Batmobile can make your granny smile. At those family gatherings when the dork with the camara shouts ‘everybody say cheese’, by the time the frame is captured everyone’s back to their grumpy ol’ face. Here’s the magic word folks: let ‘em say ‘Batmobile’ and that silly grin is there right on time, so your next of kin look cheerful when the cumulative shot comes. And that’s just one of the gazillion reasons why Batmobile is one of the greatest bands ever to grace this galaxy. On a BatmoplaNet beavers outnumber woodies and rock will always roll.
B-MUSIC, FUCKIN’ A!
NUMBER 2 · SUMMER 2010 · 19
We meet up with the Dutch legends before they wreck The Rambler, Eindhoven’s mighty fine rock hangout. After 27 years of blue-ribbon Batmobilly, The Haamers brothers Jeroen vocals and guitar - and Eric - double bass - along with drummer Johnny Zuidhof show absolutely no signs of wear and tear. When Mad Sin frontman Kofte saw them heating up Speedfest in 2008, he said: “Man, they’re better than they’ve ever been!” Speedfest originators Peter Pan Speedrock had the honor to do a split albumwith Batmobile. On Crosscontamination both bands give their own renditions of each other’s songs, with splendid and surprising results, to say the least. Apart from The Clarendon Ballroom Blitz, a live album recorded in 1986 at London’s psychobilly wonderland KlubFoot, it’s the first Batmobile platter on this side of 2000. The sleeve is done by Pieter Dorrenboom, whose skillful hands created the bulk of the Batmobile artwork, some of which adorns these pages. Take a trip through rockin’ and rocky times, as Jeroen Haamers gives the low-down on Batmobile.“We wanted to do something like Crosscontamination many
“A flying woman who’s eating your balls. Now that is ludicrous!” years ago with The Meteors. We were already exchanging songs, so it was actually happening. But with The Meteors there’s always something and they suddenly felt the need to get all weird towards our record label, Count Orlok. So the business-end went haywire and then we said: ‘Okay, we won’t do it. If you can’t act normal to us, then just get lost.’ We pulled the plug on that one, but the idea was too much fun to let go. About ten years later I was at a party where I had a talk with Bart, the bass player of Peter Pan and also an avid follower of our band. I told him: ‘That lil’ new band of yours,’ because that’s what they were back then – ‘that would be a good match for a split release.’ Two similar bands is nice and all, but two bands with different styles make it a bit more thrilling. When we got invited to play Speedfest in 2008 it was the ideal opportunity to go ahead with it and unleash the record there, and that’s what we did.” “We recorded everything in a tiny studio at Eric’s place. The three of us fit in there just fine. It was nothing new for us though, the first Batmobile demos were recorded at the attic of our parent’s house. I’m happy with the way the recordings turned out. The cool thing is: the quality of recording is more than knowing what knobs to twist. Equally important is feeling relaxed, having fun with each other and plenty of time to do it right. I remember that our first record label hired a fancy studio, which cost a fortune a day, and we had only two days! That sucks big time, so we were way too tense. Eric even got the cramps in his hands and couldn’t play bass anymore. To loosen up we just shot some games of pool. When the recordings finally took off, we had four hours left. Yes, all the songs were done in just four hours, next day we did the mixing. And that was our first record.”
20 · MULESKINNER MAGAZINE
FOR THE LOVE OF ROCKABILLY
“Batmobile started for the love of rockabilly and The King. I’m a huge Elvis fan, with a vinyl collection of around 450 Elvis records. He was the reason I got into music: I wanted to be Elvis. Batmobile was also inspired by bands from the late seventies and early eighties, such as The Blue Cats, The Stray Cats, The Sharks, The Wrestlers and The Ricochettes. We thought it was quite funny when people labeled us as psychobilly. We never thought of Batmobile as a psychobilly band, never did and still don’t. On the other hand, we played at practically all the big psycho festivals, so I shouldn’t bullshit myself. We belong to that scene and it’s fun because it’s out of the ordinary. The same goes for our lyrics. You can sing ‘I love you, I will be true, cheating’s what I do’, but that’s less interesting than absurd lyrics about a flying woman who’s eating your balls. Now that is ludicrous! Already in the fifties curious characters like Hasil Adkins and Screaming Jay Hawkins made bizarre rock ‘n’ roll, and once you get infected, there is no cure. The three of us still have that mutual chemistry
from the early days. In some crazy way it keeps on growing. A while ago we were doin’ a soundcheck in some shitty club. We were just messing around a bit, when I realized: Jesus, man, what we’re doin’ now sounds amazing! Put on a tape recorder; another song done. We were just throwing a few ideas around... Goddamn! We’ve all played with different people, but things like that never happened. The thirty years I’ve been playing with Eric and the 27 years with Batmobile can’t be matched by anyone else. That’s why it wouldd be impossible to continue Batmobile with a new band member. If one of us loses an arm or winds up under a bus, it’s over.” NUMBER 2 · SUMMER 2010 · 21
It would be impossible to continue Batmobile with a new band member. If one of us loses an arm or winds up under a bus, it’s over.”
IN THE BLOOD
“With our current approach we can go on for thirty more years. This won’t kill you! Of course we had real intensive years, always going on benders and driving around in a van for weeks. After a while that gets tiresome, and you’ll drive off a cliff or something if you don’t pay attention. Nowadays we turn down 95 percent of the offers for shows. The time simply isn’t there. Johnny and I are busy handling our own companies, while Eric is playing in four other bands. The few offers we accept are the ones all three of us really look forward to, or the ones that pay really well, and preferably a combination of both.” “When it’s in the blood, playing music is the most exciting thing you can do. And since our shows are few and far between, the fun level doesn’t drop. We always go at it full of energy and give all we got, which works best for us. When you’re no longer able to keep it that intense, it’s time to quit. I’m not enough of an athlete anymore to do it on a daily basis, let the young guns get in the van and tour the States for five weeks. It’s fantastic when they do, but those times are behind me. But I think it’s brilliant: my lazy ass gets flown to L.A. or Long Beach for just one show. The last time we landed in the States, The Sonics played that night. Magnificent band, we had some beers with ‘em. They were real friendly guys and they loved our show the next day as well. Good to hear from heroes like them. Excellent times!” 22 · MULESKINNER MAGAZINE
THE $6.000.000 QUESTION
“You never really know if Batmobile will ever make a new album. I have basic demos of about forty songs. When an idea pops up, we play it twice and we have a song. So yeah, there’s all kinds of stuff lying around. Among those forty songs, I’m sure at least fifteen are good enough, so who knows. You don’t have to rule it out, but it won’t be any time soon.” Let’s hope Batmobile will lay down a bunch of those songs. If the three of ‘em ever make another record, you can bet on your mistress’ grave it will be a Batmoblast. And if you have a hard time believing this, get lost in your scenerelated chitchat about bands that don’t matter anyway. Like Eric put it in the documentary Psychobilly - Behind The Music: “We play rock ‘n’ roll and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off!” The meet: Willem Voorn & Lucky Rotterdam The meat: Lucky RotterAdam
NUMBER 2 · SUMMER 2010 · 23