Metal-Rules.com interview with drummer extraordinaire
Ernst Van EE
Being a well respected musician does not always
translate into popularity. Ernst Van EE is one of those guys who seems
to be in every band in the world but unfortunately no one knows his
name. That will all change as Ernst has just released his first solo CD
you have been a fixture on the metal scene for years yet your name is
relatively unknown. Can you tell the readers of Metal-Rules.com a bit
I already play actively in bands for
about 20 years now, but unfortunately, not much off them got real
recognition in the states, so far. Although a lot of your readers will
recognize names of bands and artists I 've recorded and played with over
the years. My first band was Highway Chile in the early eighties, we
recorded two albums, Storybook Heroes and Fever and did a lot of shows
,especially in Holland and Belgium. We played with the likes as
Motorhead, Twisted Sister, MSG, Accept, Whitesnake etc. After that Ben
Blaauw (guitarplayer of HC) and me started the band Helloise. We made two
high-acclaimed albums, Cosmogony and Polarity, and also this band
reached the top over here, but we had the same problems as Highway
Chile, in the end. Due to internal record company politics it was
impossible to show our talents across the Benelux borders. Therefore
also this band split up, because there was no progress in our career.
Both bands together took about 10 years of my life ,and although it was
a lot of fun and I learned a lot and we reached the top in the Benelux
it showed me that there was no real career for me just playing in one
band at the time for many years on a row,so I quit the band and started
playing as a free-lance drummer. I met Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon), and he
asked me to play the farewell tour for Vengeance (another Dutch
heavy-rock band). Later on he also asked me to play the drums on the
first Ayreon album. In Vengeance I also met Ian Parry (who was their lead singer
at that time). In the early nineties I was also asked by Hungarian
guitar wizard Tamas Szekeres to play on some of his albums and tours. In
1996 Helloise reunited after our two albums were released on cd, we did
a very successful reunion tour and in '98 we released a new album called
A TIME AND A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. I will talk about some of
my other projects later on.
POWERPLAY is a solo CD featuring yourself and some of the best
musicians in melodic and progressive metal. Can you tell us how you came
about putting together such a lineup for this CD?
First of all it wasn't my first intention to make
a solo-album. I was writing songs for a new Helloise-album and did this
together with a good friend of mine, guitar player Peter Magnee (with
whom I also released an instrumental album in 1993,called VOODOO PLAY).
I decided to work with him because it's easy for me to work with him and
I wanted to give the songs a more heavier touch. In the end the songs
turned out to be a bit too much metal for Helloise ,but since we were
doing so well the idea came up to make a solo-album .So Peter was already
involved ,he also played the bass and keyboard parts and we used two
singers, our friend Robert Soeterboek (Ayreon) for the heavier songs and
Helloise-singer Stan Verbraak for the more melodic stuff.
Drummers aren't normally known for their solo releases. Why a solo
CD at this point in time? You are obviously very busy doing work with
I answered this one mostly in your last question. Although
I'm quite busy with all kinds of bands and projects I'm a professional
musician so I have the time to do a lot of different stuff.
POWERPLAY is the name of the CD. Is there a significance to the
think there's a lot of powerplay on the album, don't you. I wanted a
title that described the music on the album.
Stan Verbraak of Helloise sings 2 tracks and Robert Soeterboek
provides vocals for the remainder. How did you choose who would sing on
Robert has the heavier voice so he fitted best on
the more metallic songs. Stan is a melodic rock vocalist so we used him
on the melodic parts.
On POWERPLAY you cover the Sweet classic "Sixteens" Why choose
that particular song?
The Sweet was one of my favourite bands when I was
a youngster, so when I was deciding how to fill the album, I thought it
would be a nice idea to combine traditional and modern heavy-rock/metal
(we used those influences in the songs). It also seemed a nice idea to
take some of my early influences, and since the Sweet was one of them, I
came up with this idea to take one of their songs and make a more heavy
version of with without losing the original feel.
On the CD you include the song "Dance With An Angel". I
understand this is a tribute to one of your idols, the late Cozy Powell.
How did Cozy influence your music and did you ever get to meet him?
Cozy was one of my early influences as a drummer.
His hit single "Dance With The Devil" was one of the
first songs I could play. It seemed a nice idea to make my own version of
this song and give it a slightly different title, since Cozy (hopefully
an Angel ,these days (because he deceased a few years ago). I also liked the bands he played drums in over the
years, such as, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, MSG, Yngwie etc. I met him once when we were
playing together with Whitesnake, a real nice guy, and a heavy drummer
with his own style.
Who are some of your other influences?
I've listened a lot to guys like Deen Castronovo
(my biggest influence), Ian Paice, Simon Phillips, Scott Travis, Billy
Cobham etc. All these guys have their own specific styles of which I've
learned a lot.
Will you be doing any touring in support of the POWERPLAY
I did a small solo-tour in Holland to promote the
album ,just me and my drums and the rest of the music on tape. Maybe
I'll form a live band in the future, when we have maybe a second Van EE
album ,so more material, and a bigger base to make it useful.
In Europe POWERPLAY will be released under
the name DANCE WITH AN ANGEL and will include different
artwork. What is the reason for this?
I signed a license-deal for Europe with Music
Avenue/Rokarola. Originally the Powerplay-version was also released in
the Benelux. To avoid parallel sales through different companies Music
Avenue decided to release the European version with different artwork, a
different name (Dance with an angel) and an extra song.
You are also a member of the Dutch band Threnody. How did you
become involved with them?
They asked me five years ago to do a tour with them, which
I did. It was a challenge for me since so far I was mostly involved in
hard-rock and heavy metal bands, and Threnody is a technical death metal
band. I did well and also liked their music, so after that they also
asked me to record their new album, and since than I'm a permanent
What kind of music do they play and how do they fit in with your
As I said, five years ago they played a kind of
technical death metal. Since than the music slightly changed into more
melodic ,still technical, grooving metal with aggressive vocals but less
I like my metal very diverse, so they fit in well.
I believe that Threnody are recording a new CD right now. Can you tell
us a little about it?
been writing material for about two years and at this time we're demoing
songs in our own studio, and we'll try to hold
on to the contract we have with Massacre or otherwise find another company. We
have enough material, and we'll start recording a new album soon (the
fourth Threnody album). More info about Threnody you can find at: /www.threnody.com
Helloise is set to release a new CD. I just read on your website <www.threnody.com/evanee/uk/index.htm>
that Sasha Paeth is doing the mix. Did he also produce the CD? What made
the band choose Paeth?
No ,we produced the album ourselves, well the
basic recordings. You can say ,though, that Sascha is doing a lot of
producing during mixing. I've heard already some stuff he mixed and can
say that it sounds great and he puts lots of nice things in there.
We were looking for a mixer of international fame, and really liked what
he did on albums of bands like Rhapsody and Kamelot. Our record company
Transmission (Ayreon, After Forever) wants to make this the best
Helloise-release so far.
can the fans expect from the new CD?
It'll be a modern melodic powerrock album with
some metal and progressive elements in it. The album is called
"Fata Morgana" and will be released worldwide in September.
Keyboards on the album were played by Robby Valentine and there's a
vocal contribution by Lana Lane.
You have toured and recorded with Ian Parry. How did you become
apart of Ian's band and what CDs did you record.
I met Ian when I joined Vengeance in 1994.After
the band split Ian started his solo-career and asked me to join his band. I
recorded two albums with him (ARTISTIC LICENSE and THROUGH THE LOOKING
GLASS), and did some additional touring. In the mid nineties a lot of
melodic rock bands got in trouble because the upcoming interest in more aggressive
metal, so also Ian stopped with his solo-activities ,for a while, and
later on joined the progressive rock band Elegy.
Do you plan on working with Ian in the future?
At this time Ian is quite busy with Elegy and his
Consortium Project, but you never know what happens.
I seem to have lots of questions about other bands you have worked
with. You also recorded with Hungarian guitar virtuoso Tamas Szekeres.
Fill in the readers of Metal-Rules.com on just who he is and how you
came about working with him.
I met Tamas through his Dutch manager ,he was
touring Holland and wasn't happy with his Hungarian drummer. He asked me
to come over to Hungary (together with Dutch bass player Barend Courbois)
and we recorded two instrumental albums (Guitarmania (remake)
and Guitartales) ,I also became part of his live band and a year later
we recorded another album on which he also used a Dutch vocalist (Edwin
Balogh), the album was called DREAMLAKE (produced by Charly
Bauerfeind and Sascha Paeth).I did some more touring but in the end the
interest in instrumental music wasn't that big anymore and Tamas quit
working with this Dutch manager, so we kind a lost our contact.
Will you be doing any work with him in the future?
I don't think so, since the situation has changed
,he lives in Hungary and I 'm in Holland, but ,than again, you never
know! I will be touring, though, later this year with another guitar
virtuoso who, at the time, also is living in Hungary. His name is Anand.
It will be kind of the same as with Tamas ,a few years ago, two
Hungarians and two Dutch musicians.
What other projects have you worked with either recording or
We've covered them about now I think. Well I also
played some gigs with Misha Calvin (together with Ian), we played one of
the last gigs in the old Marquee in London. And I recorded some albums
with bands that were more like softer rock bands. Last year I did a tour
with Osdorp Posse (it's a Dutch rap-act) we played about 60 gigs and a
lot of big festivals. Don't think I'm getting wimpy now ,because the
band we played with was very heavy (together with the rappers it sounded
like bands as Faith no more or Red hot chili peppers). I'm still playing
with the band (which is named Blind Justice), and we'll also be
releasing a new album later on this year.
Any interesting stories from the road?
It mostly is a lot of traveling and hard work, but
depending on the band ,also a lot of fun.
I once did this extensive tour with Vengeance, it was very heavy, really
rock 'n roll, more like aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhhh every night. Right
after this tour I went on tour with Tamas (instrumental and quite
mellow), one of the first gigs I looked beside me and saw my drum roadie
had fell asleep during the show (he was also used too very heavy rock
shows for a few months, and this was like siesta time for him).
I have also read that you give drum clinics. are you still active
in that area?
Yes, I still do. They are mostly organized by
music shops or drum schools, so one day you play in a small shop and the
next on a big drum festival. I also like these gigs very much. People
really come for the drums.
The leads me to my next question. For the drum enthusiasts. What is the
set up of your kit and what brands do you use or endorse?
I'm endorsed by Pearl drums, Ufip cymbals,Evans
drumheads and Vater drumsticks.I have two 22" bassdrums,10"
12" 13" 14"16" 18" toms,13" 14" snare
and some octobans.At the moment I'm playing the Masters -series and next
month I get my new kit ,a Masterworks (there are pictures on my website:
> I use the Bionic and Rough series
of Ufip cymbals.
Any advice for any young drummers reading this interview?
Learn your basics well, later on try to take
lessons from someone in the style of music you wanna play.
Listen to all your favourite drummers and try to analyze what they're
playing and than try to give it your own touch. Buy my album and give me
What are your thoughts on the metal scene right now? Do you feel
that it is getting stronger?
I'm happy to say that ,here in Europe, it's
getting stronger and stronger again (and now I'm talking about the more
traditional and melodic metal). For a few years there was only attention
for the extreme forms of metal, but true metal will survive (it is
What bands are you listening to right now?
All kinds. But what hasn't left my cd-player for a
long time already is the Halford live-album. It's the best I heard in years, this
is what metal is all about. I hope he'll not join Judas Priest again ,in
the future, because now we have two great metalbands. Judas Priest is
another one of my favorites!
Anything else you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Thanks for reading this interview and maybe
checking out my solo-album.
Rick, thank you very much for the support and the great album review you
did on POWERPLAY.
Rock 'n Roll is better than music and Metal rules.
©2001 Metal Rules!!