THE SPADES were a band from Eindhoven, Netherlands (an hour south of Amsterdam) consisting of human action-figure Denvis Wankalot on vocals, bassist Handsome Dick and an ever changing (and rotating) cast of guitar players and drummers, including none other than Ries Doms. who would later join me in the HYDROMATICS and CHEETAH CHROME AND THE KNOBS. The SPADES had been around for some years already before they suckered me in with promises of riches, fortune and fame (yeah, considering the number of times I have been woefully burned by similar “gun for hire” scenarios I should have known better, but thanks for reminding me). While I didn’t think the Spades were all that great or particularly interesting clever or inventive really musically, they rocked alright, it was kinda silly, kinda fun, they were a nice bunch of guys and the band was somewhat confrontational which is usually a pretty good indication of rocknroll. Besides, I didnt have much else to do. So what the hell.
I thought the SPADES were just some local band from a mid-sized rural town,and didn’t realize they were actuallty going places. Well you can’t really go all that far, in a country the size of a football field, but within those confines they were kind of a big deal. I had no idea. These guys had no international network or memorable punk rock hero past. But here you don’t need that to be successful. What you need is a network, the right connections and friends in the right places. So THAT‘s how this works.
The hard Way ? what Hard Way ?
For a group that purportedly was the “vilest, rowdiest, crudest bunch of drugged out, rocknroll derelicts in the country”, they were more like major media-darlings with a high “emperor’s new clothes” factor in my opnion. These guys got every opportunity opportunity handed to them… well yeah, that sounds bitter but life hadn’t been all shits and giggles for Team Slug, you know ? For the entire past decade I’d been toiling and busting my ass with the NITWITZ without geting anywhere. We are met with screaming indifference in our own country,so we toured abroad for months. Odysseys of pain in the most adverse and Spartan circumstances, not just playing for the door, getting ripped off, sleeping on floors, and going home broke, but suffering one sanity-shredding setback after the nex and going through shit that would leave most people huddled in the corner crying for mama. The SPADES didn’t havany rthese problems. None.We’re being systematically ignored. WHY ? ‘re all still scratching our nuts over at one.
They had a whole network going. People working for the. A booking agent capable of getting good shows and good guarantees. Get the band vooked at frestivals, showcases, being on the radio all the time, a record label paying for things like studio time, getting subsidized by foundation, there is money to manufacture merch and shirts/
these guys had EVERYTHING working for them !
The SPADES receiving very favorable attention in the Dutch media all the time !Everything Denvis did or said ended up being published. Radio interviews
they even won some kind of music award from some utility company. whether it was a trophee or a sack of moolah I don’t know because nobody told me until it was time for the photo shoot, , and they made me stand way in the back during thphoto shoota as to not to Denvis,
when the SPADES ventured on their first European “tour” it was a big deal. It wasn’t a real “tour” maybe eight or ten shows or something, but rest assured this is in the press, they are funded and subsidized by the Dutch Pop Music foundation, and we actually had a journalist Leon Verdonschot, follow us around to write about the bands wild rocknroll antics.
I was informed that this was the numero uno “rocknroll journalist” in all of the Netherlands. Don’t expect Lester Bangs level stuf or insights about what’s cool. f.
He had no idea who I was and hadn’t head of any of my bands or my one-man crusade against so that was pretty funnynext “What am Ichopped liver ?” . this wigs my shit, but When posters in France and Switzerland mentioned “featuring tony Slug from the Nitwitz and Hydromatics” he wondered.
This guy was such a Denvis fanboy he even wrote a BOOK about the guy.
Lame, dude. Lame.
Although I generally had a pretty good time with thes SPADES, especially in the States, some of the stuff they pulled was pretty weak :
- Toting the brass knuckles
- Staged “fights” between Denvis and bassplayer Richard halfway during the set at some pretentious showcase festival for press and industry people..
- Just as fake as the fake blood capsules
- Whapping out the schlong shock routine
- there is only one “Handsome Dick” and he fronts the DICTATORS
- Fake “arrests” for publicity, all these storieas about bad-assery that the the Dutch media lapped up.
It was just too contrived and phoney. Who needs such gimmicks ?
In addition I did not share their fondness for heavy metal music, especially IRON MAIDEN which is music for children and people with Down Syndrome.
Oh, and what about those riches and fortune ? How about sharing the wealth ? what’s in it for me ? Nothing I guess since the band still owed their booker 10 grand in commission,sothat’s where that went.
That was a bit lame too.
I promptly frioed the borrowed Marshall amp in the first song. the owner apologized to ME. Finding a replacementt took a while and that was deducted from out set.
they sure are anal about this.
Weird momentGarrett from the FLUID bounced by BEERLAND venue, came right up front of the stage. I hadn’t seen him since 1991. He was DRUNK AS SHIT. He started kissing me (on the cheek and forehead no tongue) wjile I’m playing, and stuffing dollar banknotes in my pockets. I wanted to see him after the show but he had vanished.
Jack Endino had done 3 or 4 records with my bands, so I could hook up a recording something. Then a handful of shows. We traveled by plane from show to show, like real rockstars. there’s budget for that.
One cringeworthy moment was arriving in San Francisco when Denvis stepped up to an African American guy and started talking about his band, “we are the SPADES”.
Donnie Paycheck from ZEKE. Chris later joined ZEKE as well. And Ben on vocals. They were a good band. Heavy Hard-rock.
The Seattle Sessions is kind of a lame name. Also, can I have a copy please ?
“That’s it, I quit”
After the last show of a “tour” (I think only 4 shows) through the Netherlands together with SILVER from Norway and our US friends ANGRY AMPUTEES, I gave the latter the bottle of whiskey from backstage as a farewell gift, just to be nice, because they were flying home the next day. Suddenly Denvis comes barging in demanding to know where the bottle is. I told him I gave it to the ANGRY AMPUTEES as a present. Denvis becomes increasingly beliggerent because he wants “his” whiskey. He was drunk and being a dick about it. I told him I wouldn’t tell him where the bottle was hidden. At one point he grabs my glasses, that I’m blind withou,t and threatens to crush them if I don’t tell him where the bottle is hidden.
So I told him “Here’s your booze, enjoy it, and fuck you, I’m done with you guys”.
AND THAT WAS ALL THERE WAS TO IT
Indicative of the media darling factor, this “whiskey incident” was widely publicized in the Dutch press, and became this “row” of almost mythical proportions. Letters to the editor were written, letters were written in reply. People talked about it on the radio, and the whole thing was simply an excruciating butterbean soap opera. WHO CARES ?Kbr />
No, there are no long-standing arguments or hard feelings. I just though he was being a dick that night, is all.