by Jerry van Kooten
Releasing only one 7" single in most cases does not qualify for receiving legendary status. Dutch formation Plackband, however, somehow managed to do so. Well, they didn't do anything about it - it's the people looking for recorded material. I get messages from all over Europe for information on Plackband. Still, this is not enough. It must be the music. They were active between 1977 and 1981.
I got to know about this band only after they split up. I only know the one single they released, and managed to trade a couple of live recordings. And this got me interested to hear more and more. The music is Genesis-oriented, a heavy emphasis on melodies and arrangements.
It was a few months ago, that I heard something about a reunion of this "legendary" band. And a CD at last! In a time when more and more bands seem to reunite for old time's sake or release CDs with old material, Plackband just felt like playing again, and in the original line-up. Time for an update, or maybe a story that hasn't been told a lot before... Here is Ronald Brautigam.
OK, let me give you an update of our history first. In 1975 I played in a band with my brother and some friends from school. It was a progressive rock band called Gentile. We had our own songs, but also played covers of Yes and Flash (Peter Banks) tunes. Not very professional, but enthusiastic nonetheless. We played some gigs, but when we left school, it meant the end of Gentile.
During that period (1976) an old friend from school came to me, who played in a kind of pre-punk band called Heamerhoyd with Kees Bik and Tom van der Meulen, both in the current Plackband line-up. He wanted me to join the band, and it didn't take long before I forced my unstoppable love for progressive rock into the music. Not long after that, the bass player and keyboard player left. I called the bass player in Gentile, Albert de Keijzer, who was working at Servaes, at the time the biggest music store in The Hague. And he knew a keyboard player named Michel van Wassem, who frequently came to the music store only to play complete Yes compositions. This is how, mid 1977, the original Plackband line-up was formed.
By practicing hard and a lot and by spending a lot of money in getting our own stuff (we had our own PA, light show, and truck), we were completely independant and played the music that we liked. During those early days, all of our stuff was stuck together with a lot of this tape you see on stage. That's why Tom joked about calling the band Plackband, which is Dutch for tape, but with an extra C to make it sound English. Everyone thought this name was too rediculous for a serious band, but having no alternatives, this name kept popping up. Before we knew it ourselves, it was the name of the band...
Our own songs were influenced by the two biggest prog bands of that time: Yes and Genesis. Sometimes we were called the Genesis From The Hague, something we were not ashamed of! Highlights were the shows we did for Dutch radio broadcasting company VARA, but the regular shows in the club circuit were just as much fun.
After Earth And Fire, Focus, and Kayak, Holland produced some other progressive rock bands in that time, besides Plackband: Taurus and Differences, for example. How was it to be part of a small scene with a couple of other bands?
I can only speak of the relations Plackband had with others, which was absolutely nothing. We talked to each other only when we were playing on the same stage or at a festival or something, but that was all. Mutual respect, but there was also a great deal of competition. Not only the bands, but among the fans as well.
An example is a prog festival (don't know where) with Taurus, Differences, and us. The discussion of course was about who was going to play last. We had to talk to the organizer. But as with the rest in life, you have to think before you act. There were two stages, and not a lot of time to change between acts. So two acts had to share one stage: the first and last band. So we went to the organizer to ask if we could play second, so we had our own stage. Differences were first (they were the least known at the time) on the one stage, and had to clear the stage while we were playing on the other, so Taurus could use that first stage for their equipment. They didn't have time for a soundcheck, so they had a terrible sound. We had a soundcheck in the afternoon, so our sound was superb! Taurus came after us at a time when a lot of people had already left, and after we had delivered a great set... We also had a lot of fun when directly after their encore we drove off with our van. It sounds childish now, but we loved the competition back then.
Unfortunately, we didn't come any further than releasing a 33 1/3 RPM single (actually an EP) with the songs Seventy Warriors and Some Party, and a couple of live recordings on tape. We split up in 1982. We did try to continue with some other people, among whom Martin Scheffer of Taurus, but that didn't work out.
In 1993, I ran into Michel, and I told him about my idea to make some music again together. This led to the band November (with drummer Ed Wernke of For Absent Friends) and the CD First Of November. The spark was lit by playing live again, and in August of 1999, we decided to get the original Plackband line-up back together again. We have been rehearsing for almost a year now, to get a whole new show together with only old songs.
||top, left to right:|
- Tom van der Meulen (drums)
- Albert de Keijzer (bass)
- Kees Bik (vocals)
bottom, left to right:
- Ronald Brautigram (guitar)
- Michel van Wassem (keyboards)
Sound engineer John Groen is considered a full member of the band. He was simply not present when this picture was taken...
The first new show is on June 23rd in De Boerderij in Zoetermeer. There we'll have the official presentation of the CD called The Lost Tapes, which includes songs from our final live gig at De Paap in The Hague, Christmas Eve 1981.
A lot of bands are reuniting. Is that one of the reasons for you to do the same? Is the new wave of progressive rock encouraging you?
All the other reunions are merely coincidental. Our reunion was not planned, and is also coincidental. Hm, does coincidence exits?! After our venture with November, Michel and I started thinking of what we would like, and independantly we both thought about a Plackband reunion. Fortunately, the others thought it a great idea as well!