Friday, 6 August 2010

Summer Means Fun - Part 3: The Krontjong Devils

Not that the summer is over but here´s the final installment in this series, the best surf combo from the Netherlands The Krontjong Devils. It´s an interview done in 2007 which was published in City Trash #28. And luck has it that they will do a show in Meppel on Thursday the 19th of August! Summer is Fun!

# Last year saw some kind of ressurection of the Krontjong Devils doing some great shows. Who are nowadays in the line-up?
The Krontjong Devils' line-up since 1998 is Kees on guitar, organ and vocals, Hendrik-Jan on guitar, Gerhard on bassguitar and vocals and Nico on drums and vocals.
# If I´m correct that´s 3 original members. Only Jan Phenomenema is missing. Any idea what he´s doing these days?
Yes, we're still with three original members, none of us plays his original instrument though. As you might know, Kees was the drummer on our first EP "Moovin with the Krontjong Devils", our first shows we played with Jan and Gerhard on guitar, Hendrik Jan on bassguitar and Kees on drums. And it's not only Jan missing, also Jan Pier, our drummer when we played with 3 guitars and who now plays with Meindert Talma & the Negroes is no longer with us. Jan totally retired from music.

# You started out I believe in 1990. How did you all meet and decided it´s time for a surf combo?
After we (Jan, Kees & Gerhard) quit with our noise-rock band, SPARTA, we decided it was time for a new band and at first we tried to continue the noise-rock thing but we got fed up with that real quick. We were already listening to and enjoying 50-ties and 60-ties rock and roll and finding out about surfmusic. Then in 1990 we saw the Five Fantastic Firebirds play their final show in the Simplon Bovenbar, they totally inspired us to play instrumental music. At first we didn't play that much surf though, but mostly Link Wray and "Strummin Mental" covers.
# Do you remember which songs you covered?
Of course we did Link Wray songs like Rumble and Commanche and a song called Yukkum Yukkum from Punk Carson & The Chucklers from the Concussion!!! compilation on Mr. Manicotti Records. Another fave of the Devils, King Uszniewicz & the Usniewicztones also played that song.
# Do you have any idea why there was a sudden interest in 60s music and the popularity of Link Wray in Groningen in the early 90s, which resulted in the Rumble Grunn fest at the end of ´92?
To be honest, I have no idea why all this stuff was so popular at the time but I loved it anyway. There were a lot of cool bands around in Groningen and a lot of cool records came out at the time that inspired a lot of people. The Krontjong Devils is one of the few bands of the Rumble bill that is still around. And, mind you, all this was before Pulp Fiction, the movie that made surfmusic "popular".
# Did any of you play in other bands at that time, because it seemed a lot of people were involved in more than one band?
Kees, Hendrik Jan, Jan Pier and me (Gerhard) were playing at that time with the giants of dutch language music, Combo Knus & Gezellig and its instrumental (James Last and Gebroeders Brouwer style) spinoff band Troskompas.
# In 1994 the debut Moovin´ with the Krontjong Devils was released on Kogar Records. It has a great sound. Who recorded it and were?
This Ep and most of our other records were recorded at Walter Tremp's Studios in Beetgum by Walter Tremp and Marthy Coumans (of Four One & Onlys' fame)
# Is this the Marty known for doing all those sixties compilations?
# You mentioned that initially you played more rockin´ instros, but the 45 is definetely surf with a lot of reverb, but when did you decide to do vocal stuff, like `Surfer Joe´ and `That´s cool, that´s trash´?
You know, a lot times you see a band playing only instrumentals it tends to get boring, so some vocals add a little variation and we like those songs and, although we are no Paverottis, we like to sing too!
# The second 7´´ was on Oetstar Rekkers. Who were the people behind the label? Was it part of the Hobbyrock Foundation?
The people of Oetstar Rekkers were the same people behind the Hobbyrock Foundation and behind the Magazine for the allround thinker, de Hobbyrocker.
# For the people who are not familiar with the Hobbyrock Foundation could you tell in short what it´s all about?
The Hobbyrocks Foundation was founded when the Giants Of Dutch Language Music, Combo Knus & Gezellig started to make some money and instead of putting all that money in our pockets, we decided to do something fun with it, like the Hobbyrocker magazine, The Oetstar Rekkers label, making super 8 movies.
# After two singles on local labels, the third was released by Hillsdale. You´re one of the few if not only band from Groningen to be released on an American label. How did you get in contact with them?
We're definitely not the only band from Groningen on an American label, how can you forget the Oetstar recording artists De Stipjes? But we are the only band from Groningen on the Hillsdale label. We got in touch with the Hillsdale CEO when the Phantom Surfers played at Vera. After the show I gave Johnny Bartlett our first EP and I think he liked it because the next time I met him he told me: "If you ever record something send it to Hillsdale". So we made some new recordings and Voilá!# Yes how could I forget De Stipjes. Did you also do some shows in the US? Some people actually think we did, because of the story on our On Tour LP but, I hate to tell this, this story was totally made up. None of it is true.
# Where did you mostly play?
We played all over the Netherlands and some shows in Germany.
# What were the most memorable shows? I think you played with Dick Dale, how was that experience?
Playing with Dick Dale was fun, we got a chance to interview and, like you probably know, you don't have ask him questions, when he starts talking about all the things he invented, he never stops. The best thing he said was: "he who speaks doesn't know, he who knows doesn't speak", I think he referred to himself so it totally didn't make sense. Another memorable show was our show in Berlin. We played in a cellar, a little bigger than the Vera cellar, and the place was totally packed with wild cheering germans. We played there with The No-Counts from Berlin, who by the way have one of the best "Back From The Grave"-style singles out!
# After a split single with the Royal Pendletons on Knobbler Records you released your first full CD on the Dutch label Rarity Records. Unfortunetaly I don´t know the record, in fact I didn´t know about the release until a couple of years ago. What can you tell me about it, I got the impression the Krontjong Devils weren´t too pleased with the result?
We got an offer from Rarity to release a CD and they would pay for the recordings and everything else but, we had to go to their studio and we had to record only instrumentals. This could have worked ok but they also wanted to record everything as clean as possible and no "special effect"and stuff. And on top of that they wanted as many songs possible on the cd. That's a strange thing about some people, they think they need to use all the available space on cd. So we ended with a cd with too many songs sounding too clean. I think we could have made some fine EP's with these recordings. Anyway, this cd is not the record we're the most proud of.
# Two years later, 1998, saw the release of the LP `On Tour!!!´ on Telstar. Was it just as easy to arrange as the EP on Hillsdale?
It was even easier than the Hillsdale EP, this time we could choose between labels. We got an offer from Telstar, they asked for some recordings and right after that Dionysus offered to release the LP but by then we already were going with Telstar.
# I´m not sure but I believe the record also features for the first time two songs written by the Krontjong Devils themselves. Were you sick of playing only covers or was it a moment of pure inspiration?
Indeed, this was a moment of pure inspiration. We never got sick of playing only covers, we hardly played our own songs live for reasons unknown.
# By the way who comes with the ideas for the sleeve, because this one is great again?
We maybe not very creative in songwriting department but for the pictures on our sleeves we are hard to top. The ideas do not come from one of the individuals, it's a group process!
# The next release, once again in killer picture sleeve in Oriental setting, was the Sizzling Sampan EP on Double Crown. This has 3 originals, a courageous move. Who writes the songs?
I don't know if you have to call this courageous, I think it was accidentally but it was cool anyway to release an EP with 3 originals, Kees and me wrote those songs.
# Is there more selfwritten material on the shelve awaiting release?
Yes, in the batch of songs hat are waiting for a release, there is some more selfwritten material. So, labelbosses...
# The only cover is `Land beyond the moon´ on the Sizling Sampan EP and the Krontjong Devils do a great job, but who originally recorded it, because I only know the Untamed Youth version?
Thanks for the compliment! "Land Beyond The Moon" is originally by The Motions (USA) and can be found on the Hipsville compilation. # After the full length `On Tour!!´ you mostly appeared on compilation CDs, except for the just mentioned EP on Double Crown. Why haven´t there been more regular releases from the Krontjong Devils?
Why there haven't been more Krontjong Devils releases is a good question. There has been some interest from some labels but unfortunately things never worked the way the shoud have. Another reason might be our lack of efforts to get something done properly. Like I said before, we still have recordings on the shelve which hopefully will be released in the not distant future. Personally I think there some of the best material we recorded among it.
# By the way do you have any idea why a lot of surf is being released on CD, and those endless compilations with 24 songs or more, what´s your opinion on this?
Hey, CD's suck and memory sticks even more!!! The seven inch EP or single is the best medium to release instrumental surfmusic in our opinion. 10 inches or LP's are OK too. But, you are totally right those 24 song or more CD-compilation sound like they never end. Especially the instrumental only compilations. That's, like I said before, one of the reasons the Krontjong Devils like to mix some vocal songs in our set.
# The compilation that made perfect sense for the Krontjong Devils to appear on was the Trashmen tribute. Are they what you might call `heroes´ for the Krontjong Devils, since they also mixed great vocal tracks with instrumental surf songs?
Absolutely, The Trashmen is / were one of the best surfband out there. Also for the fact they were from Mineapolis where there's no surf at all!
# Any other other bands you wouldn´t mind paying tribute to?
A band we definitely would pay tribute to is King Uszniewicz & the Usniewicztones. Other favorites of ours that we wouldn't mind paying tribute to are the Bobby Fuller IV, The Astronauts, The Untamed Youth to name but a few.
# What´s up next for the Krontjong Devils, a new release or another concert in Germany?
Our goals for the future are: Finally play a show in Meppel!!! And releasing another record!!!

A year later they did release a new record, and you be sure to pick it up:


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