THE BEST HEAVY METAL
The best heavy metal band from the most picturesque country released their best album three months ago – it sounds like a perfect subject for Musictivity!
Created in 1979, Picture plays traditional, energetic and powerful heavy metal.
– Jan Bechtum (guitars),
– Appie de Gelder (guitars),
– Ronald van Prooijen (vocal),
– Rinus Vreugdenhill (bass),
– Laurens “Bakkie” Bakker (drums).
Honestly, I don’t know any other Dutch band which makes it on such high level, despite 274 other heavy metal kleine boefjes (according to MetalArchives).
We can admit that Picture have played and recorded European power metal before debuts of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Running Wild were released.
Picture draws local TV’s and radio stations’ attention since beginning. Their albums used to be properly published and available all around the world in the golden era of metal (198x-something) but they have never been as popular as some similar German, British or American bands.
This doze of indomitable energy straight from the metal heart deserves to be explored right now. Remember that here real people play real music. This is not a plastic mega production but true metal band which love to spend time with fans. Let’s start with an official video clip:
source: Pure Steel Records https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tso-972bwY
– “Picture” (1980),
– “Heavy Metal Ears” (1981),
– “Diamond Dreamer” (1982),
– “Eternal Dark” (1983),
– “Traitor” (1985),
– “Every Story Needs Another Picture” (1986),
– “Marathon” (1987),
– “Old Dogs New Tricks” (2009),
– “Warhorse” (2012),
– “Wings” (2019).
Founder, main guitarist and composer Jan Bechtum, shared with Musictivity not only his point of view about “Wings” and own music inspirations, but also gave us his individual insight into the Netherlands. I’ve added two side notes in the interview to let you understand better what Jan actually told me about Nederland. I can appreciate that, because I used to live two years in this stunning country.
Jan Bechtum is a huge fan of Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) so I took the opportunity to ask him about his personal experience with Ritchie. Jan describes (read below) how it was to interview Ritchie Blackmore for radio (Picture’s guitarist as an interviewer) and explain why Steve Morse isn’t a perfect successor of Ritchie 😉 Here is my personal opinion about performance of current Deep Purple’s line-up in the European Capital of Culture 2019 (written by generation 1990 which didn’t grow up with Ritchie Blackmore, sorry but that’s a fact, show must go on)
Sam O’Black: Hello Jan. I’m very happy to make this interview with you because you are a main guitarist and composer in probably the best heavy metal band ever from my beloved Nederland. I will ask you later about your country but first: congratulations for the excellent album “Wings” (2019)! How do you feel about this longplay?
Jan Bechtum: Thank you so much! We are all very excited about “Wings”. I think it is the best typical Picture album and also the best sounding album since “Diamond Dreamer” (1982).
It’s a phenomenon for me that band with 40 years experience still makes such energetic music. Other bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple or Accept are also full of energy but in the case of Picture, it’s totally different level. You sound like young, hungry and wild rock’n’roll metal; it is not a production A.D. 2019 but an old school feast straight for metal heads. How did you achieve that? How did these awesome songs came about?
Jan Bechtum: Again, thanks! For us the main reason is that we are having so much FUN doing it and also crucial is that this is the original line-up from the beginning when we built the foundation of the real Picture sound (which I believe you can categorize as power metal and that says it all).
So when we got together again in this line-up almost 4 years ago, we played like we never stopped. The mutual feeling between us was still there. A lot of energy is important for the band’s sound.
Some songs were already written and performed by the band in the 80ies but never recorded so we had a go at them (i.e. “Little Annie” and “Blown Away”). Other songs are completely new but since I still write the most riffs and structure of the songs, they still sound like Picture should to sound. Old-school!
I like slower fragments of “Wings” as well, i.e. in “Stroke” and in title “Wings”. Gezellig! By the way I think that this is a funny and quite original idea to show real airports in video clip. I love to watch your authentic shots at gym, on the scene, at airport because it all looks exactly how it is in real. Did the airport in Rotterdam have anything against?
Jan Bechtum: To be honest: we just filmed there and didn’t ask for permission (haha). The video clip tells it like it was. Rinus (bassist) was there with his wife and daughter setting off for holiday when his stroke happened.
The slower parts are really straight from the heart and they work very well.
The second already mentioned song “Wings” is catchy! I’m not sure if it’s my favorite number on “Wings” but perhaps it could be the first song to show friends. How do you think? Well, maybe 30 years ago we would say: an exemplary single!
Jan Bechtum: Yes, I agree. I let my friends who are not that much into metal to hear title song “Wings”. They love it.
Jan, you used to point Ritchie Blackmore as your biggest inspiration. What do you like mostly in his playing style? Have you ever met Ritchie? If yes, how is he as a person?
Jan Bechtum: Yes, Ritchie is my main inspiration because of his rhythmic aggressive picking style and wonderful story-telling solo’s. Especially the Made in Japan album is what learnt me how to play both solo and rhythm. Never met him but did have a phone call with him during a radio session where he answered questions. He blew me off then by not answering seriously… oh well.
I’m interested also what is your opinion about Deep Purple’s present line-up with Steve Morse and Don Airey?
Jan Bechtum: As much as I am impressed with the talent of Steve Morse I don’t really like the sound of his guitar. So for me guitars in Deep Purple should to be created by Blackmore all the way.
Don Airey is doing a great job mimicking Jon Lord and you just can’t tell the difference sometimes.
Is it true that you decided “to quit playing live performances in 1997 because of the growing violence in the Dutch nightlife”? What exactly was the issue?
Jan Bechtum: Yes. There was a shooting incident at a venue (I wasn’t there fortunately) in Gorkum, I think. With wife and little kids at home, I felt, I wasn’t safe anymore and acted like the responsible dad and husband. Maybe I overreacted…
I used to think that although Dutchie are musical sensitive, Nederland is more visual oriented country when it comes to the art. Have you ever had something like “Dutch rock/metal scene”? What was captivating about this scene? Please refine me if I’m wrong but I’ve read an opinion that Dutch metal is more about symphonic tune with pleasant female vocal?
Jan Bechtum: Most bands in the Dutch metal scene were about combining hard rock and metal. I think that we did that too but with a true metal sound and energy. This is still the case on “Wings”.
The modern metal bands from Nederland are more “gothic” and symphonic and indeed they mostly use(d) (great) female voices (Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen). So that is correct.
Is Picture based in Hilversum, isn’t it?
Jan Bechtum: No, Hilversum was the base of our record company Phonogram. We are from Rozenburg (near Rotterdam). We only played live in Hilversum once.
Let’s say that a young heavy metal band is going for European tournee, will perform in Nederland but have one full day off before this gig. What would you recommend them to do with this one free day to catch some extra inspiration?
Jan Bechtum: Recommendations? I am not a museum guy but I love nature. You might want to combine de “Hoge Veluwe” national Park with a visit of the Kröller-Müller Museum (that is inside the park). You can pick a (free) bike and have a great time there.
Side note 1: Park “Hoge Veluwe” is located next to Arnhem; Musictivity about Arnhem:
Side note 2: Kröller-Müller Museum displays modern paintings: Van Gogh (second largest collection in the world), Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan; there is also a garden with 160 sculptures by Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Marta Pan, Pierre Huyghe.
Are you a fan of vinyls? Do you enjoy to spend hours in old school record shops? I know only Concerto in Amsterdam, are there other similar venues in Nederland?
Jan Bechtum: I like vinyls very much but don’t have a player at the moment. When I am in cities all over the world, I always look for record stores to see if they have something special. In Nederland I go to Plato or Chez Elpee in Groningen (I work there and live nearby).
What are your plans regarding future of Picture? Are you planning a bigger tournee?
Jan Bechtum: As long as everybody is healthy, Picture will go on. We will do some tours (like in South America and Mexico) in 2020 but mainly focus on a few great festivals in Europe.
I wish you all the best and thank you very much for the interview 🙂
Would you like to add something for Picture’s fans?
Jan Bechtum: Thanks for the interview. Interesting questions!
I wish to thank all the fans who kept supporting us over all those years. Without them we could not have done it! And if you have a chance: come see a show and drink with us after the show. We love you!
written by: Sam O’Black and Jan Bechtum