Alquin were described as
progressive by some, but in truth were a great amalgam of many styles
influenced by British and American favourites of theirs. They were
getting very big in Holland before setting out on their first jaunt of
the UK supporting fellow Dutchmen Golden Earring including a gig at
Friars Dunstable in 1974.
Making a great impression on
the tour, they came back in the summer and headlined at Friars
Aylesbury. They disbanded in 1977 and reformed in 2003.
We caught up with Ferdinand
Bakker at his studio in Holland in February 2013.
Hello Ferdinand, thanks for
talking to the Friars Aylesbury website, let's go back to 1974 and two
Friars appearances. The first was supporting fellow Dutch band Golden
Earring at Friars Dunstable, which was your first UK tour. Were
Alquin well received in your view?
Yes, we knew Golden Earring as we were on the same
record label and we took the opportunity to tour
England with them. It was our first encounter with
the British audiences. This was around the time Golden Earring had a big
hit with Radar Love so they were getting some big audiences .It was
great for us as a lot of people could see us which is how we got the
opportunity to tour England again so quickly in summer 1974.
By the time you
came to the UK, your first two albums were out, "Marks" and "Mountain
Queen" - revisiting these records now, some people were calling you
progressive rock, but for me that's too general. There were so many
elements to your music, how would you have described yourselves?
might be called progressive nowadays, but there were definitely
different elements in there. We had a very eclectic crossover of styles.
Pink Floyd for one. It was a funny combination of the hippy culture and
a lot of other elements like Santana with the South American beats. We
were quite wide with our (musical) orientation and also some jazz.
some funk in there too!
Yes, what I
would call the American influence. There was some Indonesian stuff in
there too. There was a wild music scene there in the 1950/60s and there
were good R&B bands there.
There were bands in Holland who came from there and some great R&B bands
who were also an infuence. I started out playing my favourite bands,
such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Byrds and that kind of
stuff. After playing that, you find out you want to do your own thing
and I'd had classical training too, playing violin. One of the saxaphone
players in Alquin was very jazzy based and combined with the Hammond
organ, a get a big melting pot of influences. So we didn't fall into any
trends, we picked out what we liked. We were happy not be following
trends and doing our own thing and playing.
Before the UK Golden
Earring tour, you were really starting to get noticed in Holland weren't
you in 1972/1973?
It was the Pinkpop festival. The
biggest music magazine in Holland had the headline of "Alquin and
Pinkpop - great success" which was ridiculous to have a cover like that!
(laughs) But they were really into the music we did and that magazine
really put us up there and that was a magazine which people in Holland
read to catch up on British and American bands. That was amazing for us.
That gave us a kick and we started to tour a lot and we got a support
slot with The Who in France, one of my greatest experiences in rock and
I would imagine it was!
But when you
stayed in hotels and had breakfast with them, you saw them in a
different way. They invited us to "see the city" as you'd call it.
(Musically) our standards were quite high and we actually didn't want to
be commercial. At that time it was forbidden.
I guess part of
the reason for the record company getting you out on the road here was
that Dutch bands were starting to make inroads - the likes of Focus and
Golden Earring for example.
I think the music suited the English
audiences. We were quite different though, not like say Golden Earring.
The first thing about the tour was that we were put on the spot in front
of British audiences so they could see what we were. That was about
twenty dates on that tour.
After the Golden
Earring tour including the Friars Dunstable gig, you made such an
impression to come back to the UK later that year in June 1974. You
headlined our fifth birthday party and I think this was actually the
last UK gig Alquin ever played.
do recall those gigs and a British support band. It could very well have
been our last UK gig.
You made two
further albums before stopping the first time, four albums in total.
We recorded them in England although we didn't tour them there.
When Alquin stopped in
1977, was it a case of the band fighting the tide against changes to the
musical landscape and people's tastes?
Yeah, but we had a misfortune when the
third album ("Nobody Can Wait") came out when it was released in the
States with RCA. We were supposed to tour the States to promote the
album and the first gigs had already been scheduled and they had a
change of A&R management. He put everything on hold to take stock of
what the label had. That killed us. We couldn't tour without the label
support and the promoters thought that if the record company wasn't
backing us, then they wouldn't put the gigs on. The tour got cancelled
two weeks before we were due to go out there, so the momentum had gone.
So we had some problems keeping up good spirits but we did and we did
the fourth and last album which took us in a new direction. Then New
Wave and the punk change came in shortly after. Did that finish the
band? Not really. We could have gone on (despite the change in music
tastes) despite America not working out and we toured Holland
every year. We were voted the number one band in Holland and we thought
"let's split!" It wasn't a quarrel or anything, we'd just had enough and
couldn't see how we could expand it abroad easily and just end up
playing Holland for another ten years which wasn't what we wanted. So
the drummer and me started a new band called The Meteors which was a bit
new wave. (not the same Meteors as the UK band) Michel van Dijk the
singer was really into rock and roll so did something else.
How was it in The Meteors?
We got to tour England again which was very nice and we did three
albums. We recorded the second album in Germany with Conny Plank
(Ultravox/Kraftwerk) with good musicians. When you look back at it now,
it wasn't that different to Alquin. Alquin fans were shocked though as
we had shorter hair and looked different but we were a different band.
Alquin fans coming to our gigs had a bit of a shock.....!
A bit of a culture
Yes it was!
But when you have new songs, record them and go out and play them, we
were always having to be 18 months ahead of ourselves and when audiences
heard something new, it had been with us for a year.
The change of music we were doing, there was a change in the times and
we had to adjust to that, there was more energy.
You did three
albums with the Meteors?
The third one wasn't very good, but the first two were very nice.
We had a single out that was covered by Lene Lovich who we had supported
in Europe and another chance to see England and tell people how nice
Liverpool was and how close the hotel was to the venue! It was nice to
do that with a different band.
What did you do
after The Meteors?
I started producing, working with Kim
Haworth (who played on America's Horse With No Name) from The Meteors and working in theatre doing soundscape work
and writing. I also had my own studio for 25 years where we did
commercials, film music and diverse projects and Alquin went on to do
Just getting on to
that! How did Alquin get back together in 2003? Was it just the right
It started with a young guy who heard some our vinyl in a record shop
and he said "shit! who's this" and he was told it was a band from the
70s called Alquin. He then bought everything! The guy bemoaned having
never seen us play. The record shop owner said he knew us and the record
buyer asked for our numbers. He then organised it and we said we'd do a
few gigs as a reunion. It was nice to see all the guys and play together
again. Once we started rehearsing and the first few bars were played, it
felt like nothing had changed. It's still good material to play.
You've made two
new albums since you reformed.......
I had a lot of ideas and having a
studio at the time helped make it all happen.
The music Alquin made was
great and it's good news you're making music again.
also working on a project involving myself and Michel van Dijk,
the band's singer, based stylistically on Alquin to a degree but more
R&B and some different elements in. It should out in six or seven months
time - we call ourselves the FM Band. Our initials and a reference to
Ferdinand, best wishes to
you from all at Friars Aylesbury.
Official Alquin website
This interview and its content are © 2013 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk
and may not be used in whole or in part without permission.