What?... You've never heard of them? Well, here ya go!
These well dressed gorillas have been entertaining the Europeon continent for damned near 20 years now.
They come from Rotterdam and Tilburg in the southern part of the Netherlands where one wouldn't necessarily expect to find surf music. In an interview with Maximum Rock and Roll magazine Jeroen Van de Sande, founding member and lead guitarist for the group once noted, "The Apemen are one of the few to play surf-music in Holland. We started around 1990 and there were no surf- bands then, and there are still only a few. In the entire country there are about 5 bands that play strictly instrumental.”
|The Official House Band of TBD|
They toured relentlessly from about 1991 through 2004 covering most of Europe and even played in the USA in 1994. Since then things have quieted down a bit for The Apemen, until recently it was announced that they would be playing a reunion show in Rotterdam on November 6th at the Burlesque Ballroom in Hotel Central. I asked Jeroen about that show and a few other topics in this Five Questions With... segment. He has been very gracious to me in the past year since I met him, which is a good story in itself...
As a fan of The Apemen, I went to Facebook and found Jeroen. I sent him a friend request not knowing him from a cloud in the sky. Instead of just adding me as I expected, I received a terse Facebook email from him asking who I was, further going on to explain that he only keeps close friends on FB, and that maybe I should try to find his Myspace page with the other groupies.
I wrote him back explaining to him that I lived in the USA and was a big fan of the Apemen, and was probably one of only two knuckelheads from Iowa who even know who the Apemen were. I went on to tell him that if he didn't want to add me as a friend that's fine... But I will not be joining the masses on Myspace since I rarely use that whore mongering piece of web trash.
A few minutes later I got a notification that he accepted my friend request, and though we have never met in person, I feel like an actual friend. We have corresponded dozens of times through emails, and to this day I am humbled to be one of only 51 friends he has accepted on Facebook.
When I asked him about The Apemen becoming the "Official house band of the Bigfoot Diaries", he didn't hesitate to allow it to happen.
I have had the thought in my head for some time now to designate a group as our official house band but I wasn't about to accept just any pansy ass outfit that came along. The Apemen have the name for sure... But they also have what defines this blogsite, that renegade attitude that only accept things if they are done the way we want them, without compromise.
Jeroen summed it up perfectly. "Silly is good... Blind adoration even better." What could be more true than that?
|Jeroen Van de Sande|
Now... Five Questions with Jeroen Van de Sande
1. How did the Band The Apemen come about?
Me and the 1st guitar player met in Art School back in 1988. So I guess we could have evolved into a high brow art-rock band with live action painting on stage. But luckily I quit Art school during the second year and chose to head into another direction. Snarly surf punk with attitude that is. In 1990 we were still a trio doing tame stuff like “Pipeline”, “Penetration” and “Walk Don’t Run”. The only instrumental records we had were things by The Ventures and The Shadows. Our original songs sounded a bit too new wave (think 80's surf sounds like Shadowy Men, Lawndale and Raybeats). But bands like JFA (Jody Foster’s Army) and Agent Orange were very important to us because we learned from them how to combine traditional surf with the aggression and enthusiasm of punk - and not being too serious about it. If you told people you played in a surf band they started laughing because they were thinking Beach Boys harmony vocals type stuff. Pulp Fiction changed all that. In ‘93 we recorded a demo tape which contained tunes that were released on our first CD and 7" vinyl. There were two labels interested in our stuff: Kogar Records who put out the “Invasion Of The Apemen” 45 and Belgian label Demolition Derby who put out a split 7" with The Monomen. We played a lot in Holland and Belgium and got a chance to record our first full length CD/10” LP for the Semaphore/Vulcan label in Holland. After that we made a 7" for Estrus Records In the USA (“El Tortura” /“Percolator Stomp”) This was because Dave Crider of The Monomen and label boss, really liked us after we performed as support band on one of his gigs with The Monomen in Belgium. We also did a track called “Pogo A-Go-Go” for the Cocktail Companion box set on Estrus Records with other bands like Man or Astroman? Then there were compilations like “Locked Into Surf Volume 2” for Alopecia Records, another one for Pin-Up Records. Things started really rolling when Dave joined the band on bass, and I switched from bass to guitar in 1994. With that lineup we recorded the Surfvival album. In July ‘95 we put out our second CD/LP on Nitro called “Surfvival Of The Onbeschoftste” By the way, 'onbeschoftste' means “the most ill mannered, the most rude”. Which was pretty spot on at the time.
2. What is the worst experience you have ever had on stage?
I think the worst gig was somewhere in 1997 in a place called "The Rose" in Deurne in Holland. That night the Dutch football team played a match for the European championship. Because of the game running late we also ran late. After finally arriving at the gig a certain member (who we shall call Mister X) of the band was high on whatever he was using at the time, immediately lay down on the floor with his arm spread. Moanin'stuff like "Isn't this place faaaantaaaastiiiiiiiiiiic!" and "Hello world! you're looking at Jesus Christ himself". So you can imagine that the atmosphere was a little bit more than uncomfortable. Mister X also left half of his gear at home so the people at the venue had to arrange for some gear at the last moment! But the real surprise came when we started playing. Mister X was just totally out of his mind and starting playing in a way the likes of which this world has never seen. Simple surf songs were suddenly transformed to free jazz experiments with the rest of the band trying to follow that crazy man's playing and dying a thousand deaths on stage. It came as no surprise that the owners only wanted to pay half of the money that night. Surprisinly though; there was someone in the audience who booked us for a future gig that turned out to be our best payed gig ever. It's a strange world...
One of the best gigs though has to be a gig we did in Bordeaux, France on a little tour we did there in 1995 or 1996 I don't remember. It was one of those magic nights. You know, that you think afterwards recollecting what went on; "Why didn't anyone beat us up! Well, they nearly well did. We played the show with the classic 5 piece line-up and it was one of the best shows we EVER played. Musically everything was there and the stage presentation was out of control. I even playbacked the last two songs when I broke my guitar after throwing it in the audience. There was also a woman on stage dancing insanely and rubbing her crotch against anyone or anything that had a remote connection with the Apemen. After the gig we hung around at the bar we played and we were just in time of preventing Mike from pissing on the bar from the second floor. We also started harassing the bartender because of his goatee. Meanwhile those French guys started to look their meanest when they realized that the local women felt a strange desire to copulate with those rowdy Dutchmen.
3. In 2007 you played your last concert but I hear there is a reunion show coming up... What can you tell me about that, and is it the original lineup?... And furthermore will this lead to more shows and an album?
Well, if it was the original line-up there wouldn't be much to be excited about. No this is the line-up that was active from 1998 till 2006. Basically the 'Surfvival' lineup minus Mike the drummer. He was replaced back then by Johnny Mambo who's also still active in Psychobilly legends (or so they claim) Batmobile.The reunion show was ment to be a one off but the feedback we're getting is overwhelming. Lots of people want to see the band. So who knows what we'll do. We all get along great. We're not a band that plays for free beer in a small bar though. There has to be a reward in some form or another. The reunion show is taking place on the bi-anual Burlesque show at the Hotel Central in Rotterdam. I think that playing a Burlesque show was a good motivator to get us going again! So yes! If anyone's interested in booking The Apemen feel free to do so. We still have some unrecorded songs laying around so chances are great that we might record them somewhere in the near future.
4. What other bands/projects have you been involved with?
I've been playing in some low-key rock bands over the years. I enjoy that a lot but there's not much interesting to tell about.
Johnny's still active in Batmobile. And Dave had a thing going for a while with The Perverts; a low-fi sixties garage outfit modelled after the Outsiders/Q65 and other Nederbeat giants. I believe they also acted as a backing band for Jeff Connoly for a while.
5. A Dutch surf band... Who'd a thought? What other bands do you listen to, and as a small little monkey who were your biggest influences?
I started buying music at the age of 9. Starting out with hard rock like Kiss ,Thin Lizzy, Saxon, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest. Then I went on a quest for something louder and faster. Enter Venom, Slayer, Punk Rock, Agent Orange, Misfits, Black flag, Septic Death. Growing up in the 80's also meant I got my fair share of Wave & Gothic sounds: Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim, Skinny Puppy, and Kraftwerk.
Where did all that music come from? I started looking backwards to 50's rock 'n roll and sixties garage rock. Sonics, Stooges, Surf, Fender IV, Dick Dale. After my first big love affair I discovered Soul music. James Brown, O.V. Wright, James Carr. That again evolved in a interest in Jazz... Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, John Coltrane. Nowadays I listen to all those styles. The only style of music that I really don't like is Dixieland Jazz - guys with moustaches, banjos and clarinets.
There's so much good music to be enjoyed. And an unbelievably big pile of crap also...
(Bonus Question): You are known to tell jokes while performing... Do you have a favorite?
Dave (bass) is the MC of the band. With his typical Rotterdam brawl he's the one that entertains the crowd. Mainly for his own amusement. I wouldn't call them jokes since the punchline isn't there most of the time. Lot's of strange, twisted and mostly incoherent tales about forgotten celebrity bastard sons... Strip searches gone wrong at customs... And of course that local guy from Rotterdam who had his toes amputated so he could be even closer to the counter in his favorite bar.
|Jeroen doing what he does best|
Wouldn't it be something if the Apemen came back to the United States and did a national tour? It sounds like they'd be up for it. The Bigfoot Diaries is excited to have them as their house band, and kudos to Jeroen for his willingness to share his story. Obviously he is just as excited about it as we are...
"Who knows; maybe someday you will join the Chosen Few. A secret handshake club of individuals who get selected through black magic rituals and receive the devine privilege of carrying our guitar cases... Cheers!"