DUTCH STEEL – Martyr, Still Believing After All These Years

Dutch Heavy Metal band Martyr are celebrating 35 years together. Guitarist Rick Bouwman talked about their latest gig supporting Tygers of Pan Tang  ‘During our tour promoting new album You Are Next we supported the awesome Tygers in The Hague Club, Musicon’.

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‘We caught up with Tyger Robb, and Michael McCrystal plus our sound engineers did some shows with the Tygers in the past so it was a bit of a reunion. Also some of our most loyal fans are from The Hague, so a big party was guaranteed haha’.

Musicon 5 mei 2017 TOTP en MARTYR

How did you get involved in playing music and who were your influences? ‘My brother borrowed a guitar from a friend and I grabbed it. I knew 3 chords added a Big Muff distortion pedal and blew the neighbours away. These 3 chords made a lot of impact on some guys I knew that were already in a schoolband so I joined them.
When we started in 1982 Martyr’s main influences came from Japanese metal bands like Loudness, X-Ray and US metal bands like Queensryche and early Metallica. And of course we liked UK bands like Iron Maiden and Raven’.

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘My first real gigs with Martyr were in local clubs in our hometown Utrecht in Holland, and immediately we got serious about being a band. With our stubborn attitude and our specific style of metal we had quite a following straight away.
Over the next few years we played many headlining gigs all over Holland. We played festivals and big rock clubs like Paradiso in Amsterdam supporting bands like Exciter and Lita Ford’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Our first recordings were with cassette decks in our rehearsal room. We had a different singer then, and one of the guys assisting on the recordings said, I can do it better than that guy. He proved it and became the new Martyr frontman. It turned out to be a lousy production but you could hear what the band Martyr was all about’.

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‘The next demo tape Metal Torture was recorded in an 8 track studio in a garage. This time it was a better production, and it sold over 1,000 copies and was spread all over the world due to tape trading in the metal underground. Selling 1,000 copies meant we had to copy these tapes one by one on our cassette decks. Damn that was a hell of a job, especially when Boudisque, a famous record store in Amsterdam, ordered them a hundred at a time. Our next demo For The Universe was recorded in Trinity Studio’s and that also got orders from Boudisque.
Due to those sales the band got picked up by Megaton Records and released For The Universe demo on vinyl. When one of the guys left from Megaton to start his own record company Metalloid we joined him. We went straight into a professional 24 track studio for a month. We recorded and released Darkness At Times Edge. The whole time was one big blast for us as youngsters’.

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‘I remember we didn’t have a drivers license in the early day’s so one of our dads took us to the studio for the Dutch Steel session in Groningen. We were working with the famous producer and radio DJ Alfred Lagarde. As we were still very young guys, and one of our dads was in the studio, Alfred needed to get his daily dose of stimulants away from our view’.

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Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ? ‘One time in 1985 we had to fill in for Killer from Belgium, you can say they are the Motorhead of Belgium. This was arranged just the day before the show. But as no internet existed then the fans of Killer were not aware they would be getting Martyr instead.
Although we were very heavy we had a totally different image. We wore the colors of our home town of Utrecht – red and white, including our total backline and drumkit. So as soon as we got on stage we were yelled at for being pussies by a big group of bikers who had came to see Killer. Also our singer had shall we say some very intimate fun with one of the bikers ladies so you can imagine we had to run and hide haha’.

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What are Martyr doing now and have you any plans for this year? ‘Martyr are very much alive and kicking. We reunited in the mid 2000’s, toured Europe several times and did many headline and festival shows. We played with bands like Lizzy Borden, Flotsam & Jetsam, Vicious Rumors, and supported Trivium, Raven and Saxon’.

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‘We’ve also released 3 more albums Fear, Cirlce Of 8 and our latest You Are Next which we are promoting right now with dates across Europe throughout the summer and leaving for Japan in September. Then on September 22nd we have a big show in Club P60 in Amstelveen to celebrate our 35th anniversary. It’s all looking good for Martyr !’

Album releasese, tour dates and more information on the official website martyronline.ni

Interview by Gary Alikivi April 2017.