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Doe Maar is a Dutch ska band with punk and reggae influences. Their career ran from 1978 to 1984 and they were one of the most successful pop bands in Dutch history. Doe Maar translates as Go Ahead or Just do it, a phrase mostly used in a deprecatory, sulky manner.
Early years and debut album
Doe Maar was formed in 1978 by Ernst Jansz (CCC Inc., Slumberlandband). Piet Dekker, with whom Jansz played in The Slumberlandband (1975) and The Rumbones (1977), introduced him to Jan Hendriks and Carel Copier, spring 1978, in the farm of Gé van de Donk, their later sound engineer. There are recordings from this meeting, on which they played, without any rehearsal, all the Dutch-language songs Jansz had written at that time. Copier came up with the idea of the name, after hearing the (never officially recorded) song Doe maar. When Jansz was asked to form the resident band of that year's Festival of Fools he added 5 more persons to the band: singers Truus de Groot (later Nasmak), Anouk Strijbosch and Wim van Oevelen (the later tour manager of the band), and clowns Mart de Corte and Jan Bogaerts. Afterwards the 9-piece line-up was again reduced to four: Ernst Jansz (May 24, 1948; keyboards, sax, percussion), Jan Hendriks (September 20, 1949; guitar), Carel Copier (drums) and Piet Dekker (bass). Meanwhile, Dekker turned out to be a songwriter as well. One of his songs appeared in 1979 on a sampler-album (Uitholling Overdwars) made up of new Dutch-language bands. They also released their self-titled debut on Telstar omitting the sampler-track Blozen (Blushing); along with the ska- and reggae-influences in Hé hé, Als de morgen komt (When Morning Comes), Regen (Rain), Je liet me staan (You Left Me), Er verandert nix (Nothing Really Changes), that later permeated their best known stuff, there were also punk, rock 'n roll and calypso influences on this first album. The critics weren't impressed.
"I fail to see how this lot will make a positive contribution to the future of Dutch music". Muziek Expres January 1980
Entering the new decade, Doe Maar hit the bubbling-under charts with the Caribbean-/Indonesian flavoured Ik Zou Het Willen Doen (I'd Like To Do It) and the album sold 2000 copies. But it wasn't enough; after a fallout between Jansz and Piet Dekker (with the latter sent packing) the band seriously considered splitting up, but not before finishing their spring tour. Joost Belinfante (8 October 1946), an allround-freelance musician with whom Jansz used to play in CCC Inc and Slumberlandband, agreed to step in for the time being.
Having completed the tour, Doe Maar decided to give the band another go. Ernst Jansz asked Henny Vrienten (July 27, 1948), a professional musician/composer who previously collaborated with Ernst as backing musicians for singer-songwriter Boudewijn de Groot during the mid-1970s. Henny initially refused, feeling that Doe Maar wasn't the right move in anybody's career; but he got second thoughts and decided to join the band after all. Henny came right on time to contribute the remaining three tracks to the second album; 32 Jaar (about a lovestruck, shaky-legged 32-year-old), Smoorverliefd (Smitten) and De Laatste Keer (The Last Time), a song about breaking up and starting over (Henny had recently split with his wife and stepsons). Joost Belinfante was also involved and delivered Nix Voor Jou (Not Your Type; sung by Carel) and crowd favourite to be Nederwiet. Where Henny plays the role of the observer, Ernst's lyrics witness a left-engaged ladies' man being a stranger in his father's land (the Indonesia-themed Ruma Saya) having intimate moments with a girl whose heart belongs to someone else (Alice) and facing faltering relationship in Mis (Wrong).
Skunk, packed in a Ernst and Henny designed green-/pink sleeve, was supposed to be released in December 1980, but Telstar (still not convinced that Doe Maar had quality work to offer) postponed the album to March 1981 (post-carnival). It was felt that the band's effort would not survive amidst bigger names during the December-festivities.
However, Telstar did start marketing the album and samples were sent to the radio stations. Due to an error, the DJs did not know that the record had not been released, and played the music on the radio.
Listeners immediately picked up on the song, 32 Jaar, although they struggled to remember the original name Sinds 1 Dag Of 2 (Since a day or 2), until radio DJ Frits Spits renamed it to the current title.
'32 Jaar' reached No. 29 in the Top 40 and Doe Maar did a lot of gigging (although the attendance-figures still left a lot to be desired). Joost Belinfante regularly joined them on trombone and small percussion, and previewed tracks off his 1982-released solo-album Fante (produced by Henny). The band received an encouragement award and released Smoorverliefd (Smitten) as the next single in September.
Doris Day and breakthrough
Carel suffered from a fractured muscle which basically ended his career. Searching for a replacement they recruited René van Collem (1961), a seaside bartender who knew how to play a reggae-beat. He joined in time to record the third album of which the title track (Doris Day) was a complaint against TV boredom. The song initially had a reference to the legendary movie program host Simon van Collem till it transpired that he was in fact René's father. Henny's other efforts dealt with subjects such as unhappy marriages (Is Dit Alles), failure to quit cigarettes, junkfood and alcohol (OK) and desperately searching for a warm embrace (Radeloos). Ernst delivered songs about getting the cold shoulder (Situatie), sleeping with a 17-year-old (Belle Helene, featuring a sax-solo from the man himself) and dumping a girl for being overexperienced (De Eerste Keer). With Joost he co-wrote Nachtmerrie Op Hol (Nightmare On The Loose) about dreams of revisited exams.
Early 1982 Doe Maar were still playing to below-capacity crowds, but that all changed after the March release of Doris Day which made Nr. 1. Regular television appearances and sellout gigs all over the country mainly attended by teenagers, made Ernst and Henny, already in their 30's, the ultimate pop idols. They enjoyed the success, but Rene's heroin addiction was seen as a problem. Therefore the band decided to replace him with Jan Pijnenburg (1955). But again fate had other plans; Jan P. had made one television-appearance in May when he broke all his bones in a car-crash. René came back while his successor spent the next six months recovering. He played his biggest gig at Pinkpop on May 31 where the band (including Joost who still joined them from time to time) kicked off a sunny day.
Doe Maar's newfound success continued with Is Dit Alles (Is That All; a song that questions the perfect marriage) and gave rise to the Nederpop (New Dutch Wave) explosion; (relatively) young bands singing in their own language at a time when serious music fans snubbed it, something that Ernst was concerned about.
In October Doe Maar made their second appearance at Flaterpop, an indoor-festival celebrating contemporary Dutch-language music and they headlined the first edition of the live-broadcast Veronica's Rocknight following English-language groups Vitesse and Golden Earring. Joost was present, and a few hours into his 36th birthday he triggered off the jam-session by singing Nederwiet.
By the end of 1982 Doe Maar notched up their first number 1-hit with De Bom, a composition of Ernst with the underlying message 'What's the point of making a career/doing your homework when the (atomic) bomb can drop at any moment?'
Virus and overexposure
In January 1983 Jan P. was finally installed for the band's best-remembered line-up (although he spent a few more months walking on crutches). After a warm-up tour they taped a TV-special predominantly miming tracks off their yet-to-release fourth album (recorded with René) including their latest single Pa about a father-/son-dispute with the former mellowed out and the latter still carrying on regardless. Again it hit the top spot. The B-side, Nachtzuster (Nightnurse, written by Henny) was included in the TV-special and became a classic too.
By this time the boys stopped enjoying their success; businessmen selling green-/pink merchandising, fans taping their private moments, girls fainting at concert in sports arenas and gossip press coverage were the order of the day for the band. Shortly after the release of Virus (creatively spelt 4US) in March, Doe Maar announced a publicity-break; i.e., no interviews and radio- and television-appearances. Dexys Midnight Runners (for whom they opened at a 1981 radio-broadcast concert) would have been proud.
This decision backfired, as Doe Maar-mania grew even bigger. But it wasn't just them who had enough; headlining Pinkpop on May 23 the band were targeted with apples for selling out to the teen-mags and turning the festival into a children's matinee. Henny, who got an apple in his face, responded by saying "If you keep this up then there'll be a real Nightnurse on hand. We don't mind you lot throwing at us but we do mind that our fans get hurt. And another thing; if you really don't like it, then fuck off". Henny would later say that applegate "made us realise that we couldn't go on like this".
Lifting the publicity-ban in September, Doe Maar embarked on their first proper tour of Belgium with a surprise-performance at Flaterpop (October 9) thrown in for good measure. Ernst released his debut novel Gideon's Droom about the East-West theme. Henny recorded his first Dutch-language solo-album (Geen Ballade; released in March 1984) with a little help from his friends. The entire Doe Maar line-up even appeared on closing instrumental Amstel Hotel 13:00.
In December the band flew to the Antilles where Doe Maar-mania also reigned supreme. They played shows on Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten In between they recorded a new single; Macho, released in January 1984, a resentment of lad culture from the viewpoint of a man who grew up as part of an otherwise all-female offspring ("If I only was a woman, we'd be knitting together"). Because of its no. 12-peak and its 1960s-style video, Macho was dismissed as an artistic and commercial failure. The B-side was Grote Broer, which translates as Big Brother. Coincidentally Ernst wrote a Happy New Year-message for Popfoto-magazine in which he expressed hope for a better outcome of 1984 than predicted in the book he once read.
In February 1984, Doe Maar went into the studio to record their fifth album; however, the band couldn't get into the recording, and during a crisis meeting on February 13 they decided to call it a day. The split was officially announced three days later after a newspaper-leakout. The 8 O Clock News spoke of "weeping teenage-girls who couldn't believe that it was all over".
Shocked by the fans' responses Doe Maar pencilled in a farewell-concert at the Maaspoort in Den Bosch on April 14. Due to overwhelming interest a second one was added as a matinee. Both shows were broadcast live on radio and television. As on several occasions during the 'Virus'-tour, the band were augmented by second keyboard-player Jakob Klaasse and a horn-section featuring Joost. At the matinee, that didn't sell out, Herman Brood and Belgian musician Jean Blaute dropped by for the only live-performance of Als Je Wint (When You're A Winner; a song about success and equally-lasting friendships). The big surprises though, were saved for the evening; all previous members appeared to revive the actual line-ups. During the second encore Joost took the front-stage for a special version of Nederwiet with lyrics about birds and fish. De Laatste Keer proved to be a fitting closer. Many fans were left in tears.
The farewell-concert would be re-released in 1995 on CD and VHS and was exclusively available at Free Record Shop.
Ernst went back to the annual CCC Inc reunion gig and produced albums for De Drie Heeren (featuring Joost Belinfante) and indie-band Blue Murder. In 1985, two years in the making he released his second novel; De Overkant (The Other Side) deals with the damage done by colonialism on the Dutch Indies. Still sided by Jan H., Ernst got involved with (fictional) female-fronted bands; they were members of Midnight Hour and Rien Ne Va Plus, and scored the music for television series Switch starring Ernst's wife-to-be Jaloe Maat. In 1990 Ernst wrote a song for the semi-fictional Patty & Shift from the popular Spijkerhoek-series. Jaloe Maat guested in the actual season as an obsessive lesbian fan making singer Patty's life hell. In 1991 and 1993 Ernst wrote two songs for children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen; the former, Verliefd op de Meester, naturally chronicled a schoolgirl's crush on her teacher. In 1996 Ernst and Jan H. accepted an offer to join Boudewijn de Groot's new touring band.
Henny refused to go on the road with his solo-album; he was scoring the 1985-released thriller De Prooi (The Prey) and producing albums for others, including Dutch-born, Belgian-raised singer Raymond van het Groenewoud (a national treasure). Habba, released at the end of 1984, is a fine example of what the fifth Doe Maar-album might have sounded like had they decided to take time off and start from scratch. In 1986, Henny and Jan P. resurfaced in The Magnificent Seven, a collective that played ancient tunes like The Teddy Bear's Picknick. One of their early performances was at a benefit-concert for Radio Freedom.The other ex-Doe Maar-members were also present with their current outfits; they inevitably rounded off with an all-star rendition of Nederwiet. In 1990 Henny appeared in the low-budget-movie Let The Music Dance (starring a semi-retired Boudewijn de Groot) while The Magnificent Seven had their first and only album out. Henny also worked with Belgian singer-songwriter Jan De Wilde and recorded a duet with the lead singer of demissionary New Dutch Wave-survivors Frank Boeijen Groep. A follow-up for Geen Ballade was in the pipeline, but eventually set back by a Best Of-album and the re-release of 32 Jaar. The expected revival didn't happen, and early 1992 Henny finally released Mijn Hart Slaapt Nooit (My Sleepless Heart) with contributions from Jan P., Joost and prominent names from the Dutch Latin music scene. Thus the outcome was Doe Maar-meets-Magnificent Seven with a Caribbean twist. Henny used free-range pigs as a metaphor for racial inequality (Scharrelvarken, the first single), was happy not to fit in, mocked vanity in two versions, and called all Dads traitors. Second single Zonnebril saw him hiding behind sunglasses to play a different type of observer ("Looking up and down from breast to bum"). As with Geen Ballade the album got limited promotion; a few television appearances both live and playback (Countdown), and one acoustic solo gig the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Rumours of a reunion for Veronica's annual Golden Oldie-festival appeared to be untrue; instead Henny and the two Jans joined Ernst and Joost during the encore of CCC Inc.'s 25th anniversary concert at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam. In 1996 the former three recorded a new version of 32 Jaar as a duet with Herman Brood for the rock 'n roll-hero's 50th birthday-album. Having already collaborated four years earlier, Henny entered 1997 by teaming up with Def P from pioneering Dutch-language rap group Osdorp Posse (who sampled De Bom on one of their tracks). They were both interviewed for TMF; asked about the chances of "a Doe Maar-album with a hiphop-touch" Henny said "Somewhere next to zero". In 1998 he received an Outstanding Contribution Award for his TV-/movie-soundtracks, and made a cameo-appearance in children's movie Abeltje as a member of a vocal group from South America learning his own song Smoorverliefd.
The increasingly hirsute Joost continued to work with both Ernst and Henny (The Magnificent Seven) and remained involved in short-lived projects. In 1997 he released his second solo-album; Als Een Rivier (Like a River) was recorded without his famous friends, although some of the songs sound like they did contribute. In 1998 he teamed up with Ernst and Jan P. to take part in De Nederlied Connectie, an all-star band that toured across the country with Dutch-language songs.
A nation cheers
Ernst collaborated with Bløf, a Counting Crows-style group who recently went mainstream with songs as Liefs Uit Londen en Wat Zou Je Doen. Their manager Frank van der Meijden used to be Doe Maar's and found himself matching past glories. In 1999 Bløf embarked on a Doe Maar-covers-only tour as part of the successful Marlboro Flashback-series. The real thing were invited to attend the show at the Amsterdam Paradiso and quickly drew their conclusions. "That should've been us".
On October 31 Henny joined Pascal Jakobsen and the boys on stage; the next day Doe Maar held a press-conference at the National Pop Institution's HQ to announce a reunion for one more album (to be released on V2) and three shows at the Ahoy Rotterdam. Asked if they were doing it for the money, Ernst explained that "Money is a reason, but not the reason". Henny was always the most reluctant member to do a Doe Maar-reunion, but his teenage sons managed to persuade him. Annoyed by the question "How much will you earn ?" from a journalist Henny responded with "Please Sir; I don't ask you about your wages, do I ?". Fifteen years after splitting up, Doe Maar sold out Ahoy 16 times and became frontpage-news again; they were going to close off this chapter properly, and finally taking a long-denied slice of the financial pie.
René comes clean
After his departure René's career went in a commercially downward spiral. Early 1984 he joined funk-/disco-band Spargo for their modestly successful swansong album Step by Step. In 1985 René continued with three-piece Powerplay who also had seen their best days with previous members. In an ultimate history repeats-moment he handed over the sticks to Jan P. By 1997 René drummed in several bands including the critically acclaimed Sjako. He was in Belgium when he learned of a Reunion and felt surprised that they didn't ask him. Instead René did a My Drug Hell-interview for Nieuwe Revu magazine in which he confessed to long-time heroin and cocain use as a way of dealing with the pressures of fame. "And in my naivety I couldn't tell them apart. Apparently that song (Heroine) was inspired by me; but it came too late to save me, cause by the time we recorded it I was well into my addiction". Now a drug-free vegetarian, René combines drumming with a day-job as a graphic designer.
A shaky tribute
In preparation for fresh Doe Maar-tracks, a tribute-album was released. Trillend Op M'n Benen (Shaky Legs) featured covers stripped from the ska-/reggae-angle. The re-released 32 Jaar appeared in both Dutch and English (phonetically translated as Tastes Of Sweet Desire). Belgian group dEUS sampled Da Da I Love You by German three-piece Trio for their version of Pa, but permission came too late to have it included on the Dutch release. Only reggae-/rap-trio Postmen, also signed to V2, stayed close to the original with their version of De Bom. Rapper/funnyman Def Rhymz lightened up this doom-laden track with some nonsense-lyrics. It was released on single and became a top 10-hit early 2000 (disappointed by the failure of their own subsequent material, frontman Anonymous Mis would later slag off his heroes' comeback).
Dutch dancemusic producer Jonathan Joosten sampled De bom for a dance version he called Tha Bomb. During a try-out concert prior to the reunion concerts he handed a demo to manager Frank van der Meijden. Original author Ernst approved the sample but the original record company and its licensee at the time didn't. The song was pitched to radio 3FM where it was picked up by DJ Rob Stenders, just days prior to the reunion concerts started. After 2 weeks the song was placed on the stations playlist, while there was no record released. The official release of the song, released on Digidance label Paella, contains an interpolation of the sample replayed by studio musicians Bert Meulendijk (guitar), David de Marez Oyens (bass) and vocals by Johnny Kelvin and Addy van der Zwan. Rumour has there was a white label 12" record that did contain the original sample, which was spread amongst Dutch DJ's. Sales of the single dropped after recordshops noted the single was different than the version played on radio, but it did peak the Dutch Dance charts.
Klaar: older and wiser
Doe Maar entered the studio with 30 songs; due to shortage of time 12 had to be scrapped. A 'Making Of'-documentary saw the two frontmen competing for the lullaby-spot as a potential closer, but neither effort made the final cut.
Two weeks into the recording sessions fate struck again; because Jan P. suffered from back problems, René was called in to play five tracks. Marc Stoop, drummer for New Dutch Wave-survivors VOF De Kunst, also contributed and a three-piece horn-section consisting of young musicians.
The trademark Doe Maar-sound was spiced up with influences such as triphop (courtesy of Henny whose late-1990s TV-scores sounded thus). As for the lyrics, Henny now sang about growing older; opening-song Alles Doet Het Nog (Everything Still Works) is about coming back in a world dominated by teenagers while the bigband-skanker Dansmuziek (to be adopted as the theme-tune of an I Love The 1980s-style programme) portrays a former King of the Dancefloor trapped in a fat man's body. De Bewoners Van Het Pand (Dear Occupants) is a note-of-eviction to the bored-to-death who wasted their once-in-a-lifetime chance to enjoy themselves, and featured a rap from Def P. Henny's observing nature catches up with him in the Middle-Eastern-flavoured De Droom, in which he dreams of facing The Truth's anger for not lending a hand during wartime "when people disappeared behind the killing moon". His closing title-track Klaar (Done) is best described as The Specials taking the Nightboat To São Paulo.
Ernst was still the left-engaged ladies man but even his lyrics explored new territories; in Het Beste he sings about fatherhood and in Overspel the ladies man has grown up. The Beatlesque De Oorlog deals with inner-struggle while Bij Elkaar recalls Crosby Stills Nash & Young.
Jan H. sings his one lead vocal in the UB 40-ish De Kater, it's 'Let's drink our worries away and deal with the consequences later'-theme was written by Henny.
In February 2000 two singles were issued on the same day; Als Niet Als by Henny in with a rap from Antwerp-born Dutchman Brainpower, and Ernst's anti-violence track Watje which scored nr. 8 in the Dutch Top 40.
Klaar was released in April 2000 and instantly went gold.
Hees van Ahoy: hoarse throats
Due to overwhelming ticket demand the three reunion-concerts expanded up to a whole tour consisting of eight warm-up shows in both the Netherlands and Belgium, and a 16-night stint at the Ahoy interrupted for a one-off at the Antwerp Sports Palace; the same crew of extra musicians on Klaar joined them on stage, only René was not invited. The set was basically the same as during the 1983/84 shows but with a couple of the new tracks thrown in for good measure. The tour was a hit with both fans and critics, and everything went well till June 26 when Henny was rushed to hospital with meningitis of the bone (Dutch: botvliesontsteking); the show was rescheduled to July 5 while Henny finished the tour on painkillers. The finale took place two days later; the boys were unpleasantly surprised by the onstage-appearance of an SM-dancer during Nightnurse.
In November 2000 a live CD/DVD, Hees van Ahoy, was released. RTL paired a TV-edit. Soon afterwards old ghosts came back to haunt Henny; the gossip press reported that he left his wife and kids to start over for the third time.
Boudewijn de Groot's 2004-album Eiland in de Verte (Distant Island) features one song with Ernst, Henny and Jan H.
In 2007 they all attended the premiere of Doe Maar: The Musical for which Henny did supervising work.
Against anyone's expectations Doe Maar played eight shows in 2008 with Joost as the fifth man; four club dates (June), a three-night residency at Rotterdam's Feijenoord Stadium (July 11, 12, 13), and a performance at Belgium's brand new Werchter Boutique-festival. Henny was quoted "This is not a reunion, we're back together".
Symphonica in Rosso
In September 2012 Doe Maar released the 2 cd Versies/De Limmen Tapes featuring rerecordings of their classic songs plus a brand new track co-written with singer-translator Jan Rot who appeared in the musical. Versies consists of rap-collaborations produced by Postmen's Remon 'Anonymous Mis' Stotijn. In October the band staged a few try-outs for their headlining slot at the Symphonica in Rosso-concert series; Rene van Collem is back on drums (Jan P. now resides in Spain). The last of the traditionally secret shows was a benefit for Warchild at the Paradiso. On October 13 Doe Maar announced De Glad IJs tour for 2013 (Slippery Ice Tour).