Susan Bekker

susan
NAME:
Susan Bekker

BORN:
February 24th 1951

FROM:
Rotterdam, Netherlands

IN THE BAND YOU ARE:
Lead guitarist, songwriter.

PREVIOUS BANDS:
After Sunset

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT AFTER SUNSET:
I found out Rene was a big fan of rock music, he went to the same school as me, so we decided to form a band of our own. I wanted to be like Jimi Hendrix and he wanted to be Ginger Baker. We dragged two other guys along with us, Wim Segers on guitar and vocals, and Marco Jongbloed on bass. I did some singing early on, but the others finally managed to stop me.

We were getting nowhere in the Netherlands, so we saved up, bought tickets to get to England and started touring around Norfolk, Suffolk, north London, getting nowhere basically. We ran out of money in Ipswich, which is when Micky Redwall, Toten’s first manager, met us.

We played covers of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, all the bands and musicians we liked. We did our best, but it didn’t work out. It was purely luck that Micky saw us that night. We didn’t have enough money to get back to Rotterdam.

WHAT INSTRUMENT DO YOU PLAY:
I play a Gibson Flying V. It was a birthday present from my mother and is an original 1969 model. I know it’s not worth as much as Dee’s Explorer, but in terms of sentimental value I’d kill myself if anything happened to this guitar. I’ve got two other Vs from 1976 and then I bought one around 1992.

ANY OTHER MODELS:
I practice and rehearse with an ESP M103FM, but once the serious shit starts, it’s back to the Vs. You have a sound that’s associated with your playing and you’re never happy with a song or a performance until you hear that sound, and it all comes through the guitar.

WHAT IS YOUR STRONG POINT:
Someone once described me as cunning. If I was cunning After Sunset would still be around, so I can’t be that cunning. But I think I’m good at analysing a way out of a situation or a way round people.

WHAT IS YOUR WEAK POINT:
Narcissism. I want to be something I’m not.

WHICH IS WHAT:
It’s embarrassing.

IT’S OKAY, NO ONE’S READING THIS:
My hero was Jimi Hendrix. I saw him perform in Rotterdam in 1968 and I’ve never forgotten that night. I won’t rest until I have that effect on someone else.

TELL US ABOUT THE OTHER MEMBERS OF TOTEN HERZEN:
Rene is very level headed, he keeps quiet in the background and lets us girls get on with arguing, then comes forward with a few words that make us all look stupid. I always turn to him for a second opinion. Dee is naturally confrontational which creates a tension in the band, and that’s a good thing because if everyone in a rock band got on beautifully you’d sound like the New Seekers. There has to be some poison in there. With Dee you can fight and argue about something and it’s all done and out of the way. You know where you stand with Dee. Elaine is the hidden hand. She has a great musical understanding, but she never expresses it until she picks up her bass and you hear what she’s playing and I think ‘shit, I hadn’t thought of that.’ She adds the finishing touch to the music, it just wouldn’t work without her input.

TELL US SOMETHING THAT WILL SURPRISE US:
The back of your hair’s on fire.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TOTEN HERZEN FANS:
In the seventies we used to read the headlines and think it was all made up. Then in Halifax we heard about the dead horse, but we heard it from the police before we heard it from the media and that’s when we started to think, fuck, maybe it’s not made up. Sometimes we wish they’d settle down and grow old, but then another generation comes along that thinks it should maintain a reputation. Fine, maintain it, but just stop burning things down.

WHERE DO YOU SEE TOTEN HERZEN IN TEN YEARS TIME:
Touring, bigger tours, bigger arenas. I don’t want to set a limit and say there, we’ve made it, we can settle down now and become complacent.

WHICH OTHER MUSICAL ARTISTS DO YOU ADMIRE:
My early heroes were Hendrix and Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Stevie Ray Vaughan. There don’t seem to be any individuals these days who sort of stand out from the band and become such strong focal points. Maybe Eddie van Halen in the 80s, but I don’t know who the equivalents are today. Rock doesn’t get the same press it once did so it’s harder for the pioneers to spread their influence.

WHICH BANDS DO YOU LISTEN TO:
I still listen to Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, some early Iron Maiden and Motorhead. Early Yes, Pink Floyd.

RECOMMEND ONE NON-ROCK SONG:
Oh, fuck. There’s a song called This Guy’s In Love With You and Rob Wallet, our publicist, heard it the other day and he sort of went into a coma-like shock. So, if that song can shut him up for five minutes there must be something strange and powerful about it. We thought he’d died with his eyes open.

WHY DOESN’T TOTEN HERZEN GO DIGITAL:
We have a Twitter account, I think. And a website. We never had a website in the seventies.

MUSICALLY, MP3S AND SO ON:
A lot of effort goes into making our music and we want that effort returned when it’s listened to. MP3s make it too easy to turn music into a background commodity. And the way MP3s are sold, it’s easy money for the likes of Apple to set up a server and then fuck off leaving it to generate money for them without doing anything.

IF YOUR HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE WHAT WOULD YOU RESCUE:
The [Flying] V.

COUNTRY:
Country?

FAVOURITE COUNTRY:
Netherlands. Are there any others?

IF YOU WEREN’T A ROCK GUITARIST WHAT WOULD YOU BE:
Some bored old woman wishing she could have her time again and be a rock guitarist. There was nothing else in my life. Nothing I wanted to be.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ACCUSE YOU OF NOT BEING THE ORIGINAL TOTEN HERZEN:
I can understand that, but if they knew the truth they probably couldn’t handle it.

WHY DID YOU AGREE TO A COMEBACK:
So much went wrong in the seventies, the first time around. This was a chance to start again with us in charge and see if we could do it any better.

AND ARE YOU SUCCEEDING:
It doesn’t look like it!

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