With a sound which is intimate and very powerful at the same time, they are
building steadily towards a sound international career. As Oor put it "the
group walks a tight line between alternative and mainstream. A witness to this
are the comparisons that are used to describe the group : Smashing Pumpkins meet
The Cranberries, Live meets the Indigo Girls, Garbage meets Suzanne Vega".
At first, record company Double T offered Sarah a solo-contract (on instigation
of Rocco Granata). She records a few singles on her
own, that become quite successful in Belgium (see Sarah
Beth for a bit more on this period). When she gets the chance to record more,
she asks help from her brother Gert, and "The Choice" was born.
After the recording of "The Great Subconscious Club", with the help
of Jean Blaute (see Kate's Kennel, Raymond
van het Groenewoud, The Radio's ...) , the group
quickly proved to be very much more than a singer. The album proves to be an overnight
sensation over here.
In the neighboring countries, the Bettens-recipe proves to be a tasty one also
: they get to tour with Morphine in France, with the Proclaimers in the U.K. and
with the Indigo Girls in the United States. This last tour forces the group to
change their name : apparently there already was a group called "the Choice"
in the States. The name gets changed to "K's Choice", the "K"
coming from the main character in the Franz Kafka Novel "das prozess"
Very nice is the way in which the Flemish audience could follow the group's
trail on the road through a weekly published column by Sarah in the newspaper
In 1995, they record "Paradise in me" which has a bit of slow start,
but is still growing to this day. The story of the record is told in "Big
in Belgium" : "The record starts off on a wrong foot. A tour in France
goes poorly, a tour in Spain together with the hard-hitting Heroes Del Silencio
is a miscast. Fortunately, there is the single "Not an addict". Holland
is the first to succumb : 80.000 copies sold and an imposing performance on the
important Pinkpop festival. Germany follows, where the group makes a big impression
on Alanis Morissette at the Rock am Ring festival and invites the group to join
During the tour with Alanis and a following club-tour they sell only 8.000 CD's.
On the other side of the Globe in Australia, K's choice enters the top 10 and
stays there for weeks. That finally awakens somebody at Sony. A new video is shot
for "Not an addict", the song gets picked up on the college radio stations
and the rest is history. Now the record has been sold over 700.000 times.
As Sarah (who by-the-way is married to an American) put it : "Rock-and-roll
is hard work. Being from a small country, you got to double the effort. That's
because you have to leap over two boundaries : the boundary of anonymity, but
also the boundary of the "networks". A young and promising English group
has a much easier time opening the wallets for promotion and merchandising"."
After more than two years of promotion and touring with the album, the band
finally can start thinking of writing new songs.
In 1998, K's Choice (who are fans of Germinal Ekeren) mount a new offensive
: the newest weapon is their album "Cocoon Crash". Jean Blaute gets
the sack and is replaced by producer Gil Norton, an American who provided services
for the likes of The Pixies, Counting Crows, Foo Fighters & Throwing Muses
Amidst a enormous media-hype (never seen in Belgium) that blows away the critics
opinion that it's a nice album but there's no second "Not an addict",
the record goes off on a very good start. The first single "Believe"
becomes song of the year (in "De Afrekening"), and the album becomes
the 8th best selling album (after the Céline Dion's & Helmut Lotti's
of this world).
After a second triumph at Pinkpop, a little row erupts with Herman Schuermans
: the group is, but than isn't, going to play at Torhout / Werchter. Instead,
they choose to perform at the Beachfestival (that surpasses T/W for the first
During the months May & June, the group toured in the U.S.A. in the Lilith
Fair tour (with Garbage, Fiona Apple, Sheryll Crow & The Indigo Girls). In
the fall, however, touring had to be stopped abruptly when Gert Bettens suffered
a complicated disease. A few months of rest should cure him, so the group plans
to resume touring in January.
In 1999, the band resumed touring, but without drummer Bart van der Zeeuw,
who was replaced by Koen Liekens (who was drumming for Jo
Lemaire and others before).
In January, the group released two CD's for the die-hard fans : "All Access
: Extra Cocoon", featuring a collection of songs (live, acoustic, B-sides,
remixes, movie-soundtracks ...) and videoclips and "2000 Seconds Live",
only available for members of their fanclub, featuring 8 songs performed live
at the Fan Club convention '98). The first cd was released as limited edition
: 10,000 in Belgium, 10,000 in France and 20,000 in Holland (someone should sue
them: calling 40,000 copies a "limited edition" has a devastating effect
on the moral of other Belgian musicians).
During their tour, they introduced Arid (a new band on
the same label) to the low countries. In the summer, they headlined a mini-festival
on the Werchter ground one week before the actual festival (with a guest appearance
of Stef Kamil Carlens of Zita Swoon).
december 1999,K's Choice went into the studio, starting the recordings
of what would become "Almost Happy" their fourth album. After
a number of try-outs and a intensive rehearsal-period in November, Sarah &
Gert elected to have the album produced by "Bird & Bush", a duo
from New-Zealand whose biggest release so far is "Cocktails & Performance"
by the British indie-rockers Sterophonics. The release date of May 2000 was not
met, because Tchad Blake (who has worked with acts of the stature of Pearl Jam
or Crowded House before) took a while mixing the album.
The first single, also entitled, "Almost happy"
was released August 21, the CD one month later (in Belgium, the US-release is
for 2001) : it features 13 rather intimistic songs written by the brother/sister
Bettens, was recorded in Peter Gabriel's RealWorld studio's in Bath, and some
niceties on the CD are "intro", which features the voice of Sarah
as it was recorded when she was only 6 years old singing a nursery rhyme, "Shadowman",
surprisingly well-sung by Gert, and the bonus-track "Already there",
which might as well have been on a Sarah McLachlan album.
In the interviews that are appearing in the press everywhere, Sarah & Gert
present the album as the most contemplative as of yet, with lyrics that describe
the people that they are, and the way they feel at this time. Surprisingly enough,
most interviews also reveal that they had to go to a lot of trouble to make this
CD, as their record company Sony (DoubleT) was not impressed with the demo-material
(no single-material). Quote of the day (from Oor) "The climate in the
record bizz is deterioting rapidly : everybody fears losing their jobs, nobody
is willing to take a risc, everything has to sound just the way everything else
on the radio sounds. There was a big lack of trust. ... In Belgium and Holland
we feature among the big acts, but in other countries we don't, so they consider
us a non-succesfull band. Isn't that bizarre?". Indeed. "Almost
Happy", the single, was followed by a second single "Busy" in November,
while Sarah picked up another award as "Best Singer" at the annual TMF-ceremony.
2001, after two live albums that were reserved for members of their fanclub only
("2,000 second live" in 1999 and "home" in 2000), K's Choice took the step of
releasing a live album for everybody. And while they were at it, they made it
a double CD.
The title of the 2 CD's is simply "Live", and wants to give as good a summary
as possible of the band's complete works: on both of the CD's are eleven tracks,
with the first one showing the "not an addict" rocking side of the Bettens-family,
and the 2nd disc demonstrating the more introverted folksy side of the band. The
album has been produced by Werner Pensaert, who recorded some 20 concerts and
a couple of festivals during the latest tour. There's also some material of a
live session which was done in the Galaxy Studios at the end of May. Recordings
from 4 different countries were selected: Holland, Germany, France and Belgium.
- Sarah Bettens, vocals & guitar
- Gert Bettens, vocals & guitar
- Jan Van Sichem, guitar
- Bart van der Zeeuw / Koen Liekens drums
- Eric Grossman e.a. , bass
Buy CD's of this band at
- The Great Unconscious Club (Double T - 1993)
- Paradise in me (Double T / Sony - 1995)
- Cocoon Crash (Double T / Sony - 1998)
- Almost Happy (Sony - 2000)
- Live (2CD, Double T / Sony, 2001)
- Extra Cocoon : all access (1999)
- 2000 seconds live (1999, ltd. edition fan club only)
- Home - live at the Ancienne Belgique (2000, ltd edition fan club only)
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