Way back when, in the fall of 2000, we played Oslo, Norway. With Bart Rosseau from the Fifty Foot Combo filling in on Drums. The event was skillfully hosted by Wavy Fantastic who later transformed into Simen Stubbrud and formed his own Apemen tribute band The Mobsmen. He also wrote the best surf song of the naughties: Gridiron Syndicate. Here’s a version of events from all three of us.
Read all 3 stories, if you dare!
The Apemen in Oslo!
On September 16th the one and only Apemen made it for the very first time all the way up to Oslo, Norway. The gig was a smasher of course, but was there a history behind? YES THERE WAS!!!!!!
And it goes something like this: It was a bright and farty morning in the year of 1977. The date was September 30th, and a couple of birds were picking on each other. Gloria Fantastic was about to give birth to the one and only Waveman (Wavy). The hospital was quiet...........
Allright I understand that I cannot include my entire lifestory here, but here is couple of facts that is somehow relevant: - I am the wavebaby!
The summer of 1998: I buy Surfvival of de onbeschofste. I think it's quite cool, but a bit strange. This wasn't the typical laid back, over clean sounding, schmick-schmack I'm used to from a lot of modern surf bands. This was Rawk‘n‘roll!!!
Still the summer of 1998: I listen to the album more and more frequently.
The winter of 1998: I like this shit even more.
February 23rd 1999: The album still doesn't leave my CD-player (though I try very hard).
June 18th 1999: I decide that the Apemen is officially my new favorite-band.
The fall of 1999: YIKES!!!!!!! The Apemen open their own website. Finally I am able to see what those cats look like; what hardware they use, what sense of taste they actually have; everything. The only thing I knew of them before, outside the album cover was that they had outplayed the “king” of surfguitar Dick Dale.
New years eve 1999/2000: For the first time of my life I make myself one of those stupid “new-years-promises”. For those of you not familiar with what a new-years-promise is, it's that promise that visionless people make for themselves to start a new and better life (I'm gonna quit smoking! I'm gonna stop drinking! I'm gonna stop watching porn!) No one manages to fulfill it of course (most of‘em are broken at around one o'clock). As the fantastic person I am, I made a promise I knew was “deliverable”: To attend an Apemen-show. May seem like a pretty easy task to many, but do not forget: the fact is that this a band that doesn't play your local club once a month. I live in Norway, and of course we have the innovation called aeroplane as well, but that shit costs, and when you have a fulltime job it ain't always easy to just “hop on” the first one heading for the Orange country (of Holland).
The spring of 2000: Surfvival of de onbeschofste still rules my cd-player. I am checking out the Adoration site once a day to find out when the Apes are playing.
The summer of 2000: the Apemen are still not putting on new shows; DESPERATION!!!
Friday August 11th: An ordinary Friday night: I get pretty drunk with some friends and start the ordinary bullshit-talk: “yeah, it would've been cool to arrange something cool....enough of those bad wannabe bands. Hey,hey,hey,hey,hey....how‘bout the Apemen?” I've saved quite a good sum of money to go down to the porn jungle of Netherlands to see the Apemen. Why not put them up here? I had never arranged a show before in my life, but all of a sudden this huge feeling takes over me. Like yeah”......”yeeahh”.....”YEAAHH”....... ”YYYYEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” In a very drunk state I ran to the computer to make them an invitation; directly from the barstool I was sitting at, that was: “Here‘s no time to lose!!” ·
September 15th: The thing is settled. It will happen on September 16. The Apemen are going to arrive at Oslo airport at 2100 to play at MY SHOW!!!!! HOWDY HOWDY, MR and MRS everyone: I don't care who you are: I am going to put on my favorite band you SON OF A LOOOOOOOSER!!!!! At 2115 there they are: Jeroen, Appie, Dave and Bart (Fifty Foot Combo’s drummer and Johnny’s stand-in). Needless to say I was stoked. The evening followed with dinner and a night out on the town (where I managed to scare the Apemen with Norwegian booze-prices). After that I learned that Apemen lifestyle IS actually very much about being awake 24 hours a day as long as you have some gin&tonic (a drink I have drunk by far too little of. I'm gonna start a real lifestyle now. Promise).
September 16th: A date I won't forget for a very,very,very,very long time. The day of the show. The day it's all gonna happen. Of course I've got enough of stuff to do; you know, that sort of stuff an arranger and host normally do on the day for a big occasion: get up early, show the guests Oslo at daytime (scare them a little more with Norwegian prices. Personally I'm used to them, but for central Europeans with basic shopping-needs I guess it was a bit tough to swallow.), fixing up equipment, buying beer for the backstage, get the guests some food, pick up DJ-equipment, smile to everyone you see (so they'll show up at the show), acting calmly, put food into your own mouth, and all that sort of shit. But all of this was nothing compared to the ongoing awareness: in just some hours: THE MOMENT OF TRUUUUUTTTTTHHHHH!!!!!!
Around half past ten I hardly knew where I was or where I was going to put my legs: I was SSSOOOOO tired. And not too many people had showed up either (oh no; not one of those nights!) After all I had worked my ass off, and spent quite a lot of money to see this thing happen, so very little of the things going on was especially relaxing. The very critical point I reached when I was going to DJ; I had never seen a mixer like the one I was going to use, and I was definitely not in the mood for learning something new (my short-time memory is bad enough as it is even when I've slept out and not drunk). But THEN it happened: the “Aww,what the heck!” feeling came over me! I stopped taking everything so seriously, and more and more people showed up. I started to remember where I put my beer bottles, and the first band started to play. It was quite crowded and the people were diggin‘ the groovy sounds of the local mod-heroes Beatbandits. Yes! this is rollliinnggg!!!! My only thought was: “ ha-ha-ha you guys! If you like this wait till‘ you're gettin‘ first-grade contact with the one and only, the totally untamed, the wild and loud sounds of the Apemen.
And when the sexy funkadelic sounds from the DJ had been going on long enough IT happened: one Ape, two Apes, three Apes, four Apes on the floor, and the Fender amps were ready to give everyone what was going to come:One Hour of complete madness (of course). Hey them Apes are the best showmen around for sure. How many bands can you see walking 20 meter into the audience with the only intention to scare them (believe me, I've talked to people who didn't understand a thing when a well suited Ape with a guitar were standing 20 cm from them, all of a sudden.) And yeah,yeah,yeah of course: all the songs were still there: Joop Walvis hangs ten, Moment of Truth, Shake your Hoover, Queen Jacula (what a fantastic live number!!), Crash, Surf Dracula, plus all of the other songs that make the Dutch Apes your nr. 1 in the surf business.
They even played a new song: “Theme from Motorhead” which I guess was a song either influenced by, copied or ripped off the 70‘s stonermetalband (I don't care a second for metal, so please don't hit me with your fathers biggest shotgun if you think I'm characterizing Motorhead wrongly). But of “le importance”: they still have it!! The Motorhead-theme was so Apemen and cool that I won`t worry a second even though it`s quite long since they`ve released any new material. And yeah: this is still quite surf (even though they want you to think otherwise). Of course not the typical Hawaiishirt-anthem you can expect from most surf bands of today, but lotsa doublepicking reverbed guitars and cool organ makes this a winner. When the whole thing was over, I was so happy and cool, that I didn't care one second about anything or anyone. When we were going to leave I was confronted with a reportedly typical Apemen-problem: Appie and Bart found out they wanna explore the town for themselves and got lost. (seemed a bit hard to believe that ALL places shut down at half past three. Well of course it ended well, and after a quick snack at the burger stand we went home to gin&tonic till the dawn of day. September 17.: Apemen bye-bye...... I managed to set up for a very informal and not-prepared interview 10 minutes before they had to leave for the airport.
Apemen Ad Interim. Or how I learned to appreciate cheap alcohol.
For me it started with an e-mail. If I could sit in for Johnny Mambo. Didn't have to think a long time about it. Let's face it, you don't get that many opportunities to be flown to a gig in a country you've never been before. Rock-daddy for a weekend!!
We could squeeze three rehearsals out of two weeks. Not bad.
Friday. Lift off. Never knew that airports could be that busy. We made some plans before to buy some booze in the airport. We heard about the outrageous prices in Norway. But the rows for the tickets were so long we barely made it to the plane in time, let alone to buy some alcohol. And the desk clerk couldn't find our reservations. I had a mental picture of being stranded in the airport. But we made it - just.
The flight was okay, but we expected more food (you'll never leave a Belgian airplane hungry, but KLM managed to do that). But the gin-tonics were good. Some odd three hours later we found ourselves in a bar in Oslo. Small, crowded, and our first of many encounters with the price of alcohol. Being drunk is a status-symbol I think. 8 US dollar for one beer. I still can't believe it. A visit to a second bar confirmed what we were all thinking. I don't want to live there.
Getting back to the apartment was an odyssey : try to find a cab in a town were all bars close at the same time. And I'll repeat myself : cabs are expensive. But so far it was fun.
Saturday we managed to get up in time to see some of the city during daytime. Nothing much to tell about it. We were all recovering from a slight hangover (gin-tonic...). Then off to the club. I was glad to see a Ludwig drum similar to the set I sometimes use. There was one problem. The chair was not high enough. I hate playing low-seated. I fabricated something to elevate the chair McGyver-style. The soundcheck went well, and we saw Simen going more nervous. I started to get nervous to. Did I remember the songs ? Wasn't I going to ruin the gig?
Then - showtime. The Beatbandits are a great band. It was fun to watch, and the crowd got into it as well. We started dressing, and the big moment came : I was going to wear the Apemen-mask. We came on stage, greeting the audience. We really ripped through the set. Fast and Loud. Some people were overwhelmed. That much you could see. Others knew the songs, and kept screaming for more. I had a blast!
After the gig we relaxed, talked to the audience, and agreed it was great. A bonus : it was not our gear, so we didn't have to disassemble the gear. When we were recovered from the gig, the place was empty. Bummer, as we were in a partying mood. But the bars close at three. Appie and me couldn't believe this, and started to scout for some possibilities. We lost track of the others, and found them an hour later.
There was nothing left for us but to to head back to the apartment where we were staying. Drank a lot of gin-tonics there, and got back to our three day routine of bullshitting each other (this is common when Belgians and Dutch get together).
Sunday. Relaxing. Breakfast. Listening to music. Getting everything together.
Back on the plane. Back in Holland. Time for a normal-priced beer. At last.
It was a great time. Simen did a wonderful job, and he was a great host. I hope to do this again sometime.
50 Foot Hestekuk
I hear you thinkin' "What the fuck is it with this Hestekuk thing?" Well, let me tell it's the only Norwegian word we learned, and we even knew that one before we even set foot on Norwegian territory. So far for the culture part.
How did i get to know Simen? Well he's the kind of guy that keeps on bombarding your e-mailbox with lots and lots of questions. And then some more questions. And reminding you of things that you have long forgotten about and hoped that no one would ever remember! The kind of loyal fan who stays loyal even when his favorite band is playing Britpop with Soft Cell being their main influence.
We played some far away places in our career, which has lasted for nearly over 10 years now. But when I was asked by Simen Stubbrud, Alias Wavy Fantastic, i was kinda surprised that he would pay for the plane tickets. Quite unusual for a european gig. You people over there in the USA must be thinking "Hey, what's so special about flying in an airplane." Well over here in Europe it isn't common to just take a plane and fly to your gig within' Europe because it is fucking expensive. Also the distances aren't as big as in the USA. From our hometown to the city of Oslo would take about 1300 kilometers. About 12 hours to drive. So we were very relieved when we heard that we didn't had to step in that shitty smelly van again. The only positive side to riding in the Apemen van is the vast amount of collectable Seventies porno-magazines. They just don't seem to lose their appeal.
Anyway, then there was the problem with the drummers. Johnny Mambo had let us know that he couldn't join us because he was going to attend the birth of his son named Boris. Of course we booed him for choosing the birth of his own son above playing with the mighty Apemen. Very strange, don't you think? Normally we would ask the ex-Apemen drummer Mike Fuckema to fill in for Johnny. But wasn't able to make it because he had other obligations. So i was kind of panicking because Simen mailed me that he already had bought the plane tickets. Next thing i thought of was The Fifty Foot Combo from Belgium. Although it's a different country the distance to Gent, their hometown is actually almost the same as from our hometown to Amsterdam. We have never played together before but bumped into one and other during various gigs. I haven't heard their new album yet (Evil a Gogo!) but if it's as good as the last gig i saw them play, then it's going to be a killer. So i e-mailed Bart Rossau, the drummer for the Combo with the bold question if he would and could join us on our trip to Norway. Fortunately for us he agreed. Bart only needed 2 two-hour rehearsals to learn the complete Apemen live set. Quite an achievement, i think. So it was clear that the Bartster was up to the job.
On Friday we headed for Norway. We had to travel by train to go to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. We almost missed our fucking flight. Typical for the Apemen, we stood there waiting in the wrong line. After that embarrassing incident we got foul-mouthed by some bitch desk clerk who should have become a SM dominatrix. Anyway, 10 minutes before the plane left we were still running to get the baggage checked and stuff like that. But the Apemen wouldn't be the Apemen if they weren't sipping on their gin-tonics in the plane 20 minutes later, checking out the stewardesses. Who, according to Bart, looked liked the typical cheesehead-type women with too big teeth. The flight went smoothly and 90 minutes later we were standing on Norwegian territory and were collected by a group of Norwegian guys, including Simen. We drove off in a big american car, straight out of Starsky and Hutch and headed towards Oslo, a 30 minute drive. We went straight to the Apemen-Appartment that was ours for the whole weekend. It was a sort of museum with a maximum amount of cult books, cult videos, cult records, cult toilet paper, cult lemonade, cult towels, and so on. I guess you get the picture what that place must have looked like. Simen had prepared us a great Down Home Style diner with lots of greasy chicken. yo momma! Something we quite enjoy; a little soulfood. Simen led us through Oslo later on that night. A little bit disappointing we thought. Mainly because everything closes a 3.00 a.m. and because we thought of Oslo as something bigger and livelier than we encountered. BUT! Good clean fun all the way.
Anyway, the next day before we drove off to the venue where we would play the gig, Simen showed us a couple of record stores which were quite interesting but again outrageously expensive for our taste. Once arrived at the venue we were pleasantly surprised to see that all the equipment was already set up. All we had to do was plug in the gear and start wailing! And this was only the soundcheck! We were warned that the nightlife in Oslo starts real late because the people stay at home as late as they can because they booze is cheaper there, of course. When the support act started there weren't too much people in the room. But as they started playing the people came in and soon it was a good company of sweating bodies. And quite a good support band it was! The Beatbandits they were called. A mod group with a very talented guitar player/singer. They were all very young and are going to break some bottles in the near future, i tell you. So after that it was our turn to give the fans what they had come for. A rockin' and wailin' Apemen gig which they would not soon forget. We started off with intoxica and stepped into the audience right away. Judging their faces i assumed that not too many bands have been doing that in Oslo. Total surprise and terror!
The gig went very smoothly for a change and we were very satisfied when we finished the gig. The crowd was a little like the crowds in Holland; not too energetic but certainly appreciative towards the whole situation. A little bit reserved as they say. Off course there were the usual autograph hunters after the gig. But the Apemen are always loyal to their fans and started happily signing all those fantastic records they have made in their glorious career. Ahum! Anyway, it's always nice to have a mutual good feeling about the gig. You know, when the band is happy and the promoter is also not wining to much about how much money he made or lost. The Sunday afternoon after that was spent servicing our hangovers and enjoying some good music on the stereo. Our flight left at 20.00 hours and was as peaceful as the previous one. So, what have we learned kids? Oslo is a nice place to play with your musical group. BUT! Bring your own bottle of moonshine otherwise you'll end up a poor, poor motherfucker! As always: Yours truly, Jeroen