Interview with Guy Tavares of Bunker Records, Unit Moebius & Orange Sunshine
“This world is too much with us!” – William Wordsworth
Where and when did you grow up? Was music a big part of your family life?
Except for one psychotic year in 1972 at age of three in beautiful Lisbon during the final and perhaps most paranoid era of Jesuit-fascist Portugal’s ‘Novo Estado’, not long before the planned military ‘coup d’état’, while its bloody war in the African colonies (part of my family was still there in Angola, some fighting as captains in the army, but some even supporting the communist guerrilla, in some ways pretty much comparable with the Vietnam War, though with much less restraints regarding ‘brutalism’ required (since there was no free press and electorate to bear in mind), was at its high (or better say low?) peak.
I am born in 1969 and raised in The Hague and its banlieue, the ‘de facto’, yet not ‘de jure’ government seat of the Netherlands, as such an ‘exclave’ predominately built on old colonial, especially former Dutch-Indonesian ‘blood and gold’ (partially spent very well) and somehow a ‘shadow crypto-metropolis’ of the world’s machiavellian geopolitics, surrounded, within its vague suburban sprawl, by an, even locally totally unknown, ‘silicon coast’, one of the world’s dominating high-tech weapon engineering hubs centered around the nearby old Leyden and Delft Polytechnic Universities, combined with the omnipresence of many a good diplomatic representation, techno-bureaucratic institute, military complex and intelligence agency, whether national, international, non-governmental or multinational, regarding international politics, arbitrage, law, law enforcement, control, administration and cooperation in science and technology and thus with many a good R&D department of the (off-shore) mining and defense industry like SHELL’s headquarters and its laboratories, and with most of all the much veiled ‘Bilderberg Group’ led by our dear fairy Queen-Mother Beatrix, serving many a good military-industrial complex and thus facilitating many a good war all over the world, so not exactly ‘The City of Peace and Justice’, but rather of ‘Power and Abuse’. Where all simply must happen ‘sub rosa intra muros in hortu conclusu sed sine muros hic namque intra hagae’…
Both my parents were refugees and had not long before my birth been ‘washed ashore’, like so many inhabitants of ‘Haga comitis’, my Portuguese mother born and raised under Salazar’s military dictatorship, of which for an important part in colonial Angola, and my father from Indonesia, whose family is from old stock Indo-European ‘mestizo’ ancestry, where they had served the colonial military as high ranking officers, and as such got totally stuck during and after WWII in Japanese concentration camps, jungle guerrilla, the massive ‘cut throat’ mob rule terror of the ‘Bersiap’ (that being the initial ‘volcanic eruption’ of the Indonesian War of Independence, which started straight after the ‘liberation’ by the ‘divine grace’ of the ‘Flash of Hiroshima’, as for quite some time after Japan’s capitulation hardly any allied forces were available to restore order) and much more other violence. Many died, but my parents both survived the ‘paradises’ of their youth. And while my two younger sisters and I grew up in the most liberal era of the Dutch ‘70’s and ‘80’s (and me being an immigrant and apparently also a ‘weirdo’ kid in the banlieue beaten up every single day), we listened at home through my mother to the tragic ‘fado’ of Lisbon and the swinging Afro-American and Afro-Brazilian music of the 60’s and 70’s, and through my father I listened to the traditional Indonesian ‘gamelan’ orchestras (made with a plethora of bronze bells and gongs that render tropical Nature’s mysterious nightmare mythology full of its darkest demons quite fascinatingly well), but also to the Indo-European ‘indo-rock’/surf/r’n’r/rockabilly from the ‘50’s and 60’s of my father’s younger years, as continental Europe’s first rock and roll live bands actually started playing in The Hague in January ‘56, where a major part of the many thousands of ex-military boys from the demobilised Dutch-Indonesian army had ended up in the only Dutch city that due to its centuries-old tradition of functioning as the colonial ‘métropole’ had always already been familiar with ‘exotic people’ from the Dutch East Indies, being massively rejected by their old ‘motherland’, thus forced to move to this cold and strange and unwelcoming ‘fatherland’, but who had already picked up playing the rhythm ‘n’ blues and other then-called ‘race music’ from the U.S. Army long-wave radio stations at the Afro-American-dominated G.I. bases in the nearby Phillipines, generating quite some excitement and inspiration amongst Europe’s ‘baby-boomers’ at the time. Though music had been a strong identity-forming element in my family and my father did ‘play’ a bit of ‘skiffle’ music on a home-made one-string ‘bass’ in his teenage school band at the time, none of my family members had ever been serious musicians. Though I descend from very old bloody lines of mainly military officers, biologists/scientists, (art) historians, architects, doctors, college professors, poets and (theater play) writers, I’m most likely the first amongst my relatives who eventually made a living out of ‘music’, haha!
How did you first get in touch with the counterculture / underground music scene?
Then, via pirate radio stations, at age 12, I suddenly discovered the heavy dub reggae from Jamaica and I was hooked straight away, and not much later also the early electro-funk and rap, (hardcore) punk rock, industrial (noise and wave) and the first generation of black and speed metal were fully sucked up into my troubled teenage mind.
When did you begin playing music? What was your first instrument? Who were your major influences?
I barely ever had friends in my youth, until at age 15 I was suddenly asked at school by 2 punk kids to join their new ‘band’, and while I had never touched any instrument all my life I said ‘Sure, I’ll do the drums’, and so I started drumming straight away on our first boys’ room rehearsal session. I was even entitled to give the band its first name: ‘Future Fear’… By age 16 I played live with my band for the first time, started organising punk and other alternative music shows together with my band members and newly found friends in a local youth centre, dj-ing all kinds of other ‘different’ music in between the bands, like the first house from Chicago and techno from Detroit, even helping out with the guitar player’s cassette label, eventually by 1989 we also had our regional xerox version of ‘Maximum Rock’n’roll’ called ‘Maximum Droplul’, which was actually quite the parodial punk fanzine taking the piss out of all the ‘much too serious’ punks and other ‘political activists’ in the squat scene. By then our music had evolved from hardcore euro punk into ‘Moengo Tapoe’, a proto-doom metal noise/death rock band, in which I, still the drummer, started to sing as well, for our lady singer left the band and no one else wanted to sing. And by the time we started parodying the most extremely retarded and psychotic and violent cult songs from the american ‘60’s garage punk scene, as the G.P.K.’s, ‘Garbage Pail Kids’, as one of many side projects, we moved out of the ‘suburban newtown hell’ into the squat scene of central The Hague, at the time completely dilapidated, after 20 years of the municipality’s total bankruptcy the city’s ‘centre’, and its decay rapidly creeping up to many miles over all the south-central parts and reaching far into western directions, almost looked like Detroit, in which only white trash criminals, retards and hooligans amidst an already multi-ethnic immigrant majority, black latino whores, pimps and street dealers, super-corrupt and super-racist Dutch-only police officers, homeless crazies and junkies were left to roam the empty streets, except for the always – ‘busy’ and always-shady ‘chinatown’ part, and yes, this ‘zone’ was also full of freaks of really every imaginable and unimaginable kind! It had been ‘sheer magic’, all appearing for so many years like one big non-stop superweird B-movie from the ‘70’s, haha!
Bunker Records was formed in 1992 as a platform to release music of Unit Moebius. A collective that you were part of. Would you like to explain the concept behind Unit Moebius / Bunker Records?
1988 saw Holland’s summer of MDMA-induced love for acid house and Detroit techno discovered on a large scale, but by ‘89 it had almost gone again, to have a new fresh wave of Afro-American Detroit techno, acid house, deep house and Chicago Trax popping up back in Europe by 1991 with i.a. new obscure US record labels like ‘Underground Resistance’, ‘Saber’ and ‘Chicago Underground’ plus Belgium’s ‘R&S’ releasing both European and US (Joey Beltram!) artists in a kind of a typical new ‘Belgian’ hard-style sound, ‘proto-gabber’ so to speak. So Dutch hooligans and other fans drove to nearby Belgium to dance non-stop for complete weekends in notorious ex-‘new beat’ clubs hidden away in rural Flanders like the ‘Boccacio’, and where as the Dutch hardcore leatherboy gay scenes in Holland’s three main cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague also indulged in ‘whipping beats’, soon all went faster, harder and more ‘speed’-fueled to keep up for the long enduring nights, so it was eventually in Holland where ‘gabber’ (Amsterdam ‘Jiddish’ dialect for ‘mate’) evolved rather quickly, first amongst the hooligan scenes of Feyenoord F.C. from Rotterdam, F.C The Hague and Amsterdam’s Ajax, with the first dj’s from The Hague and R’dam playing this new ‘Dutch’ sound at this new R’dam club called ‘Parkzicht’, that very soon would become quite notorious too! Where as in The Hague with its many non-politically organised squats (in strong contrast with the ‘usual squat scenes’ in A’dam and most Dutch university towns, who were rather ‘P.C.’ and did rarely bother at the time about anything other than ‘proper entertainment for the socially engaged’, while R’dam, for some reason, never even had such a very large-scale squatter movement compared to the other cities in Holland), me and many of my friends (who all around ‘90 had recently arrived from the punk scenes in the banlieue, incl. future Unit Moebius members Jan Duivenvoorden, Richard van den Bogaert and Menno van Os), started doing these squat parties in ‘91 at many different ‘ephemeral spots’, eventually, by early ‘92, on a more regular, steady basis at the, again, notorious ‘Blauwe Aanslag’, at first under the moniker of ‘Cyberpunk’, from the second time on to be named ‘Acid Planet’, combining the cinema upstairs, for having all-night dystopian cyberpunk and post-nuclear sci-fi movies (like ‘Tron’, ‘Mad Max’, ‘Akira’, ‘Blade Runner’), with the squat’s large basement for strobes, smoke, very strong LSD and relentless acid and techno for 12 hours non-stop at least, and due to our mutual alternative background in punk, wave, industrial and ‘world music’, the ‘sound’ at these raw illegal The Hague squat parties developed immediately into some industrial acidic techno fusion of Detroit, NY, Chicago and all European futurist dance, industrial noise and electronic body music, not excluding the use of ‘ethnic sounds, vocals and beats’, and funny enough (as if ‘it had been hanging in the air’, so to speak, using this Dutch expression), all this much more ‘dark’ and ‘alternative’-minded dance sound seemed virtually synchronically happening in various places in Europe, like ‘Rephlex’ and ‘Praxis’ records in London, ‘Cheap’ in Vienna, ‘Industrial Strength’ in (old ‘futurist’!) Roma, ‘Sähkö’(!) from Turku in Finland, ‘Sub Rosa’ in Bruxelles, ‘PCP’ in Frankfurt, ‘Structure’ in Cologne, etc. Yet, on the other hand, with its relatively small squat scene, the electronic dance scene in R’dam developed predominantly into a more ‘working-class’ c.q. ‘football fan’ orientated ‘gabber’ scene, with ‘Parkzicht’ club and ‘Rotterdam Records’ as famous popular proponents, although The Hague, owing its national ‘ill repute’ also to its own disproportionally large ‘hooligan c.q. white trash’ population (i.e. way below ‘working-class’, for this ‘rather typical’ government town ‘traditionally’ never had a proper ‘blue-collar’ section!) most certainly had a very large share in Dutch gabber production just as well, and so did even Amsterdam, that otherwise became a real big centre for more commercial club and gay orientated house music, which in turn had also become the other main feature of Rotterdam’s dance scene! Though at the same time, again, very typical, The Hague also still remained its dominant position of old in the Netherlands for all the ‘Italo’ and ‘disco’ stuff from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s on, plus it has always been, through its world-renowned ‘sonology’ faculty at the Royal Conservatory a pioneer place for the first experiments in avant-garde electronic music, always had kept its local fascinations for heavy Miami bass electro-funk and English-spoken hardcore gangster rap from day one, and it had since the ‘70’s in its most wealthy suburb of Wassenaar (where ‘our’ King lives), the first Dutch ‘Kraftwerk’-style (for still very expensive!) synthesizer wave music scene (with groups like ‘Störung’), ‘de Wassenaarse Slag’, or in English: ‘Wassenaar Wave’, named after the local beach resort, referring of course to the British New Wave and the ‘Deutsche Welle’ of the times, haha! Altogether this may somehow explain the broad variety of styles and influences and the relatively large production of The Hague’s local electronic musicians.
I myself studied biology, philosophy and prehistory at the time at the nearby Leyden University, where Jan attended ‘cultural anthropology of non-western cultures’ for some time and Menno van Os (who only joined UM much later on, and first for a long time only with live shows, yet he had also lived in my squat for years and had been much involved with our ‘behaviourist cyberpunk’ manifestos from the very beginning) studied architecture at the Delft Polytechnical University. I guess we were all quite into William S. Burroughs, Liberatore’s ‘RANXerox’ and other hard cybercomics, cyberpunk movies and cyberpunk literature (William Gibson, Ballard, Philip K. Dick), LSD and other psychedelics, ‘psychonautics’, biology, atavism (‘Ape killed Ape, thus Man was made!’), futurism, ‘dream machines’, neurological programming, (Cyborg) bio-tech, ‘Implants’, cybernetics, VR, the ‘data dimension’, plot theories, ‘dimensions’ in general, decoding/encoding ‘Reality’, ontology, epistemology, ‘Chaos theory’, amphetamines, ‘Hive Intelligence’, A.I., A.L., these fascinating, miraculous, cryptic ‘Mandelbrot’ sets that may create or discern, ‘formulate’ and build up these wonderful ‘fractals’ structuring every shape, ‘forma’, that can, thus may exist within the Universal ‘Format’, its ‘Matrix’ (= ‘Mother God Superior’), ‘Frame’, that thus so strongly seems to ‘set, ‘position’, ‘limit’, ‘enable’ all the imaginable and unimaginable ‘possibilities’ (‘Ideai’?) of ‘Existence’, (neo-)platonism, ‘gnosis’, behaviorism, genetics, viruses, ‘mutation’, (pre-)history, sinister geopolitics, (Weapon = Survival) Technology, it’s enforcing impact on the genealogy of human socio-politics and the human mind, ‘Imprint’, propaganda, ‘myths for power’, mind manipulation, ‘subliminal stimulation’ (Skinner’s CIA-manual!), how to discern ‘false’ from ‘constructive paranoia’, Charlie Manson (‘Total Paranoia is Total Awareness, thus the Highest State, the highest grade of Consciousness!’), Jim Jones and other cult sects, concentration camps, ‘natural’ tribal violence, Nature’s Mandate regarding Aesthetics, romantic decadence, nihilism, ‘Decay’ and ‘Degeneration’ in general, ‘modular structures’, insect wars, ‘frequency wars’, Radiation, Oscillation, Vibration, Transmission, Transformation, (occult and/or geometric) icons, patterns and symbolism, totemism, trance, ritualism, mythology, mysticism, extreme ‘theatrical and/or monumental display’, ‘cabaret noir’ and ‘dark’ poetry, cognitive sciences, logic, the Art of Oration, filology, mantras, ‘automatons’, Memory, ‘onomatopeia’, the ‘Ancients’, ‘fate machines’ (like in the tragic poetry of Oedipus’ story), (human brain vs computer) data processing, quantum-mechanics, space age design, the many Arts of (Space) Warfare, WW II and III, post-nuclear scenarios, (bunker) architecture, submarine reconnaissance, counter-insurgency, rocket engineering, messianism, urbanology, Interference, ‘wave/particle/energy emission’, Transcendence, the many Arts of Assassination, Espionage, snipers, more amphetamines, lucid dreaming, hallucination and psychosis, ‘city-state building’ (‘pour après le coup d’état’, haha!), Friedrich Nietzsche, but most of all we were totally into really any kind of source of intense music, of intense sound! Sure, we had been freaks and I guess we still are, for there’s no choice, no free will, oh, well, at least not for me!
Unit Moebius refers to Modern Man being reduced to no more than the mere production unit of the robot, ‘rabotnik’, following the cyclic ‘eternally looping’ aspect of the Universe, of the ‘automaton Man(imal)-Machine God’, ‘das Sein und Zeit’, the merciless amphetamine reptile brain that still reigns supreme, despite those 2500 years of ‘logos’ and civilisation, I still consider myself a true ‘Herakleitious’, a true ‘Kynikos’, a true ‘Nietzscheaner’, a true ‘Futurista’, true ‘Saudadista’, a true ‘Aghori Sadhu’, and as such, haha, I’m afraid I truly am nothing but a tragi-commediant, nothing but a clown, singing alone in the deepest of the desert, midst the darkest of the ‘Abysmal Paradise Land of Nod’ those ‘ballades des pendus’ of old, just like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, who eventually returns to his desolate mountain top, after being scorned by the populace, ‘verba et voces, praetereaque nihil’, I shall dream on, away from Man and his ‘civilisation’, ‘si les tours tomberant’, in my own self-built psychotic underground ‘Nautilus’ raw-hide-out 20,000 miles under the earth, where I shall happily remain ‘digging for the Secret Sun that lies, hidden deep’, dig I’m saying’? ‘Sans rancune, denn das Ressentiment ist der Urfall des Böses’, for just ‘aesthetics’ are really the only valid ‘ethics’ (‘Alles ist gut!’), the usufruct of counterforces, as ‘All are One, yet War is Father of it all and Speed the very Essence of War’, so here I may, perhaps, exist, as an ‘archeographer’, just to leave, perhaps, God knows, something nice to be found, by those, hopefully by then finally understanding archaeologists in a few thousand years from now, I’ll send out as many ‘codes’ as possible, for the kosmos is all ‘data, both raw and fine, information’, that I may know of, for Man is, like all Life, nothing but a survival machine, whether genetic (oh, yes, true miracle, I have 3 sons of Ca’in!) or ‘memetic’, the whole of the Universe is encrypted, ‘the very whole of the Law’, and I’m only trying to figure out a few goddamn’ keys to lock myself up, to try to be, at least, just a little bit more ‘free’ inside MY own horror, my own ‘beautifully terrible’ visions of ‘Total War’ that shall never end inside my head. My own prison clinic asylum for the mentally insane from ‘this ‘Mammon’ world that’s too much with us’, and, oh, even the slightest illusion of this all will do, though at the very same time I do know I shall never reach this state of ‘bliss’, myself apparently being, alive for already 49 years now, ‘too weird to live, too high and way compulsive to die?’…
The Hague was a very exciting place for freak-out electronic scene. Unit Moebius made a new wave of dark electronic music. You released numerous of records. Maybe the most well know is Work from 1997. What’s your favorite one and why? Which one is the one that truly captured the concept behind Unit Moebius?
It is still a very active place for intense dark freak-out electronic music, it’s all just more gone ‘private’, more hidden away (to prevent ‘the hipsters’ from invading, haha), but surely no less productive, no less ‘freak-out’ than as it had been before. ‘Work’ is only well-known because ‘KK’ released it, with behind it a rather shady business ‘entrepreneur’, who sold thousands of records and cd’s (that he hardly paid of course, for that’s why he’d become an ‘entrepreneur’ in the first place, you see), but my personal favourite UM release is ‘Kuiken’ (in English: ‘chickadee’), a double LP, one made by Jan Duivenvoorden, one by Menno van Os, the last release before we all had split by end ‘97, the most dark, depressive, horrifying, lonely, paranoid, encoded, encrypted, the most blissful one, no, two, of ‘Unit Moebius’ ever…
The whole scene was working in a DIY environment. How did the typical day look like? You released so many different records, comics and related stuff.
Life for me was insane back then, magic, just terribly insane, chaotic, psychotic, violent, suicidal, all heavily drugged, criminal and dangerous from time to time, way too many, several dozens within a few years, friends and loved ones tried and died, or lost their minds, I loved it! But, ‘hey, the life of a repo man is intense!’…
Did LSD or any psychoactive substances had any impact on the sound of your music?
LSD and nothing but!
Around 2000, Motorwolf Records was born and your first release was Johnny Cohen And The New Age Nazis, a band you were part of. What is the concept behind Motorwolf and how does it differ from Bunker Records?
No, it all came along within the territory, since ‘92, just as early as Bunker, for I myself never made any difference between rock and electronic, it’s the distribution thing, the narrow-mindedness of most of ‘the fans’, of the markets that enforced the split. No, for me it’s all about the ‘right rich natural’ sound, i.e. music’s ‘material’, that ‘Parian marble’ that ‘makes’ (‘poiein’ in old Greek, hence ‘poema’) ‘the statue and the painting and the movie’ within the music, ‘Bild ùnd Bildung’, it’s all about ‘telling and showing’ someone an interesting, dramatic, personal story, about actual content being told, communicated, transmitted and received, ‘envisioned’ intensely, rich, and, no, modern time’s most shallow and most inverted, ‘entartet’, concept of only empty shape/design/composition with just hollow intent (whether it’s about music or any other art) alone won’t do at all, for nothing but cheap presentation, but the now almost forgotten art of dynamics, intensity, of ‘performing, acting, playing, dancing, drumming and singing all of it’ with the ‘right intention’, all that we may call ‘Soul’ will do the job, sheer ‘Magic’ will do the job, ‘real Life’ will do the job! Hell, yeah, ‘Natura Artis Magistra’!
How did you decide what to release? Obviously you released stuff you were part of, but for instance how did you find Dzjenghis Khan?
All coincidence, as people always come to me, I do not approach people that way. And, oh, very simply, I only release music that ‘enforces’ me to ‘envision’ in my blurred and troubled mind ‘certain intense images, phantoms, enigmas, sensations, certain intense stories’!
Orange Sunshine formation – how did you get in touch with Arthur van Berkel and Mehdi Rouchiche?
It was somewhere in ‘91 or ‘92, this insane squat right opposite of the houses of parliament, ‘lets Vrijers’, open all night every weekend, I organised concerts there too, I was tripping on acid virtually all the time, one night I was wearing some bright red and blue ‘space war Star Trek’ children’s pyjama shirt (I weighed only 48 kilos back then, with my height of 1,74 m), bell-bottom jeans with big chloride stains, two pairs of spectacles, one on top of the other, the big red ‘overglasses’ giving me an insectoid-like impression, dreadlocks up to my ass, and a long wild beard, and then, out of the blue, our young master Arthur asked me for the time of night. I, wearing 2 watches set in different time zones of the World, told him, that ‘surely a Time Traveler always knows what time it is’. This was the start of our friendship. He appeared to be guitarist in a new band, ‘Twin Earth’ from nearby Delft playing just like this new USA acid fuzz rock band called ‘Monster Magnet’, so I had arranged a few shows in squats for them, released their first 7 inch, eventually playing in a band intent to sound like ‘Blue Cheer’, called ‘Sunwheel Power Express’, with his friend and other guitar player of his band, Walter Zeinstra, but eventually moving with this group into other heavy ‘70’s directions, then starting Orange Sunshine, the other popular ‘acid’ in Blue Cheer’s era, by late ‘98 with Arthur van Berkel, with a friend from the town of Arnhem, Thomas van Slooten. After several ‘mysteriously exploding’ bass players we asked Mehdi Rouchiche in 2004, an Algerian refugee whom I had befriended some years before through recording in my Motorwolf studio and releasing on my Motorwolf label his violently impressive ‘80’s-LA-style hardcore punk band ‘Shorttime’, at virtually every show in The Hague’s metro area fights broke out amongst the crowd, between the crowd and the band, between the band members. He could not play bass, just guitar, that’s why we asked him. And, oh, yes, also for having a driving licence, which I do not have, just like with Ferenc v.d. Sluys, ‘IF’, who for the same reason had also been asked by us to come along with UM, he had a car and the driving license, for otherwise none of us idiots had that, haha!
Who were the band’s major influences? What’s the story behind recording Homo Erectus?
‘Blue Cheer’ (as said before, the brand name of the other popularly used LSD of the said era) had always been our number one inspiration for its intensity, in rendering Nature’s violently explosive over-the-top destructive (= creative!) force, ‘Formula One’, as you may perhaps ‘win’ that ‘race’, ‘igniting, blowing, forming, moulding and shaping it by riding, barely controlling, conducting it’, by pushing all to the utmost limits, thus virtually destroying the very one ‘machine’ instrument that may indeed, no other way(!), enable you to achieve this ‘flood wave of cosmic sound’. But song-wise it had been Manchester’s cult band ‘Stack Waddy’ from ‘72 who gave us the real ‘push’ to do it, and who just like us obviously hated ‘blues music’ (i.e. the laxative consumer version one always hears), all were definitely ‘proto-punk’ and ‘proto-hardrock’ before any exploitation could have corrupted it all, being all ‘atavistic’so to speak, reverting through ‘an agency of’ superloud, ‘superfluid dynamics’ and ‘heavy, necessarily exuberant, richly satiated superfuzz’ sound ‘enforcement’, breaking down any last bit of illusory barriers, ‘civilising data-virus neuro-programmes’ (Language, Logic, ‘Logos’ meaning both ‘Word’ and ‘Reason’, also ‘Law’ and ‘Light’, yet ‘in the beginning there was’… ‘Sound!’, the most archaic meaning, its most original sense of ‘Logos’) that once had domesticated, ‘broken in’ most of Man, back to our simian primate’s ‘authentic’ state of primal stimulus-response survival mechanisms that at least makes Reality finally ‘speak/provide’ most obvious ‘language/codes’, most ‘clear of mind’, of ‘right direction and first priority’ to us! ‘Simply’ to attain, as close as a mortal may get, that most intense (survival) state (of ‘war, destruction, creation’) that the Ancients called ‘EK STASIS’, ‘out of one’s own ‘idea’, one’s own ‘possibility of being’, one’s own ‘originally fixed shape’, ‘arrested position’ or ‘state’, so from (right) before one may ‘come into existence’, and ‘EN THEOUS’, ‘into God’ (‘the All, the One’), hence Blue Cheer’s second album ‘Outsideinside’, and the modern words ‘ecstatic’ and ‘enthusiast’, haha! And why the very title ‘Homo Erectus’? As a direct hommage to Blue Cheer, their first album being also titled in Latin, ‘Vincebus Eruptum’, and who in the late ‘90’s simply had long been forgotten by most heavy rock aficionados, plus also as a clear reference to our above-mentioned ‘atavism’, that Promethean ‘curse’, when Ape wished himself to be a godlike Man, ‘(Ecce) Homo’, he who ‘stands up, rises’, ‘Erectus’, proudly, alone against his own Creator, who now will simply watch and wait how Man must, slowly and tragically, destroy himself…
What kind of equipment did you use and who was the producer? How many hours did you spend in the studio?
At first any gear we could get our hands on, anything that would produce, manipulate and register sound! Then one learns more, by terribly compulsive trial and error, and eventually one may even ‘envision better’, thus starts to select more, tries to direct, improve development towards the ‘visions’ that also become more and more commanding. My function in this has usually not been as ‘programmer’ (except for beats, since being a rock drummer for so long makes me rather efficient and fast for the occasional purpose), for I usually tend to get these commanding ‘lucid visions’ plus usually I’m also the one idiot to search out for weeks or even months in a row all these many subtle, yet vital details, once revealed to me through my almost daily ‘lucid dreaming’, in every specific sound we may use. I’m talking now specifically about Orange Sunshine, Santa Cruz and many of my other rock band projects, not Unit Moebius, in which Jan Duivenvoorden had always played the major role and I had merely served as ‘inspirator’, or ‘catalyst’, so to speak, as ‘initiator’, ‘organiser’, ‘planner’, as ‘finder’ of all the names that we used, like ‘Unit Moebius’ or ‘Acid Planet’, as text/propaganda writer, and thus for only a part of the total musical production I had been involved as ‘conductor’ while controlling the dynamics through the mixing board and the effects, since we always made and recorded our tracks ‘live’ at Jan’s home studio, though quite some tracks do have my voice recording, or beats played straight into the drum machine, bass lines or ‘high frequency animal alarm codes’ that I may have suggested, certain sounds and filters I may have produced on my old Korg MS-10 synth. One may, perhaps, then call me a ‘producer’, apart from being a vocalist and a drummer, which, as a matter of fact, also has always made me the rather dominating, or even ‘dictatorial’ ‘conductor’ of the ‘orchestra’, for every drummer must always be in charge of the dynamics that simply make up the whole atmosphere and so may ‘tell and show’ a vital part of the ‘story’, of the ‘magic and the soul’ within the music! And since I started owning, from ‘95 on, a studio with an ever-growing shitload of rare old amps, speakers, (bass) guitars, drums, stomp pedals, effects, compressors, recording machinery, tapes, valves, microphones, mixers, etc. from the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s, and I, after so many years, literally tens of thousands of hours(!), of rather ‘mandatory’ experimentation, do know by now how to use all of it in every single combination, I should at least have become quite capable of ‘facilitating’ ‘ad maiorem gloriam Dei’, a ‘complete’ chain of the process of musical ‘creation’. For my personal ‘magnum opus’, ‘excusez le mot’, Santa Cruz’double album ‘Down On My Knees’, I have spent more than 8 full and continuous years of intense work, really ‘driving’ everyone around me completely nuts,and for which I must still apologise…
Who is behind the artwork for your releases?
Many times on Bunker or Motorwolf by the various artists themselves, and the artwork of all my old garage punk band releases of Moengo Tapoe, Panty Boy and many others had always been made by my old guitar player Edo van Zonneveld. Regarding the early OS albums: Thomas van Slooten, later on usually by Mehdi Rouchiche, who also helped out with many other releases of mine, like also with the ideas for the Santa Cruz album designs, who were all mine, but he took well care of the vital post-production, and the front sleeve has been incredibly well drawn, as a huge work of true art of two-and-half by two-and-half meters by Marjolijn van der Meij! Much has also been executed by me alone, and for several releases, the artwork had been done by the mother of my three children, Dorien Meijsing, who played (bass) guitar in Santa Cruz, and who many, many times had also been responsible for photographs used for other artwork. Rui, now 17 years old, has made many ‘interesting’ drawings between age four and twelve and of which I had used many for events or releases and I still may use from time to time. But countless individuals whom I all owe much gratitude have made their contribution over the course of years.
What would you say influenced you the most?
The whole bloody Creation…
How about Ruler Of The Universe?
We had that one recorded during the very same sessions that gave us ‘Homo Erectus’, we saved our most ‘psychedelic’ stuff for this later release.
How was touring for you? There are some wonderful releases available from concerts, like for instance Burnout At Roadburn (Who Can You Trust? Records) and Live At Freak Valley 2013 (Lay Bare Recordings).
It was great stress for a control freak like me of course, when I had to arrange all, as usual, but the ones in Japan and the USA, and some in Europe, when we had these fantastic road managers, where most things simply had to be taken out of my hand, all was perfect! But do not get me wrong: the ones with stress were still almost always very well rewarded by the very performances themselves: ‘sheer magic’! Plus all the many hilariously dumb and silly and bizarre things that always happen on tour with idiots like us, I guess.
Fakir is one of the last releases from Orange Sunshine. Did I miss something? Is there any unreleased stuff?
Not really, all ‘our songs’, apart from several live recordings, yet with the same stuff as on our released live material, have been released.
You played in many bands. Are you currently working on some other projects?
Currently I make no music, but I do record bands and I do a lot of fully analogue mastering/post-production for many artists, through my self-built ‘chaos-machine’ with old mixers, valves and tape recorders, both electronic and rock, including all the material for all the many Bunker releases that keep coming from all over the world, to ‘bring Nature back’ into the digital domain that one can no longer avoid. However, on Germany’s Who Can You Trust Records by Christian Dräger, a planned release is expected under the name of ‘The Mercury Boys’, recorded early this year in my basement, where Christian himself, as drummer, with his own guitar player of his old band ‘The Ragged Barracudas’, but with young Tim Aarbodem from The Hague’s ‘Supersonic Blues’ (OH, YES, they shall be the NEW ORANGE SUNSHINE, haha!) on bass and solo guitars, had asked me to rewrite and sing the lyrics and gave me full ‘carte blanche’ in my usually dictatorially interfering sound production regarding really every single detail, and the result is until so far the heaviest, loudest production that I have ever done myself…
What are some future plans?
My plans for the future? Well, to make sure my own ‘sons of Ca’in’, my own tribe, ‘Banu Guerra’, the very blood line that I now have started for myself, are gonna be alright!
Hopefully I will ever make it to have the many retarded writings that I have done, essays, short stories, poems, in up to 10 different languages, I’m terribly sorry, and two novels, pressed on real paper as real books, for only God knows! Insha’Allah!
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Arthur Van Berkel
13 November 1970 – 12 Juni 2018
Why, dear people
Our very best of playing cards
Has sadly passed away
Into the sweet eternal Sleep
Though not from us, oh, no!
For what he gave
He’d done his very best
What dream, the very bliss
He’d left in all our minds
I’m pretty sure
Now, our sweet friend may rest…
Bij het baren der Zee
Zijn Hare gronden
Doch weet wel dìt
Duister is als Licht
En hóe naar jóuw beeld
Je eigen vlees en bloed
Jóuw Baken in de Diepten
Der Moeder Gods ter Aarde
Reeds geschapen is
En hóe naar jóuw hand
Eén pijl in je koker is
Doch ráák! Want Eén!
Kortom, ik bid!
Jawel, liefste Arthur
Hou zee! Hou zee!...
Photo of Arthur Van Berkel © Bertus Gerssen
– Klemen Breznikar
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