Wild Guitars And Loud Heavy Metal

EAR DANGER started their career in the very early eighties already. When the whole heavy metal scene was still easy to comprehend. No subscenes or various styles like crossover, hardcore, nu-metal, death metal, thrash metal, speed metal or industrial metal. Everything could be categorised as heavy metal or hard rock. Matt Verschoor is a remaining warrior from those days, who is still destined to be dangerous to other people’s ears with his loud metal music. EAR DANGER as a band is back in business with a MCD, called “Shock And Awe”. The addition of female axe attacker Karina Wolf made it possible for us to do an interview with a band, that has a very long history in heavy metal. We want to shock you with a detailed interview about this rich metal history and how ‘The Wolf' fits into the world of these obscure cult metal legends....

When did EAR DANGER start their career and who was in the original line up?
Matt: “We started our ‘career’ playing at a school talent night, I think in ‘81. The show turned into a small riot, as uninvited local headbangers (and boy, were they numerous) forced their way in. The school ended the show after a few songs, because of the uninvited guests, but also they thought it was too loud. So the headmaster pulled the plug. You figure out what happened.....”

How did the band get together?
Matt: “Anyway, although we were happy with the reactions, John and I were certain we had to continue with another line-up. Some of our fellow musicians were talking about going towards symphonic and progrock, wheras John and I planned on playing just as loud as possible. Exit singer and drummer, enter Dick Vijgen, whom we knew from a previous band.”

Who came up with the band name and why did you decide to call the band EARDANGER?
Matt: “We called the band EAR DANGER, because we’d give the people at that school, a fair warning. I mean, we were in the same programme as blokes with a violin and lassies with a recorder.....”

How come EAR DANGER never ever released a full-length album or CD all those years?
Matt: In hindsight, that was a big mistake. However, it was partly a money-problem and partly a lack of interest problem. We were just not interested in studio-recording. We just wanted to play as much as we can, have fun, get drunk and basically enjoy life on the road. We did start recording for a six track, but we never finished it. There was no vibe in those recordings and they lacked energy.”

Who can we see as the main (musical) influences of EAR DANGER in the early days?
Matt: “Influences in the old days were all the big metal bands around. We all had our personal faves, obviously. But well, think of IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, MOTORHEAD.... that was musical. To be effective as a band, I have no doubt our main influence was HIGHWAY CHILE. They were our big example.”

In the list of former band members, I noticed two names, that are relatively well-known in the Dutch metal scene. What was it like working with Martin Mens (HIGHWAY CHILE) and Peter Magnee (who released a solo album, called "Voodoo Play” in 1993, ex-IMPACT)? Can you please share some of your memories with us here?
Matt: “Martin Mens has undoubtedly be one of the most important people for EAR DANGER. He had just left HIGHWAY CHILE and started his own small scale audio rental enterprise, when we figured out that our vocal amp and two smal speakers would just not do anymore. So we started renting Martin’s gear for our gigs. Arthur Hartmann (HIGHWAY CHILE’s bassplayer before Ernest Thimister) came along and besides making sure we had a good and deafening sound, they also taught us quite a few tricks of the trade and were responsible for a cheerful mood, even when the bandmembers were less optimistic. Peter Magnee came in from COUNTERFORCE (Fred Pieters’ band at that time). But we didn’t get on particularly well with Peter. So, he didn’t stay long, but just long enough to record “King Of The Midnight Fire”.”

Who writes the lyrics for EAR DANGER and what are they about?
Matt: “I write most lyrics. In the old days, Rufus (singer) also wrote some, like “King Of The Midnight Fire”. If I would have to give some themes, it’d be war and violence and heavy metal !!!”

Can you give us a brief description of highligts in your musical career from 1982, until let's say 2008?
Matt: “Actually, TEMPTER’s “Lamentations” demo is something, I am still very proud of. It got us nowhere at all, but that’s not the point. It’s fifteen minutes of recorded material I could still listen to without thinking “This is wrong, that should have been done differently”, etc.. Then SNAKESKIN COWBOYS was good, although not innovative or anything. MR. MOONLIGHT’s “Nightmoves” was a challenge, but worth every effort. And of course, our MCD “Shock And Awe”.”

Matt, can you please tell us a bit more about TEMPTER and how long did it last?
Matt: “TEMPTER was a band, that started as a fun-metal band. Some illustrous names here: Ed Warby on drums, Robert Soeterboek on vocals, myself on bass, Rene Willebrand and Jan Zwager on guitar. Later, it became, strangely enough, a doom-metal band. Warby left and was replaced by Richard van Leeuwen and Soeterboek was replaced by Eric Smits. I think TEMPTER is the most underestimated band I have played in. Technically very interesting, but maybe a bit too complicated to ever make it to a big audience.What happened was that we started of well, signing a deal with Metalloid Records, same as MARTYR at that time. However, they went bankrupt as we were recording. So we made sure we got the tapes, finished the recordings and had a good demo. Then we figured, let’s just make one more demo and make sure it is excellent and we should be able to get another record deal. We took a week to record two songs and I still believe, it’s an excellent demo. It was well-presented and all, but unfortunately, no record deal.”

Why did you actually leave TEMPTER?
Matt: “Lack of time, basically, plus I had to go to France for a couple of months.”

You also play(ed) in the AOR band MR. MOONLIGHT. How would you describe the music of this band, and is MR. MOONLIGHT still active or not?
Matt: “MR. MOONLIGHT isn’t a real band. It’s a project by René Willebrand and myself. We wrote songs, invited a couple of singers and started recording. Everything was recorded and mixed at my house in Hoogvliet, with limited technical means, but then again, that was part of the challenge. After that, we put the songs on a website for everyone to download them for free, as a sort of web-album. The music , I’d say is a mix between rock/metal and AOR. Melodic, to start with, yet on the hard side. At the moment, MR. MOONLIGHT is no longer active, but we may pick up where we left. Since the release both René and I moved from Rotterdam to Twente, so once I have my studio set up again, it might just happen, why not ?”

Same goes for SNAKESKIN COWBOYS. Are you still involved in this band, and what kind of music do they play?
Matt: “SNAKESKIN COWBOYS was good, straight, no-fringes bluesrock. Think of GEORGE THOROGOOD, etc. It does no longer exist, but it was fun doing.”

Let’s make a giant step forward now and arrive at present time. Who else plays in EAR DANGER nowadays and can you tell us a bit more about them?
Matt: “OK. Let’s introduce our lady first, Karina Wolf. She’s a relatively newcomer on guitar, who also plays in a rockcover band, called WOLFPACK (her dad’s the drummer, hence the name). Then there’s Ivo Metz, also on guitar. He also plays in MORTUKAI. He did some recordings at my studio and has started performing since November. Dick Vijgen on drums and founding member of EAR DANGER. Also played in IMPACT and a bluesband, called SALTBAG. And probably a lot of other bands, I don’t even know about. Finally, there’s Leon Lohmann. He also sings and plays guitar in SCHRAAPSTAAL and plays drums in classic rock band BLACKBIRD. He recorded a first demo with SCHRAAPSTAAL and a second one is on its way.”

Matt, can you tell us more about your new (to-be-build) recording studio in Losser?
Matt: “In Hoogvliet, where I used to live, I lived on my own in a rather large house. The attic and one room were transformed to studio. I am just going to rebuild it in my garage in Losser, but first some other jobs need to be done. It will not be necessary, however, to be able to record drums, since the Harrow Studio is just a mile down the road.”

You have recently released "Shock And Awe", a four track MCD. What’s the response been like (press and fans)?
Matt: “Shock And Awe” was received with more than average enthousiasm. And it bloody well should. It is a fine piece of work and was recorded and mixed with great care and patience. But so far, nothing but good reviews.”

Did you also get any negative reviews and how do you deal with that? Do you try to learn from it or do you rather want to forget about it as quickly as possible?
Matt: “We didn’t get any worth mentioning. On the other hand, I ‘forgot’ to mail “Shock & Awe” to one or two magazines, I think may have reviewed it negatively (I will not mention the names). I mean, why bother? But generally, I don’t mind if people write a negative review. Some negative reviews are actually helpful, others…. Oh well, shit happens!”

In which way does "Shock & Awe" differ from the music on your early demos?
Matt: “As far as song structure, there isn’t really that much difference. It’s the way they are played, that makes the difference. For example, take the ‘old’ version of “City On Fire” and the “Shock & Awe” version. The guitar parts are much more rhythmic and tight. That, of course is due to developments in heavy metal that date from after the first recording. I mean, we didn’t have a clue about rhythm patterns and so. In that respect, records like METALLICA’s “Kill ‘em All”and ANTHRAX’s “Fistful Of Metal”were eye-openers. Second comparison: the ‘old’ “Beelzebub’s Friend” and the Karthago version. The big difference is the guitar. Dick and I play about the same parts we did in ‘82. It’s the rhythm guitar, that makes all the difference….”

Matt, could you please provide us with some more information about the "When The Hammer Comes Down" compilation tape, which contains EAR DANGER with "Beëlzebub's Friend"? How did you get on this tape and which other ‘well-known’bands were included as well?
Matt: “Getting on “The Hammer” wasn’t that difficult. I was the one, who released it, together with a bloke from Eindhoven, Richard van Schaijk. We basically compiled the tape from bands, who would like their demo to get some more exposure. MARTYR was on it, TOGETHER, FUTURE TENSE…. BURNING AMBITION was the least known band, but the bass-player and the guitar player, Rob and Ruud Schoof were (and still are) good friends.”

Why did you submit this song or was there a particular reason for this choice?
Matt: “We submitted a live version of “Beelzebub’s Friend”. In hindsight, a wrong move, I should never have done. It was just not good enough. It was just ‘a night to remember’, that show in Wijk bij Duurstede and the first gig with Rufus.”

You also added the same song to the more recent compilation album "Metal Armada Of Karthago's Dragon's". How did that deal come together?
Matt: “Basically, Bart Gabriel got our demo and advised us to send some material to Karthago. Stefan Riermaier chose “Beelzebub’s Friend”. And that’s the whole story.”

How would you describe the music of EAR DANGER 2009 yourself?
Matt: “Revamped NWOBHM.”

We actually met eachother at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival in Hoorn in 2008. What was it like to play there and how was the experience to be cheered by a big crowd of true heavy metal fans?
Matt: “It was a lot better, than we ever thought it would be. I mean, after all, we were the openers. But the crowd went wild. On the other hand, we played exceptionally well.”

Talking about live gigs. With which bands did you share the stage already and what’s your most memorable gig until now?
Matt: “In the past, we played with bands like HIGHWAY CHILE, PICTURE, LOW BUDGET, etc. We also played on a festival with GOLDEN EARRING once, I believe. Most memorable gig: it depends on what aspect you’re looking for. Musically/crowdwise, I think the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival was pretty OK. Back in the old days, I can remember a couple of gigs in Zeeland, that were pretty awesome. I mean the province of Zeeland. Definitely not the village near in Brabant. But anyway, Zeeland, for instance Bar American in Middelburg and we played a concert in a gym hall in Nieuw- en St. Joosland. Bloody hell, it was packed and a massive stage! A pity though, that we got a flat tyre on the Zeelandbrug and it rained. The only way to get to the spare tyre was to unload all gear. Oh well, lots of great memories all in all. For me personally, the try-out gig we did last June was memorable, too. In the first place, because of the excitement of hitting the stage with EAR DANGER, after all these years. But also because, it’s the one and only EAR DANGER gig, that I didn’t play. I broke my arm the day before the gig and so there was nothing else to do than to find a replacement. And it worked out pretty good. Although I hope, it will never happen again. I enjoyed watching EAR DANGER play, though.”

Do you just stick to your own penned material or do you also play covers live? If yes, which covers do you like to play live ocassionally?
Matt: “Yes, we do play a cover. We play “Paranoid” (BLACK SABBATH ), but we have recently incorporated another all-time metal classic in our setlist, that we will play at out show on May 9th.”

Are there any important gigs on the agenda of EAR DANGER, right now as we speak? You already informed us about your upcoming show at The Note On The Road festival in the Baroeg, Rotterdam on May 9th. Any more live dates, we should be aware of?
Matt: “At the moment, it’s the end of the season. Also, you will not see EAR DANGER doing a lot of small gigs. We’ll play, if something nice comes along and if not, we’ll stick to writing/recording new material.”

What's your all-time favorite EAR DANGER song and why?
Matt: “Since I write most of the material, they’d all better be my favourite. However, having said so, I think probably “Assassin” and “Shock & Awe” (a new song, that is not on the demo “Shock And Awe).”

Karina, when did you join the band, and how did you audition for them?
Karina: “I joined about three years ago. I didn’t audition, because I was asked by Matt to fill in the lead guitar parts.”

Do you have any experience in playing with a band?
Karina: “Besides EAR DANGER, I also play in WOLFPACK, a classic rock band, that I started with my father, who is playing the drums.”

How long have you been playing guitar?
Karina: “For about eight years now.”

Are you self-taught or did you actually take guitar lessons?
Karina: “I took guitar lessons at the Pop school in Rotterdam for about four years, which gave me a good basis. The rest I taught myself.” Do you play any other instruments, besides the guitar?
Karina: “No, the guitar has become part of me and it’s the only instrument I want to play right now, but who knows what will happen in the future?”

Please tell us a bit more about your guitar(s). How many guitars do you own, which brands (do you have a fave guitar and why?) and maybe you can also give us some more details about the gear you use, without getting too much into technical details?
Karina: “At this moment I have five guitars: a Gibson Les Paul 1960 , a Gibson SG Gothic, a Les paul junior, A Squire strat and a Jackson dinky super strat, of which my favorite is the Gibson Les Paul 1960 with the SG as a good second. I use a Marshall triple superlead TSL amp and the effects build into this amp are so good I hardly need extra effects, but only my wah wah, which is a Morley bad horsy 2.”

Like we mentioned in this interview already, we met eachother in Hoorn. Weren’t you nervous for the concert? And how do you prepare for a live show?
Karina: “It’s normal to be a bit nervous before a live performance, because you never know how our show is going to be received. But once you feel the positive response from the crowd in front of you, that all disapears. I always make sure I come well prepared- meaning all my gear is in good shape and of course I make sure I know my parts well.”

You really took us by surprise with your excellent playing and you seemed to be getting more confident, as the show went on. Did you also experience that or was it just our imagination?
Karina: “It’s like I said before… Once I experienced the positive response from the crowd, I felt everthing was going work out right. It’s always very exciting to perform live, especially when it’s succesfull like this time and that enables me to give it all I’ve got!”

What's the most difficult EAR DANGER song to play and why?
Karina: “As far as I am concerned all EAR DANGER songs are more or less the same. As far as difficulty is concerned, none of the songs makes it necesarry for me to go to the limit of my capabilities.”

Where do you fit in the writing process? Do you write lyrics, music or riffs, or are you not involved at all in this whole process?
Karina: “I was asked for the lead parts and that is what I concentrated on. I also was involved in some of the riffs but most riffs were created by Matt and Ivo.”

What's the nicest thing about playing in a band?
Karina: “The excitement of performing in front of an enthousiastic crowd.”

And is there a downside too?
Karina: “I still haven’t found a downside.”

Do you have any hobbies or interests, besides playing in a band?
Karina: “I enjoy creative things, like drawing and also like to surf the internet.”

Do you think, that women in hard rock and heavy metal still need the attention that we like to give them or do you feel you already get all the recognition, that you earn so much?
Karina: “I would like to see more publicity for women in rock and metal. I find with every performance with EAR DANGER or WOLFPACK I am getting recognised for what I am doing, but still a little more publicity wouldn’t harm.”

What are the future plans for EAR DANGER (long and short term, please)?
Matt: “We made a sort of DVD demo from our show at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival and sent it to Karthago Records. Stefan (Karthago) was quite positive and encouraged us to go on writing material for a possible full-length CD. Apart from that, we’d like to team up with another, similar band to have a package and do some nice shows.. Long term ? Hell, I don’t know…. Might be anything, as long as it is loud….. I would like to perform live on the internet on a sort of heavy metal channel or something similar.”

Are you working on any new material right now (follow up to "Shock & Awe" or a full-length release) or is this still a bit too premature?
Karina: “I know Matt and Leon are working on new songs and I believe a full-length release is not out of the question.”
Matt: “As a matter of fact, we are working on two or three songs at the same time. I have just recently found back the time to start thinking up new songs. The last couple of months I have been busy moving, etc.”

If yes, what can we expect from the new songs? Will they differ much from the four songs on "Shock & Awe" or are you planning to continue the same direction, as you’ve been following for the last few years?
Karina: “As far as I know we will continue in the same direction and judging by the response we are getting, this looks to be the best way to go.”

Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
Karina: “The first thing, that comes to mind is keep on rocking! Rock and metal will never die, as long as we love it!”

Do you want to add anything to this interview? Maybe there is something that we forgot to mention here, which is very essential for the story of EAR DANGER so far?
Karina: “I don’t think so, I believe this covers it all.”

The last words here are for Karina and EAR DANGER....
Karina: “The only thing, I would like to add is: thank you, I love you all !!”

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Toine van Poorten, Metal Maidens 'zine / May 2009.

Visit their website at: www.eardanger.com
or My Space: www.myspace.com/eardangermetal