered versions of both Mission Executed and Master Project Genesis, as well as the Mission Executed 5-song demo as a bonus. Looking back on his TARGET past however, Franky could only come to the conslusion that the band didnít take full advantage of their potential, due to various reasons. And above all, that a band simply canít survive without good management.


Discography


1986 : Mission Executed (demo) {Storm Of Evil, Born For The Future, Beyond The Realms Of Silence, Streetfighter, Dripping Wet}

1986 : Demo 2 (rehearsal/demo) {Nuclear Waste, The Gathering, Warriors Of The Holy One, They Walk In Front}

1987 : Promo (demo) {Nuclear Waste, The Gathering, Warriors Of The Holy One, They Walk In Front}

1987 : Mission Executed (LP, Aaarrg) {Mission To The Andes, Hordes Of Insanity, They Walk In Front, Warriors Of The Holy One, Nuclear Waste, The Gathering, Under Dominion (Of Death), Death Blow}

1988 : Promo (demo) {Digital Regency, Secret Of The Dome}

1988 : Master Project Genesis (LP/CD, Aaarrg) {The Coming Of Chaos, Ultimate Unity, Digital Regency, Absolution By Termination, Dehumanization, March Of The Machines, Secret Of The Dome, Master Project Genesis}

2009 : Mission Executed + Master Project Genesis (2CD, Stormspell) {CD 1 : Mission To The Andes, Hordes Of Insanity, They Walk In Front, Warriors Of The Holy One, Nuclear Waste, The Gathering, Under Dominion (Of Death), Death Blow, Storm Of Evil, Born For The Future, Beyond The Realms Of Silence, Streetfighter, Dripping Wet / CD 2 : The Coming Of Chaos, Ultimate Unity, Digital Regency, Absolution By Termination, Dehumanization, March Of The Machines, Secret Of The Dome, Master Project Genesis}


Consulted people


Franky Van Aerde


Related links

First posted


July 11th 2007


Latest adjustment


October 14th 2009 (February 29th 2008)