.......INTERVIEW
. with John van Heugten, the keyboardist of the Dutch Progressive Rock Band RICOCHER
.                                       by Sergio Motta, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Sergio Motta - In the beginning you were a cover band, however you also had some
self-composed songs as mentioned by yourselves. By the way, what has become of these
old songs, were they cast aside?

John van Heugten: In 1993 we recorded a demo tape with four songs on it. A few of these songs are still in the Ricocher set-list. The other old songs are only played in the rehearsal room to gather some old memories… Mostly because they aren’t as good as the songs we write nowadays.
You have also mentioned that the band was musically growing along the time, and also
personal as well as being a band. Was that change somewhat natural, or did you sit
together to talk about a possible change on the band’s direction?
John van Heugten: Mostly it was a natural change. We grow up and become older and we become aware that there is more than just having fun. Musically we grow as well, because we got more and more live experiences and you get the chance to learn a lot from other music and musicians you hear.

Our first songs were a bunch of ideas in a certain order and that was it. The songs we write today do have a better structure. The different themes inside one song do really fit together. If necessary we cut away a part of the song to improve it. In the beginning we didn’t dare to do this.

Next to that our former guitar player left in 1999 and we had to search for a new guy. The former guitar player was a more blues orientated player and Bart is more rock/soul orientated.  This changes the music a bit as well.

Because we play together for a long time, we get to know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. When we’re playing live and someone makes a mistake, the other four are picking it up and the song goes on. In the first years we didn’t know how to handle with these mistakes.

Another point is the studio. When recording the first album in the studio we learned a lot about song structures and which way to build up a song. We used this to write the new songs. Now we have recorded our second album, again a lot is learned. This again will be used to write new songs.

It seems to me that the first Cd from Ricocher was already to be on the market since a
long time ago, but due to some divergences in ideas between the band and the former
guitar player made all the plans of the band fall through. What was in fact around this
conflicting point between you?
John van Heugten: The former guitar player told us that he didn’t want to make this kind of music and that he wanted to do more live performances. The fact is that he told it to us one hour before we would go to the studio and book it…. He moved to a rock-cover band and at this moment he plays in a band with own written songs. It’s more rock orientated then we are. But we’re still friends, he even told us that it was really hard for him being in the audience and see us on stage as support act for Saga and not being there with us. That’s the risk when you make a certain decision.

Afterward it was good for Ricocher that we didn’t record the album at that time; it gave us the chance to grow and be better prepared before going in the studio. Because this, I also got the chance to meet Mattias Norén (http://www.progart.com/) on the Internet. He has designed the artwork for our first album so we decided to ask him again for our new album. And again he has done a great job.

After a few months of search a new guitar player was finally found. How did you find
him, and what made you say: ‘’This is the guy that we were really looking for’’?!
John van Heugten: First of all he’s my second cousin, so he had to be very good J. We had seen him playing with some of his former bands and we were really impressed by his playing and the easyness he showed (little did we know then…).

Before asking him we had advertised, but non of the candidates met the demands we had for the guitar player we were looking for. So we decided to call him and ask him if he was interested. Firstly he wasn’t really interested, he just quited his last band due to some conflicts. But after hearing our music and playing together with us during rehearsal, he decided to give it a try.

The first Cd of your band ‘’Quest for the Heartland’’ was warmly received by the prog fans
and also by the prog press around the world.  Was this outcome expected already by 
you anyway?
John van Heugten: We didn’t expect this at all. When we started the recording we hoped to get some regional exposure and get some nice gigs in our neighborhood. After sending the album to the Dutch Progressive Rock Page, they wrote a good review. We received a lot of requests to send the album to other reviewers. They all wrote very positive reviews and the requests kept growing and growing.

I also sent a copy of the album to the Arena fan club and after a while they called us if we were interested in playing as support act for Arena on their fan club convention. This also happened with the Bospop Festival.

After the album was reviewed in the Classic Rock Societies magazine, we got a mail from its chairman Martin Hudson if we were interested in playing on their annual Rotherham Rocks Festival amongst bands like Pallas, Threshold and Landmarq. Thanks to this gig we were even voted for “BEST NEW BAND 2001” by the readers of the magazine.

All these highlights were much better than we had ever dreamt of…. It’s very strange to see the band’s name growing. We’re just a bunch of guys who play the music we like and certainly a lot of people seemed to like what we’re doing…Very strange.

Are you able to describe your feeling towards the pleasing words spoken by Martin 
Orford and Clive Nolan about Ricocher’s music?
John van Heugten: What can I say? I’m the keyboard player of Ricocher and these two persons are my heroes… It’s one of the finest things to hear. My big examples are saying these wonderful things about our music. I met them both and they are really nice and very interested in Ricocher!
On December 6th Ricocher won an award at the classic rock society as being the best
new band. Does this event take place periodically?
John van Heugten: Yes, The CRS has his annual Best Of The Year Awards Night. It was a real honor for us to become the Best New Band 2001. This proves that the people who are interested in progressive rock music like us. After our appearance at the Rotherham Rocks Festival a lot of people came to us and gave us big compliments. They wanted to be on pictures with us and they wanted our autographs. It felt like if we were big rock stars….This year we will again appear on the Rotherham Rocks Festival and we hope people like it even more this time.
It has come to my knowledge that you have plans to record an new Cd whose title will be
‘’Haunted By Dreams’’, however in view to make it possible you have asked the fans of
the band to co-operate financially. By the way, what’s the fans’ reaction so far?
John van Heugten: The album title has been changed to “Cathedral of Emotions” and it is already recorded and mixed. At this moment the master is made, so the album will be available in a couple of weeks. The album will contain 9 songs with a total time of almost 1 hour.

To record an album a very big amount of money is needed. Ricocher already had the biggest part financed, but still a part of the costs wasn’t covered. We decided to ask people to become a sponsor. Another idea we saw other bands used (ex. Marillion, Fish) was to make it possible for the fans to pre-order the album. This way we hoped to sell at least 70-80 albums. Fortunately things went very good and we managed to sell 145 albums as a pre-sales.

We’ve also contacted a lot of distributors who already sold our previous album. They first want to hear the music and if they think it’s worthwhile they will order their copies as well.

Many other plans are being worked out, but they’re not certain yet.

 
Sergio Motta
is a friend and partiner from the Progressive Rock And Progressive Metal Site

Discography:
Quest For The Heartland 2000
Cathedral Of Emotions 2002
Chains 2004

Erwin Boerenkamps - Vocals, Guitar
Bart van Helmond - Guitar, Backing Vocals
John van Heugten - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Maikel van der Meer - Drums, Percussion
Niels Nijssen - Bassguitar, Backing Vocals

Contact:
For bookings or more information write or call to the following address or phone numbers:
Ricocher
Langstraat 27
5721 WX Asten 
Tel. :+31-(0)493-695113
Tel. :+31-(0)493-323661
Or send an e-mail to
John van Heugten
Erwin Boerenkamps

The five-piece progressive rock band Ricocher was formed in 1993 in the South of the Netherlands. The name of this band was Truss. Three of the five members had been playing together in the school band Frontline. In the first year the band played covers and a few own written songs. In the following year the band had written enough material and they stopped playing covers. After some gigs it seemed to work out right.

To get lost of the cover image the band decided to change the name into Ricocher. Ricocher got very positive reactions to their music and their musicianship. All these reactions made Ricocher decide to record some songs in the studio. As a result Ricocher released a demo-tape, called "A Scream For Help", in 1994. In the years that followed Ricocher played on many festivals and stages in the southern part of the Netherlands.

In these years Ricocher its music had changed through time. The songs were more mature than the songs that could be heard on the demo-tape. The band also had the feeling that they had been growing musically, personal as well as being a band.

Because of this reasons Ricocher wanted to record the new material on CD. Just before Ricocher wanted to book the recording studio, the guitarist decided to leave Ricocher because of a difference in ideas. So instead of recording, Ricocher had to search for a new guitarist.

After a few months of searching and auditions Ricocher believed they had found the right person. Ricocher started rehearsing to ensure the new guitarist would be able to become a real member of Ricocher. In the end of 1999 Ricocher played their first gig on a festival in the current line up. Ricocher also restarted the pre-production for the recording of their first CD, "Quest for the Heartland" and the Markant Studio was booked. The songs have been recorded and mixed at the Markant Recording Studio in July and August 2000 and the release of the CD was in September 2000. Ricocher found Mattias Norén willing to do the artwork for the CD (www.progart.com).

On the evening of the CD presentation, Ricocher also opened their website (www.ricocher.com). The reactions on the debut album of Ricocher where overwhelming. Reviews from all over the world where very positive.

Some noticeable reactions:

"I think it's one of the best new prog albums I've heard for a long time" (Martin Orford-IQ)

"The album sounds great. I must admit, I find it hard to know what to suggest for you • guys to do next, but keep moving forward with it." (Clive Nolan - Arena)

As a consequence of the quality of the album, Ricocher has managed to play many concerts. Some highlights are the support acts for Saga on their Dutch shows en of course the support act of Arena on their fan club convention on 3rd June. Next to that Ricocher has played on the Breda Barst festival, the Bospop festival and the Rotherham Rocks Festival in the UK. Because of the concert in Rotherham, Ricocher was voted for Best New Band 2001 on the Classic Rock Society Awards night. Ricocher is also writing new material, which will appear on the new album. The schedule is that the new album will be recorded in Februari and March 2002 and will be released in May 2002.

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