When did ALLIED FORCES get together as a band and who were in this first line up?
Ron Gershwin: “ALLIED FORCES was born in 1982, when three members of the band ORPHEUS came in contact with Peter van der Sluys and Ronnie Gershwin. The first line up was: Marc Gershwin (guitar), Roeland Heesbeen (leadguitar), John Reuser (bass), Peter van der Sluys (drums) and Ronnie Gershwin.”
Why did you decide to call the band ALLIED FORCES? Had it got something to do with the TRIUMPH song “Allied Forces” or not?
RG: “No, It had to do with the kind of music we played (Forces) and in honour of our friendship (Allied). Nevertheless, we used it as the military meaning. Roeland was playing in camouflage in those days.”
By whom were you influenced in those days?
RG: “Peter loved DEEP PURPLE (Ian Paice) and THE SCORPIONS. I listened to SAXON, TYGERS OF PANG TANG and DIO. Roeland loved IRON MAIDEN. Marc bought records of RUSH and THIN LIZZY and John adored THE RAMONES. So we were really mixed up.”
Did any of the members from the first line up come from any other band, or was ALLIED FORCES the first band in which you played?
RG: “Peter van der Sluys played in bands such as EXIT and VIRGIN (with guitarplayer Leo van Breemen, one of the founders of VENGEANCE). I did my thing in a bluesband, called LINX.”
What was the metal scene like in your neighbourhood. Can you tell us which other bands came from that area (Den Bosch in the south of Holland)?
RG: “There was one band very popular in that days, VIRGIN. They played cover songs from DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and bands such as TED NUGENT and VAN HALEN. Later on, there were bands such as PETE YOUNG & THE DUTCH FLAG, GIN ON THE ROCKS and VENGEANCE.”
When did you record your first demo, what was the title of this tape and can you tell us which songs were on there?
RG: “Our first demo was called “Catch The Demo(n)”, recorded in 1982. On the tape were songs like “Vatican Bitch”, “Allied Forces”, “Death Race”, “Invasion”, “Dressed To Kill”, “Streetgirl”, “Too Young To Die”, “Quasimodo” and “All Over Now”. (the last two songs appeared later on the album “The Day After”).”
How many copies were sold of this tape?
RG: “About a six hundred copies.”
How was the reaction of the press and did you also get any negative reviews?
RG: “The reactions were enthusiastic. In that days we only had two important rockbands in Holland, PICTURE and HIGHWAY CHILE. Maybe press and rockers were waiting for another powerful band.”
The first demo resulted in playing some support gigs together with ANVIL. How did you get to play these supports and who helped you to get on this tour?
RG: “Paul Smits, director of Popsalon (these days W2 concerthal) suggested ALLIED FORCES as support act in Den Bosch. I guess, our performance and attitude was that good, so ANVIL let us stay.”
Did you only play in Holland with them or did you also play outside of Holland with ANVIL?
RG: “Just Holland. We didn’t had a record company (read: money) behind us.”
What can you remember of those gigs? I can imagine that there were some hilarous, funny or interesting moments with Lips and Rob Reiner. Maybe you can tell us some stories about that to our readers?
RG: “They were truly great. Before that, we only played eight gigs. Now we had the chance to perform on the bigger stages and to learn a lot from ANVIL. What I remember is that the ANVIL members were “ normal” guys. We had our own dressing room with lots of Heineken, just like ANVIL. However, within an hour we were out of beer. Dutch guys without beer, impossible. So we loan some bottles out of the refrigerator of ANVIL. Before we started our gig, we were dry again. We started drunk our first show in hometown Den Bosch, but played a hell of a gig. John Reuser smashed his bassguitar in pieces and the crowd really went wild. When ANVIL started, they just had to finish, so I think we did what they expected from a support act. Meanwhile, the organisation brought us and ANVIL beer in plenty, so that “problem” was solved. A few years ago, ANVIL played in Baarlo. John Reuser was visiting them. After all those years, and after so many gigs, Rob Reiner still knew John. He remembered the beer incident, the Dutch girls and talked about the ALLIED FORCES teeshirt we gave. He gave it to his son back in Canada, and he still keeps it as an collectors item.”
With whom did you play back in those days?
RG: “We played with AVENGER, LOUDNESS, TNT, TRANCE, OSTROGOTH, SAVATAGE and SOUNDGARDEN.”
Wasn’t it weird to support ANVIL on tour, while you only had released one demo tape? How did you fill the time that you had to play? Did you play any covers to make your gig a bit longer?
RG: “On the demo, there were only eight songs out of many. So we had enough songs to play, but still we played two covers during the ANVIL shows: “Fire” from KROKUS and “Roadracin” from RIOT.”
What was the title and which songs did you play on your second demo?
RG: “The second demo was untitled. This one was just mend for the record companies. We had faith in ourselves and wanted those songs only to hear on vinyl. The demo was produced by Shmoulik Avigal, singer of PICTURE (later THE RODS). We recorded songs such as “Blood, Sweat & Tears” and “Attack On The City”.”
Can you think of a major difference between these two demo tapes or not?
RG: “The first demo was a compilation of different styles. We were all influenced by different bands, so we still had to find our own FORCES sound. After recording the first demo, we knew that heavy metal as played on “Quasimodo” was the way we had to go. So when we wanted to record the second demo we knew that we had to have a producer with a metal heart. Shmoulik Avigal was the right guy for us. He told us what to do and ……more important, not to do. So the big differences were that we played only metal and played on an higher level.”
Shortly thereafter you played two songs on the “Dutch Steel” compilation album. It’s 1984 then. Did the two songs that you played on this record (“Faster Than Your Neck” and “Attack”) come from this aforementioned demo tape, or were these songs exclusively written for this release. And if they came from this demo, did they use the exact versions or did you have to remaster (or replay) them?
RG: “Metal Mike (Aardschok magazine) told Roadrunner records about the demo of ALLIED FORCES. They listened to it and contracted us. We recorded three songs at the spitsbergen studio, near Groningen. They coupled us with the expertise of Alfred Lagarde, hard rock dj on national radio and producer of HIGHWAY CHILE. We rerecorded “Attack On The City” (“Attack”on Dutch Steel) and recorded “Faster Than Your Neck” and the exclusive written “Wolfman”.”
Whose neck was broken at the end of “Faster Than Your Neck”? (laughs!)
RG: “Can’t you imagine? We released this song before ACCEPT came with “Fast As A Shark”.That song was ultimate speed, never heard before. But we played “Faster…” before that. The song is about playing faster than any banger could bang. If you still did………that was the broken neck you heard. The laugh is ours, we knew. These days “Faster Than Your Neck” could be a ballad, comparing to METALLICA and a few other bands.”
Did you choose these two songs yourself or did Roadrunner choose the two tracks for this compilaton album? And why were these two tracks chosen?
RG: “We choose the three songs, Alfred (producer) decided which song came on the album. When the album came out, we were one of the lucky ones with two songs on “Dutch Steel”.”
Did you play live with any of the other bands that were on this compilation, as a sort of promotion for the album, or didn’t anything at all like this happen after the release of this album?
RG: “The only thing happened was one gig, the album presentation. After that we played some gigs together with MARTYR.”
Was this the only compilation album on which you appeared as ALLIED FORCES or what?
RG: “Later on (in 1990) we appeared on the album “Course Between Extremes” (VIA Records) with “Steal My Heart Away”.”
Who wrote the lyrics for the ALLIED FORCES songs and where are they about?
RG: “I did. Sometimes other members were co-writers. I’m inspired by the middle ages, war, movies and real life. Though I love to write bout knights and kings.”
At the end of 1986 you recorded your debut album called “The Day After”. Could you please give us an update on what you did in the time between ‘Dutch Steel” and “The Day After”?
RG: “A year after “Dutch Steel” (1995) we recorded the demo “Too Hot To Tame”. Roadrunner never had interest in any bands on “Dutch Steel”, so we decided to go for it. We were convinced of our songs and playing. To find a record company we had to record a new demo. We contacted Leo van Breemen, leadguitarist of VENGEANCE to produce our demo (Later on, Leo left VENGEANCE in the middle of their first album recording). Just before recording John and Roeland left the band. John still wanted to play on the demo, to help us out. We didn’t want to wait for an new guitarist so asked Leo to play with Marc the guitarparts on this demo. The result was above expectation. We recorded “Heavy Metal Invasion”, “White Spirit” and “The Day After”. Because of the overtime, we rerecorded “Quasimodo”.”
You also got rid of a few people. Can you please tell us a bit more of the line up changes that happened. I think that Roeland Heesbeen and John Reuser left the band. What happened with them, and why did they leave the band?
RG: “John is a multimusician. He plays bass, guitar and can drum. And all instruments over average. John wanted to explore, wanted more than playing bass. Roeland hadn’t the same ideas as the band. Take it or leave it, we said. He left. These days John is playing together with Peter and myself in bluesband JUNKYARD DOGS [http://www.yunkyard-dogs.blues.org.au]. What musical became of Roeland, I don’t know. Later on Steven Highwood (TYRANT) replaced John and Harold Cucken (HADES) replaced Roeland.”
The band used English names on the album “The Day After”. All of the English names are traceable to your original Dutch names, except the name of your bass player Steven Highwood. Can you tell us the original name of him or was this man a real Englishman maybe?
RG: “Steven is Dutch as a Dutch guy can be. Translate High and wood, and you know his original name.”
Why was Marc’s nickname “tear”, on your debut album?
RG: “It’s not “tear” from crying but “tear” from tear it apart. And that’s what he did playing leadguitar on the album.”
In Ronnies vocals I hear some resemblance with Leon Goewie of VENGEANCE. It’s not really a copy and it’s not disturbing me at all also. Was he somehow influenced by this powerful frontman, cause his voice somehow changed from the voice he used on the older material?
RG: “You’re right, my voice was changing and changed till five years ago. I was inspired by John Deverill (TYGERS OF PANG TANG) and Ronnie James Dio (DIO). Listening to them, made me change my technique. When you hear “Attack” and “Quasimodo” (demo version), you’ll know what I mean. While recording “The Day After” I had throat problems, so the recording took a while. However, sometimes it sounded better, more rusty and angry, just like the song needed (“Quasimodo” on the album). Just the way Leon does, because that’s the way he sings. Typical Ronnie Gershwin is the song “All Over Now”, singing in a different of key and in melody.”
When I listened to the album again, while making the questions for this interview I really fell in love again with the very strong metal tracks as “Heavy Metal Invasion”, “Quasimodo”, “Blood Sweat And Tears” and the beautiful slow ballad “All Over Now”. What’s your favorite ALLIED FORCES song from this album and why?
RG: “I think the opener is really great. Instant you know: this is heavy metal. As a singer I prefer “All Over Now”. But the song “White Spirit” has it all, a typical ALLIED FORCES product. Tempo changes, melody, twin solos and the ending is to kiss, with a capital K.”
Dick Kemper (Ex NO EXQZE and VANDENBERG) produced the album. Did he also help you with some musical ideas or did he only stick to the producing part of the deal. After all the man had a lot of great experience with VANDENBERG already.
RG: “Dick produced like the sixth groupmember. He had great ideas. He told about his experiences with VANDENBERG and wanted us to learn from that. I think we passed. Our debut album sounded (for sure in those days) outstanding.”
I guess that “Dicky Dick”, one of the guest musicians on the album, is the same person as Dick Kemper?
RG: “Never guess again. Dick had his obligations towards Atlantic (their record label), so he wasn’t allowed to play or sing without permission. We thought Dicky Dick covered it all.”
You also used the backing vocals of Geert Scheijgrond, Leen Barbier (Ex NO EXQZE) and the keyboard sound of Giovanni Pileri (Ex HORIZON) on your album. Was this album a sort of break even point on which you made the first changes in your sound. In the beginning you sounded as a real metal band, and this album definately sounds like real metal to me, but after that you slowly changed over to a more melodic style of metal. Were the album “The Day After”, and the use of keyboards on this album the first signs of this change in styles?
RG: “No, absolutely not. We still think that ” a bed of keys” is necessary to our kind of metal. Like on “The Day After” we didn’t use them on every song. Just on the ones we thought they would sound better. Or using them as gimmick on “Quasimodo” and “Dark Roses”. Later on Giovanni’s influence became bigger. It just happened, and honestly we thought this is what the recordcompanys want. These were the days of EUORPE and BON JOVI. So when Harold left, we decided to replace the guitar by the keyboards. Now I can tell that this was a mistake.”
Steef Geurden did the artwork for this debut album. Did he want to make a point here or did he just came up with a nice painting? Please explain…..
RG: “The idea for the artwork was ours. Indeed the painting respond to a few songs. The painted sky – “Beyond The Storm”, the skull – “Quasimodo”, the rose – “Dark Roses”, the coven – “The Day After/All Over Now”, the girl her shadow (guitar player) - “Spoken Dreams”.”
Does Steef play any instruments at all?
RG: “He can’t play. Maybe with his dick, he can. (laughter)”
How many copies were sold of “The Day After”?
RG: “I really don’t know. In Holland they were imported and in Europe, I don’t have a clue. That’s all because we never signed Flametrader. Silvox sold the product ALLIED FORCES to them.”
What happened with the Metalloid label, for which you originally recorded this album?
RG: “They went broke.”
How did you get in touch with Flametrader Records, who actually released your debut album?
RG: “The Silvox studio never got paid for the recordings and decided to sell all the Metalloid bands to other companies. We never had a word in it, but were glad that the album finally came out.”
Did you tour after the release of this album, or did you have to stick to the local clubs? In other words what happened with the success of ALLIED FORCES after the release of your debut album?
RG: “We started the tour in the local clubs in Holland and played also in the bigger concerthalls like W2, Paradiso and Noorderligt. In Belgium and Germany we also played a few gigs. We also got invited to play on festivals. I think the festivals happened in order off the airplay we got on National radio.”
We know that you played a lot of gigs in Holland. But what about the success in other countries. Did you also get some respons from people across the Dutch borders?
RG: “Because of the mail that we received, we had an idea where our album was available. We got mail from people from Peru, USA, Poland, England and they also asked us for interviews in Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and Peru. They all were excited about the album we made.”
Did you record any videos from your live gigs?
RG: “No, because we missed the back-up of any record company. Like I said Flametrader never signed us, so they didn’t spend any dime on merchandise or for promotion in any way. Off course we did some “home recording” ourselves.”
Is there any original merchandising left from the old days?
When did ALLIED FORCES decide to call it quits. Was this due to the usual musical difference or what happened actually?
RG: “Because off the chance we made with bringin in keyboards, we got more melody instead. We didn’t want to, but it just happened. Ofcourse we could chance this, but we liked the way we were going. We lost some fans, but got new ones too. More record companies were interested in ALLIED FORCES in those days, so we were happy with the situation. In 1989 we signed a contract with Overdrive records. We recorded “Steal My Heart Away” in the Cat studios, as a single. Still this song was never released. Later on, in 1990, it appeared on the “Course Between Extremes” sampler. In those days bass player Steven Highwood was replaced by Ferry Schmutzer. With this new bassplayer we recorded another four songs for Overdrive records. The layout was made, and it would be a mini album. First we recorded it in the Cat studios, and against the wishes of the company we decided to record it all over in the Soundride studio. Here we got our confidence and drive back, we even played it more the metal way. Our way. But Overdrive wanted to hear another EUROPE, like ZINATRA had their success in Holland, back in those days. We refused to chance into this extreme melodic. The result was that Overdrive never released the album. After this we did another Holland tour in 1990. We already decided that if we couldn’t find a record company interested in ALLIED FORCES, we split up after the tour.”
Did you started to write new material for a second album at that time already or was it still too soon for that?
RG: “We never stopped writing. Even during the 1990 tour we wrote new songs.”
Is there a lot of unreleased material of that period or not?
RG: “Yeah, there is. A few songs will be on “The Forces Strike Back” CD. Other material will be recorded on the forthcoming album.”
Some of you played in a much more melodic rock band called BAD LOVE. Can you tell us who was in this band and how would you describe the sound of BAD LOVE?
RG: “In the band were: Ferry Schmutzer-bass, Marc Gershwin-guitar, Ron Gershwin-vocals, Peter van der Sluys-drums and Chris Allister-keyboards. Additional vocals were done by TO HOT TOO HANDLE: two hot female singers named Roxy Carrera and Nikki Chavez. (Later on Nikki did her thing with CHICKS ‘N’ TRICKS) We played American rock. Could compare us with WHITESNAKE crossed with MOTLEY CRUE. Visual we were great those days. Still we rocked (more melodic) and the girls were really great. They did what the audience expected, great singin and a real erotic show.”
Did you also record anything as BAD LOVE, or was this just a short interlude before changing your name to GERSHWIN?
RG: “Later on, we were in speaking terms again with Overdrive records. We restyled the layout of the CD (cover was off course a blond hot girl) and overdubbed the ALLIED FORCES recordings with more keyboards. But at this state there came the usual music differences, caused by our management (same as GIN ON THE ROCKS and TOPAZ). The girls left and later on Ferry Schmutzer left the band. At that point Marc and I decided to split up again to form our own band called GERSHWIN.”
Did you also play live as BAD LOVE? And with which (local) bands did you share the stage at that time.
RG: “We existed only eight months. In these months we still played fifteen gigs. We played fourteen gigs alone and one show with GIN ON THE ROCKS.”
What happened to all the ALLIED FORCES members, who were not a part of BAD LOVE. Did they join other bands?
RG: “Harold Cucken played after ALLIED FORCES in a speed metal band out of Eindhoven and after that in several cover bands. Later on, he started to sing in the cover band KING’S QUEST. Steven Highwood played also in several cover bands and finally became bassplayer of Harold’s band, KING’S QUEST.”
Did you keep on playing songs from the ALLIED FORCES period, or was that chapter definately closed for you at that point?
RG: “In BAD LOVE only the melodic ones like “Spoken Dreams” and ofcourse the ballads.”
In 1992 you changed your name to GERSHWIN. Did this also mean another change of music style or what?
RG: “Yeah, after heavy metal and melodic hard rock, Marc and I decided to go a different way. First we started playin old material from ALLIED FORCES and BAD LOVE as an interlude into a new period. Meanwhile musicians came and go and Marc and I wrote songs we liked.”
Why did BAD LOVE disband, by the way?
RG: “First off all we were stupid to believe for 100% in our manager. Never ever let an outstander decide what to do. Still we did. Now we know better, but for BAD LOVE it was too late. We see (Marc and I) BAD LOVE as an interlude to GERSHWIN, and that’s what we told the media starting playin as GERSHWIN. Now we could start again. First the girls left, than Ferry Schmutzer was told to leave and at the end Peter van der Sluys also left the band. At the re-start of GERSHWIN only Chris Allister was still in the band, but a while later he left also to play in FIRST AVENUE (later ELEGY).”
Did you ever record anything with GERSHWIN?
RG: “One demo in the new formation with Marc on guitar, myself as singer, Matt Cleijne on bass and Diederick Stoep on drums. In the old line-up we recorded two live video tracks as promotape.”
I think I saw GERSHWIN one time, at the Loose End in Reeuwijk in 1993, together with IMPERIUM, TOPAZ and ELEGY. I can recall that you played a great show, but it looked like you watched a lot of eighties metal bands from America. By which bands were you influenced while playing in GERSHWIN?
RG: “We never played a festival as GERSHWIN in Loose End. I can remember the gig, but it was BAD LOVE you saw. Later on we played as GERSHWIN two times in Loose End. You could say that we were inspired by MOTHERS FINEST (the “Black Radio” album), DAVID LEE ROTH and MR. BIG.”
When did GERSHWIN actually fall apart as a band, and why?
RG: “Except me, GERSHWIN was a professional band. We never played that much and couldn’t find a recordcompany again. I think that GERSHWIN was far the best band I ever played in, but who am I? Marc decided to play in KING’S QUEST (with singer Peter Strikes –ex VANDENBERG-, he replaced singer Harold Cucken). Matt Cleijne also joined a rock cover band. Diederick Stoep started as drum instructor at drum school Cleuver.”
There’s a huge gap between the last days of GERSHWIN and the reunion of ALLIED FORCES.
RG: “We all did our thing, those days. We didn’t had the time or chance to play together again. But we knew that there would be a reunion gig, one day.”
In 2001 you contributed on a compilation CD of the Heavy Metal Maniacs Fanclub. Did you just get together as a band again at that time?
RG: “No, in 1997 we played for the first time together again in W2, Den Bosch, Holland. It was one big party. All the early musicians played that night. The second time we played was in 2001, in Groningen, as a sort of promotion we played four songs. After this gig HMM asked us to play on their festival in Hoorn, What we did. Meanwhile, we got in touch with Steelhunter Records and talked about a real reunion.”
Why did you choose for this song “Blood, Sweat And Tears” for this compilation CD?
RG: “Stephan van Zijl compiled the album. I knew that he would chose between “Blood, Sweat & Tears” and “Swords & Religion”. They are both great songs, I think. Later on, Steelhunter Records choose “Swords & Religion” for the compilation CD “Metal Merchant volume 17”.”
A few months later, you played a reunion gig in Hoorn. How did it feel to play there again as ALLIED FORCES after so many years?
RG: “Really great. We felt the magic again, like we did in the early days. Even the time in the rehearsal room was fun and joy. The kids were great in Hoorn, they knew the lyrics after all those years. We were really surprised and played a great show that night.”
Who were in the band that evening? Was it the original line up that played there, or the line up that played on the album “The Day After”?
RG: “Peter van der Sluys on drums, Steven Highwood on bass, Harold Cucken and Marc Gershwin on guitars, Ron Gershwin on vocals. This is “The Day After” line up, like on the CD “The Forces Strike Back”.”
Everything sounded so good, it must have been a hell of an experience for you to play for a lot of headbangers again that evening?
RG: “Yep, that’s right. We all played for years in other styles of music, this evening we realised again: HEAVY METAL IS IT. And the crowd got really wild like we did, so the show in my point of view, were great this evening.”
Ron, am I right here when I say, that you hadn’t been on stage for a very long time, until this gig in Hoorn? That must have been a great, but very nervous experience standing in front of a live audience again?
RG: “This time you’re not well informed, but I’ll forgive you. After GERSHWIN I played in THE BLOCKBUSTERS (70’s glamrock), SHEBANG (hard rock) and MADHOUSE (cover band). In between I did some studio recording for guitarist Will Rijkers (hard rock in the style of BLACK SABBATH), Hans van den Heuvel (hard rock) and BIG BANG (pop music).”
Did you also get in contact with the other bands that played there this evening like MARTYR, ANGUS, TANKARD and HAMMERHAWK and how was their reaction on this evening?
RG: “We talked a lot with our friends of MARTYR. In the early days we played some gigs with them. With ANGUS we also played a few times those days, so we had a lot to talk about. HAMMERHAWK seemed to be nice guys with the right spirit. The guys of TANKARD I’ve never met. They were in their dressing room, cut off from the rest. I guess, protecting their refrigerator for an ALLIED FORCES invasion.”
I guess you must have had some nice reactions after the show? Can you share some of these reactions with us?
RG: “A touring car with ALLIED FORCES fans from around our area came, just to see us again, great. And than there were lots of positive reactions of metal fans who were really surprised by us. The media wrote very positive about the gig we played. Headache magazine said: ALLIED FORCES were the best this evening. We even got a lot of mail: about the concert, about the next concert, if we are reunited, etc. etc. The best compliments we got from our fellow musicians. Why did you guys ever broke up? They asked. You played super.”
I must admit that I liked the ALLIED FORCES show best that evening. MARTYR was a bit static, although ANGUS was good, too. Of course I liked the MOTÖRHEAD like heavy metal of HAMMERHAWK, but you definately played a killer set that night. But why did you include two METALLICA covers? I’d rather hear you play the ballad from your debut album for example!
RG: “I understand, but like I said this was our first gig in years. We only wanted to play heavy, so there was no room for a ballad. The five of us played in different bands “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True”. Now we wanted to play them in the ALLIED FORCES line up. So some kids were surprised and some wanted more ALLIED FORCES songs. After The gig in Hoorn we played a few more gigs loaded, only, with ALLIED FORCES songs.”
Did you like the METALLICA songs so much that you decided to play them in your set, or were they just a nice surprise for all the fans that evening?
RG: “Like you said, they were just a nice surprise.”
Wasn’t there any merchandising available that you could sell at this evening? I can imagine that there is still some old stuff left like stickers etc, that you could please your fans with or not?
RG: “We broke up ten years ago. So there wasn’t any merchandising left. And if, than I assume that it was lost.”
Your album “The Day After” also came out on CD very recently. Can you tell us a bit more about the bonus material that was used for this release?
RG: “The remaster of “The Day After” is called “The Forces Strike Back”. Steelhunter Records wanted to bring out a sort of history CD. So with the “Dutch Steel” songs, the “The Day After” songs and unreleased material like the single “Steal My Heart Away”. However, Roadrunner Records got in the way for a re-release of the “Dutch Steel” songs. So we decided to bring out some pre-recordings we did for the never released album after “The Day After”. These songs are “Swords & Religion” and “Heat Of The Night”. The single “Steal My Heart Away” and a live recording of “White Spirit”.”
What’s the status of ALLIED FORCES right now? Are you still together as a band or was this reunion gig just a one of thing?
RG: “A sort of inbetween. June 02 we did the last gig for this year. We just wanna play the bigger or fun-to-do gigs. Like I said, all the members are doing their things in different bands. To make room for ALLIED FORCES we have to make a schedule for rehearsals and gigs in the longer term. So right now we’re doing our thing in other bands and are planning for 2003.”
Can we expect some new material to come out in the (hopefully near) future?
RG: “Meanwhile, we are writing new material and gonna make some demo recordings in our homestudios. We have the intention to bring out, in association with Steelhunter Records, a new album in 2003.”
How will this new material sound? Will it sound like ALLIED FORCES before the debut album, will it sound like the material on the album or will it differ a lot from what we know from this band already?
RG: “Steelhunter Records is a real heavy metal label, so that’s what the new album’s gonna be: Heavy Metal. The last line-up played melodic hard-rock but that’s not what we are intended to do again. ALLIED FORCES always should play heavy metal. That’s what this line-up wants and that’s what the kids want us to play. In the ten years break up, we all involved and played different styles so I really can’t tell what ALLIED FORCES will sound like. But like I said, it will for sure be heavy metal.”
What’s the biggest difference between the metal scene from the eighties and the scene in this new millenium?
RG: “I don’t know. The gigs we played weren’t that different than in the eighties. The kids re-discovered the 80’s heavy metal and make us feel like nineteen again. In those years there was only hard rock and heavy metal. The bigger bands in those days were ACCEPT, VAN HALEN, IRON MAIDEN, etc. The big bands these days are LIMP BIZKIT, ILL NINO, POD, etc. Completely different in there way of approach. Not the way I like, and it seems that a lot of kids want those old days back again. They already discovered IRON MAIDEN. A lot of eighties bands are reunited again. Maybe we’re inspiring the younger musicians to play heavy metal and will there be a new wave of metal.”
When you look back at the musical career of the Gershwin brothers. Can you tell me what you think was the highlight of your career then?
RG: “For me personally, signing the first recorddeal. The highlight on stage was a gig I did with THE BLOCKBUSTERS, playin on The Night Of Assen (Dutch motor grandprix fest). Over 10.000 wild bikers who just came to party. And ofcourse all the friends I made along the musical way.”
And you will have some bad memories too, I guess?
RG: “Once we had to play as headliner on a festival at the Noorderligt, Tilburg. National radio was there (VARA) to make a recording of this. Henk Westbroek (DJ) asked us to play first. We refused. The organisation and VARA said: first or not at all. We refused again. The festival started without ALLIED FORCES. Months later, we heard why we were asked to play first. VARA played from each band one or two songs on the radio a few weeks later. DJ Henk Westbroek was impressed by our album “The Day After”, and give us lots of air play in his program. At the evening of the concert he wanted us to play first to broadcast us live, the last thirty minutes of his show. He had his reasons not to tell why we should play first, he said later on. He was disappointed in the band, not to trust him. He never played a ALLIED FORCES song again in his show.”
How was it for you to make a trip down memory lane like this, did it bring back some good memories?
RG: “Sure. First of all, it seems that you know more about ALLIED FORCES than I do. About some questions I really had to think about that. How was it again. It feels like the first rehearsal, after all those years, Jumping back in time. The gigs and reminders, like this interview, make me feel like travelling in a timemachine. Back in time.”
Do you have any future plans for ALLIED FORCES at this moment? Are you planning to tour through Holland again or is this wishful thinking?
RG: “Our record company asked us to play at the end of this year in Maastricht. That will be it, for this year. Like I said: In 2003 we’ll do a couple of gigs again. And of course there will be the songwriting, rehearsals and recording for the forthcoming album.”
Is there something you would like to add to this interview?
RG: “We would like to thank our older fans for the patience. It was a long silence, but the Allies are back. For the younger and new fans: Welcome at the Allies family, may the force be with you!”
If there was a band with whom you could tour right now, which band (from Holland or international) would you choose then?
RG: “THIN LIZZY. I think that it’s great to honour Phil Lynott this way. John Sykes doin a difficult but great job singin him.”
To what music do you listen to nowadays and can you tell us some of your favorite bands. They doesn’t necessarily have to play heavy metal music of course!
RG: “GLENN HUGHES and TOM JONES. Great voices and performers. As a band RAMMSTEIN amazed me, the way they bring metal. It’s got it all. You can’t say that the songs are sung but the atmosphere the singer creates are outstanding. In popmusic, I think ANASTACIA and ROBBIE WILLIAMS are one of a kind.”
Are any of the members of ALLIED FORCES professional musicians or do you have the regular ‘nine to five jobs’, next to the band?
RG: “Marc Gershwin and Harold Cucken are the professionals. Steve, Peter and I having a nine to five job, besides the music.”
RG: “Buy our CD!”
The last words are for you…..
RG: “Don’t hesitate in what you want. Believe in yourself and the force will be with you!”
ALLIED FORCES Discography
1984 - Dutch Steel (compilation album), feat. song "Faster Than Your Neck"
1987 - The Day After (LP)
1990 - Course Between Extremes (sampler), feat."Steal My Heart Away"
2001 - Heavy Metal Maniacs Vol. 1 (compilation album), feat."Blood, Sweat And Tears"
2002 - The Forces Strike Back (CD)