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Jerry Lucky: To set the stage for PB II we really need to go back to the Plackband and talk about how that band came together?

 

Ronald Brautigam: It was in 1976 when I was asked to join a band called Heamer Hoyds, a kind of punk rock band. The members Tom van der Meulen (still drummer at PBII) and Kees Bik (lead singer) were part of the band. Because I didnít have a band at that time and just finished high school I decided to join them, but as a Steve Hackett pupil I didnít like their style of music at all. So in a few months I changed the musical direction a bit, which the existing bass player and later on the keyboard player didnít appreciate at all. My school mate Albert de Keijzer, who played bass in my school band Gentile, had no band at that time and was willing to replace him.

 

After a while the keyboard player also quit and we found Michel van Wassem (still member of PBII) in 1977 at a famous music store in The Hague, where Albert was working. He heard a young guy playing Yes and Rick Wakeman stuff on a Hammond, so it was easy to ask him for the job. So Plackband was born, though the name came a few months later. We didnít have a proper name and because at that time all the equipment was held together with cello tape (in Dutch called plakband) we decided to name it Plackband!

 

JL: How is it that you decided to create music in a progressive rock style as opposed to something else?

 

RB: I grew up with the Beatles, Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Than a friend came by with an album of Yes called The Yes Album. First I didnít like it because it was too much ahead from my heroes Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. But he left the album so I could listen a few times and then it happened, I was blown away! I kept playing and playing the songs and bought the other 2 Yes albums. In fact I kept buying all of their albums and still do, ha-ha. Later bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis got my attention as well so I became a real Symphonic Rock fan. Of course it influenced my style of guitar playing and the way of composing music for the bands I played in at that time.

 

JL: What was the musical climate in Holland for progressive rock back then? I ask because for a smaller countryHolland has a pretty rich history when it comes to progressive rock.

 

RB: In the early seventies I listened to bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd and they were very popular. In Holland we had bands like Focus and later on Kayak and Finch. But when we started to play with Plackband from 1977 the punk period was there and symphonic rock was not done any more. But luckily we had the diehard fans, so it became a niche market. Only we didnít have internet so it was difficult to reach and inform the diehards. We only had a small magazine called Simf Info, later named SI Magazine. This magazine still exists and is called iO Pages (from 1995) and is the leading magazine in the Netherlands for progressive rock music these days. If we had internet at that time it probably would have been different, but rocking the stages was the only way to communicate with your fans, also because we hadnít had any album at that time.

 

JL: You released two albums as Plackband, correct?

 

RB: Actually 3, but this all happened in the reunion period, in 2000 (The Lost Tapes), in 2002 (After the Battle) and in 2004 (Visions). We didnít release an album in the late 70ís or early 80ís. This was because we didnít want to change our musical style and no record company dared to put money in symphonic rock anymore. So the only record we made was an EP on vinyl called Seventy Warriors/Some Party.

 

JL: And then you seemed to disappear. What was happening to the band during this dark time?

 

RB: We stopped in 1982 and tried to come back in 1985 but without success (with a new singer Frank van den Bos). So after that we played at home and recorded some music in our home studios. Michel and I wrote some new material. It was in 1993 when we met the director of the SI Magazine who wanted to have some information about Plackband. He also had a small record company called SI Music. We let him listen to the new material and out of the blue he gave us a record deal. We named the project November and the album was called The First of November. We recorded it at the studio Sound Design of Tom van der Meulen en John Groen (our former sound engineer) and the drummer was Ed Wernke of the band For Absent Friends. We still get requests for this album, so I think it all went well. Then in 1999 we decided to reunite the original Plackband again and the story went on with the release of The Lost Tapes, After the Battle and Visions (a live DVD and CD recorded in 2004).

 

JL: So all of this brings us up to PB II. What made you decide to get back together?

 

RB: We actually already were together since 1999 as a Plackband reunion. It was in 2007 when we asked ourselves, what should we do? Everybody expected a new album of Plackband with new songs in a new century. But we doubted if this was a good idea and also Albert was very busy with his daily work. So after a long discussion we decided to quit with Plackband and started again with a new band and with a new bass player and a new style. And because our existing lead singers (first Karel than Koos) decided to do something else we made the wise decision to go our path with the 4 of us, as our keyboard player Michel seemed to be a great lead singer!

JL: How would you describe the musical differences between the two bands, then and now?

 

RB: It was in 2007 when we played (as Plackband) in Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, together with Frost*. We knew the album Million Town, but when we heard it perform live we were blown away! This is what we were looking for, the old Genesis keyboard sounds mixed with modern synths, drums and guitars. Also the samples and the way of singing, we loved it. We wrote with Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell and John Jowitt. The 2 Johns became friends! So we were totally influenced by these guys and started writing new material. So the difference with Plackband is the new way of thinking, no more stick to the old sound of the seventies, but daring to use new modern sounds and drum patterns! We were lucky to know our producer Chris Muller of the Holland Spoor Studioís, who knew exactly what we wanted. He is a Linkin Park fan and pushed us a little in this direction as well, what we enjoyed very much!

 

JL: The title of the new album ďPlastic SoupĒ refers to the pollution problem of plastics washing into the oceans. What got you interested in this topic?

 

RB: Yeah, well we had some ideas about the title of the album. One of the ideas was a song called Oceans (working title) and I decided to look further on the internet and got stuck in the plastic soup theme. This surprised me totally, because I didnít know anything about this problem. So I asked around and to my surprise nobody knew anything about it. So we kept searching and finally we spoke with Jesse Goossens, writer of the book Plastic Soup. She was very positive and happy that we as a band would help her to get the attention about this pollution problem. So we got in contact with the founder of the Plastic Soup, Captain Charles Moore, who now is the pioneer and spokesman to this huge pollution scandal in the world, even bigger than the Co2 problems we have! Charles appears in almost all famous talk shows and TV journals over the world.  We are lucky to have him on our album, he wrote some nice words and he lent his voice for the title song ďThe Great Pacific Garbage Patch.Ē We now are releasing a video clip where Charles will appear too. We sponsor his foundation by donating one dollar per sold CD, so we can do something in return.

 

JL: I notice you have some significant messages in the liner notes.

 

RB: You probably mean the words of our Minister of Environment Jacqueline Cramer, the words of Jesse Goossens, writer of the book Plastic Soup, the words of Stichting De Noordzee, the foundation to keep our North Sea clean and finally the words of Charles Moore, founder of the Plastic Soup. We are very proud that they would say something and explain to the people what itís all about. I mean who can do this better that the main role players in this environmental act, we are only the band with the song about the theme ;-)

 

JL: But the albumís not really a concept album is it?

 

RB: No, we didnít want to be an environmental band that wants to change the world, if you know what I mean. Itís just that we were motivated with our hearts when we wrote this song about the plastic garbage problem and that we really can help the people that are fighting it. We really hope that we can help to change peopleís habits, starting with our children. Thatís why the video clip will be used at schools to help children understand what plastic garbage does in our society and environment.

 

JL: Whatís the reaction been so far to the band getting back together and the new CD?

 

RB: Itís amazing; we sometimes sit in our chairs and squeeze our arms to be sure weíre not dreaming, because there are only very very positive reviews! We are compared now with top acts in the world and being placed among them. Itís unbelievable to have this status now but man; we are so lucky and proud! Itís something we worked so hard for so yes, we enjoy every minute of it. We are asked to perform on a big festival this summer in San Diego called Ocean Aid. And we have a record deal with a record company called Prog Rock Records in California. We are very pleased with this deal and hope to sell our album over the world. I think if you are a prog rock fan; you just must have this CD in your collection!

 

JL: Are there tour plans in the works? Another album at some point in the future?

 

RB: Yes we are writing new songs now, we are aware of the fact that you must prepare for a gap after a while and that the next album must be better than the first one. Meanwhile we are working on the video clip of Plastic Soup, which will be released as a single edit (3 minute version) and we are working on a live DVD. This will be the concert we gave at our CD launch party in Zoetermeer with our special guest live on stage. The concert was taped with 6 HD cameras and a 32 multi-track machine. And the lights and projections were fabulous, we did something special that night with some unique combinations and songs, like the Judy Tzuke song ďStay with till DawnĒ with Heidi Jo Hines, Pink Floydís ďHave a CigarĒ with John Jowitt and Gabrielís ďHere comes the FloodĒ with John Mitchell.

 

JL: Lastly then, my desert island disc question, if you were stuck on a desert island with only 5 CDís which ones would they be and why?

 

RB: Ahhhh let me thinkÖthis is hardÖ.. ok:

-         The Yes Album (Yes), my first contact with progressive rock and the best prog song ever made: Yourís is no Disgrace!!!!

-         The Lamb Lies Down (Genesis), the best album Genesis made and with some lovely memories

-         Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), maybe not better than Dark Side of the Moon but with better memories ;-)

-         Million Town (Frost*) the album that changed our music in 2007 dramatically and showed us the way where we are now!

-         The White Album (Beatles) my heroes when I was very young, this album had some progressive elements already at that time (1967)!

Throughout the history of progressive

rock music, Holland has always given us some amazing music. And if you've been a prog fan

for any length of time you will have heard of the Plackband. Well they're back and now calling themselves PBII. Here's the whole story courtesy of founding member Ronald Brautigam.