Chart topping Belgian five piece Balthazar come to Cambridge’s Portland Arms in September


Balthazar. - Credit: Archant

Belgian alternative/pop five-piece Balthazar make their Cambridge debut this month with a headline show at the Portland Arms following a massive European tour and the release of their third album, Thin Walls, which topped the chart in their native country.

Here, Ben Jolley speaks to bassist Simon Casier about their upcoming UK shows, career highlights and what it’s like to live together on the road…

How would you describe your sound?

I think we play pop music, with a melancholic touch. We’re five musicians, and some of us play more than one instrument live, that way we can keep our sound varied.

Who are your influences and inspirations?

The Beatles, but everyone says that I guess since they invented pop music. I think everybody else in the band has his or her own influences. For me personally it’s, besides the Beatles, the Strokes, Eels, John Frusciante, Will Smith and Bruce Willis.

What have been your career highlights?

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The coolest thing is when we get to play bigger sold-out shows for the first time outside of Belgium. Like the first time we played La Cigale in Paris a few years ago, and our Japan tour was great fun as well.

Do you have any funny stories from touring?

Maarten sometimes takes Michiel’s cymbals off the drum and gives them away to the audience. Normally people give it back, but I remember some time a go at a festival we never got them back.

What’s it like practically living with each other?

We all get along very well, you learn to live with each other. We know everyone’s secrets and flaws and it’s great.

What was the process behind your new album and how is it different to your previous two?

For Thin Walls we worked with a producer for the first time. Our first two albums we did all by ourselves. We wrote the songs on tour this time, because there was no free time at home during our Rats tour.

How has your summer been so far?

Really great. All of them are wonderful, and always great weather, which is important for the summer-vibe. We’re still looking forward to the last ones in Switzerland and France.

What are your tour bus essentials?

Lots of coffee, and since recently a new card-game we invented, called Den Utleh. It means ‘the explanation’ in English.

What can people expect when they see you live?

We always throw ourselves in the music onstage. We play every gig as if it was our last one. I think people see that and really appreciate it.

How are you feeling about your second UK tour?

We’re really looking forward to playing some new cities that we’ve never been to. Touring is always exciting.

Balthazar play the Portland Arms, Cambridge, on Tuesday September 15. For tickets, which cost £7.70 (including booking fee), visit

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