Adje van den Berg (Teaser, Vandenberg, Whitesnake, Manic Eden) is probably the most successful Dutchman in the hardrockbusiness. In 1977 he sets his first steps on the way to "stardom" with Teaser and in 1981 the band consists of Jos Zoomer, Dirk Kempen, Bert Heerink and of course Adje himself. Kees Baars (Dutch journalist and radioreporter) manages the band and he brings them into contact with Atlantic records. They suggest another name for the band and so Vandenberg is born and they release their debutalbum in 1982. The rest is history...
Bert: "We first started to perform in 1981 and our first record really did well, yes.. The single called "Burning Heart" reached no. 19 in the charts in Holland. In the States that song also became a hit, don't ask me why, I really don't know. I still think that it was just a song; we were a bit lucky I guess. We had the right people backing us, it was the right time for that song and most importantly; the record company liked "Burning Heart" and so they promoted us very well."
Martien:"So, you made a tour with Vandenberg in the USA?"
Bert: "We did three actually, it was an awesome experience ofcourse, we toured with Ozzy Osbourne, with Kiss and with Michael Schenker. I must admit that the first US-tour with Ozzy was the best we did. He really is a nice person, very amicable and he supported us like we were in his own band. If you play in the States you realise that you can tour there forever if you want to. So maybe we should have stayed there and then we would have become real rockstars...."
Martien:"So, why didn't you then?"
Bert: "Well, ofcourse we thought about it, but in the end we returned to Holland, just like the Golden Earring did. I had a family at home and the other guys also had girlfriends in Holland and we never intended to stay there in the first place, so..."
Martien:"When will the three albums be released on cd?"
Bert: "Actually it is funny that you ask that because we are planning a compilation-dvd and also remastered versions of the three Vandenberg albums (Vandenberg 1982, Heading For A Storm 1983 and Alibi 1985). On those albums we will also put some some demo-versions of Vandenberg tracks that are never published before. And we will add a new version of "Burning Heart" to the material."
Martien:"Will there be a Vandenberg comeback?"
Bert: "I don't think so, I never listen to the Vandenberg stuff anymore. Not that I don't like the songs but it is a long time ago, you must go on with your career and your life. I still think that it was a very important and beautiful period of my life but as you grow older you realize you can't bring back those days. Vandenberg is a portrait of a certain era and you cannot bring that back; I know that fans still want to hear "Burning Heart" just like in 1983, but that is impossible. If we would do something under the name of Vandenberg again then it would be something completely different."
Martien:"How and why did Vandenberg stop?"
Bert: "Ofcourse over the years you hear lots of different stories, but there is only one reason. So listen carefully, haha... After our third album we realized that is was over and Adje got an offer to work with Whitesnake and we gave him the green light to do so, because David Coverdale was "begging" Adje to join Whitesnake for years already, so Adje went to the Snakes and Vandenberg was over, no hard feelings, no fights, whatsoever..."
Martien:"What did you do then?" Bert :"I did two albums ("Every Story Needs Another Picture" and "Marathon") with Picture but they were complete failures. However it was a very nice time and I still have some good friends from that period. Then I worked in a steelfactory for five years because I had to support my family and in 1995 I had a huge hit with "Juli, July", a rocksong with Dutch lyrics for a beer commercial (Heineken). That was a lucky strike and I was back in business, my friend."
Martien:"Why this change, from rock to pop and you singing in Dutch?"
Bert: "Actually it was not really a big change, it was still rockmusic and I don't care what people think of me, or what I do, as long as I can sing and do that well I am satisfied. From that time I also had to deal with the tabloid press, but that was never a problem for me, because I had nothing to hide and I was always completely honest to the press. My third solo-album "Net Op Tijd" (just in time) came out in 2000 and unfortunately it flopped, there was no hitsingle on that album and then you can forget it in The Netherlands and I had the disadvantage that lots of people still saw me as the Heineken guy; you get stigmatized, you know, so it was time to do something else."
Martien: "You already had contact with Kayak then?"
Bert :"Yes, I had, Kayak was a new challenge for me. In the first place they asked me as the second singer in the band, but when it became clear that Max Werner had severe health problems I became the main vocalist. The new album "Merlin" is one of the most exciting things I have ever done. All the 23 shows are sold out and musically speaking this is very good stuff. As you know I have two roles to play and sing, so I have to work very hard. I have got tons of lyrics, enormously and that was a real dispute.. After the break we play Kayak hits, like "Chance For A Lifetime", "Starlight Dancer" and "Ruthless Queen" and we go crazy, just like the audience."
Martien:"Merlin" is a rockopera, you also featured in "Tommy", also a rockopera, is that something that you will do more often in the future?"
Bert: "Tommy also was a wonderful and learning experience; I had to learn to act as well for "Tommy". I played the role of Mr. Walker and it was much fun to do, after that I did an audition for the musical "The Three Musketeers", but I didn't get the job. My first job however is still leadsinger of Kayak and we will see what the future will bring. There are difficult times ahead, as you know we are in an economical recession and the future will bring about a lot of changes. I hope for the better... As you grow older you think differently about your life and the world. I grew up in the hippie-area, but I never really liked them, they smelled like hell. I had long hair, I listened to rockmusic, but the love and peace thing was never my cup of tea. You still have to work to achieve something in life."
Martien:"What sort of music do you listen to nowadays?"
Bert: "Chad Baker, Dusty Springfield and I liked Curt Cobain as a singer. I also appreciate a new band like Within Temptation."
Martien:"What is your favourite Kayak-song to sing?"
Bert: "A song from "Night Visions" called "How", it shows the soft side of Kayakmusic."
Martien:"And your favourite Vandenberg track?"
Bert: "How Long"
Martien:"Thanks for the interview."
Bert: "Thank you and enjoy the show tonight."
BY: Martien Koolen