Thursday, March 22, 2018

Zowiso Frontman John Hollander Talks Dutch "Wormerpunk" Scene, TCBYML Catalog Re-issues & 3/4/18 Reunion Gig (The Witzard Interview)

Noordhollands Dagblad:
Festive reunion of Wormerpunk
By: Rob Hendriks (Mar 4 2018)

"In the early 80's a number of Wormerpunk bands put the village on the music map. The music scene had become sluggish and commercial record companies dictated the market. "Do it yourself" became the motto. Back to the original form of pop. Start a band, make your own record, and party with your audience. Two old Wormerpunk groups—Zowiso and The Sox Pistels 3.0—made Sunday afternoon into a nostalgic punk party in a packed room of De Groote Weiver in Wormerveer.

They had come from near and far, the fans and volunteers of the first hour with gray hair and grooved heads, but with the indestructible punk vigor of solidarity, creativity and disobedience. At that time, 'The White Villa' in Wormer was the beating heart. There are the roots of The Ex, Svatsox, De Kift, and many other bands. 30 years later, The Ex is still busy there.

Musicians of long-gone Wormerpunk bands have found each other in The Sox Pistels 3.0. "A fine mess," says singer Marcel Meijer (former NV Le Anderen.) Together with second singer Peter Verdam (former De Groeten) and bandmembers dressed in neat jackets, the "Pistels" produced a delicious set of old punk classics: "Search and Destroy," "Captain Kirk," "Revenge," "Guilty," and a hypnotic "Psyche." Songs not longer than one and a half minutes. In front of the stage dancing ladies with daughters and nodding heads beyond in the room.

The band Zowiso stopped in 1986 after four records and 150 gigs at home and abroad. The group was praised for its distinctive style and charismatic singer, John Hollander. In 2006, there was a one-off performance in Switzerland, where drummer Aad Hollander still lives. The group was going to play one more time at a private party in Wormer, but the interest was so overwhelming that this extra performance was added.

"Really crazy that they are here! I was a big fan of this band and they are all friends of mine," says visitor Frank Kelvinator enthusiastically. "We joined the bus to Switzerland as fans. That was when I also met my current wife."

This will be the last performance anyway. Apart from Wormer Rick Veken, the other three bandmates live in Switzerland, Limburg, and Leiden. The men have always been friends and have rehearsed only once. But here the advantage of the experience in the primeval line-up counts. The music is still in every fiber and the performance is solid like a rock. The band plays powerfully and with a lot of passion. Singer John Hollander sings and declaims from deep within. Again, the dancing ladies. The room is completely going wild. A successful Womerpunk reunion," via Noordhollands Dagblad.

I. How did Zowiso initially form any why did the band break up back in 1986? You stepped in as frontman around 1981 when your brother and one-time singer Aad recruited you, "as singing became more important," correct?

John Hollander: You're correct. The other members, especially Aad, knew that singing always had and has been my second nature, so it was obvious that they asked me to fulfill [the] role as [the] singer in their band. From it's formation in 1980 until it's breakup in 1986, there hasn't been any conflict or friction between any of the band's members at all. Rick only pulled the plug, first, due to a lack of musical inspiration; soon, the other members followed.

Because we started as friends, there was no reason to replace any of the members; so, finally, we ended up in the same formation and no reason to continue. Soon afterwards, we seized other opportunities in life. Only Aad was determined to pursue his musical road single-mindedly across the Swiss borders.

II. What prompted Zowiso to reunite for a "one-off" show in 2006 followed by a house show soon after and again, just a few weekends ago, Sunday, March 4th, 2018?

JH: The "one-off show," as you name it, was actually, Aad celebrating his 40th birthday party to express his love for his former beloved bands. So, he was just harking back to the days when he played with his befriended band members in all different bands, until 2006.

The reason for us to join twice this year was also for birthday reasons. Alda, Aad's Swiss partner, asked us to play for an inner-circle gig in a café in Wormer together with friends from Switzerland and Holland. We couldnt refuse this birthday present.

As many excluded people found out about this exclusive gig, we soon became aware of the fact that so many fans would be very disappointed, when they could not join us. So, Aad organised a second, more "official," gig in a cultural centre called De Groote Weiver in Wormerveer [North Holland]. It finally became an unforgettable reunion together.

III. How would you best describe Zowiso's overall sound for fans just now being exposed to your music upon the re-release of At a Jogrot to Death, Sloop De Stopera, Beat Per Minute, and The Lust on Spotify and like-minded digital retailers?

JH: It's very hard to describe our sound. We made all different kinds of sounds within a few years of evolutionary time. We never played Punk music, as a so-called "Hardcore" Punk band does. We always tried to sound different from all the other local and international Punk bands; although, we were certainly influenced by bands, like Gang of Four, The Zounds, The Clash, and even closer influenced by early songs of our befriended band, The Ex. Eventually, (as we sound on the album The Lust) we created a more unique Zowiso sound.

IV. How exactly is Zowiso's name pronounced (phonetically?) Your own website even goes as far as to describe Zowiso as "a band with a name too hard to translate and even harder to give a sound explanation."

JH: Phonetically spoken, it is "zo·wee·so." It means "anyway," although, it's not written precisely this way in our Dutch language. It is etymologically derived from the German language, but in fact, it has the same meaning. Because we needed a name for our band, anyway, we named our band "Zowiso."

V. Since Zowiso's 1986 disbandment, what have yourself and fellow band mates Aad Hollander, Eric Bakker, and Rick Veken been up to, both professionally and personally?

JH: Every band member proceeded according his plans, wishes, and possibilities. Aad moved to Switzerland and is still very active with different musicians and bands. Eric moved from the Amsterdam area to an area around Maastricht [Limburg, Netherlands] and is still settled in Maastricht. Eric is working for a printing company and hes also working as a visual artist. The dominant theme of his artistic works is basically, the impermanence of everything.

There was no artistic follow-up in the lives of Rick or myself. Rick's doing property management for his job and I'm working as a claims manager for an international operating construction company in the legal, insurance, and contract management department. Besides [that], I travel around the world as much as possible. Until now, I visited more than 120 countries for cultural and wild life reasons and still, have a lot of travel wishes left. I [often] remark that I do not travel for business reasons at all, only in Holland.

VI. What were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence (aside from Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe") while writing and recording At a Jogrot to Death, Sloop De Stopera, Beat Per Minute, and The Lust?

JH: It's not very easy to indicate, precisely, [where] our inspirations came from because we all had our own favourite bands and singers, at that time. Except for Aad [and I], we [all] grew up with different parents with their favourite music. We had some contemporary favourite bands, like The Zounds, Wire, Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, and Gang of Four. Beside [those], there were some local Dutch Punk bands we liked.

VII. What might you site as one of your personal favorite, most enjoyable, or most memorable gigs from Zowiso's initial run of 150+ gigs? Why?

JH: Although, it's not very easy to name some the most memorable gigs, our tours in Switzerland and our Miners Tour could hardly [have been] bettered. During these tours, we played and traveled with members of The Ex and some other local bands. The cohesion of the people between these bands was incredibly good. It's even one of the best group atmospheres I have experienced in [my] lifetime. We had great fun together and everyone could rely on a contagious sort of energy. I [would] also like to mention the surprising energetic responsiveness of the audience, during these tours. In retrospect, it’s still very heartening to experience such kind of [responsiveness]. Our fine cooperation with the befriended bands as subscribed, together with the fact there was an audience for our values and convictions, felt like a creation out of necessity.

VIII. Which Zowiso songs/release do you personally, think have aged best and why?

JH: Although, most of our subjects in our songs are really out-of-date now, probably our song "Mailbox," about losing your privacy is still a topical issue. It may also be [accountable] for the song "Testtube Treat," about genetic engineering.

IX. From your perspective, how has the Dutch/Wormerpunk scene grown, digressed, or simply, changed since Zowiso's initail 1980-86 reign?

JH: It is not very easy to explain why, especially, [because] the village Wormerpunk scene just developed so rapidly and finally, digressed. It certainly, has not one only demonstrable cause. For sure, the presence of a distinctive squatted White Villa (Villa Zuid)—inhabited by some members of The Ex and Svätsox—played a particularly important role in the rise of Wormerpunk history.

Although, all successes have many fathers, the presence of an eager, young, and politically and musically interested do-it-yourself (DIY) scene in Wormer contributed in various ways. I am confident that easy access for musical start-ups for youth with less musical experience, also, gave a significant boost to this growth. Besides a great Dutch network of youth centres, the presence of an unofficial alliance with the "squatting movement" also helped bands to reach some musical goals; especially, the benefit concerts were great resources for experience. As it was also easy to launch an independent record label, press some records, and organise our own record distribution, we managed to create many invitations to play on several stages in Holland and eventually, also abroad.

In 1986, we lost interest, as well and much of our creativity. Besides [that], the attitude of the movements we cooperated with changed a lot. By then, many other bands in Wormer already split up, except for the band The Ex, who succeeded to re-invent themselves time after time. Some other musicians continued and became professional musicians and are still nowadays. Most of the others found a job or started a study. The "squatting movement" collapsed, due lack of support from the Dutch society, especially, and a more violence approach to reach their goals.

X. Not unlike your 2006 reunion show, Live In Helsinki Klub - Zurich, was your Sunday, March 4th show recorded "to tape?" Also, is there any new Zowiso material currently in-the-works?

JH: I'm sure our gig in De Groote Weiver is recorded in some ways. A lot of people made videos and I already received one recorded song placed on YouTube. Probably, more songs will follow, when they're edited. Rick collects all the releases, so you best ask Rick for further details about these recordings.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: When I recently reached back out to former Zowiso bassist Rick Veker for further comment, he replied: "So far, I didn't receive any other tapes or videos."

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