"I'm NOT paranoid... Oh yes, I know you all think I am..."
AN INTERVIEW WITH TWO MUSICIANS AND THEIR DRUMMER
by Richard Karsmakers
Last year, most of Holland (and, indeed, the world) failed to
see something that was happening. A new band was developing. A
good band. An instrumental band. A band that had a guitarist the
likes of Vai and Satriani and a bass player that could knock you
off your socks almost as efficiently as Stuart Hamm. The band was
called Whistler Courbois Whistler, and the main reason for
Holland totally overlooking it was the fact that they had
released their debut CD themselves.
In February of this year they signed a record deal which changed
things. One of the most important things that changed was that I
was finally able to discover them! I was swept off my feet
sufficiently to decide to talk Stefan into dedicating this entire
issue of ST NEWS to these guys. They're brilliant. They deserve
it. They'll make it.
This ST NEWS issue is dedicated to them. Below you'll find an
interview and some further concert experiences...
It had been one those typically early-summer days; the sun had
been shining all day and a somewhat shilly wind reared its head
as the evening progressed. We write Saturday, May 16th 1992. A
perfect day to round off with a visit to "De Bliksem" (English
"The Lightning"), a youth centre in Brummen in the east of the
Netherlands. On that location probably the musical sensation of
the nineties so far would perform a concert - the Dutch band
Whistler Courbois Whistler.
WCW consists of Jusso Whistler on drums, Barend Courbois on bass
and Cyril Whistler on guitar. They've been tring to gain
recognition for quite a while already, but their efforts only
really started to pay off when last year they won the third prize
in the "Grote Prijs van Nederland" ("Grand Prix of the
Netherlands"), where Barend Courbois was also elected best
Dutch bass player. At the beginning of this year they saw the re-
release of their debut CD, "Whistler Courbois Whistler", on the
RCA label. Previously they had released this album on their own,
selling it at miraculous rates at their live performances. The
whole RCA deal no doubt means a major step towards international
fame - something that this band probably deserves more than any
other Dutch (or even European) band before!
WCW is said to make instrumental music, traversing along (and
beyond) the lines set by virtuoso guitarists such as Steve Vai
and Joe Satriani whom we all know so well. This is, however, but
a poor description of the richness of the band's sound and the
manifold musical styles that may be recognised in their music,
combined into something that succeeds in paralysing your lower
jaw muscles as well as pleasing your ear. With songs the likes of
"Fata Morgana" and "Hurry for the Curry", their debut album
contains songs that will haunt you forever, refusing to leave
your lips as you try to whistle any random tune that happens to
pop up in your mind.
After having seen their CD presentation at the Staffhorst CD
Centre in Utrecht early May (see "Heavy Metal Gigs" in ST NEWS
Volume 7 Issue 2) I was signed, sealed and delivered already (so
to say). I bought the CD, called their management (which is in
the mean time their former management), inquired after tour data,
and arranged an interview to be held before their first CD
promotion tour gig, in aforementioned Brummen. This was a chance
of a life time and I was not going to let that pass by.
The dressing room in "De Bliksem" contains three musicians and
their manager (in the mean time ex-manager), the latter semi-
inconspicuously located in a corner. Outside dusk starts to crawl
across the countryside, a crowd is gathering outside, about an
hour before the show will commence. It's my virgin interview with
people in the music biz so I'm as nervous as on my first school
day - but when I tell the boys that I'm just an amateur doing
this interview to promote the band among the elite of Atari ST
computer users their enthusiasm suffices to put me at ease. They
turn out to be people like you and me, with the exception only
that they are quite profiscient at playing their respective
instruments. As the interview progressed it seemed to transform
itself in a chat among friends, where sometimes it was difficult
to gauge whether they were serious or not.
First a couple of cliche questions. What are your dates and
places of birth?
Barend: July 13th 1967 in Arnhem.
Cyril: October 24th 1968 in Doesburg.
Jusso: March 27th 1966 in Groningen.
How did you get to know each other?
Cyril: We know each other from Arnhem. Our fathers and mothers
knew each other, and Jusso and me are brothers on top of that.
When did you start playing your respective instruments?
Jusso: I've started tomorrow.
Barend: We've always made music, fooled around a bit. I used to
play the drums starting at two - including ladders and all
(laughs). I've played music all my life, really.
Cyril: I've been drummer, too, but I played on laundry baskets.
My great hero was Kiss' Peter Criss. But eventually I decided to
switch to the guitar.
How would you describe your music? Only a few minutes ago I
heard someone at the bar say "we should sell drinks in plastic
glasses, 'coz it's heavy metal".
Barend: Surely no heavy metal. It's music with a lot of
different influences. It may have a heavy sound but it's no heavy
Cyril: You can classify it like you want. It could be jazz or
classical music. It only has screaming guitars which is perhaps
the only thing that makes it 'heavy'. If you play the album and
get rid of the heavy sound you just have 'music'. We're like a
choire, only we use our instruments.
Then where do all the comparisons with Vai and Satriani come
Cyril: I'm the one to blame. We make guitar music, of course.
Satriani is a great guy and he's my great hero.
What do you (Jusso and barend) think of the fact that people
always talk about "music like Vai and Satriani", in other words
all the attention that Cyril seems to get?
Jusso: They are totally right. Thank God.
Barend: I don't mind really.
Jusso: As a drummer I like it at the back of the stage. I don't
need all the attention. You always get that if you have a band
the media tries to focus on a specific member, usually the bass
player or the drummer. In our case it's Cyril.
Cyril: The drummer is no musician, either.
Jusso: He just tags along.
Cyril: We're actually two musicians and a drummer.
Jusso: It's just like that. Those are the risks of the business.
Cyril: Still, it only seems that way. Most people come to us to
listen to us. Of course you still have the groups of bass players
or guitarists or drummers who come to see one of us.
Barend: And who consequently yell abuse at one of us.
Jusso: We ARE a band. That's why we're not called the Cyril
Whistler Band or the Barend Courbois Band. Just Whistler Courbois
Whistler. The melody is the first thing that catches the ear and
that just happens to be the guitar om our case.
Is the name of the song called "Joey" based on Joe Satriani?
Cyril: No. It's based on a pizza baker. We were in the studio
and we had the music but we had to think of a name. We thought
about people that we know and things that happen around us and so
we got the idea of Joey because he has a pizza parlour in Arnhem.
At least that's what we called him, because he looked like Joe
Satriani. So we thought "Hey, let's call it after this guy." In
the mean time there's also a film about a pizza man called Joey.
So the song sounding Satrianesque is just a coincidence?
Cyril: Yes. I don't think it sound like Satriani any more or
less than the other songs. Maybe because it's an up-tempo thing
people will think "hey, that sounds like something". The feedback
effects at the beginning were inspired by this awesome guitarist
called Ed Grotenhuis, who used to be in Fitzkin, a band that
Barend also played in for a while. A prime band! They exist again
now and they've been using feedback for a long time already. So I
thought "Well, let's slam some feedback in front of it". Satriani
also does it, but it's a quite well known principle.
In which bands have you guys played?
Barend: When I was fifteen, about ten years ago, I was with
Fitzkin. After that I went to Amsterdam, and I've also been at
Enschede for a while. After that I went ahead with these. I was
also in bands in Utrecht and Culemborg. Some band names were
Monroe and Perfect Strangers.
Cyril: We've always played together, but more in a jam session
kind of way. We did our first gig when we were in fourth grade
and we called ourselves the Pyjama Rockers then. The first song
we knew how to play was something from Sesame Street. We
parted for a while, where I played in the Undercoverband.
Sometimes we would play with Barend's band and sometimes with the
daughter of the singer or God knows what (laughs). At a certain
point we thought we should stick together and do a CD. We had
never thought about the ;possibility of a record deal. We
recorded the CD and brought it out ourselves. Then we met the
people of VIP Management who got us in touch with RCA.
Jusso: I've been in Romeo Delight and was in a band with Leen
Barbier (who used to be the singer of Turbo and Exqze).
What do you foresee in the future?
Cyril: We're currently doing Holland promotion (starts to sing
"Holland is OK!"), in a positive way. Everything's supposed to
remain out of this world, like it is now already. The next album
should be far out!
Can you say something more about that album? Will there be less
singing, or more? Will there be more or less influence from
Barend: We've been thinking about Korean influences this time...
Cyril: The next one will just be something of everything,
everything that comes up in our minds. The current CD went very
fast. We only had two or three songs and the rest actually put
together in two weeks' time. The next album should be quite off
this earth. I think one should always try to outdo your previous
CD - with regard to sound, everything. It will again be produced
What about your solo project, the Cyril Whistler Band?
Cyril: We do all kinds of things on the sidelines, as music is
hard to live off full-time in Holland. Barend also has several
projects with Greeks and Turks...
Cyril: But it's basically just a hobby band on the sideline. WCW
is the band around which our world turns. The solo CD will
contain totally different music. I have many ideas lying around
at home. It will be classical music, but they will be own
compositions, possibly with some guests who I admire on the
Good. Another couple of cliche questions now. What about your
favourite book, record and film?
Cyril: My favourite film is "Abel" (A Dutch film, ED.). It's the
best film ever made. Best book is "Die Kunts de Geige", a German
book on the violin. It really is. The best record is "Upon the
Wings" of Jean Luc Ponti, a violinist.
Barend: My favourite record is "Van Halen I", my favourite book
"Asterix and the Goths". Favourite movie is "The Shining", the
Jusso: My favourite books are those by Stephen King. My
favourite film is "Miami Spice" (laughs). I can't mention any
favourite records because something like that doesn't exist for
me. But what has been of most influence on me is Kiss "Alive!".
That started off my interest in drumming.
What do you do during your dayly lives?
Jusso: Nothing at all.
Cyril: Making music like we're mad, brainstorming, trying to
make new songs.
Right. Then some words for all of you to react to.
Jusso: Yes and no.
Barend: Mostly no.
Jusso: Er...yes and no.
Cyril: Far out.
Jusso: There's some really good bands among them, but there's
lots of trash there as well.
Jusso: Far out.
Barend: Great town.
Barend: Horrible. Terrible. Please go home.
Jusso: The kind of stuff you would have to leave at home.
Dutch heavy music abroad.
Jusso: Not enough.
Barend: Much too little, for sure.
Cyril: What's that?
Now then some questions for Cyril. Is your guitar alternatively
tuned, do you have scalloped frets, special elements? Which amps
do you use? What strings, what kind of guitar pick?
Cyril: I use normally tuned Hamer guitars, without scalloped
frets. I do have a special element, a Bill Lawrence L500. I use
Marshall amps, and sort of a Floyd Rose tremolo. On the new
guitar that Hamer should build for me there will of course be a
special tremolo, something legendary. It should be the best
guitar in the world, and I am sure it will be.
Cyril: I use an Ibanez Tube Screamer as effect, a 100 guilder
thing but really great. I use 09 size strings and I use Fender
medium guitar picks. They are the best!
What was your first guitar?
Cyril: An electric Maya guitar was my earliest. One of those
cheap 79 guilder things, nothing more than a multiplex board. I
still have it at home. It's fretless now, though (laughs).
Who is your favourite guitarist?
Cyril: There's quite a lot of those. Especially Joe Satriani,
and further just about all guitarists people recognise in what I
do. Someone says Eric Clapton - well, I love it when people
recognise Eric Clapton in my music. Everything you hear in my
music is my influence. Sometimes I get influences by violinists
What's your favourite WCW song?
Cyril: I wrote it yesterday and even the boys haven't heard it
yet. I've got it on a tape at home - that will be my favourite. I
even have a title for it but I'm not going to tell you what it
What a shame. Well, now some words for you to react to.
Cyril: One hell of a guitarist. He proved himself on David Lee
Roth's latest album. Amazing. I am seriously disturbed by the
fact that this guy got an incurable disease so early. That sucks.
An awesome guitarist, really. I didn't use to think much of him
earlier but his last album is excellent. It's a shame that such
an incredible talent has to experience so soon that life's a
Cyril: Far out, too. Great. What a shame I was never able to see
him. A truly great, zany negro.
Barend: One groovy dude.
Cyril: That promises a lot for the future. It promises a good
cooperation for my entire carreer, I think.
Cyril: Great. My grandfather even used to spend lots of money on
his records. It's amazing what that guy can do with those few
Passion and Warfare, the latest Steve Vai album.
Cyril: I liked the previous album ("Flexable", ED.) better. That
was one just jammed together. Not so much thought went in it. The
Jusso: Has no passion in it.
Cyril: It's that passion that we will want to keep as much as
possible in our music. We just want to hit the studio without
really knowing what we're going to do. It just has to grow.
Now some questions for Barend, then. What's your favourite bass
player, for example?
Barend: Jaco Pastorius, an American from the jazzrock scene.
Unfortunately he got mugged and died a couple of years ago.
What's your favourite WCW song?
Barend: "Hurry for the Curry".
What do you think about bass players who use two hands on the
Barend: I do it but I don't do it live, because people
immediately start comparing you with other bass player. At home I
like just to sit in my own and tap for an entire evening.
What about Stuart Hamm?
Barend: Far out. Fantastic. Awfully brilliant but it's got no
groove. He's terribly brilliant but...no. I mean I almost have to
throw up when I see him play, just because he's so good. But I've
seen him live and he's got no groove. Now all bass players will
probably think "What an asshole!" but it's the truth. I'd rather
hear some black guy playing.
Barend: I used to be a great fan of his. I was the biggest Iron
Maiden fan you could find. I found it totally awesome but now...I
can flip out on it if I hear it once in six months, but
And, Jusso, what's your favourite WCW song?
Jusso: Er..."Hurry for the Curry" as well.
Who's your favourite drummer?
Jusso: Everybody who is better than me, but particularly Tony
Williams, who started as a seventeen-year-old with Miles Davis.
Without that man all drumming, including all heavy metal
drumming, would not be what it is today.
What do you think about drum computers?
Jusso: Er...I have to think about that for a second...er...a
nice gadget. But it will never be capable of replacing a human
Cyril: We have thought about putting a stool in the middle of
the stage...drum computer on top of it...
Barend: And at a certain point we simply stop calling Jusso...
What do you think of Neil Peart, drummer of Rush?
Jusso: Same as Stuart Hamm. I used to like Neil Peart a lot, but
he's got no groove. I like drummers who have a groove, not
someone who puts each note precisely here it's supposed to be. I
have to say that we've seen Rush recently and I was impressed. On
"Show of Hands" (latest Rush live CD, ED.) I didn't like the drum
solo, but now it was quite awesome to hear him play it live. OK.
Now for the last question. What is your ultimate ambition in
Barend: Playing. Playing with your guts.
Jusso: And a lot.
Cyril: Really. Certainly. As much as possible.
Barend: That is most important.
Even though the hall remains quite passive (probably because WCW
tends to make music to which you will want to listen instead of
flip out completely on), Whistler, Courbois and Whistler played a
fiery set. In total it amounted to two times 45 minutes which is,
because their total recorded work is about three quarters of an
hour, quite a feat. Apart from all songs present on the CD (with
the exception of "WCW" and "Just on MTV") they played some songs
that will probably end up on their forthcoming album. Temporary
names of these songs are "Desert Storm", "Smelly Bitches"
(working title) and "Francesco". They also played a song that
featured Cyril on his home-built electric Reltsihw violin
(Cyril's been playing violin since he was twelve, influenced by
people like Paganini). The whole set was enriched by an
incredibly funky and furiously fast bass solo as well as a drum
solo that really made me wonder why the Dutch always talk about
the Golden Earring's Cesar Zuiderwijk. On top of all this, of
course, there's virtuoso guitar master Cyril Whistler, the first
guitarist after Yngwie Malmsteen to make yours truly have trouble
I am sure these guys will be heard of internationally within the
none too distant future.
A week later (Friday, May 22nd) Stefan and me went to see them
do a gig in Staddijk, Nijmegen (also in the eastern bit of the
Netherlands). Although they started late (a rather none too good
'special guest' band called Way Out played for an hour and a
quarter, starting at 22:15) and sound quality and audience
response were weak, both Stefan and myself thoroughly enjoyed
ourselves and could not help but feeling impressed and awed. They
played the Brummen set - but in a slightly different order and
without "Vilambit Gat".
After the gig the both of us went backstage to have a chat with
Cyril. He had not been too satisfied with audience and sound
quality, either, but looked forward to future gigs when they
would have their own PA system again instead of the rented one
they'd been using for two weeks now.
I lured him into revealing something about the new song name he
refused to tell me during the previous week's interview. He told
me it would start with a "W" and it would be the name of a small
and cute Australian rodent-like animal with large ears. It might
just be "Wombat".
At 2:45 AM we arrived at Stefan's place in Oss - where I had to
get up at 6:45 to be at my first McDonald's working day in
Utrecht starting at 10 AM (where I would arrive knackered and
tired - but with "Fata Morgana" playing in my head constantly).
Concluding, I'd like to agree with the majority of the Dutch
music press that heralded WCW with the most stunning compliments,
classifying their concerts as some of the best ever. These guys
have a golden future ahead of them, and for my part I can't wait
for the release of their next product that should put their debut
in the shade by December of January. Until that time we'll just
have to be satisfied with their debut CD, that I can heartily
recommend to anyone who likes music in general.
Latest news: WCW have in the mean time dumped their management
and record deal and are recording their second album, which is to
be called "Privilege" and which should be out around January
1993. It will done by themselves again. Drums and bass had been
recorded already when this issue of ST NEWS was being wrapped up,
with Cyril still doing some odds and ends (including mixing).
Although arrangements are being made to make their debut CD to
become available outside the Netherlands before the end of the
year, you can already order it through import - it's released by
BMG/RCA and its order number is PD 75319. Check it out. It's very
much worth while. Their second CD, "Privilege", can be ordered at
their management directly. The price is £15 (pound sterling)
which includes postage and packaging to any part of the world.
The address to send your international money orders or cash to
is: WCW Management, Het Nieuwe Land 47, 6828 DZ, Arnhem, The
Thanks go to Martin Minjon of VIP International (for everything,
including the ride home from Brummen long after the last train to
Utrecht had left) and of course, Whistler, Courbois and Whistler.
You rule! Keep on playing! Good luck with your next album!
Of course, ST NEWS will keep you in touch with the developments
around this amazing band...
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.