Jerry A. (Poison Idea) & Pieter Coolen (Toxic Shock) Come Together in Crime Scene

Pieter Coolen of Crime Scene (Photo: Sandra Van Watermeulen)

Crime Scene is a musical project spearheaded by Belgian guitarist Pieter Coolen. Stylistically, Crime Scene serves up a blend of hardcore punk and thrash metal.

Recruiting Poison Idea legend Jerry A. to handle the vocalist position, Pieter insured the material maximum impact.

Earlier this year saw the release of Dark Tidings, Crime Scene's debut EP. I spoke with Pieter via email about the project's formation, his influences, and working with the one and only Jerry A.

What is the formation story behind the band? I’m sure it’s an interesting one with the geographical distance between you guys.

During COVID times, Toxic Shock (my other band) couldn't rehearse for a long time. I became frustrated because I had a lot of riffs and ideas for songs. Not everything was suitable for Toxic Shock and some of the riffs we weren't going to use. But I really believed in that stuff so at one point I decided to make real demos and not only riffs on my iPhone. It was only me recording everything, programming drums, ... except vocals.

Then I wanted to do something with these demo songs. That was the moment Crime Scene was born. But who was going to sing? I had a few ideas, but I wanted it to be broader than Antwerp (where I live). I had been listening to Poison Idea a lot in that period and I knew they called it quits.

Suddenly, I knew it: "Fuck it, I'm gonna ask Jerry A if he's interested!" But how to reach him? We had played a show with them a couple of years earlier and [vocalist] Paul [Bearer] from Sheer Terror is a mutual friend so there was a link. I asked Paul Jerry's mail address, wrote, what I thought, was a good mail and waited a couple of days to send it. Jerry wrote back pretty soon and the rest is history.

How would you describe Crime Scene's sound/style? I hear a certain late ‘80s thrash metal vibe to what you’re doing.

Oh, there are a lot of influences and '80's thrash is definitely there! I love NYHC (Cro-Mags, old Agnostic Front and Leeway will always be influences), I really dig old-school thrash metal (of course the Big Four, but Exodus is my favorite thrash band), the '80's Venice scene is also an influence, I like some NWOBHM and I love a lot of old-school hardcore punk, and the first and second wave of black metal.

If you put all that in a mix I think you have an idea where the songs come from. Some influences might be subtle, but they are there [laughs]. I just hope we don't sound like a weak copy of an old band. We try to do our own thing. And Jerry is the perfect singer for all of this. He really did a great job and even did some things he never has done before.

Jerry A. (Photo: Juxe Areta Goñi)

Did Jerry have input into the musical side of things, or was he strictly involved with the lyrics/vocals?

I sent Jerry my home demos first. So the songs were kind of ready. Some things changed a little like my friend Dave, who plays lead, lay down some great solos for the recordings that weren't on the demos. I gave Jerry some suggestions for his vocal delivery, but I didn't want to push him at all.

He had been singing in one of the best hardcore bands ever. And I like everything they ever recorded, so who am to say what to do. The dude is a legend and still has a great voice.

About the lyrics... A friend asked me if Jerry sent me the lyrics before he recorded the vocals. And I was like: "why should he? He has written amazing lyrics like forever." So I wasn't worried at all about the lyrics. When Jerry recorded the first song, "Crime Scene," and sent the result, I was blown away. It was great stuff.

Dark Tidings came out earlier this year. Tell me a bit about the material on it and the recording process behind it. 

First there were the demos. Later, I called some friends (who are great musicians) if they wanted to record some songs with me. Dave (guitar) and Pieter (drums) said yes. Next we started rehearsing in September and booked studiotime in November. So there was a tight deadline. It were exciting times because you could feel that there was another possible lockdown in the air.

We hit Project Zero Studio and worked there with Yarne Heylen (bass player in death metal juggernaut Carnation and a great up and coming producer). We did our thing in Belgium and Jerry sang his parts in Portland. It took a couple of months—there were blizzards, some bad luck and COVID quarantine—but what we got back was great. 

Yarne mixed and mastered it and the result was a demo and Dark Tidings. Jerry and I are both very proud of it. Reality Records released it over here and American Leather Records (Poison Idea's own label) did the American version.

What’s next for Crime Scene? Are there plans for a follow-up to the EP? 

Yes! We already recorded new stuff; 6 new songs and 2 covers. The rough mix is ready, but we still need to re-amp the guitars and Jerry still needs to do his thing in Portland. And then it's mixing and mastering.

We recorded in Antwerp with my good friend and awesome producer Martin Furia (he has his own band Bark and plays guitar in German thrash icons Destruction). We have a great title ready for the thing so I'm really looking forward to what Jerry will do.


Dark Tidings is available now digitally on Bandcamp, and on vinyl via American Leather Records (US) Reality Records (EU).


Tagged: crime scene, poison idea