Belgians go global 

House of Blues, May 23, 1998

Sarah and Gert Bettens, the siblings who front Belgian pop-rock contenders K's Choice, oddly enough bring nearly antithetical listening preferences to the band's infectious, folk-tinged mix. The Bettens, who share songwriting duties, nevertheless complement each other musically.

"For me, as a teen-ager, it was basically the Smiths, the Police and U2," says Gert, who describes his sister as a big Abba and Donna Summer fan who later discovered Shawn Colvin and the Indigo Girls. "There's always been a difference in our musical tastes. Fortunately, we live in a big world where our tastes meet."

Their feel for crunchy guitars and subdued melodies creates a sound that is reaching a global audience. "Not an Addict," an examination of substance abuse, denial and temptation from their second album, 1995's "Paradise in Me," spent nearly 30 weeks on Bill-board's modern rock charts. Together that disc and their 1993 debut album, "The Great Subconscious Club," have sold nearly a million copies worldwide. Sarah also lent ethereal background vocals to the score of the sexy thriller "Wild Things."

The Bettens, guitarist Jan Van Sichem, Jr., bassist Eric Grossman and drummer Bart Van Der Zeeuw, threaten to continue their ascent with their third album, "Cocoon Crash," and an accompanying U.S. tour that includes headlining dates, appearances on the VH1 "Rock Across America" concert tour and a two-week stint on the second stage at this year's Lilith Fair.

The first single from the new album, "Everything For Free," is a first-person tale of a mental-institution resident enhanced by a delicately picked six-string that suddenly turns into a guitar army. "Sometimes when you're surrounded by too many things and too many thoughts, you feel that strange urge to just do nothing at all," Bettens says. "I did have that feeling last year, at the end of a very, very long tour."

The band's sound is reminiscent of the Sundays -- with edgier guitars and throatier vocals creating a sonic contrast. "We both like dynamics, and we definitely like melodies and harmonies," says Bettens. "I think that's something we always try to achieve. Sometimes it's just a little breakdown in a heavy part. Sometimes it's just a quiet acoustic guitar. We just try to put on tape what a song asks for."

More by Philip Booth


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