Front 242

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Front 242
Front242 3.jpg
Background information
Origin Aarschot, Belgium
Genres EBM, post-industrial, electronic, techno
Years active1981 (1981)–present
LabelsAnother Side, Red Rhino Europe, Animalized, Wax Trax!, Epic, XIII Bis Records, Alfa Matrix
Associated acts Cobalt 60, C-Tec, Revolting Cocks
Members Jean-Luc De Meyer
Daniel Bressanutti
Patrick Codenys
Richard Jonckheere
Tim Kroker
Past membersDirk Bergen
Jean-Marc Pauly
Pierre Pauly
Kristin Kowalski
Eran Westwood
John Dubs
Jean-Marc Lederman

Front 242 is a Belgian electronic music group that came into prominence during the 1980s. Pioneering the style they called electronic body music, they were a profound influence on the electronic and industrial music genres. [1]

Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments and circuitry-based music technology. In general, a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means, and that produced using electronics only. Electromechanical instruments include mechanical elements, such as strings, hammers, and so on, and electric elements, such as magnetic pickups, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Examples of electromechanical sound producing devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, and the electric guitar, which are typically made loud enough for performers and audiences to hear with an instrument amplifier and speaker cabinet. Pure electronic instruments do not have vibrating strings, hammers, or other sound-producing mechanisms. Devices such as the theremin, synthesizer, and computer can produce electronic sounds.

Electronic body music (EBM) is a genre of electronic music that combines elements of industrial music and synth-punk. It developed in the early 1980s in Germany and Belgium and came to prominence in Belgium at the end of the decade. EBM was generally considered a part of the European new wave and post-punk movement and the first style that blended synthesized sounds with an ecstatic style of dancing.




Front 242 were formed in 1981 in Aarschot, near Leuven, Belgium, by Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen, who wanted to create music and graphic design using emerging electronic tools. The first single, "Principles", was released in 1981. [2] The front part of the name comes from the idea of an organized popular uprising; the number "242" was chosen because it's "just sort of a design work". [3] Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer had separately formed a group called Under Viewer at around the same time, and the two duos joined together in 1982. Bressanutti, Codenys and De Meyer took turns on vocals at first, until they settled on De Meyer as the lead vocalist (early recordings with Bressanutti on vocals were subsequently released in 2004). De Meyer came to write most of the lyrics and Valerie Jane Steele also wrote several tracks including "Don't Crash".

Aarschot Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Aarschot is a city and municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant, in Flanders, Belgium. The municipality comprises the city of Aarschot proper and the towns of Gelrode, Langdorp and Rillaar. On January 1, 2006, Aarschot had a total population of 27,864. The total area is 62.52 km² which gives a population density of 446 inhabitants per km².

Leuven Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Leuven or Louvain is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium. It is located about 25 kilometres east of Brussels. The municipality itself comprises the historic city and the former neighbouring municipalities of Heverlee, Kessel-Lo, a part of Korbeek-Lo, Wilsele and Wijgmaal. It is the eighth largest city in Belgium and the fourth in Flanders with more than 100,244 inhabitants.

Jean-Luc De Meyer is a vocalist and lyricist who is best known as the lead vocalist of the Belgian EBM group Front 242.

Their next single, "U-Men", was released in 1982, [2] followed by the band's first album Geography that same year. [2] In 1983, Dirk Bergen left the band to pursue graphic design, and Richard Jonckheere, referred to as Richard 23, joined as vocalist. [2]

Richard Jonckheere, more known by his stage names, Richard 23 and Richard JK, is a Belgian musician, best known as a member of Front 242 and was a founding member of Revolting Cocks. He released an EP with Jean-Pierre Everaerts and Marc Desmare using the moniker Holy Gang and two twelve-inch singles in 1999/2000 as LaTchak.

Rising popularity

Front 242 became a popular musical group in Belgium. Their next album, No Comment , released in 1984, [2] was the first to introduce the term electronic body music in association with their sound. Front 242 signed with the Wax Trax! label in 1984, and started their first tour in the United States with Ministry. This tour led to the creation of Revolting Cocks by Richard 23, Luc Van Acker, Alain Jourgensen of Ministry and others.[ citation needed ] Other members included Chris Connelly, Martin Atkins and Bill Reiflin. In 1987, Front 242 signed with Wax Trax! Records in the U.S. and Red Rhino in Europe, and released Backcatalogue and Official Version. [2]

<i>No Comment</i> (Front 242 album) 1984 studio album by Front 242

No Comment is a 1984 Front 242 album released on the Another Side music label. The album was the first reference to Electronic Body Music (EBM) when the band included the phrase "Electronic Body Music Composed And Produced On Eight Tracks By Front 242" in reference to their use of an 8-track recording device. Though the album was their second full-length album, the Belgian band had released several singles and EPs prior to No Comment. The clip of dialogue featured in the track "Special Forces" is from the movie Apocalypse Now.

Ministry (band) American industrial metal band

Ministry is an American rock band founded in 1981 by Al Jourgensen in Chicago, Illinois. Originally a synth-pop outfit, Ministry's sound changed as they became one of the pioneers of industrial metal in the late 1980s. The band's lineup has frequently changed throughout its history, with the exception of Jourgensen who is the band's main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Notable musicians who have contributed to the band's studio or live activities include Paul Barker, Martin Atkins, Bill Rieflin, Chris Connelly, Nivek Ogre, Mike Scaccia, Rey Washam, Paul Raven, Tommy Victor, Roy Mayorga, John Bechdel, Jason Christopher, Tony Campos, Burton C. Bell and DJ Swamp.

Revolting Cocks band

Revolting Cocks, also known as RevCo, are an American–Belgian industrial rock band and, sometimes, supergroup that began as a musical side-project for Richard 23 of Front 242, Luc van Acker, and Al Jourgensen of Ministry.

In 1988, Front by Front was released, and in December of that same year, "Headhunter" (with a video by Anton Corbijn), [2] became the band's first club hit, reaching number 13 on the US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart. [4]

<i>Front by Front</i> album by Front 242

Front by Front is an album by Front 242, released in 1988, and has been labelled as "easily one of the greatest industrial albums ever made". The album was reissued in 1992 by Sony Music Entertainment. The song "Headhunter" became an industrial dancefloor hit, accompanied by a music video directed by Anton Corbijn, and has since been subject to over 20 remixes.

"Headhunter" is a 1988 song by the Belgian EBM band Front 242. The song was a major hit in the electronic and industrial music scenes, and Front By Front subsequently became the top selling album in the history of Wax Trax! Records.

Anton Corbijn Dutch film director, video director and photographer

Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard is a Dutch photographer, music video director and film director. He is the creative director behind the visual output of Depeche Mode and U2, having handled the principal promotion and sleeve photography for both bands over three decades. Some of his works include music videos for Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" (1990), U2's "One" (1991), Bryan Adams' "Do I Have to Say the Words?", Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" (1993) and Coldplay's "Talk" (2005) and "Viva la Vida" (2008), as well as the Ian Curtis biographical film Control (2007), The American (2010), and A Most Wanted Man (2014), based on John le Carré's 2008 novel of the same name.


Tyranny (For You) , released in 1991, became the band's highest charting album, reaching #95 on the Billboard 200. [5] Tyranny (For You) was the first album they released under contract with a major corporate label, Sony/Epic, [2] after the widespread popularity of Front by Front. Sony/Epic also acquired the rights to the band's back catalog from Wax Trax! and issued re-released versions of the albums with new cover art and bonus tracks taken from singles and EPs. [2]

<i>Tyranny (For You)</i> 1991 studio album by Front 242

Tyranny is an album by Front 242, released in 1991 as their first album on Epic Records after leaving Chicago's Wax Trax! Records. This album is notable for being the bands highest charting album reaching #95 on the Billboard 200.. The song "Rhythm of Time" proved a dance club hit topping at #11 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco charts matching the previous ranking of the album's title track. The accompanying music video for "Rhythm of Time" appears briefly playing on a television in a scene in the film Single White Female. "Moldavia" was subsequently featured in TV promos for the 1992 film K2.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

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. In the film, obsessed roommate Leigh ties Fonda to a chair but leaves her with the television remote control. In order to attract attention, Fonda tunes in to a music video channel and turns up the volume. The video playing at the time is Front 242's "Rhythm Of Time", [6] from the album Tyranny (For You). Also in 1992, the television commercials for the film K2 were set to the Front 242 song "Moldavia", from the same album.

In 1992, Bressanutti returned to combining graphic arts with music, taking his lithographs on tour to three U.S. galleries. Bressanutti also composed a solo half-hour atmospheric recording called Art and Strategy (or The Art Corporation) to play during viewings of the lithographs, and released it in a limited edition of 1,000 CDs.

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 (originally planned as a double-CD): 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 band describes the two albums as "based on the duality of good and evil." [2] However, strains were emerging, with the band members apparently having different artistic views. Despite these tensions, they performed on the main stage of the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. [7]

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. On the other hand, a variety of new contributors were listed as members of Front 242 on these albums: Jean-Marc Pauly and Pierre Pauly (of the Belgian electronic group Parade Ground) on Up Evil, and 99 Kowalski and Eran Westwood on Off. [8]

99 Kowalski is the stage name of Kristin Kowalski, making a tradition out of Richard 23's idea of number-as-name. Kowalski and Westwood were originally members of a New York City band called Spill who Bressanutti and Codenys had brought to Belgium to produce their debut album. After the recording sessions fell apart, they contributed to Front 242 on the Off release.

After the release of 06:21:03:11 Up Evil and 05:22:09:12 Off, there was no new material from Front 242 under any lineup. Instead, the band released a stream of live recordings and remixes. However, this period also saw a proliferation of side projects, an inordinate number of which involved De Meyer.

Earlier, Richard 23 played in the Revolting Cocks, and De Meyer had a side project doing vocals for Bigod 20 for their single, "The Bog" in 1990. In 1995, De Meyer met Marc Heal of Cubanate at a Front Line Assembly concert, and the two of them collaborated along with Ged Denton and Jonathan Sharp, to record as Cyber-Tec Project for the new (and short-lived) Cyber-Tec record label. [9]

After the departure of Sharp and the demise of the Cyber-Tec label, the remaining group continued working under the name C-Tec. De Meyer also took over as vocalist for Birmingham 6 for their 1996 album Error of Judgment. 1996 also saw the debut album Elemental from Cobalt 60, which De Meyer formed with Dominique Lallement and Frederic Sebastien of Reims, France, members of Kriegbereit. This was the start of a number of releases from Cobalt 60, which also did the soundtrack for the video game Wing Commander V . [6] Meanwhile, Richard 23 recorded with the groups Holy Gang, and later, LaTchak.

The four core members of Front 242 regrouped in 1998 to compose radically reworked versions of many of their songs, which they then performed on their first tour in five years, appropriately called the Re:Boot tour. They acknowledged the influence of The Prodigy and their Fat of the Land album in crafting the new, more techno style of Re:Boot.

The new tour material was the subject of Front 242's new recording contract in the U.S. with Metropolis Records. Front 242 also indicated at this time that they were recording new material. However, they had little activity after 1998, making occasional appearances in Europe and Mexico, while Codenys recorded under the name Gaiden with Steve Stoll in 2001.


2002 saw the beginning of a wave of new material from Bresanutti and Codenys, and then from Front 242. In August 2002 a DVD/CD two-disc set called Speed Tribe was released by The DVD was a collaboration with experimental documentary filmmakers Rod Chong and Sharon Matarazzo, who filmed the 2001 24 Hour Le Mans. In the video, the racecars, clouds, rain and spectators form an impressionistic visual backdrop for the music.

Several months later, the first release from Male or Female, also known as Morf, a new project for Bresanutti and Codenys along with vocalist Elko Blijweert. In 2002 and 2003, Morf released an album, an E.P., a double album, and a DVD/CD two-disc combo, on the Belgian record label Alfa Matrix, and went on tour through the U.S.

Then, 2002 and 2003 also saw the release of the new material from Front 242 in a decade: the EP Still & Raw and the album Pulse , released on XIIIBis Records in Europe and Metropolis in the U.S. These represented another iteration of Front 242's explicitly stated goal of reinventing itself. The style of the two new releases is more mellow than some of their past work, using more "glitchy" and "bleepy" sounds. As well, it uses the manipulated voice as a musical instrument. The new releases have a much more emotional style from De Meyer, which was presaged in his later recordings with C-Tec and particularly Cobalt 60 on its album Twelve.

Front 242 promised a new U.S. tour to perform new material from these releases. They have made occasional appearances in Latin America and Europe, even being rejoined by Dirk Bergen for a reunion concert in Aarschot (De Klinker club) in 2004 under the original lineup of Bresanutti, Bergen, Codenys and De Meyer. This performance was kept secret until two days before the show but when the scene magazine Side-Line and the band's label Alfa Matrix launched the news, tickets were quickly sold out.

The band has now also set itself to re-release its entire back catalogue both as a normal CD and as a limited edition consisting of a 2-CD set holding previously unreleased material. For this the band is working together with the Belgian label Alfa Matrix that already took care of releasing the albums of the Front 242 side-project Male Or Female. The first re-release is their debut album Geography, this time newly remastered personally by Bresanutti to surprisingly powerful effect and including 3 extra tracks (two hidden ones) on the normal CD format.

Meanwhile, their enthusiasm for side projects has continued, as Patrick Codenys started appearing with a new group called Red Sniper, Bresanutti started recording with a new group called Troissoeur, and Codenys and Richard 23 formed a quasi-DJ project called Coder23 which toured in late 2004 and early 2005 as the opening act for VNV Nation. De Meyer contributed vocals on two studio tracks for the Glis album Nemesis in 2005. The lyrical content of the two songs ("The Irreparable" and "La Béatrice") were based on the poems of Charles Baudelaire.

Front 242 toured through twenty venues in North America in November 2005, their first tour as a full band since 2000. The band performed at the Roskilde Festival in 2006. The band's sold out two-day performance at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels has been recorded for a future release via Alfa Matrix.

In December 2006, Front 242 announced from their MySpace page that they were writing music for a video game called Cipher Complex and provided a link to a teaser trailer with a short sample of one of their scores.

In 2007, De Meyer announced a new project: 32CRASH via the Alfa Matrix label. The band is preparing for an album release in October 2007 after the release of the EP Humanity. [10]

In August 2008, Front 242 played live at the Infest Festival in Bradford, England.

In October 2008, Front 242 performed for the first time in Finland, at the Alternative Party 2008 media arts festival.


On June 1, 2008, the Alfa Matrix label announced that Front 242 would make an ultimate statement towards abusive audio compression by releasing the free two-track download, First Moment. By June 15 the same year, the tracks were made available for free on Alfa Matrix's site in medium and high bit-rate MP3s, WAV, FLAC, and M4A formats. [11] Contrary to what fans and some media speculated, the two-track download was not new studio material. Instead, First Moments consisted of two previously unreleased live tracks, "U-Men" and "Im Rhythmus Bleiben", in rather stunning sound quality. It is rumored that over 20,000 people downloaded the tracks within hours of being made available.[ citation needed ] The label later confirmed that over 25,000 people downloaded the free tracks.

On June 4, 2008, Alfa Matrix announced the release of Moments... The album was a live recording encompassing the best of Front 242's compositions. The album was shipped in several formats including limited CD box sets, vinyl in different colors including 300-copy limited editions, and as a one-disc CD release. [12]

On April 15, 2016 Alfa Matrix released the remastered edition of P.U.L.S.E. The re-release featured the companion Still+Raw EP, in multicolored two-disc CD formats with the special collector box set limited to 1242 copies; this box set included the album in vinyl and CD formats, as well as a 1989 live recording, a laminated live pass, posters, and the Alfa Matrix Sounds from the Matrix 017 compilation. [13]

Band members

Occasional band members and collaborators




U.S. Billboard 200


TitlePeakPeak dateNo. of weeks
Tyranny For You95February 23, 199113
06:21:03:11 Up Evil166June 12, 19931


YearTitle UK [14] US Dance [15] US Modern Rock
1989"Never Stop"-21-
1990"Tragedy for You"-1118
1991"Rhythm of Time"-11-

Side projects and guest appearances

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