Gepöpel (Kwalpol #1)

‘Gepöpel’ (gepeupel is Ducth for mob, riffraff, the plebs) was Niels De Wit (guitar & vocals), Will Steinhäuser (bass) and Erik Jansen (drums; R.I.P.). They only released one 7″ (Paracide) -besides a demo- during their existence: a lot of people consider it one of the best early (1985) Dutch HC/punk records.

Those people went on to play in various bands. Willi and Erik played in ‘Funeral Oration’. The latter resurfaced in ‘Yawp’ while Niels (who also did some stints for ‘Indirekt’ and ‘De Kift’) went on with the ‘Vernon Walters’ in which Joost Warnik played bass. Nowadays Joost and Niels are in ‘Sack-O’-Woes’ and ‘Uncontrollable Urgh’. Niels also has a band with Pat (Delabie, of ‘Scoundrels’) named ‘Zachte G, Harde P’. All melodic stuff…

This interview with Niels (after the band had split up) is done by Bart Schoofs (‘Taartje Aardbei’, ‘Banger Pet Band’, ‘Mind Exit’ and now in ‘The Red Light Rumors’) in his (Belgian) fanzine Kwalpol. They shared common ground, being very much into graphic art and cartoons. Niels also did various zines over the years: Waakheer, Weerhaak, etc. Both had a ironic, tongue-in-cheek writing-style… Bart’s a professional cartoonist (see braafvarken.net) and Niels a graphic designer.

[Translation below]

Gepöpel (Kwalpol #1) aGepöpel (Kwalpol #1) bGepöpel (Kwalpol #1) cGepöpel (Kwalpol #1) d

The Dutch band ‘Gepöpel’ has already split up about 16 months ago. I don’t think many people are aware of this; so you know now. In any case I still did an interview with Niels, consider it as a kind of obituary…

B: Line-up, brief history?

N: ‘Gepöpel’ 1 was a one-man project with my songs. I had a tape-recorder at home, and a guitar and stuff, so I recorded – inspired by ‘Crass’ and ‘The Ex’, to ‘U2’ and ‘Killing Joke’ – own songs at home. Early ‘83 two tapes with this work got out. In the Summer of ‘83 ‘Gepöpel’ 2 started practicing as a real band with Erik on drums, and Henk and René on bass and guitar. Around that time the music was mainly hardcore, inspired by the explosion of HC of that time (‘Minor Threat’, ‘MDC’, ‘DRI’, etc.). Because I was/am not so good at roaring, it was quite melodic hardcore and a demo self-recorded demo (Summer of ’84) got us the title of <<the Dutch ‘7 Seconds’>>; meanwhile we had several concerts in the region, mainly with our school-friends ‘Indirekt’. These songs were appeared on Holland HC 3, the BCT tape togetehr with ‘Funeral Oration’ and other compilation-tapes. August ‘84 we performed in Diest [Belgium] on the first Extreme Noise festival [organised by Werner Exelmans]. Then Henk left the band, René was already gone, so I had to do guitar and vocals. When Will also started to play in ‘Funeral Oration’ (still does by the way), the good times started to roll. A lot of gigs, songs on Beware Of The Wolf and ultimately the Paracide EP. Summer of ’85: a fairly successful trip to the Basque Country and Germany along with ‘F.O.’. September ’85: break-up! For a variety of reasons. Will is still in ‘F.O.’, Erik is busy with a new band [‘Yawp!’] with ex-‘Deadlock’ Herry [Hubert] for about a year. And I have played guitar and drummed in various bands (‘Candy Wisely’, ‘Indirekt’, ‘Rites and Wrongs’, ‘Yahoo’), which, however, I’ve turned my back on already. Very soon there will be a new band with me on vocals/guitar: probably something totally different from ‘Gepöpel’ (which is logic: it’s 1987 now). Brief enough ? (I would  think so! – B.)

B: How the hell does someone get to play and sing a song like Blind Faith so fast without a hitch?

N: Thank you very much for the compliment, haha. It’s a matter of practice. Well it was my habit to produce a syllable on every beat and since the beginning of ‘Gepöpel’ there was really little progression in that; it did grow to be two times faster. In retrospect, I regret that the vocals follow the drumbeats and bass unthinkingly; only in our last songs (Paracide, March ‘85 and a few songs that we unfortunately never recorded – such as Remember) there was more variation in the vocals.

B: Which countries did you play? From which country you have the best memories?

N: As already mentioned we went to Belgium once and Spain & Germany. The best memory I have is of Spain. The punk-movement there is more people affiliated with the <<people>>, a lot more a movement than in a country such as The Netherlands, where it’s more a subculture. In Spain, at a punk-gig in a squat (<<gaztetxe>>) there were, besides punx also ‘ordinary’ people to watch and have fun.

B: Did Tied To Time end up on the EP deliberately, as a small DAF [tiny Dutch car] between the race-cars?

N: That’s a long story, or short. if you want… Around that time many people were fond of the ‘Husker Du’ album Zen Arcade, on which they combined hardcore with beautiful melodies and so on (not common at that time, now a little more). We found it a great idea to play a few songs that were very melodic and slow, and then put them out as a surprise on a tape or so. That plan fell through, it did end up in T.T.T.; indeed a D.A.F. between the race-cars. But it ended up on the EP because it had become a full-fledged ‘Gepöpel’ song, just like all the others, a part of the repertoire. No premeditation or anything like that.

B: You guys don’t live in Amsterdam? Is this a disadvantage?

N: I live in Volendam, 20 km away from Amsterdam ; an American would still consider that the suburbs of Amsterdam, but Gepöpel was quite isolated here. We more or less belonged to the scene of Hoorn, where ‘Indirekt’ originates from, and ‘Antidote’ (two of them are now playing in the ‘Vernon Walters’) . But when Will came to reinforce the ranks and we suddenly got all sorts of contacts with people, things started to go fast. Actually we became an Amsterdam band then, also because around that time two-thirds of ‘Gepöpel’ lived there. I don’t think this it’s a disadvantage if you don’t come from Amsterdam as a band . Of course of in the beginning you’re thinking: “Shit, all these Amsterdam bands have gigs and records out, how do they do that?”. But I think it’s a matter of hard work and tackling things. In Amsterdam, the punk bands are quite old and experienced, so they know how to put out records and so; too bad that for the rest of The Netherlands it’s a lot less (many punk bands from outside Amsterdam don’t take themselves seriously, I think)! Actually bands and people should he1p one and other, no matter what happens.

B: Your opinion on HC before and after metal?

N: Um… I will not have to answer that question for myself, not for the other ex-‘Gepöpel’ members. Well… Hardcore at first was very exciting. The movement, all the bands, fanzines, ideas, throughout the world, wow… But after spring comes summer, and after summer comes autumn… In an attempt to move on, HC has quite devolved (my opinion) … Hundreds of bands took on a metal-attitude (‘Accused’, ‘DRI’, ‘Onslaught’, to name but a few) demonstrating it’s hardcore-autumn. A lot of people stick to the ideas, which is of course very positive, but I think we need to start working on something new. The name Hardcore was given 6 years ago, now we have to try to build up, open up for new things without giving up our ideals/responsibilities. Who knows what will come rolling out. What I’m saying is: go on with what you’re doing but try being a bit original or so. In two years we will laugh as hard with skateboards as we laugh at the poor bastards of ‘Exploited’ (just examples). Concerning metal: of course metal and metal-influences can be good if they’re applied in an original way, like jazz / pop / funk, etc. And sorry (You do not have to apologize, you know! – B.) but whether it’s ‘Beyond Possession’ or ‘Excel’ or whatever – I don’t follow it so closely – I think there are better bands at the moment, more original and better, and perhaps we will have to turn to these for progress. Well, um, this is my view, but I think what is happening in Washington DC e.g. is indeed very beautiful, the combination of integrity / intelligence / good music. OK, enough of that…

B: What band would you like to see before you die?

N: ‘Taartje Aardbei’!!! (Chances are that you don’t reach the end of the show! – B.)

B: Is this enough? Anything else?

N: Yes. No.

(Translation: Brob * thanx to Bernd Backhaus for OCR help)

Gepöpelphoto courtesy of Will Steinhäuser

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