Official Version by Front 242 was a sea change album for me. It marked a change in the course my musical tastes would take and would ultimately help define the person I am today. While that may seem like a bold, possibly even outlandish statement, think about it. The music that you listen to becomes a part of your inner fiber, who you are, almost like the soundtrack to the story that is your life. So yes, Official Version did help shape the person writing this article right now…because without it I might not be typing this at all.
I grew up in the working class town of Anniston, Alabama. Lots of manufacturing industry, a fully functional Army base, and an Army depot that built and repaired tanks built the infrastructure of the area. Even as a kid I was aware that Alabama was made fun of for being a “backwoods” part of the country, but I never understood it. Thanks to the military bases and industries that shipped world-wide, I grew up in a melting pot. I was introduced to every race at an early age, made friends with people that had lived all over the world, and thanks to the multi-cultural environment, we had more resources and outlets than most. It was a cool place to grow up in the 1980’s. Why am I telling you this? Because it ties right into the music. We had a phenomenal college radio station at Jacksonville State University that was filling their bandwidth with music that pushed the envelope, whether it be industrial to metal. We also had mom and pop record stores that carried albums that chain stores didn’t. In other words, I had it made.
It was through the radio station at JSU that I first heard Front 242. It was 1987 on a Saturday morning, and I had my boom box tuned in, as usual. Masterhit came on and I stopped what I was doing (doodling on paper, if I recall correctly). My ears perked up and I felt something inside…a connection mixed with a sense of wonder. I’d just been introduced to EBM, Electronic Body Music, a self-styled genre of music that Front 242 had created. It was love at first listen. I of course had no clue who it was or what the name of the song was at the time. It took careful listening over the next few weeks until I finally heard the DJ announce the name of the band/song. From there it was just a matter of finding it on tape. Little did I know it was a journey that was going to create the sea change I mentioned earlier.
I found Front 242 in the tape section of our local record store and I marveled at the title…Official Version. It sounded so cryptic and militant! I can’t remember the guy’s name who worked at the counter, but I DO remember he always wore a leather jacket, dirty jeans, combat boots, and had a mohawk (the coolest person ever to a nerdy, bespectacled youth in the late 80’s). I also remember his reaction to my placing of Official Version by Front 242 on the counter. It was met with a question…”Have you ever listened to KMFDM?” And so the rabbit hole was opened. From there I branched outward to Laibach, Ministry, Nitzer Ebb, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Leæther Strip, Nine Inch Nails, etc. over the next few years. The rest is history!
So now, we come full circle, to Front 242 and the Circling Overland tour this year. I will finally get to see one of my favorite all time bands in concert! Even if it’s just through my support of buying a ticket and cheering this September in Atlanta, I hope they understand how much they positively impacted me, and through me, Echosynthetic.