Marcel Thiel, a.k.a. Micky Mike took part in the first punk adventure in French-speaking Belgium: CHAINSAW, formed in 1976. The group consisted of Jean-Pierre Poirier, a.k.a. Jerry Wanker, later Jerry WX (guitar), Dan McRoll a.k.a. Dan Dee (vocals), Micky Mike (bass) and Bob Seytor (drums). They recorded only one 7-inch, a 4-track EP entitled "See-Saw" for Romantik Records in 1977.
A few heroic and legendary months later, they split up in 1978 and each member went on to form new outfits. Micky embarked on a long wandering from aborted band to aborted band, passing through The End, Fame and Coco Panik among others.
Micky Mike started his own project under the name Snowy Red in October 80. With his new project, he wanted to prove that it was possible to self-produce a full album, despite meagre means: a few synthesizers, a 12/2 mixing panel, a 2-track reel-to-reel recorder and a few basic effects. This happened to be a successful experience: the record he released in January 1981 was pretty well received by the Belgian and foreign press. The album release was followed by a series of performances that were outside the scope of an ordinary rock gig. Micky sang alone on stage, accompanied by pre-recorded tapes and two dancers from MUDRA (Maurice Béjart's ballet school). To complete the stage set, slides were projected on one side, polaroids on the other, courtesy of photographer Stéphane Sergeant.
Micky believed the audience came not only to listen but also to watch: he wanted the visuals to enhance their memories of the performance. At the end of the concert, a 'suicide' hung himself on stage. Nothing pretentious, just different. Micky Mike dared to do what other Belgians only fantasized about.
Musically speaking, the duo Suicide was Micky Mike's strongest influence at the time. He even dedicated "Baby tonight" to them. This avowed influence led to him being dubbed Suicide, Belgian-style by the audience.
In October 1981 Snowy Red started work on the second album. The minimal austerity of the first album was still there, but warmer sounds were added by a guitar, a bass, and more confident vocals. The single "I'm Hurt" announced the release of THE RIGHT TO DIE. Despite its new aesthetics and a brighter spectrum, the new album was as emotionally charged as its predecessor. The album was praised by the entire Belgian press and by the English Melody Maker and Vinyl. On stage, the show became more confident as Micky now stood alone, without the dancers who had flanked him during his first performances.
The album confirms the success of the experiment: concerts in England, Holland, positive review of Melody Maker and Vinyl. The new show does not have more dancers, slides and Polaroid were replaced by films in almost all performance. Snowy Red performed that year in the Ancienne Belgique (Brussels), supporting TC Matic and then toured in Britain and the Netherlands.
March 83, Micky itched to form a new band and asked Paul Delnoy (ex-Marine), Stephan Barbery (formerly of Digital Dance and Thrills) and Alain Lefèvre (a.k.a. Robert Leff, formerly of Thrills) to become full-time members of Snowy Red in 1983. The 4-piece band was then joined by singer Niki Mono, who had started getting noticed through her collaboration with Tuxedomoon. Micky recorded a demo of his new band's material. The music was raised to the power of 4. Here was an efficient and concerted uniting of confirmed, creative talents.
The third collection was recorded and produced with the same limited means as its two predecessors, but departed from their cold, hyper-synthetic atmosphere. VISION embodied a new soul and a fashionable sound. With this new easthetic, Snowy Red wanted to travel further, beyond the album, beyond the live act. They released a video cassette of the same title as the album, with some 60 minutes of images and sounds borrowed from all three SR albums. There were no real video clips on the tape, it was more an exercise in musical video art, akin to Soft Cell's 'hard' video. The cassette was available both in VHS and Betamax format: Snowy Red once more proved to be a pioneer. The film was used to turn the concerts into real shows. The videos were synchronized with the music and shown on television sets and a big screen.
When the New Beat rage overwhelmed Belgium three years later, legend has it that a DJ in the Bocaccio (the New Beat temple par excellence) played the opening track of THE RIGHT TO DIE, turning an unsuspecting dance crowd onto "Euroshima (Wardance)". The number was caught up in the New Beat spiral and became one of the main anthems of the fluorescent generation, who were blissfully unaware of the gloom that had generated it. "Euroshima (Wardance)" made it onto most New Beat compilations, including the celebrated NEW BEAT TAKE 1 in 1988. Micky availed himself of the opportunity to compel recognition for his new project. Once again, Snowy Red consisted of only himself.
1988 not only marked the return to a one-man band formula, it also heralded other changes: a new label and a new sound. Micky signed onto Antler early in the year. His first release on this label was SNOWY RED, THE COMPILATION 1980- 1984. The following year saw the release of THE BEAT IS OVER, the fourth and last official Snowy Red album. Once again, Micky went for a raw, personal approach in which the machines made a triumphant come-back.
In 1994-1995, Micky worked on the follow-up to THE BEAT IS OVER. He wrote a string of numbers for an intended double album that would never see the light of day, as he got bogged down, endlessly re-writing and re-arranging his new material. In the meantime, Snowy Red was approaching its 25th anniversary, which prompted the rebirth of the project, now a duo with H.H. Del Rio. This line-up played a string of gigs between 2003 and 2006. While Snowy Red was still a 25-year old youngster, Chainsaw was about to turn 30. They celebrated by appearing for a one-off gig during the Rockenscope event in Paris on 12th May 2007. Micky replaced the late Jerry WX (RIP 2000) on guitar, Del Rio taking over from him on bass. This would be Micky's last on-stage appearance… Thus the adventure that began with punk ended with punk, together with his friends from the early days. Punk is not dead, the beat is not over.
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