interviews Jeroen Haamers
Batmobile is a pioneering Dutch band that’s been playing their own brand of psychobilly for more than 20 years. Always pushing the envelope, they’ve made sure that every release sounds different than what has come before. Vocalist/guitarist Jeroen Haamers discusses the early days of psychobilly, Count Orlok Records, and Batmobile's return to the live circuit.
Horror Garage: Have there ever been any problems with DC Comics about the band's name or some of the images you use?
Jeroen Haamers: No, as a matter of fact we haven’t. I think the images and the logo we use are different than the stuff DC Comics publishes.
HG: Batmobile began as a band that played Elvis Presley covers in the early '80s, but turned into a psychobilly band that played its own songs. How did that happen?
Jeroen Haamers: Besides Elvis -- and Johnny Burnette, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and stuff like that -- we also tried to write our own stuff from the early start. I think that’s something that was picked up by the audience, and a little later by the people of Rockhouse music. We had a turning point in our music when we played in a bar with 10 farmers that had turned their backs on us, and we got pretty much pissed off so bad that we started to play all the songs in overdrive. The crew we brought with us -- like four people -- had a blast and laughed their asses off...and Batmobilly as we still know it, was born. After that point we were more and more booked for psychobilly shows, and one thing led to the other.
HG: What first attracted you to what you may call "psychobilly" music?
Jeroen Haamers: First off, I think we didn’t get into psychobilly, but that it got into us. But, that aside, it was the aversion of boring and corny rockabilly bands we had quite a bit around early ‘80s in Holland, and also some of us were bored with the punk scene they were in then. So we combined the best of them worlds, rockabilly with the aggression of (good) punk. If you listen to some of the better and more edgy rockabilly songs in the ‘50s, you can as well hear the rawness and energy we were looking for. That, plus the fact that the lyrics we wrote seemed to fit in with psychobilly, led to the fact we were appreciated by the audience.
HG: Tell us a little about the psychobilly scene in 1983/'84. What bands did you tour with? Was it tough for a Dutch band to break into a scene dominated by British bands?
Jeroen Haamers: The first bands we listened to that were related to this scene, I guess, were the Blue Cats, Dave Philips, Restless, The Cramps, The Meteors, The Ricochets and The Sharks. We shared the stage with all of these guys and many, many more. It was a British scene when we started in ‘83 and it remained that until the late ‘80s, I think, with the exception of Batmobile. We were the first non-British band to headline the London KlubFoot – to name one – and many other festivals. I think we were quite the ambassadors on the Continent those days. It never felt tough to take our place in the scene. I think with our first four or five releases we were able to sound different from the others, but also fit in the scene. This, plus the fact that we put on a hell of a live show made the British audience appreciate us very well. It was harder to get a decent place in the Dutch music scene then it was for us internationally.