In our new article series 'In The
Rear View Mirror' where we take the pulse on bands/musicians that have
since long retired from the scene, either by choice or by natural selection,
we will try to find out a bit about what they are up to now, what really
happened back then, if they are musically active or not, and more. First
out is the dutch band Sleeze Beez, that had quite some success back in
the 80's and the beginning of the 90's when they for example opened for
Skidrow on an extensive US tour with over 80 dates. They also got to tour
Japan and the album 'Screwed Blued and Tattooed' even entered the Billboard
chart in 1989. When checking around with people on the internet, there
are many that remember them and still find their albums great. We decided
to have a chat with former guitarist Don Van Spall
about the past and the present.
Tommy: On the website of your management,
you are described as "80's anthemic rock" and some label it
as "a fusion of AC/DC and Def Leppard". Was/is that a correct
description of the band's music according to you?
Don: I think we were a straight forward sounding
band with a twist. Its hard to classify your own stuff. Ask any musician,
all want to be unique. Every album had its own sound and influence.
If you compare the albums you will find that they all sound different.
One album was influenced by Def Leppard as we knew the guys. I hung
out with Rick back in the days when I lived in Amsterdam and he even
sang backing vocals on couple of tracks.
What was it that lead up to the demise of the band sometime around 1997-98?
Was it lack of interest, lack of commercial success or a combination of
Don: It was 1996 btw. We were just tired I
guess. We had been touring for 10 years straight. We were ready for
new things. The commercial success was never our main goal. We loved
being on tour meeting new and interesting people. I must admit that
commercial success would had kept the band going on for some time
longer, as you do. So maybe it was a blessing in disguise ;-)
Tommy: Could it perhaps be that you were
killed by the grunge wave that were sweeping across the world at that
time? How was the climate for your kind of music at that point?
Don: Yes, the grunge did some damage here and
there but lets face it,
.the music is what counts in the end.
I believe the grunge was mainly another American thing, although Nirvana
is a very special band. These music trends are often hyped by the
industry and it was sad to see how most bands jumped on the bandwagon.
Tommy: According to rumors, you have during
the years hung out a lot with bands such as Bon Jovi, Ted Nugent, Skidrow
and even Gene Simmons. There is to my knowledge a bootleg video circulating
where we can see you jamming with Gene Simmons in a rehearsal room in
LA. What you are jamming on apperantly the instrumental song Daily Planet,
later included on a few KISS demos. Working and hanging with these people
in these kind of environments, did you pick up a lot from them and did
they made lasting impressions on you, and then I mainly mean musically?
Don: They did not leave musical impressions
or influences as such. We learned a lot form these guys in terms of
the business we were in. It was a rush to work with Gene Simmons for
example. He is a very focused and clear headed person which impressed
me greatly and the experience having worked with him is one for life,
AND he used to bring coffee and sandwiches to the rehearsal room..hahaha.
Tommy: When you look back on your career,
what would you say were the absolute highlight(s)?
Tommy: And the lowest downpoint(s)?
Tommy: What do you think about the scene of today? Both the sleaze
scene and the metal/rock scene in general? What do you think about the
future of metal/rock from a commercial point of view? Any bands in particular
you want to mention as your favourites nowadays?
Tommy: Was there realistically ever a chance or an opportunity
for you to hit it off big at the time, either in europe or in the US?
If so, why did it not happen in the end?
Tommy: Do you think things could have been
different today if you had made other choices at critical points in the
Tommy: I can read on the web that there
were plans to reunite for a USA tour in the summer of 2003. What happened
with those plans? Did anything come out of that? If not, how come?
- Don: I guess some
of us weren't ready yet. We have had a little get together last year.
All I can say we are looking at the possibility to do a couple of shows.
It's not easy to get the guys together though. They are all busy touring,
studio jobs, writing books and making art.
Tommy: What are you personally up to today? How does your life
look? What is your profession and are you involved in music in any way
at all, either semi-professionally or on a hobby basis?
- Don: I'm not active
with a band at the moment. I still write music now and again. Music
maintains a big factor in my life. I got married last year with a classical
musically based lady. Rock meets classic. I saw one of her classical
concerts some time ago. That was an intense moment. You have no idea
how powerful a 60 piece symphony orchestra can sound.
Tommy: Jan (drums) and Andrew (vocals)
did reunite on stage recently for the first time in 10 years as part of
a Led Zeppelin tribute, and there were also two dates in Holland taking
place. You were not a part of that, I am correct? What was the reason
Tommy: I will round off this little questioning
with giving you space to pull off your funniest/weirdest anecdote from
the time of the 80's/90's. Please share your best, worst and juciest memories.
Don: One story
I love happened on my birthday. The band just finished the last gig
in New Orleans with Skid Row. We flew back to New York the next day.
Ed and I decided to do a night on the town and after dropping our
stuff off in the hotel, we grabbed a taxi. He dropped us of at a joint
were they were serving tequila slammers. A lady with a some kind of
cowboy belt, with a tequila bottle on one side and a bottle of 7-up
on the other side, (the glasses were where the bullets would normally
be) was constantly filling us up. After a couple of hundred dollars
worth of slammers we decided to go back to the hotel. We had completely
forgotten in which room we were, so we decided to break down the door
of what we thought was our room. Ed, at some point, decided to try
the key-card on the next door and voila it opened. I stopped kicking
the other door and Ed and I went in to get some sleep. Some time later
we were woken by noise in the hallway. The guy next door had called
the police, the fire department and every hotel detective he could
find. He must have thought someone wanted to kill him. Anyway, Ed
got up, opened the door and started screaming at the cops for waking
us up. The cops in the hallway apologized to Ed and we went back to
Tommy: Many thanks for the chat, Don, and
we wish you all the very best for the future. Any last words, tips or
- Don: Thanks to
you for asking. Live, and let live!!!!!!
Andrew Elt - vocals
Chris van Jaarsveld - guitar
Don van Spall - guitar
Ed Jongsma - bass
Jan Koster - drums
- Stranger Than Paradise - 1989 - (Red Bullet)
- Raise A Little Hell - 1992 - (Atlantic)
- I Don't Wanna Live Without You - 1993- (Red Bullet)
- Bring Out The Rebel - 1993 - (Red Bullet)
- Gun Culture -1994 - (Red Bullet)
- If You Hate Rock 'n' Roll - 1994 - (Red Bullet)
- Scream - 1994 - (Red Bullet)
- Look Like Hell - 1987 - (21 Records)
- Screwed, Blued & Tattooed - 1989 - (Red Bullet)
- Powertool - 1993 - (Red Bullet)
- Insanity Beach - 1994 - (Red Bullet)
- Live In Tokyo - 1995 - (Red Bullet)