Vernon Walters (Zelfkrant #8)

The first time I met ‘Vernon Walters’ was when my band played together with them (86-12-06). They were from the same town as our mateys of ‘Indirekt’: Hoorn, near Amsterdam. A few months later we invited them to play in our hometown and that was the beginning of a friendship, mainly with their singer/guitarist Hans Engel. We corresponded and I distributed their releases aswell as those on his label LMOOR (Let’s Make Our Own Records). They also played at our Smurfpunx concerts twice: 88-08-13 & 89-09-02. Also the others in the band were fun to hang out with: guitarist Niels De Wit (with whom I exchanged and corresponded about zines), bassplayer Joost Warnik & drummer Danny Schouten (the main jokers of the band). Hans also came over with touring bands that he booked here. Unfortunately he’s no longer among us: he was murdered in Spain in 2003… This interview here was done in 1987, a few months after their first 7″ (Hoodoo Do Da Coruba) came out…

The editor of the zine was Steven ‘Swat’ Schepers from the Belgian Limburg town Helchteren (assisted by some friends ). He described it as “a punk/new rock” zine. ‘Swat’ was also into reggae and hiphop (even did a “rap-core” project called ‘Deadly Serious’). Besides interviews, there was also room for cartoons, reviews and serious articles for “alternatively/progressively thinking people”. More than a few times he did split-publications (e.g. with Raising Hell from the UK and/or Uit De Dictatuur Ontstond De Chaos from Belgium).

[Translation below]

Vernon Walters (Zelfkrant #8) aVernon Walters (Zelfkrant #8) bVernon Walters (Zelfkrant #8) c (+)————————-

ALTHOUGH THE COMMITMENT OF MANY OF THE PUNX SLOWLY BUT SURELY SEEMS TO DISAPPEAR (WHERE’S THE TIME E.G. THAT THERE WERE AT LEAST 25 FANZINES IN STEAD OF 10 IN BELGIUM?), THE BANDS ARE (FINALLY) GETTING BETTER AND MORE ORIGINAL IN THE LOWLANDS NEAR THE NORTHSEA. ESPECIALLY IN THE NETHERLANDS (AGAIN BEING THE FIRST) PEOPLE ARE UNDERSTANDING THAT BESIDES HARDCORE AND THRASH THERE’S ALSO OTHER, FUN MUSIC TO BE MADE. HOORN [Town North of Amsterdam] ALREADY BROUGHT US THE TRANSCENDENT ‘INDIREKT’ BUT NOW ALSO THE IMPRESSIVE ‘VERNON WALTERS’.

ZK EUH…

VW We exist since August‘86 and went through quite a few line-up changes. At this moment it is: Schelte (guitar), Danny (drums), Joost (bass) and Hans (vocals/guitar). During the ‘Grote Zeik van Nederland’ [Taking a Piss on The Netherlands] tour, Niels (ex ‘Gepöpel’) will still take on the guitar-work. After April 4th Schelte will complement the current line-up.

ZK TELL US ABOUT THAT ‘GROTE ZEIK’ THING!

VW In February, March and April a few bands from the Hoorn region, toured across the Netherlands under the name ‘the Big Piss of the Netherlands’. The intention was to give a satirical death-blow to that yearly returning plague: ‘De Grote Prijs van Nederland’ [The Grand Prix Of The Netherlands].

ZK WHEN I GO OVER THE LIST OF BANDS THAT PARTICIPATED IN THAT TOUR OF YOURS, I NOTICE IT’S A RATHER DIVERGENT BUNCH. ISN’T IT DIFFICULT TO KEEP SUCH A TROOP TOGETHER? NOT IN THE LEAST FINANCIALLY?

VW Financially there are no problems, because we play for expenses; but of course it always happens, especially with 6 bands, that the cooperation with some bands is great, and with others it’s not.

ZK WHY DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN THAT TOUR? MERELY TO PLAY, OR AS A REACTION?

VW The ‘Vernon Walters’ is one of the organising bands of the ‘Grote Zeik’, so it’s only logical that we don’t just participate to play, but also because we’re against the ‘Grote Prijs’ (= commercialism, stardom, …).

ZK STARDOM, ESPECIALLY ‘DOM’ [dumb] I SUPPOSE!? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’VE REACHED WITH THE ‘GROTE ZEIK’ TOUR? NOT AFRAID YOU ONLY REACHED THE PUNKS?

VW We mainly try to the take a piss at the ‘Grote Prijs’, but at the same time also to try and get some publicity for the 6 bands. In many cases the audience had never heard of the bands before! Also: the ‘Grote Zeik’ did not just end up in punk-venues, but also in places like the Melkweg [commercial venue in Amsterdam] e.g.

ZK GREAT! BACK TO THE ‘VERNON WALTERS’ NOW: HOW DID YOU GET THAT NAME?

VW Vernon Walters is the U.N. ambassador in the U.S. The creep always dresses civilian but is in fact a general. V. Walters represents the American imperialism. Some time ago he was to be heard in the Netherlands regarding Libia (as some kind of security-adviser, but in our view more like an insecurity-provoker).

ZK AND ANOTHER STRANGE THING: YOU CALL YOUR MUSIC “UPPER-RA-WAVE”?

VW Just something we made up. Don’t linger on it for too long. Joke!

ZK WELL, GO AHEAD AND DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC THEN?

VW Rather difficult! It’s original, solid and strong, punk oriented (70s). But it’s up tot the people to determine what kind of music we play. Come see us and listen for yourself!

ZK ARE YOU A ‘PUNK-BAND’?

VW Considering our ideas you could call us a punk-band. Also Music-wise, but not on the ‘outside’: no mohawks, studs, etc.

ZK OH, BUT THAT TIME LIES BEHIND US, NO? WHAT MUSIC/BANDS DO YOU LISTEN TO?

VW SCHELTE: ‘Kowalski’, ‘Clock DVA’, ‘Tuxedomoon’, ‘New Model Army’; DANNY: Industrial music, ‘Hula Coil’, ‘Anti-Group’, ‘Magazine’; JOOST: 70s punk to contemporary, ‘Descendents’, ‘Stiff Little Fingers’, ‘Bad Brains’, ‘The Stupids’; HANS: Classic piano-concertos, ‘Buzzcocks’, ‘Clash’, ‘Dead Kennedys’.

ZK YOUR FIRST 7” IS OUT FOR A WHILE BY NOW. THAT ALSO HAS GOTTEN A WEIRD TITLE: HOODOO DO DA CORUBA…

VW Those words were actually a compilation made by Joost, Danny & Anneke (‘Indirekt’). They stuck those words on a cover and presented it as a gift for Hans’ birthday; it was meant to be the first 12” of the still to be founded ‘Vernon Walters’ (back then)…

ZK AND WHAT ARE THE ‘VERNONS’ LYRICS ABOUT?

VW The lyrics deal with (amongst other things) fascism: we try to make clear how reprehensible that is, e.g. in the songs Y Va A Caer and Strange Situation. The First is about the fascist regime in Chili (still supported by the). And the second is about Indonesia, where people also disappear and are murdered just like that, because of their ideas and so. Proclamation deals with censorship. “What do you mean when they say: the free western world; what’s so fucking free about it, when you can’t show how you feel about it.” There are also lyrics about love and love-trouble, egoism, poverty, hunger, etc. Primarily the lyrics are protest-songs. Conclusion: the lyrics are an essential part of the ‘Vernon Walters’. It’s very important to voice your opinion about something!!! And worry too much about the word ‘wave’!

ZK HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT BAND IS ALREADY SO APPRECIATED AND WELL-KNOWN AFTER SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF EXISTANCE?

VW That’s actually very easy to explain: We work hard for the band. We have good connections (friends) and musically we play quite simple stuff but it does get appreciated indeed.

ZK WHAT KIND OF THINGS DO YOU DO BESIDES PLAYING IN THIS BAND?

VW SCHELTE: Writing for my comic-album, sleeping in, listening to a lot of music; DANNY: Working, sleeping, eating, shaving, listening and watching concerts, going out; JOOST: Labour, listening, watching, buying and reading music, the ‘10 scharreleieren’ [range-eggs; a zine that Hans, Joost & Niels did], a beer from time to time, and it’s time for a joint now; HANS: the ‘10 scharreleieren’, working (still, soon studying probably), being in love, writing lyrics, watching bands and lsitening to music, philosophize and such…

ZK TO CONCLUDE LET’S PHILOSOPHIZE A BIT ABOUT LIFE THEN: WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE THE BEST IN LIFE?

VW SCHELTE: That I still can do what I feel like; DANNY: That I’m healthy; JOOST: Love and the ‘Vernon Walters’; HANS: I concur with the rest but I’m glad not to live somewhere where there’s hunger, oppression, war and the likes!

ZK AND WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE?

VW SCHELTE: That my rent is so high; JOOST: That I’m limited in the things that I want to do and feel like. Also the impotence that I feel concerning things that happen in the World; DANNY: That so many records are being released, it’s costing me a fortune!; HANS: Same as Joost and the fact that the system (doesn’t matter which one) manoeuvres people in situations that are unworthy of man and that the powers-that-be are slowly manipulating people in such a situation that they don’t realise what’s happening, with them and with the whole world.

ZK THIS SEEMS LIKE AN INTERESTING ENDING FOR THIS INTERVIEW WITH THE VOLKSWAGENS, EUH ‘VERNON WALTERS’.

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