On 9 October 2011, I had a chat with Han about the Bodine fan club, spelled 'fan clup'--according to guidelines followed in the eighties. We'll keep the tradition alive!
Regular Rocker believes that you can't get any closer to inside information about Bodine's fan base and their response to the music. Read about the motives leading to the start of the fan club, the band's first encounter with Axel Langemeijer, stunts to promote Bodine and what it must have felt like to witness a Bodine gig (for those of you who never had a chance!).
Han, you were one of the initiators of the Bodine fan club in 1981. Who else was involved?
You might even say I was the only initiator. What I had in mind was to publish a first edition of a Bodine fan magazine, to prove it was possible to do it—and then allow others to take it from there. In those days, other Dutch bands such as Picture, Highway Chile and Vandenberg already had a fan club, Bodine didn't. Granted; the other bands got support from their record companies (i.e. ATCO, Lark and Backdoor-RR) whilst Bodine lacked any support from the record company. I had already offered to start up a fan club, but the company did not pick up on it. So I decided to do it on my own. It made sense. A band needs a fan club, to complete the picture.
René's brother, Marcel Rijsdijk, was following an education in graphic design. Laying out a magazine for him was the right challenge at that time, because he could gather some practical experience. Mind you, all graphic work was done on paper back then, not on screen behind a computer. Marcel was also willing to do the administrative part: registering members, collecting membership fees--I didn't care much about those things. My interest was to prove that it was possible to make a fan magazine. I even found a sponsor (a garment store, RR) who placed an ad on the rear cover. However, I never got any money from him. Like all next issues, I eventually ended up financing the whole first one on my own. Consequently, the following issues had to be done a bit more low-profile.
Another person who was involved was Ferry Bovet. In the long run, he became a writer for other rock magazines, such as Aardschok, making his mark in the music press. In fact, writing for Bodine Fan Magazine may have been his first step in his career.
What happened after the first fan magazine issue came out?
There was a national event somewhere in the middle of the country where fan clubs of rock bands were invited to represent themselves. Marcel and I decided to go there, to represent the Bodine fan club. Of course we took along a pile of magazines. In the morning we picked up the freshly printed copies at the printer's office and in the afternoon we unloaded them at the event! Gerard, Armand and René, came along as well. Bodine was one of the few bands that day that were represented by original band members.
What about Jay?
Jay had been fired from Bodine shortly before. So you can imagine that all of us were present with mixed feelings. The band was without a singer. Apart from the impression that made, we were uncertain about the future. At the same fan club event, the owners of a stage facilities company called 'Podia' showed up. They were two brothers from Hilversum, if I remember well, called Paul and Frank Smeehuijzen. We'd seen these Podia guys before at gigs when the venue, or Bodine, rented their stuff. They raised our attention to one of their employees who used to do the sound checks, testing microphones. He had already caught our attention before. Right there, one of the Smeehuyzen brothers told us that this guy was a great singer and - above all - a heck of a performer. It sounded too good to be true.
The guys from the band asked him if he was willing to give it a shot. He also checked out on a personal level. Phone numbers were exchanged and he was invited to do an audition. This guy's name was Axel Langemeijer.
We went home with even more mixed feelings, you can imagine...
Some time later, Axel auditioned and soon after that audition, Bodine went into the DMC Studios in Baarn to record the 'Bold as Brass' album.
How were the roles shared among you and Marcel?
I wrote the articles, Marcel then typed them on a typewriter into the magazine formats. He also took care of the finances, laying out, membership registration... I don't know how many members the fan club had. In fact, Marcel was running the fan club and chasing me when it was about time to issue a new copy of the 'Bodine Magazine'.
How many hours were you occupied with the fan magazine on a weekly basis?
That, I can't remember. I do remember that I invested a lot of time in Bodine, also apart from the fan club. Gerard has shown his gratitude for that, a recognition that still makes me proud—even though he only realised it much later. If there was an upcoming fan magazine, I was pretty preoccupied. Writing articles was not a point, there was always enough to write about. Others contributed as well, like I mentioned before. As time passed, my job was limited to writing the editorials, which took me an hour or two. The logistics of copying and distributing took some effort as well. We were always low on budget, so I was always on the lookout for ways to multiply the magazines cheaply...
Apart from the fan magazine, you were also were also involved in promotion of the band, weren't you?
Oh yes, I was bold enough to write letters to all sorts of companies who could have a stake in Bodine performing or being published about. I even wrote a letter to Olympia Hall in Paris to encourage them to hire Bodine. Not that it mattered, but I tried. At the time, the guys in the band did not always appreciate my initiatives, they thought it was the management's responsibility to carry out such promotion. There I couldn't have agreed more! However, none of the consecutive managements were too concerned with promoting Bodine. It was always a challenge to find the right balance for me. Hey listen, I was a huge fan too!
Were you in close touch with the band members?
Sure enough we were - and they liked what we were doing, even though they didn't always mention it. We could sense it. I bet they even realised it was an expensive break-even for us. But hey, Marcel liked doing it and it gave him hands-on experience in his later profession. I wasn't too concerned about losing a couple of quid either. It was sheer passion, man!
Was it easy to get stories to write about?
That was mostly Marcel's task. The band members contributed as well, Axel even drew a comic once. I usually edited the texts, but there was not much that needed to be done since they were in good shape already. Mind you, we did it all on typewriters and a flacon of white-out (Tipp-ex, RR). Marcel would then wrap the text around the photos on a typewriter.
Every now and then, you pulled off a stunt for the band, didn't you?
Haha, this is how we got “Shout” on TV! One time, VARA broadcasting station summoned viewers of the “Je Ziet Maar” show to send in votes for their favourite band to play on television. We quickly printed some voting bills that we handed out during the following Bodine gigs. Many fans signed it, we made sure that their votes arrived in Hilversum and the next thing we knew was that Bodine turned out to be the winner of this poll. They were broadcast on national television. It was the only time they made it on TV. (A recording of this can be watched on youtube-RR). We also got them on a radio show once, with a similar stunt.
The latter had nothing to do with the early airplay Bodine received around the launch of the first album. That was all due to the never neglecting devotion and network of 'Big Bad' Al Lagarde. We still owe him a deep bow for his dedication in this respect!
What about the publication of the Bodine poster in VARA Magazine?
I guess that the first occasion must have been an inside job by Alfred Lagarde. If I remember well, he then worked for VARA, so I bet he could pull some strings. Actually, we managed to get Bodine in VARA magazine twice, the first time was a joined effort by Alfred Lagarde and WEA, the second time was our work. We managed to get them in Hanneke Kappen's radio show “Stampij” and once again in this VARA TV-Magazine.
Do you remember how often you've seen Bodine perform live?
Countless times! The first time I saw a show when they used a professional PA-system was at the Paard van Troje, which must have been the one listed in the Gigology, dated 24 May 1980. If I remember well, I've seen them perform about 10 times with Jay and 30-40 times with Axel and Arjen and a couple more in the Mark III line-up with Jeronimo. I knew where they would play all the time. Mind you, I had short lines to Gerard, René and - in the beginning - to Armand. So all I needed to do was give one of them a ring and ask where Bodine were performing during the forthcoming weekend. Remember, in those days we hadn't heard of websites or any other handy digital support!
If it was anywhere close, I made an effort to go and see them. When they had to play a bit further away, I simply put in some extra effort. I do recall shows like in Venlo (where they managed to set aside the then popular Swiss 'Krokus'), Moers in Germany where, according to those who attended, Bodine turned out to be the main act, and Roden. Not exactly around the corner, but I have never regretted the decision to check 'em out after all. And there are many more shows to report upon!
And to make you even more jealous... I witnessed the recording of all three albums as well!
What were the shows like?
The shows were an absolute assault on your senses! Even at the time when Jay was still responsible for the vocals. Due to a lack of airtime in the beginning, it sometimes took a while before the attending audience realised it was witnessing something unique. The band was awesome. The instrumental songs sounded magnificent, as if they would never stop. Once I came outside after the gig, I always had to catch my breath. The venues were always well filled. And it was loud, man! You had to undergo a Bodine concert, it was total submission! It was real Bodinism! The words of Gerard in that live radio show 'het is een oorverdovende veslaving' (it's a deafening addiction,-RR) were true, every letter of the expression.
What was the atmosphere like?
It was nearly the same level every time. Wherever they played the crowd went berserk. Sometimes the roof went off the hall already when they were announced. At times they had to play two sets. Krokus was the first gig they played in front of a larger audience. I remember the looks of astonishment on the faces of Krokus' band members--they were totally taken by surprise by their support act. Of course I was biased, but I also observed a lot. Always being on the guest list allowed me to do so. Gerard constantly made sure I was on that guest list, irrelevant whether I did show up or not.
What was the 'rat hole' that Jay once referred to in the Alfred Lagarde radio interview?
It was a rehearsing space in a cellar, close to the Mauritskade in The Hague. I remember the sewage pipes ran right through it. We could hear all the bowel movements, so to speak! The boys improved the acoustics by hanging up curtains on the walls. They chiseled their songs for about two years in that space.
Are you still in touch with Marcel Rijsdijk?
Only via Linkedin. He once asked me for a scan of the first edition of the fan magazine. That's when we were in touch briefly. The invitation to hook up to the 'Bodine Group' remained unanswered. A pity, he was a very nice person. Probably still is.
How did you digest the news about the break-up of Bodine?
We had just about finished that latest edition of the fan magazine when we heard that Arjen was about to leave the band. It was then that I felt that it might be over soon, for Bodine. In fact, I thought this could very well be beginning of the end. René left Bodine not much later. I guess for Gerard, Jeroen and Axel, that blow was too big to get over, so they eventually pulled the plug.
The break-up of the Beatles also had a major impact on me, but with Bodine's break up, I was puzzled and completely distraught. I thought it was a great pity they fell apart, even though I've seen some bizarre stuff in the music industry... friendships falling apart... many things did not take me by surprise any longer. I often wondered what would have happened, if the band would have gotten a chance in different circumstances, Would the outcome have been the same?
Do you know about the struggle for musical survival by the remaining band members?
Not too much. Arjen left the band at its peak. To my knowledge they had already written some songs for a next album. I was hoping at first that Arjen could be replaced, but it turned out to be difficult to find someone. Especially on such a short notice. Quite a number of shows were scheduled already! I remember they tried this guitarist from Picture, Henry van Maanen, but he quit after playing one gig only. The poor guy never had a chance to fit in personally and musically.
But when René quit there was no looking forward anymore. That was the worst thing to me: The music industry losing a gifted musician like René... It is a permanent loss of one of the greatest instrumentalists of the world. Really, René was (and is) a God-given talent. Those are discovered only rarely, once in a decade or so. Regrettably he decided to re-organize and re-devote his private life. Regrettably for us, his admirers, that is.
That was the end of the fan club too, then? Did you round things up?
Looking back now, I would say: "Yes, these (none-)happenings turned out to be the end of Bodine Magazine as well. At that time, the band just faded away. The remaining trio did its utmost, but replacing Arjen and René (to my firm belief, losing him from the music industry as a whole was way more than simply 'a shame') more or less at the same time, turned out to be a cruel mission impossible.
I never had the chance to wrap-up. The Mark IV efforts would have been a fantastic opportunity for such a round-up and even of a re-launch of Bodine Magazine. Well, bad luck once again.
Let me take this opportunity to tell you, that if there is a band deserving a tribute website, it'll be Bodine! For a long time, I had this idea. However, the plans remained vague. A kind of a (very) long term project. That's why I admire your passion and dedication so much. 30 years later, Bodinism is still addictive! Herewith, I do promise to support you whenever and wherever I can.
Thank you for these kind words and for sharing your thoughts with us, Han!
|< Prev||Next >|