Issue 9 Contents


Interview Praga Khan & Oliver Adams Lords of Acid Praga Khan, Lupo's 2.20.00

Review of 2/22 Lords of Acid Show

Maurice Engelen, Praga Khan, was born to a father who was a Noble winning mathematician and astrophysicist. Praga's mother was a rebel for her times and worked to support the family as a migrant construction worker. Oliver Adams is the heir to the Stella fortune.

Stella, being Belgium's premium connoisseur brew, has been exported throughout the world. I sat down with these two Belgians before their shows at Lupo's to talk about their concurrent projects, The Lords of Acid and Praka Khan.

Whatever Magazine: When did you first get involved with music?

Praga Khan: I first got involved with when I was like a little kid. My mom she wanted me to be a singer. And in Belgium, which is where I grew up, they had this little contest going on, you know. They called it "Song Contest" and it was a band that was playing and you had to choose out of like 15 different songs to sing. It was all these stupid Schlager Festival songs from Germany. And the crowd it was all like 60 plus, you know, and all these old ladies. In those days I was very, very popular- when I was like 7 or 8 years old. It was so funny, but that's how I got involved. I was not singing about pussy, or dildos or stuff. It was more singing about the sea and the boats or birds.

W:Did you play an instrument as a kid?

PK: No not at that age. Later, when I was about 16 and when I had my first band I played guitar and I didn't know how to do it then, and I still don't know how to do it now. I didn't make a lot of progress playing the guitar.

WM: How about you Oliver, did you play an instrument as a kid?

Oliver Adams: I've played music since I was six. I went to music school for piano, and drums. I play bass and guitar also. I've played music a long time.

WM: Did you ever DJ?

OA: I did it in the 80's. New Wave! (smiles) But not anymore, no.

WM: Praga you did some spinning in the 80's as well, didn't you?

PK: I owned a club in the 80's. We tried to play Alternative music, because there was not many places in Belgium where people could go out and hear that kind of music. The place was called "Happy House" and it was very, very popular.

OA: When I was still a kid I went to that place, like at 15 or 16. It was a happening place.

PK: What we also did was, we didn't make a lot of money out of the place. It was always crowded, ya know, there was like lots of people coming there. But all the money we got we spent on organizing concerts and bringing in bands.

We had happening bands in those years, like Judgement, and that's how we lost the money.

WM: When did the club close down?

PK: Um, that was '86 I think.

WM: When did you make the transition from DJ/ Club Owner to Producer?

PK: When I had the club I was also managing some bands. Famous bands in Belgium, but unknown to the rest of the world. Extremely popular in Belgium though. And I got so frustrated, because always it was like I was working very hard to get them to a certain level, then they came with the wrong thing or made the wrong move. That got me so frustrated that I said, "Now is the time for me to start." Because I know when and where they make the mistakes, so I'm not gonna do it.

WM: Is that when you started Antler Subway Records?

PK: Yup. Yeah.

WM: What year was that?

PK: That was around '84

WM: So when did you and Oliver hook up?

OA: That was 1990. When I was like 20, I said, "What am I gonna do?" I always played in bands, I had my own band, and I only wanted to do music, so I started a recording studio. He [Praga] had a record company and some other guys who were making records for other record companies came to me. I said to them, "You have to check out this guy, he has a lot of good stuff, and he has his own ideas, and eventually we he came over to my studio we started to work and started the whole stuff.

PK: It was a tremendous success because we started to work together and after one year we had made like one big dance hit after another. All these club hits. There was a time when Belgium had its own club scene. It was called "New Beat" and it was very, very big. People, discotechs, they only played Belgium music I can tell you when we were doing these records in like 91, or 92 when the DJ was going to peak, or finish they would play like twelve songs in a row that we did, so we knew we were on the right track.

WM: Yeah, if they play 12 of your songs in a row for the peak of the evening you're doing the right thing. When did you actually start doing the Lords of Acid thing?

OA: Oh, it was already started at that time. The first album was in '92.

WM: This is the first time Praga has been to the USA isn't it?

PK: Um, we did two shows, Limelight in 94, and we also did a Rave with Carl Cox and Felix in Orlando.

WM: How do you find American dance clubs compared to European? Is it very different?

PK: I don't know about dance clubs because the clubs we are playing in, I don't know if you can call them dance clubs. Is this a dance club?

WM: Kind of, but real hip-hop culture and other kinds of dance clubs exist I guess. This is more of a concert place. It is very segmented now what kinds of music a club plays.

PK: It is the same way in Belgium. The strange thing is the Lords of Acid are almost completely unknown in Europe, and Praga Khan is very, very big- because we play Glastonbury, and all the festivals. "21st Century Skin" was chosen as the Album of the year in Belgium. Even for us it is hard to get played in clubs, because the music we are bringing it is too much.

OA: Too much music

PK: Its songs you know, its got words. We have guitars. Some DJ's have a problem with that. And that's why we are doing so well in the alternative market. The festivals we are playing are with like Marilyn Manson, Chemical Brothers- the big festivals. But the people who are doing dance music, just instrumental dance music they can never get on these festivals.

WM: You guys are appealing to a larger crowd.

OA: More like a rock band. It has changed that way the past few years. Bands like us (Praga Khan), Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, suddenly at that those festivals there were groups like us standing there, and our public is like the alternative. Its not those dance kids, what do you call them?.

WM: Rave kids.

PK: The good thing is that we are accepted is as innovators, because the Lords of Acid "Lust" album came out in '92. In those days we were the only ones who were doing dance music with like guitars and songs in there. And now most of these bands now are trying to do that. But still, when we talk to these bands we can see that they have a lot of respect because we were there for so long doing this thing.

WM: How are Americans responding to the fist band, Praga Kahn?

OA: Very good. Very good. I was surprised.

PK: Very good so far. Its not like we are totally unknown in the United States. "Pragamatic" did quite well, we did just over 30 thousand, and uh, "21st Century Skin" is starting to sell well now because of the tour. We have a lot of fans out there. We can see it and we can, you know, see them singing along. And most of the fans know that Oliver and myself are making music for the Lords of Acid and that's also something we appreciate as well.

OA: Hardcore fans they know Praga Khan. I never expected that they wold respond so well. Because after concerts we are selling lots of CD's for Praga Khan, and its good.

WM: I heard you were signing CD's after a show and almost had a riot or they had to bring in more security?

PK & OA: Yeaaah.

PK: It was Chicago.

PK: But the thing is we have a lot of people who are on the website all the time. And these people also follow the concerts that we are doing with Praga Khan over the Internet and because these concerts are sometimes transmitted on the website.

Oliver On Drums

So now they can actually see us play as Praga Khan, you know as a support act for the Lords of Acid. I don't feel it as a support act though, it feel it more as a double bill.

Also in New York, we had some people from the record company that came down after the show and said they were so surprised by the success of Praga Khan. Everybody knows the Lords of Acid songs by heart but Praga Khan its something different.

OA: The good thing about the Praga Khan show is this, ok in the beginning we start to move up, they don't notice us and so they don't know the songs, but so what, after three of four songs, until now, we don't know about tonight, everybody goes crazy! I was surprised.

PK: I was too. It was a god thing to come over here, because we are in the middle of recording a new album for Praga Khan, gonna be called, uh..

OA: Newton Funk.

PK: Newton Funk (Ed note: I have no idea if I spelled this right). And that's gonna be out in June. And uh, the good thing is we are in the middle of recording, and we can go on tour and uh, go back and we can also bring something back with us from what we experienced.

OA: Inspiration.

PK: Also the thing is we have to write a new Lords of Acid album, and this is perfect. We see the crowds react from the songs, we talk to people to see exactly what they want, and I think this album, the Lords of Acid could be the best one.

WM: When do you think that will come out?

PK & OA: Fall.

OA: So we are gonna be working very hard this year!

WM: When does your tour end?

PK: March

WM: Do you find it hard being Director of a record company and being on tour? Do you have to check in all the time?

PK: I have to check in, but not all the time. Because I have a partner. The last two years I have been solely concentrated on Praga Khan and the Lords of Acid, and I have the two bands here now, so that's ok. We also brought our European Manager with us, so he's in contact with Germany, Australia, France -all these places where Praga Khan is doing very well, and we want to keep it going. Its hard to keep track of what's going on you know?

WM: It must be hard to keep up.

PK: Well to give you an Idea, "Breakfast in Vegas" just came out in Australia, and it's doing so well. And also, "Bored Out of My Mind" just came out in France and it went straight to number one in one shot. So there's stuff happening everywhere.

WM: Where do you get inspiration?

PK: Things that are happening in our lives, things you see on the read.

WM: Do you still get out to the clubs a lot?

PK: Lots, especially Oliver's Club.

WM: You own a Club now?

OA: I built one, its private. I live in a factory, and it's so huge so I built one. I made my private club out of it.

WM: How did you meet your new singer Deb?

OA: Last year at a concert.

PK: We were playing a big festival in Germany, Eurorock, and we were like there with like Suzie and the Banshees and all these bands. We were like there hanging out, and Deborah's sister was doing the backing vocals for us, because Ester couldn't. So Deborah, she came backstage after the show and we got to meet her. She had a few glasses of Jack Daniel's and she starts french kissing all of the band, and we were looking for a new singer for the Lords of Acid, so we were saying to each other (pointing to Oliver),

"Yeah, it might be a go." And we invited her to the studio and we were so surprised by her voice. She has a great voice, and she is absolutely fucking fantastic. And also on this tour its like she is growing, she is getting better, and better, and better each day.

WM: Will she be the singer on the new Lords of Acid album

OA: She's gonna sing.

PK: Yeah.

WM: How do the crowds respond to her? Are they disappointed its not Nikki?

PK: I haven't heard one complaint.

OA: No, no. In the beginning, some, but after the concert they change their mind.

PK: Nikki is very different than Deborah, Nikki is more real fast-forward sex rock and roll, but Deborah, is different. Nikki has been working on a solo album at home the past few years, she finished it, and we hope it does work out. We love her. We've been a team for so long, and because she's not here with us doesn't mean were still not a team. But, the thing is now, we didn't get much information when Nikki was on tour, because we never went on tour, we didn't get a lot of feedback from the tour. We always had to stay and work in the studio. She didn't talk too much about, except you know, "I had a good time, and I enjoyed it" or whatever, but now its like a learning process you know, to see what's happening, then to use it in the studio.

WM: Have you met a lot of fans?

OA: Yeah, many. And they are surprised that we want to talk with them, but we do. We stay and sign autographs and talk and its fun.

Praga on Keys
WM: On the road what's your favorite piece of equipment?

PK: On the road? Well, that would be my sampler. That's the instrument that I'm using the most. Oliver has his studio at home and I have my studio, and we can exchange stuff and I can bring them into my sampler, and bring them into the studio.


OA: Also my sampler, I mean I keep my PowerBook with me, but it would be my sampler because it is what I use the most.

WM: Well, it sounds like they are ready for you to soundcheck, I'll let you go. Thank you very much

PK: Thank you very much my friend.

OA: Thank you very much- enjoy the show.