Ruud Kuijpers is the front man of the Dutch Rock ‘n’ Roll band The Explosion Rockets.
The Rockets play a very wide range of songs, most of them are Elvis-songs, but also songs from The Shadows, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and many more.
In 1959 the band began as The Jet Black Robbers and they also participated in talent shows. They made it to the final. After several personnel and name changes, The Explosion Rockets are active in the Dutch Rock ‘n’ world since 1985.
The Rockets celebrated their 25th anniversary last November and Ruud is the lead singer of the band since 1994. The other band members are Joop, Thom, Hank, Wil and Martien.
As a big Elvis fan, I wanted to ask Ruud some questions about his career and his passion for music.
Tell us how your passion for Elvis was born?
That passion is given me as a little boy by my uncle, who also is an Elvis fan.
Elvis his dead in 1977 made a great impression on me.
Are you home raised with Rock ‘n’ Roll music?
For sure, my dad was a truck driver and in the cabin there was continuously music, mostly from Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. But also the Nashville country from the sixties by Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and Slim Whitman was often played.
Your last CD release was January 2009, can we expect a new CD soon?
We’re busy working on a new CD for half a year now, which was actually scheduled for a release concerning our 25th anniversary. But we go for perfection so we’re still working on it and we hope to present the CD in March 2011. Fortunately, we do everything in our studio and we’ve created our own management releases, so we can plan our own time.
Do you also write some songs or do you play an instrument?
I don’t write any songs myself, but our solo guitarist Joop Devilee does. I once tried to play the guitar, but I have far too little patience. Really a pity, because it’s a loss not to play any instrument.
How did you end up with The Explosion Rockets?
Quite some time I was searching for a rock and roll band. Before that I sang at parties and weddings. Through a newspaper ad I came to The Rockets, where I am already 17 years the singer.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Elvis, of course. Everything I’ve learned about singing and stage techniques I’ve got it from The King. But I love also close harmony singing especially The Everly Brothers. I’m also a big admirer of the early work of Shakin’ Stevens. A dream came true when I met him back stage in 2002. It was a very short, but memorable moment.
Describe your day when you have a gig at night?
In January 2009 I moved to the northern part of the country so I set off early in the afternoon to drive to the southern part of the country, where we have most of our gigs. Luckily I have a regular driver who ride with me so I don’t have to drive all the way back.
We start sound checking at 19.00 pm and usually the doors open at 19.30 pm.
We always start our concert at 21.00 pm. We finish at 01.00 am and after chatting and having a drink together we drive home.
I assume you’ve visited Graceland several times; have you ever performed in Memphis?
I’ve been at Graceland six times. I really hate the Elvis impersonators in white jumpsuits, so I won’t perform at such events. But two years ago I’ve been asked to perform at a big Rockabilly festival in the USA, but that was not financially feasible for me at that time. I’ve regretted it afterwards because then I had the opportunity to perform with the original SUN musicians.
What is your favorite song to sing?
That is quite a lot, because I rarely sing songs I don’t like. Tear It Up, You Mostest Girl, Honey Don’t, Apron Strings are a few of my favorites. And from Elvis it’s A Big Hunk O’ Love.
Can you remember a funny accident during a gig?
Funny accidents enough, but one of the things I remember most is less fun, namely I jumped on my microphone standard during a wild stage performance. The standard folded against my knee, on which my ligaments were torn on 2 places. I couldn’t perform for a year and I was mainly in rehabilitation. It’s 11 years ago, but I still feel that pain. Fortunately it happened during the last song of the concert, and the public thought it was part of the show, while I was on stage in pain. But luckily everything ended well and I enjoy jumping around on stage again.
Who would you really like to meet?
I’ve already met Shaky and we played with James Burton as a support act and I met him also backstage. We’ve also played with Elvis’ backing vocals The Sweet Inspirations, so there are already quite a few people I admire who I met. The Everlys are still on my list, but that will probably never happen.
Do you have a fanclub and how important are the fans to you?
Yes, we have a very loyal fan club with over 300 members and many fans follow us everywhere. Fans are obviously very important, because without these loyal fans you won’t last it that long.
Where would you like to perform?
I would like to perform abroad. And in The Netherlands I would really like to perform in Paradiso (Amsterdam). We’ve played already in 013 in Tilburg (The Netherlands) and that was a very special experience.
Do you have special plans for the future?
The agenda for 2011 is already filling up, so we’re still going strong.
We keep on working on CD and DVD releases. As long as the band members are still healthy we hope to continue to play for years.
Is there something you would really like to tell?
I want to tell that I think it’s a pity that the rock and roll and rockabilly scene are so separate from each other. We rarely see rockabillies at our concerts and vice versa there are rarely rock and roll fans at typical rockabilly gigs. The Rock And Roll festival at Terschelling (The Netherlands) is a typical rockabilly event, with little variation in music styles. We’ve tried to get a gig there, but it’s hard to mix in. It would be nicer and better if the 2 styles are more mixed together. I like both rock and roll and rockabilly music and I think those two genres go hand in hand.