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Henk, Arwin and Remco (Defender)

Interview with Henk, Arwin and Remco from Defender
by Grigoris Chronis at 14 April 2007, 10:49 AM

The DEFENDER (temporary) reunion was good music in my ears; not only for me but for all 80s Euro Metal fans. The legendary Dutch outfit took the chance - due to the classic City Ad Mortis mini-LP reissue in late 2006 - to go on to a couple of 'revival' European gigs. Why not, now, take another chance and have a brief interview with DEFENDER? Henk, Arwin and Remco we'll meet real soon, you know!

Hi, hello from mag!

Henk: Hi Greg, a big hello from Arwin, Henk and Remco of DEFENDER!!!

Well, due to the City Ad Mortis deluxe reissue, through the Rusty Cage label, we are glad to see that DEFENDER are back for good! First of all, are you are going to release a new DEFENDER album? Can you give us some details for this album? Will all the songs be new ones or tracks from the past? Also, any release date?

Henk: We have to disappoint you Greg, DEFENDER is back just temporarily. We’re doing a so-called ’revival’ tour. But hey, it’s like the old days! We’re having lots of fun together, it’s like we never split-up! The skills are still there, the sound is even heavier than in the 80’s. You’re right, we’re going to record an album this year. No new songs, just songs we played in the late 80s/early 90s. We never recorded those songs, so they’re kind of new. The songs are from the last period before splitting up. A release date is hard to give right now, you will hear that in time.

It’s year 2007 and DEFENDER have been somehow inactive for 16 years now, right? Really, which is the lineup of the band now?

Henk: Almost all members of all lineups are participating, for both the gigs and the recordings. Only one band member is missing. During our live shows we appear in different lineups. The current band members are Simon Menting (vocals), Harm Noort (bass), Arwin Vergers (bass), Bart Van Rixel (guitar), Henk Verheul (guitar), Stef Kohler (guitar) and Remco Bouwens (drums).

Why did DEFENDER called it quits in the early 90s? Was it the lack of recognition, members issues, the reputation of Extreme Metal or what?

Henk: In the late 80s and the early 90s it was very hard for Dutch bands to get recognition outside Holland. We worked very hard for it, but we didn’t succeed. Nowadays it’s easier for Dutch bands to be successful abroad, but unfortunately it was too late for us. Another year of touring through Holland wasn’t a challenge anymore, so we split up.

City Ad Mortis is considered to be an 80s European Metal ’classic’ record now. Really, how did you come in touch with such a grand label (CBS) to release it (1987)? Is it real that this mini-LP was pressed in only 3,000 copies?

Henk: The father of our drummer Remco was one of the CE.O.’s at CBS division Holland those days, and he decided to help us. CBS thought the quality was good enough, so they would give it a try. We appeared in some Dutch music charts, we even were No.1 for one week!!! It’s true, only 3,000 copies of the album were pressed.

Now, how did the City Ad Mortis reissue come to happen? Are you related to the Rusty Cage label? A great job has been done to the reissue, and many bonus goodies are featured as extras, right?

Remco: Hi Greg, I think I can answer this question best, because I started together with Manfred Van Zadelhoff (bassplayer for L.W.S. Inc./MAC-11) Rusty Cage Records almost a year ago now. We really wanted some hard to get albums on the streets again, because real fans had to pay too much money for them and it gave us the opportunity to throw in some bonus tracks.   

The Labour Liberates track is previously unreleased? Was it in any DEFENDER demo? Are you planning to release your demo(s) as well, in the near future?

Henk: Actually Labour Liberates is a song we wrote about a year before we split up, together with some other songs. It’s one of the last songs we wrote during our existence. The recording which appeared on the album was a demo    recording; we just wanted to see if the studio was good enough. The song will be recorded again this year.

Two cover versions of METAL CHURCH and ANNIHILATOR songs, performed live, are also featured in the City Ad Mortis reissue. How come you decided to play these two specific songs live?

Arwin: We think Metal Church and Alison Hell are great songs!! METAL CHURCH was always one of our favourite bands and Simon’s voice sounds very much like David Wayne. Also the ANNIHILATOR song Alison Hell is very much fun to do. It doesn’t matter in which place we play the songs, the crowd gets wild!!!

Do you think DEFENDER would score bigger success if their ’base’ was in the USA??

Arwin: That’s difficult to say, who knows, when we decided to split up the whole metal scene in Holland was over. If we where in the States back then and met the right people…. yes….it is possible that we had more success.

Back to present (and future!): There are some plans regarding live ’activities’ for DEFENDER, right? I see that you’ll will play at Greece’s Up The Hammers festival in late April. Can you give us some details about this appearance?

Arwin: We are looking forward to come to Greece. Actually we never played there, so this will be our first time. We can’t say too much about the show because it must be a surprise. We will play some songs of the reissued City Ad Mortis album and some songs which where never released. And yes… it will be spectacular!!!

Do you have some more gigs fixed by now?

Arwin: Yes, we’ve done one live show at Dynamo, Holland already. It was great being back on stage after so many years!! We had a great time. On April 14th we’re playing at the Keep It True festival in Lauda-Konigshofen (Germany). On April 21st we play at the Up The Hammers festival in Athens (Greece). In September this year we’ll do a small tour in Holland with DIAMOND HEAD.

Do you think new Metal fans (or the young ones) can show interest to old-fashioned Metal music? Do you – as Metal fans – show interest to post-80s Metal sounds e.g. Nu Metal, Prog Metal or (in general) Extreme Metal?

Arwin: I believe that the new Metal fans will like DEFENDER because we play LOUD-FAST- HEAVY and the harmonies from Henk and Stef are still one of a kind.

Remco: It doesn’t matter if metal is 30 or 20 years old or made yesterday, the most important thing is that it has to be made with a soul!

Your opinion on the HEAVEN AND HELL reunion? Are you going to attend any of their gigs?

You mean BLACKSABBATH?  Yes… if they play in Holland we definitely go. We like the (Ronnie James) Dio songs, he’s a great singer. But we’re not sure if any one else of the band agrees with us (Laughs)!

Thanks a lot for your time! All the best for DEFENDER in the future!

Thank you very much and see ya all soon on the 21st…. Greetz!


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