Batmobile updates with Johnny Zuidhof

Posted by Dee-Ann On March - 31 - 20114,432 views

After talking to Eric Hammer of Batmobile and having a conversation about his guitar collection, which was a surprise for me as I know Eric as a bassplayer, I was curious about Johnny, the drummer of Batmobile. Did he have some surprises for us in store too?  

Photo by Dee Ann

Johnny, I talked with Eric about his guitar collection.

I think Eric is a very good guitarist.

Do you play the guitar too?

No not really, I have two guitars, but I don’t play. Actually when I was about 14 years old I started as a saxplayer. Then I started a punk band with some friends. The one who played the drums was not very good at it, so I decided to give it a try. I sold my saxophone to buy my first drums. It was a set of Trixon drums. I went to rehearsals with the drums on my bike. It was crazy but I just did it. We had 6 gigs and one recording for a cassette tape with other bands too.

Did you know Jeroen and Eric already?

Jeroen, Eric and I went to the same school but I didn’t really know them. Jeroen was a junior and Eric a senior. So we weren’t in the same years. I heard Jeroen was a huge Elvis fan and he played the guitar. I asked someone if he could ask Jeroen if he was interested in playing some music with me. We wanted to rehearse together, then Jeroen asked Eric to rehearse with us. It sounded very good immediately so we decided to stay together. That was in 1983. Our first gig was at a schoolparty. And our first record was released in 1985. Everything went very fast at that time for us. Probably because we were the only Rockabilly band in the area of Breda. And our sound was pretty unique too.

We have been able to make a living of our music from 1987 until 2000. During that time Jeroen started studying and I became a video editor. So when we quit Batmobile in 2000 I had a job as a video editor. Now I’m working freelance as a video editor working on Dutch t.v. programs like “Puberruil” and as a freelance, video editing teacher.

But you are still touring?

That’s right. We stopped for two years. Then we got booked again. Now we have the luxury to choose the best payed gigs on the best festivals and venues. Eddie still travels with us as our sound engineer. Even when there is a soundman on the spot. He always does a good job with our sound, it has a constant quality. This year we  have gigs abroad  

A Klubfoot reunion gig is coming up after the summer. The Klubfoot was a very popular London Psychobilly club in the eighties. Bands like The Meteors, Restless, The Sharks, Long Tall Texans, Caravans, played there. Batmobile as well. Now they have Klubfoot reunion nights, where those bands play again.

I think the eighties was a good Rockabilly revival. There were more revivals in the sixties and seventies, but they were more Rock And Roll revivals. I think the bands of the Nervous label still have a strong influence on current bands. But now heavy metal is also influencing Psychobilly. Maybe because we played Motorhead covers too. You’d think a lot of eighties bands have stopped playing, but they didn’t like The Ricochets. They released a cd a couple of years ago. They will be playing in Pineda too, this year.

Do you notice people still looking up to Batmobile. New generation fans maybe?

Yes, people still come up to me for a talk, the older and the younger generation as well. I still enjoy that.

 

Photo by Dee Ann

How about psycho fashion. Maybe silly question. But I see quite a difference between Rockabillies in the eighties and now, more victory rolls etc. But psychobillies, still wear the same things as 20 years ago.

Well I don’t see the donkey coats, bomber jacks and bleached jeans anymore. I’m not sure what they do wear nowadays.

You play in other bands too

Yes I’ve played with Sin Alley for 3 years with guitar player Ruben Block. We played twice a week. I stayed in Antwerpen the whole weekend with bass player Alain for those gigs.

Had a lot of fun until they wanted more and different, so they went into popmusic. That’s when I got out. They called themselves Angelico, had a recorddeal, were pushed a lot, but nothing came out.

Ruben now plays in Triggerfinger. A very successful band. He started it as a sideproject, but now you see him everywhere on Dutch and even German television.

I’ve been playing with the Apemen for 10 years now. I think it’s a very good sixties surfband. We were very successful at the beginning. The apemen released an album, but I didn’t play on that one yet. We released one cd single, a lot of vinyl singles and we were on several sampler cd’s.

And then there was a partyband, the Pinheads. That was just plain good fun. We had small gigs, but on two big parties, we had a confetti canon. You could find it everywhere, even in the toilets, all the way on the other side of the building. They were jammed at the end of the night… because of the confetti.

Cross Contamination

We recorded a cd with Peter Pan’s speedrock in 2009. It’s called Cross Contamination. We played their songs and they played ours. We did everything to play their songs in our own way. I think we did very well. So arranging is very important I think.

Because of that cd, we got a lot more attention by a younger Dutch audience. They come to see our gigs now. And at punk sites the cd got very good reviews.

Would you start a new band when Batmobile quits for good?

If one of us dies, I would not start something new again. No.

Batmobile on tour

24th april 2011: Satanic Stomp, Speyer (GE)

11th june 2011: Ink ‘n Iron, Long Beach (US)

8th juli 2011: Psychobilly Meeting 2011, Pineda (ES)

5th November 2011: Osnabrück (GE)

Next year we’ll be playing in Curitiba, Brazil, at the Psychobilly carnival.

So what else is new?

We have plans to get together again to work on new songs. We are not sure yet if they will be released on cd, or downloadable mp3’s. I think it is important to come up with something special this time. I also think arrangement is more important than writing most of the time. The way you play a song. I think when we work on the new songs, it is best to record it first. Listen to it and then think of breaks, riffs etc.

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