EAR DANGER - Hoogvliet (Zuid-Holland, NL) 1981

EAR DANGER is one of the bands that was formed in the Rotterdam-destrict. This informative interview will tell you the story of EAR DANGER.

EAR DANGER was one of the bands that were right at the core of the development of the Dutch heavy metal scene, as early as ’81, with a sound that only but would develop in full over in central Europe towards the mid-80’s. A strong NWOBHM root and a niche for the accelerated Metal thing sure did get the band go playing clubs throughout the country. The band got as far as to record some songs for a mini-LP/EP, but never managed to vinylize (minus a contribution to the “Metal Power” compilation EP-series), hampered by a series of line-up changes and early-stage recordings that got lost along the way. Some 20+ years on, new recordings are still in the works, if it wasn’t for the dedication and passion of original EAR DANGER bass guitarist Matt Verschoor.

Exactly when did EAR DANGER come into existence, and in which line line-up?
Matt: Frankly, EAR DANGER started out as a thing not to be taken seriously; this as John and I desperately wanted to go to a school ball thing and meet some new women. Thing was, we weren’t on that particular school! Anyways, we actually got the chance to play live there, under the banner of some sort of a musical festivities day. The real aim being much geared towards those mastering piano, flute, clarinet, etc. Reason the more for us to blow the roof off and to teach them a lesson! The outcome however was completely the opposite, as someone leaked out that a new hard rock band would be on stage on that occasion. And so came along a crowd of local headbangers, not to be stopped by anyone or anything! Chaos complete! The name EAR DANGER was now documented. We stuck to that and maintained the name. As for the line up; the then additional members Sander and Gabriel weren’t exactly a match, when it came to further the band’s career. In this regard, I decided to take over vocal duties myself and John and I enrolled Dick Vijgen on drums. That must have been around 1981.
The early EAR DANGER repertoire also ranks a demo (with the tracks “Guzzler”, “Street Fighting”, “Two Time Lady” and “Still Going Strong”), that is hardly ever talked about in the band history. Was this for the fact, that the music on display wasn’t really representative or was this a mere, obscure rehearsal type thing?
Matt: There was this ad in the classifieds section of Music Maker magazine about demo recordings. That actually concerned a rehearsal room and a 4-track Fostex cassette deck, that served much as a test case. At that given time, we were in need of a demo, in order to get ourselves gigs at local venues and all things aside, it had to be done cheap. As a result, we ended up doing quite a number of gigs in the Rotterdam area and an occasional support act for HIGHWAY CHILE. As for being representative for that time, it was. But we progressed rapidly and so the musical direction had to be modified along with that.
Then, the first 'real' demo comes in the shape of a four song tape, right?
Matt: We recruited Frank Betist to handle vocal duties (whom we - sit tight! - knew from a choir, us; John, Dick and I, and Frank, were in, yep?!) and Frank-Jan van Aalst, who happened to be a roadie for HIGHWAY CHILE. The demo was recorded in a 8-track studio with a producer behind the board, that was rather into worldmusic than heavy metal. Still, it triggered a lot of positive feedback. In many a case, it doesn’t matter that much how it sounds, but rather how it relates to other demos produced at that given time. And, when it comes to that, it was just a cut above the rest. Over against that, inside the band, it just didn’t click; John, Dick and I were on a same level though, but it was the newcomers that shook things up. As in the case of Frank-Jan: this just didn’t make things easier, tapping into all these effects that all came with a lot of side-noise, but keeping things in key and forget about it. On top of this, he and Frank-Jan didn’t get along too well, not to mention the many other projects/bands he was involved in and we were to wait whether or not he showed up. So on a nice summer evening, they called it quits and with two telephone calls, it was back to scratch and we could no longer use that demo for promotional purposes.
Shortly after, in ’82, there was a second demo with studio and live cuts. Surprisingly, this demo heads more towards hardrock, whilst the first outlet incorporated the early speed metal meets NWOBHM; this seemed more likely to succeed concept wise, referencing the then developing trend towards the heavier category in metal music?
Matt: We continued with a new guitarist Harry van Boven and singer Rufus Udo. At that time, most efforts went into the rehearsal of the repertoire as it was back then, but we definitely aimed for a demo with new material, which just wasn’t there big time. Referring to “City On Fire”, I wouldn’t really sticker that as hardrock. At a later stage, we also recorded a heavier version of “Heavy Metal Hammer” (with double bass usage) and as far as “1000 Days In Sodom” concerns... well, that was just an incredibly heavy number, but not that fast. Still, my one favourite from that demo. Thing is, we used the ’rough mix’ over the final mix, simply because it sounded better. Nonetheless, that particular demo brought us the highest number of gigs. Admittedly, the s peed metal thing was developing at large, but then again in ’82 there still was a serious demand for ‘regular’ style hardrock/NWOBHM, so at least we were busy.
When we talk EAR DANGER line-ups, there’s been a whole series. If we just cut down to some of the bands that are related, could you name a few?
Matt: Well, bands related to EAR DANGER line-up wise: first there was this interaction with IMPACT, as John and Dick, at a given time, switched to IMPACT. Drummer Peter Magnee was with EAR DANGER after his IMPACT days. At the time, the “Never Too Young To Rock” LP from the aforementioned was released, I worked with the band, though not as a musician. On top of all that, we seemed to have a niche for attracting musicians with that background, that wasn’t rooted in the Metal scene. Harry emerged from the new wave scene, Rufus never before sung in a band and never did afterwards and Frank was schooled in the sympho thing. From many another, I don’t even recall. As one might know, Peter Magnee, got his thing going as a solo-artist and teamed up with another solo artist, Ernst Van Ee (HELLOISE), that produced a solo CD. Myself, I played with TEMPTER somewhere after.
It seemed, the band put a lot of efforts in the promotional thing, at least at an European level. Has one ever aimed beyond the boundaries of Europe, the United States for instance?
Matt: Frankly, we haven’t done much in the promotional field so to speak. If there was any efforts, then it was pretty much restricted to sending over new material to Holland’s Metal magazine Aardschok and as a result of that, the mailbox was crammed. This called for a serious go or no-go regarding the true hearted fanzines and radio-stations and the rip-offs, which there were plenty. We weren’t much concerned with the record labels anyways, to us the live thing was the prime mover: the more, the better. In this regard, there was not such a thing as a promotional plan, if one does not consider the bookings, a great lot were due to Martin Mens (HIGHWAY CHILE). The moment EAR DANGER got feedback in the Dutch Aardschok magazine, things simply rolled over. The fanmail - from as far as Brazil - was simply overwhelming and that alone took more time than I had doing my homework. Pretty cool in all, but it slipped our minds as to what some guy from Brazil ever saw in us!
Then there was this contribution to the Dutch “When The Hammer Comes Down” cassette compilation with “Beelzebubs Friend”, followed by “King Of The Midnight Fire” which appeared on the obscure “Metal Power” 7” compilation EP series (from Holland as well). Did this trigger any response or was this a fairly domestic, small-scale happening?
Matt: I find it hard to separate the response EAR DANGER got, from the overall response to that cassette compilation, as I was the one that put that sampler together. Looking backwards, it might have been a better move as to record something new to contribute, over the live-version of “Beelzebubs Friend”; simply because of its sound quality. As far as “King Of The Midnight Fire” concerns, the response to that one was microscopic. I think, as a product it just didn’t cut it.
As mentioned earlier, EAR DANGER seemed to engage the speed metal thing to some extend, before the genre actually developed as such. Don’t you reckon, Holland spearheaded this genre in some degree at an European level, that is to say??
Matt: We never really considered ourselves a speed metal band, rather a heavy metal band with a handful of fast geared numbers. I do not think we had the technical abilities to play speed metal anyways. Compared to a band such as VULTURE - whom I was manager for at a later stage - a completely different story.. Or a band such as FUTURE TENSE. Rob and Reiner were masters of the muted riffage. As what you call a possible pole position in speed metal territories, for Holland back in the days? I’d rather give the honors to Germany, but there’s a thing or two to say about a country this small, not doing half as bad!
What is it that kept the band from getting their things vinylized in full. Has there ever been plans to get some vinyl rollin’ anyways? In this perspective, has there ever been any labels approached whatsoever?
Matt: There’s been more to it than plans only. We even started recordings? One thing I know is that we spend an awful long time on the drummage of “1000 Days In Sodom”, plus a track called “Soldiers Of Fright”, particularly as it came from the hand of Harry and Rufus (whilst most of the songs were written by Me and John). There was plans to record a private press EP with about five songs. Knowing the fact that I had previous experience - from the IMPACT days - regarding the actual production and distribution, that should not have been a problem. Fact is that, at that time, we simply got caught up by the live-thing, not to mention the line-up changes? As a result, these recordings got lost?. Recently, I tried to track down someone that, after the studio folded, owned most of these tapes, not ours though?
Eventually, Ear Danger called it a day; what caused the split, and did one continue in other bands?
Matt: Rufus and I encountered a situation that we had to continue with three newcomers, and that just was it?. At a certain point, one’s gotta realize that the hay days are gone, which is a thing, that, sooner or later will cross many a band? Funny thing though is that we then had a stint with Ed Warby to comfort Rufus and me in our intentions to vitalize a SpeedMetal act in the styles of the Canadian EXCITER. The reason it failed to exist was the fact that we simply couldn’t find a guitarist that was capable to keep up with the pace! I think there’s been a 10 or so?. Shortly after, I decided to take the VULTURE management into matters, and played bass with TEMPTER.
Then, some twenty years on, the 80’s metal thing is back in full swing. How did this relate to EAR DANGER with the event of possibly forking out some new material, or the band getting together again?
Matt: Gauging the ‘hits’ on the EAR DANGER website, I noticed that there’s still a strong interest in the band. Nice, but as for EAR DANGER getting back together as a band, that is a no go. At least, not in one of the line-ups as we know it. Dick and I are the only ones that still have contact to this day. That aside, I do have the intentions to release some new EAR DANGER material. Even so, there’s already some six tracks in rough versions being recorded on computer. Unfortunately, at this very moment, I am far too busy to really control and continue this, but I definitely might have things going by 2006. Thing is, to complete the recordings, I am in need of a guitarist and a singer, so interested parties should definitely give a shout here. Needless to say, this set includes some numbers from the early days, in addition to some three new songs, as I do not want it to become something that’s simply been rehashed. As for how this will come about, regarding an official release or simply a CDR recording, I do not know. It largely depends on the product in its final stages. I am not really into circulating a CD for the sake of it. It’s not up to me to decide whether one’s putting money and efforts into this, but think this; for most independent labels the final result is zero, so that kept me thinking; why not to make it free downloadable. You don’t make any money, but you don’t lose out on it either, but you do reach a far bigger crowd other than selling a reasonably good CD for, say 15 Euros. The project I am involved in right now, MR. MOONLIGHT works on this principle. Once it’s done, one can download tracks and artwork in order to compile a CD to ones’ liking.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Matt: Nothing other than “Where in the hell did that metal revival come from?” The school where I work at, has the black metal design t-shirt thing increasing at large. Now, that’s a serious development! And yes, I truly hope to once, play at a festival such as “Heavy Metal Maniacs”?
(text conducted by Paul v/d Burght)

Line-up 1
Sander - vocals
Matt Verschoor- bass (ex-TEMPTER)
John - guitar (ex-IMPACT)
Gabriel - drums

Line-up 2
Matt Verschoor - bass/vocals (ex-TEMPTER)
John - guitars (ex-IMPACT)
Dick - drums

Line-up 3
Frank - vocals
Matt Verschoor - bass (ex-TEMPTER)
Frank-Jan - guitars (ex-HIGHWAY CHILE)
John - guitars (ex-IMPACT)
Dick - drums

Line-up 4
Rufus - Vocals
Matt Verschoor - bass (ex-TEMPTER)
Harry - guitars
John - guitars (ex-IMPACT)
Dick - drums

Line-up 5
Rufus - vocals
Matt Verschoor - bass (ex-TEMPTER)
Ruud Schoof - guitars (ex-BURNING AMBITION)
Peter Magnee - guitars
Dick - drums

Line-up 6
Rufus - vocals
Matt Verschoor - bass (ex-TEMPTER)
Hans - guitars
Kees - guitars
Bert - drums

Line-up 7 [2007]
Leon Lohmann - vocals
Karina Wolf - lead guitar
Ivo Metz - rhythm guitar
Matt Verschoor - bass (ex-TEMPTER)
Dick Vijgen - drums

Line-up 8 [2012]
Leon Lohmann - guitar and vocals
Matt Verschoor - bass and backing vocals (ex-TEMPTER)
Ivo Metz - guitar
Dick Vijgen - grums

*DEMO I (Demo 1982)
*DEMO II (Demo 1983)
*DEMO III (Demo 1983)
*Shock & Awe (CDR 2007)
*Full Blast At Last (LP 2011)


[Updated: January 21, 2012]