The Rock Years
Being a fan of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow Kazz started a fanclub in 1979 with a couple similar minded friends. One of them was a guitar player, who had just started a new band, CONCRETE.
“One day Wim, the guitarist, came up to me asking if I would like to join them as their singer didn’t see the difference between a microphone and a beerbottle.”
Kazz was given the job and quickly learned how to front a rock band. Concrete played cover material from various bands: Cream, Purple, Iron Maiden, Rolling Stones. But they also developed their own songwriting pretty soon.
“Some of the songs were typical rock songs with predictable lyrics. In other songs the old protestsinger in me was still there. Concrete weren’t bad. We had an exciting liveshow and we played quite a lot.”
It all changed when Kazz bought his first keyboard.
“I was a fan of German electronic music. Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream. But also I like rockkeyboardplayers like Jon Lord and Keith Emerson. So I thought, it would be a good idea to give the bandsound something extra. The other guys didn’t like it so I left.”
While with Concrete Kazz had moved in 1981 from the small town to the ‘big city’, which was Enschede.
“When I left Concrete, I started looking for a band who would want a singer playing keyboards. At that time there wasn’t much going on. The city has a rich history when it comes to the sixties, but in the early 80s there was not much going on. I stumbled upon a band called No Limit, looking for a singer. They were definitely different than Concrete. I liked the music and auditioned, but was rejected as a singer but they liked the keyboardplaying. For a year we were auditioning numerous singers, who were all sent away. In the end we decided that I would do the singing as well. The bandname was changed to SURRENDER. Most of the old songs were rearranged for keyboards and for most of the songs I wrote new lyrics as the old lyrics mostly were kind of that typical love songs, which I really do not like.”
“SURRENDER were an interesting live band. Not exciting like Concrete, but it was tense.”
In the meantime something else happened. Already in 1981 Kazz encountered on a 13 year young guitar player, André Romita.
“He stood there at my front door one afternoon, knowing about my activities for the fanclub and he was a Ritchie Blackmore fan too. He’d brought his guitar, played some licks and I thought: not bad for a 13 year old kid. Over the next years I saw how he developed. At 15 I realized how good he was. I saw him joining a band, consisting of guys, who were of my age, say 12 years older than him. Within two weeks he had taken over the whole band, with their original guitarist leaving the band!”
Impressed by the progress of that young guitarist Kazz asked him to join SURRENDER in 1986. Though André was willing, the idea of a second guitarist was rejected by the SURRENDER boys. As a consequence, two decided to leave their bands and team up for a new group. It was late 1986: the idea for ETERNAL FLAME was born.
“Before we even had a real band we started writing songs together with the aid of a simple rhythm box. We knew what we wanted. We knew what kind of rhythm section we wanted.”
The search for a rhythm section wasn’t easy. Drummers and bassplayers came and went. By the end of 1987 the definitive line up was found with drummer Robert Buitink and bassplayer Harry Pünt.
“ETERNAL FLAME is the best band I’ve ever played with. Though we improvised a lot during gigs the band always sounded very tight, due to our common objective. We laid down a couple of great demos, commercially it went nowhere, due to the lack of some management. I still convinced, the band could have been very successful, had we had somebody to push the band to further heights.”
With only self-penned originals the band roamed the country with energetic gigs, with lots of dynamics built in. After almost 6 years together bassplayer Harry left, being replaced by Aldo Quattrocchi. This event and the loss of sense of direction led to the end of the band in 1993.
“We started losing our common objection. The new songs seemed to lack the spirit of the early years. We all felt that and decided to call it quits before things would turn out sour. We split up but stayed good friends over the years to come.”
Kazz continued with a new group, The PH FACTOR.
“I had lost interest in hard rock and wanted something different, more in the vein of John Hiatt, Van Morrison and, one of my favorite singers, Peter Hammill, hence the name of the band. I wrote a completely new set of songs and started looking for guys to play them with. That was pretty tough. It took two years before there was a group that was stable enough to perform live.”
The band’s direction went other ways than intended.
“I realized too late we went into directions I never wanted. It was getting a symphonic monster, with songs lasting far over the 10 minute mark. Not that the band played bad, on the contrary. They were good in what they were doing. It just wasn’t what I wanted. So early 1998 I decided to leave my own band.”
And not only that: Kazz decided to quit rock business.
Eternal Flame reunited in their original line-up in 2003 for three reunion gigs.