Stories Of Steel ("Stale Verhale")

In the eighties, Holland had a lot of good hard rock and heavy metal bands. One band however did have a special place in the heart of every Dutch metal head. That was VANDALE (line up: Bert van Klaveren-vocals, Tekkie-guitar, Dr. Eddie Bopp-guitar, Pat ‘Red Hair’ Rademakers-bass and Luc Garé-drums). They were the only Dutch hard rock band that sung in their native tongue. Their lyrics were rebellous and critical for that time and their music was loud. All of a sudden they disappeared from the scene, to return back in 2000 in their most well known and ‘successful’ line up after seventeen long years. The reunion of this line up didn’t last that long though. Original guitarplayer Tekkie left the band in September and he was replaced by Gino Rerimassie, who came from ZINATRA. Singer Bert van Klaveren decided to become the spokesman of the band for this interview with Snakepit. An interview that will introduce you to the only Dutch singing hard rock band in Holland, VANDALE.

When did you guys get together to form VANDALE and who was actually in this first line up?
“VANDALE was formed in the springtime of 1979. The first line-up consisted of Eddie Bopp (guitar), Luc Garé (drums), Hans van Klaveren (vocals) and myself, Bert van Klaveren, on bass.”

Hans van Klaveren was your first singer, while you (Bert) played the bass guitar. Why did Hans decide to leave VANDALE and how come you took over his job as a singer?
“Hans left VANDALE because he couldn’t combine his private life with the band and because Bert had the biggest mouth of us all, obviously he became our new singer.”

Who picked your bandname and what does it mean?
“That was my idea. Acutally, it has two translations: the Dutch dictionary van Dale en the name used for a bunch of vandals (= vandalen).”

In the early days of VANDALE, you covered songs by HERMAN BROOD. Did you never think about singing in the English language or did you (except of those cover songs) always sing in Dutch?
“In the early beginning of VANDALE – let’s say the first three months – we weren’t really sure what to decide. Except our own (Dutch spoken) songs, we played (like you mentioned already) covers of HERMAN BROOD, but we also did “Fool For The City” by FOGHAT for example. Well, you had to bash away a whole evening, right? As soon as we noticed that the people liked our own songs much better, we cut the knot and continued singing in the Dutch language.”

Did it never occur to you to release both albums in the English language in order to achieve a possible international break-through?
“For a second, it has crossed our minds of course. Especially when Adrian Vandenberg (former guitarist VANDENBERG/WHITESNAKE) advised us, it would be a good thing to do. But it hasn’t come that far."

I have a recording of the song “Evelien”, which is the ‘unreleased’ B-side of your first single “(Wij Zijn) Vandale” from 1979. Why did a great song like this never made it on your first album “Schandale”?
“Well, by the time you’re really into the studio to record an album, a lot of the earlier songs are not as exciting anymore and you only want to record those songs, who have been written most recent.”

Who are the ladies that sing on backing vocals in “(Wij Zijn) Vandale”?
“They are called THE HEARTS OF SOUL. Three Indonesian sisters, who represented the Eurovision song contest in the seventies with the song “Waterman, Mijn Teken En Talisman”. The idea came from Alfred Lagarde, the late disc jockey of the Dutch metal radio.”

Can you still remember more ‘unreleased’ songs from this period or maybe even before your debut album? What happened for example with great tracks like “Loes” and “Sophietje”??
“Yes, I would like to mention a song like “Poen” for example. It’s a very fast and short song. Our first singer Hans sang all the vocals on this demo. I think we wanted to break the record that made The RAMONES famous……”

Once you even occupied the Vrijthof (the large central square) in Maastricht, The Netherlands, to be able to rehearse freely…. What can you still remember from this?
“That’s true. We occupied the Vrijthof in Maastricht with a rather frivolous campaign. We drove up the Vrijthof with all our gear, chucked our junk on a big newspaper stand in the middle of the square, wrapped a few wires to the pubs and started playing in the frosty cold. I handed out a couple of flyers about the cultural policy in Maastricht. We applied for a rehearsal room in the provincial capital, in the most friendly way. After almost half a year later, we got a note from some kind of public servant saying that we are number 684 in the list… Ridiculous!! Talking about public servants!!!!!”

Back in the eighties, VANDALE was a very popular band on the Dutch stages. Please mention some of the bands that you played with or toured with around the clubs?
“Oh boy, there were way too many!! Let’s see we played with NORMAAL, HERMAN BROOD, WHITE HONEY, MASSADA, VANDENBERG, BODINE, VENGEANCE and PICTURE of course.”

You released a lot of singles from your debut album. Which ones?
“As far as I can remember they were: “Weet Ik Veel” and “Geitenwollensokkenrockers”. Or did I forget about one?”

Can we refer to your former manager, Lou Beerens, as the sixth ‘part’ of the band? Did he also bring out any musical ideas in the band?
“Lou was definitely our sixth part…. Mind you, he also had one….(joke)!!! Lyrically, he wrote a lot of our stuff and musically, we came out with a lot of ideas, which were usually swept off the table at once!”

Who were your musical influences? I guess the only other Dutch speaking (hard)rock band at that time was NORMAAL.
“I never considered NORMAAL as a hardrock band. They played rock music with some touches of carnival. I think the influences from each band member were very different. Probably that’s why, we had such an unusual sound.”

Everybody knows your guitarplayer as ‘Tekkie’. I assume it’s his nickname, but what is his real name?
“Tekkie is his Moluccan nickname. It means: ‘never at home, always from home..’. His real name is Peter Titihalawa.”

Your second album was called “Stale Verhale”. What’s in your opinion the big difference between this album and “Schandale”?
“Schandale” came from the bottom of our heart and was very spontaneous, while “Stale Verhale” sounded better and more taken care of….”

The layout for the record sleeve of “Stale Verhale” was done by Ted Rechman. How did you get in touch with him?
“Ted worked as a lay-out man at the editorial office of The Limburger. He was also a collegue of mine, as I was the editor of the newspaper.“

On “Stale Verhale” you recorded a cover of the Dutch band HET, called “Ik Heb Geen Tijd Om Op Te Staan”. Why did you choose for this particular song?
“Actually, it was our intention to get some recognition for hardrock music on the radio. We thought that if we would come up with this very well-known ‘old farts’ song, people would play our record. It didn’t quite work out the way we wanted though….”

Did you release any singles from this album?
“I think we only released “Ik Heb Geen Zin Om Op Te Staan”……”

One of the favorite VANDALE songs amongst many of your fans is definitely “Paddestoel”. I hear the album version differs quite a lot from the original demo tape? (in a positive way of course!!). What are the big differences?
“If you beat me to death…. I really don’t know! Do you have this demo tape? Give it to me!!!”

Like I mentioned before, “Paddestoel” is one of your crowd pullers. I would like to add to this “Geitewollensokkerockers”, “Rot Op”, “Niemand” and “Weet Ik Veel”. What are your own fave VANDALE tunes and why?
“I think that would be “Vrienden Uit De Kroeg” and “Lolita”. Uptempo songs like that are always doing great at the audience and a song like “Paddestoel” has very strong lyrics (especially back in those days). A song like “Vrienden Uit De Kroeg” gets you thinking about your so-called friends…. In the end you only have a very few REAL friends…..”

Why did you never record a video clip? I think that was very common back in those days….
“Excuse me – mistake. It really wasn’t that common to record a video clip in The Netherlands in the early eighties… Only in the second half of the eighties, when the CD became a hot item, people started recording video clips and yet only a very few….”

Why did Luc Garé leave the band after “Schandale”?
“Luc had to choose between the music and a social career. He’s now a very successful architect! So obviously, his choice was the right one… However, he is still a great drummer!!”

Why did you change your record label Papagayo for Pierot, who released the 2nd album?
“We didn’t change record labels. The name of the label was changed. Label manager Charlie Prick (yes indeed, his name was choosen very poorly by his mother, but how could she have known?) liked this name better. We thought it sounded a bit woozy. We draw a thick cross through the label on thousand copies of the album.”

Leon Biessen replaced Luc Garé. He came from BLACK ROSE and could choose between VANDALE and a band called HANGOVER. Why did he choose for VANDALE?
“He didn’t feel like getting a headache….. No really, he only played for a very short period in HANGOVER. He probably thought that VANDALE had much more potential. He was an awesome drummer, by the way!”

After your second album, you recorded the single “Wij Willen Willem Van Oranje”. Are you that much into the Royal family?
“Royal or not. “Wij Willen Willem” was a protest song against the weak politics in The Hague. At the same time Dutch TV stations like Veronica and AVRO broadcasted a series about the life of Willem van Oranje (leading part: Jeroen Krabbé). As far as we were concerned, a good political leader would be in its place. But we didn’t write this song for just one strong person…… Heavens no!”

You (Bert) were mentioned on the thanks list of the EP “The Third Move”by the Dutch band AVALON. Why was that? Did you contribute anything there?
“Actually, we came from the same neighbourhood. And because I was the editor of The Limburger, I could give them some attention from time to time.”

Some magazines write about a third VANDALE album under the most different working titles, like “Fatale Indeale” and “Blijven Douwe”. What was the real album title and why did you never bring it out? It got very favourable reviews!!!!
“That album has started to live a life of its own!“

Do you think this third album will ever see the light of day?
“At the moment, we are busy negotiating with Marlstone to bring out a special CD box with our three albums. But we still need their cooperation in this….”

Can you tell us a bit more about the songs on this album? And maybe you can describe the album cover or didn’t you have a final cover design yet?
“We really didn’t have an actual design for the record sleeve at that time. But I can tell you that the songs very unbelievably ingenious! Especially when drummer Ed Rokx joined VANDALE, our songs became very rhythmic and much more structered.. They certainly were ahead of their time…”

In 1983 you played as support act for IRON MAIDEN in Kerkrade. What can you still remember from this show?
“Yes, that was indeed a wonderful experience! A jam-packed hall, we played a great set and on stage we had three catwalks, where I could jump up and down whenever I liked. The guys from IRON MAIDEN watched us from behind the monitor-mix the whole time. It meant a great deal to us!”

Did you really get to meet the guys of IRON MAIDEN or was it just a matter of arriving at the venue, doing your show and then go home again?
“Only a few of us really did talk to the guys of MAIDEN. But you are so busy with your own show…….”

Can you tell us something about the way a VANDALE song came about? Or didn’t you work on established lines?
“We didn’t work along established lines. Usually someone came up with an idea, which slowly developed into a song.”

Whose idea was it to print photos of all your loyal fans on the inside sleeve of “Stale Verhale”?
“It was Leo’s idea. He thought it was kinda cool and it was. Our fans came up with the most crazy pictures!”

After the release of your second album, drummer Leon Biessen leaves the band and his replacement is a guy named Eddie Rokx. What happened?
“Leo was too busy with his job at the hospital. He wanted to get higher up the ladder there and then you have to choose….”

As far as I can remember, you have never appeared on any Dutch sampler. Didn’t you feel neglected here towards the many other bands, because you were quite famous…..
“Yes, and that really bothers me a lot. Especially when they release sample albums of the 80’s with Dutch music. They don’t look any further than bands like DOE MAAR, TOONTJE LAGER and FRANK BOEYEN….. How about us for a change?!?? It’s so unfair.”

How about your popularity outside Holland? I can imagine you also had a large fanbase in Belgium and maybe Germany, but what about the other countries?
“Like I mentioned earlier, we got letters from all over the world. It was a very nice experience for us.”

During the final radio broadcast of ‘Stampij’ (a hardrock show hosted by Hanneke Kappen, ex-WHITE HONEY), you guys made quite an impact. You even wrote a special tune for this show based on the melody of “Als Je Hart….”. Can you still remember it? And who were present there? Maybe you can also add a couple of nice stories?
“I can’t remember much, because I was at home being sick! However, I listened to the radio and from what I can recall it was a very cozy mess!!”

Your (former) guitarplayer Tekkie was also to be heard on the radio once during a guitar contest. Amongst eight other people, he played a solo of one minute. The winner of the best guitar solo was chosen as ‘The Best Guitarist in Holland’! Did he prepare himself for this at all and how did you like that he was involved into it?
“Tekkie didn’t rehearse anything….like always…. Tekkie is Tekkie and if he had a good day, he played like a madman, but if it wasn’t…… I think it wasn’t one of his lucky days…”

What was the real reason for VANDALE breaking up?
“After we released our last single “Wij Willen Willem” on WEA, the boom of Dutch music from the early eighties had almost come to an end. Recordlabels didn’t want to put a dime into it anymore….Of course, we wanted to continue making records…"

Later on, Tekkie and Eddie Rokx were to be found in the band of Elvis Presley look-alike Rene Schuman. What happened with the rest of you, musically? I can’t believe you suddenly vanished into thin air……
“I formed the band VIA VIA from the ashes of VANDALE (with Ed Rokx and Eddie Bopp). We were fronted by a female vocalist with big boobies and an even bigger mouth. After this adventure, I formed ZINATRA together with producer Erwin Musper and Ed Rokx. Eddy Bopp went his own way and Pat played in various cover bands.”

Your lyrics were very critical towards the social structure. Was that your image or did you really think this negative about everything? (or just being realistic – it’s the way you put it!). Did your opinion(s) change much over the years?
“I guess we were just being realistic. In fact, we were holding up a mirror to our faces and the faces of our generation youngsters. Of course, our opinion has been ‘re-adjust’ today in several ways, but I think songs like “Vrienden Uit De Kroeg” and “Geitenwollensokkenrockers” are still a topical subject. And what about “Pet In Bed”??!???”

We’ll also find back Eddie Rokx as a drummer in ZINATRA, while Bert becomes the manager of this band. How come?
“Arnie Treffers (a.k.a. Long Tall Ernie) had some songs lying on the shelf under the name KELLY. “Love Or Loneliness” was one of them. I formed a band around it and searched for a recordlabel, a producer and people, who could raise some money… Very commercial, but it worked!!!”

Did you (Bert) recognize certain things of VANDALE in ZINATRA?
“Absolutely not! VANDALE was very spontaneous and straight from our heart, while ZINATRA was something I invented. But they were really good and very professional!”

What went wrong with this band?
“Vocalist Joss Mennen wanted more and more his own input (songs) in the band, but they didn’t quite match the concept. He got really frustrated by this. When Robbie Valentine (who went solo) broke through, his frustration became even bigger and finally he ended up by dragging along a few bandmembers in a coup against the management. That didn’t make ZINATRA too popular at our record company. We tried to make the best of it, but failed…. A real pity, because we were just about to sign a record deal in the States through our producer Erwin Musper. Our dollars down the drain, so to speak…..”

How did the reunion of VANDALE come about and is it for keeps?
“The idea for a VANDALE reunion actually came from me. It was more the result of people asking on and on what really caused the fact that we split up at the time. Luckily, the other guys thought it was a great idea, too!! For the time being we want to play a couple of clubs in Holland and maybe a few festivals this year would be great as well!”

Did you ever think about releasing both your albums on CD?
“Yes, we did. In fact, a lot of people asked us about it. But mrs. Kraft of our previous record company, Marlstone, is giving us a really hard time. First, we want to solve those problems.”

What’s your opinion about todays metal scene? Don’t you think it’s getting more like a money business these days and the music comes second place?
“That’s absolutely true, but it’s always been that way. Our whole society is like that and obviously, the record companies can’t escape from it. On the other hand, all these bands want to sell as much CDs as possible…. Doesn’t that sound like commerce???!???”

What’s your favorite music these days?
“Everything, except for house and the so-called ‘slobber’ music. As long as it has a pounding rhythm, a good melody and a nice production, I’m willing to listen to it.”

At your reunion show in Sittard this Summer (2000), I thought you sounded like you’ve never been away. Did you rehearse at all or was it all spontaneous?
“We rehearsed at full speed for this about six times. For the rest, everything was pure spontaneous from our side!”

How did you compile the setlist for this show and didn’t you think of playing one of the songs from your 3rd unreleased album?
“We put together all the songs that sounded really great live in the early days. This year we want to play a few songs of our unreleased third album as well.”

Did you feel honoured that people travelled for hours just to see you play for an hour or so?
“What do you think?????”

Any plans for a new CD?
“Plenty!!!!!”

Please respond to the following names:
BODINE – colleagues, but we never became friends
VENGEANCE – fine band, good music, a bunch of good guys and a good dose of humour!
PICTURE - stays a great memory……
VANDENBERG – we all can still be very proud of them….
HIGHWAY CHILE – we had a lot of fun with these guys!

A while ago one of Netherlands biggest comedians, Toon Hermans died. He came from your area. Did you ever meet the man and did he mean anything special to you?
“Some of us met him a few times in Hilversum. He spend a lot of time there walking on the woody grounds near the Wisseloord studios with a small voice recorder. He lived across the studios. He was a quiet and very friendly man, who lightened up as soon as he heard the dialect from the South (Limburg). I’ve always been very fascinated by Toon. Actually, he was responsible for me being on stage in the first place.”

With whom (please name a band) would you like to tour sometime or play a support gig?
“VAN HALEN!”

What are the plans for VANDALE, as we speak?
“We want to play like a fifteen to twenty times a year in Holland and Belgium. Also, we want to see if it’s possible to record a new CD..”

Do you have anything to add to this interview or maybe you have a message for the readers of Snakepit?
“We hope to see many of our old fans at our shows and perhaps even win a few souls of the new generation of hardrock fans…”

What’s the latest good joke that you’ve heard?
“I think our life is one big joke!”

Interview by: Toine van Poorten
(originally appeared in SNAKEPIT, issue #9, 2001.)