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Geike Arnaert returns to Hooverphonic in surprise announcement
Singer Geike Arnaert is returning to Hooverphonic, in a surprise announcement made by the band yesterday. Arnaert left the seminal Belgian band in 2008 to pursue a solo career, which has resulted in two albums, many concerts and regular guest appearances with other artists.
“It’s a new day on so many levels,” Arnaert (pictured above centre) published on her Facebook page yesterday. “I am very happy to announce that Hooverphonic and I have decided to join forces again. Realising this is possible was a beautiful thing. I am excited to step back into the Hoover family.”
Arnaert went on to say that she would still be working on her solo career and will play concerts with her own band next year “if Covid rules allow”.
The announcement was unexpected, especially as it has always been rumoured that Hooverphonic bassist and co-founder Alex Callier is very demanding. Arnaert told Flanders Today in 2011 that she wanted to write songs but simply couldn’t do so in the band. She also said: “I didn’t have the feeling I could grow anymore artistically, although I knew I still had a lot to give.”
In fact, Hooverphonic’s relationship with their lead singers is a running gag in Belgium – in their 25 year career, they have been fronted by six different women. Arnaert, however, was with them the longest – 11 years, from 1997 to 2008 – having joined at the tender age of 17.
She became the trademark voice of the orchestral rock band as it gained a major following with hits like “Mad About You”, “Out of Sight” and “Vinegar & Salt”.
After Arnaert’s departure, Callier and guitarist Raymond Geerts spent two years looking for a new singer, settling on Noémie Wolfs. Two albums followed, producing major global hits like “The Night Before” and “Amalfi”. But she left in 2015, releasing two albums as a solo artist, including the new Lonely Boy’s Paradise.
Hooverphonic then announced that the trio would become a duo and feature guest singers. Their next album, Wonderland (2016) featured six different singers. A couple of years ago, however, Luka Cruysberghs began fronting the band. Callier had coached her on the TV talent programme The Voice van Vlaanderen, which she went on to win.
Cruysberghs must now make way for Arnaert. In the meantime, Hooverphonic – with Arnaert – has released a new version of “Mad About You” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the song. It was a phone call to discuss that collaboration that eventually led to Arnaert coming back to the fold.
“We started to talk,” the band said in a statement released yesterday. “All three of us really had the desire to work together, so we decided we had to do it. This is still the ‘core’ of Hooverphonic, which for many people is synonymous with the band. It’s as simple as that.”
Hooverphonic was meant to represent Belgium at the Eurovision Song Festival this year, which was cancelled because of the coronavirus. They will head to the competition in Rotterdam next year, with Arnaert and a different song.
Photo: Raymond Geerts, Geike Arnaert and Alex Callier are Hooverphonic