Finch

Biography

In the seventies progressive rock was at its peak with colorful protagonists such as King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The music of these English bands is characterized by extremely drawn-out numbers with numerous changes of tempo, often remorseless of atmosphere and a great deal of exuberant soloing. In spite of the acetic approach of the majority of the English musical press progressive rock succeeds in rising to its pinnacle, both artistically and commercially. The King Crimson debut album 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is considered to have been of great influence and the albums of Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer reach the top of the charts of the LP Top 20. The Pink Floyd album 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' even figures prominently in the all time record breaking sales category. During their 1977 world tour Genesis only plays to capacity crowds, from England to Brazil. In short, progressive rock amply proves it right to exist at many fronts.
In the slipstream of this success it appears there is a fertile breeding ground for this creative trend. Best-known are Focus, Kayak and Earth & Fire. A group which turns out to be a much-praised cult band is Finch. They don't score hits but from a technical point of view rank second to none, including the Dutch top bands.
 

The foundation of Finch is laid by bass guitarist Peter Vink and drummer Beer Klaasse, two ex-members of the renowned rock group Q65 from the Hague. Peter Vink is eager to play somewhat more serious rock music, the symphonic rock of Yes in particular appeals to him. Not surprisingly he does play a Rickenbacker bass guitar just like his idol Chris Squire of Yes. Beer grew up with the so-called 'hard bop' (Art Blakey in particular). At a later stage he is hugely impressed by the often improvised music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Cream. When Q65 split up (up to '87 re-established a number of times) Peter and Beer form the group the Kjoe. Initially Frank Nuyens plays the guitar in this group, however, he breaks his leg and is never to return. Frank is substituted by Ronnie Meijer (at a later stage guitarist of Livin' Blues and Earth & Fire), singer Jonnny Frederiks also joins the band. However, the latter two insist on earning more money and start to play the night club scene. After this setback manager Joop Roelofs suggests to form a new group. Subsequently the search for new blood starts.

Peter Vink

Ex Q65 road manager tips on Peter Vink about Joop van Nimwegen, in his words 'a nineteen-year-old guitar virtuoso' from Breukelen. As most important role models for the development of his guitar playing Joop names the white blues guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) and the guitar wizards John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra) and Steve Howe (Yes).
Joop returns a telephone call of Peter. He is willing to come to The Hague and meet with the other band members. In no time he is practicing along with the band. There are also auditions for a new singer and they rehearse with singer Dickie Koppenhagen for seven months. After only one concert, however, this formation splits up already. Experiments with second drummer Marco Vrolijk (ex Supersister) stay confined to the rehearsal studio. Paul Vink comes to play the keyboard. He used to play in the band The Swinging Soul Machine having written the instrumental hit 'Spooky's Day Off' for them. However, a singer to everybody's satisfaction hasn't been found as yet, in spite of the many sessions for a period of six months. A proposal to switch to instrumental music is seriously taken into consideration. The result is positive, the name of the group is to be Finch. This is English for Vink, after all there are two 'Vinken' in the band who were both born on March 28! The band starts to practice for a whole year in the basement of the then notorious (open sale of soft drugs) Youth Center 'Het Paard' in The Hague. This goes excellently, both dedication and quality are above and beyond being merely professional. Still, from a commercial point of view it's very hard to get noticed without a singer. One day there is a knock on the door of the practicing studio.
Some bloke who regularly passes by their practicing studio with a sandwich in his hand during lunch time is very enthusiastic about the sound of Finch. It turns out he works for Keytone Records and suggests to the band to talk with the owner of Keytone Records, Chris Hinze (also a famous flute player), about Finch. He is prepared to make a demo-tape. Unfortunately after only one number Hinze loses interest and once again Finch has to start looking for a contract. Meanwhile Peter Vink helps manager Eric de Bruin to get some attention for his band Alquin. To return the favor he offers Peter and his group the use of their practice studio. This will enable Finch to put together a demo- tape of their current repertoire with their own equipment.

Around that time the Dutch pop group 'The George Baker Selection' enjoys international success with the hit 'Una Paloma Blanca'. As a result of this record company EMI is willing to take a chance and invest money in another Dutch product through its sub-label Negram. Unfortunately Negram offers the group only three days to complete an album. Thanks to the professional level of Finch, producer Roy Beltman (at a later stage to be successful with BZN) is able to complete the venture successfully. Meanwhile keyboard player Paul Vink pulled out because he wanted to play funk. Taking up the advice of sound technician Arie Van Dam they ask Academy Of Music student Cleem Determeijer as his successor. Cleem sets out to watch one of their concerts at Paradiso and the first contacts are made. He joins in the practice session in 'Het Paard' in The Hague. He and guitarist Joop Van Nimwegen hit it off right from the start. The latter is known as 'the technician' and a sizzling chemical reaction with Cleem with his classical background is the result.

Their first album 'Glory Of The Inner Force' (1975) shows abundant proof of this. The four compositions on this record sound solid, melodious and easy all at the same time, adding swinging ensemble between guitar and keyboard topped off with passionate solos. The rhythm section plays smoothly and effusively, Peter Vink's bass guitar is grunting away. The use of antique touches such as the Hammond organ and the mellotron provide a rich symphonic sauce.
The debut album of Finch is hailed by the music press. Even the newspapers Het Rotterdams Nieuwsblad, Het Vrije Volk and TV guide De Vara Gids pay attention to the release. Next is a release in the United States on the ATCO Records label a division of Atlantic. The well-known American magazine Billboard writes a positive review. More than 20.000 copies are sold. Following this the band faces hectic times because the album is further promoted by means of a ball-breaking tour throughout the whole of Holland. At first, in the agricultural parts in particular, eggs and tomatoes tell to their lot, but very soon Finch meets with lot of acclaim. The group tours to every corner of The Netherlands, from Heerlen in the south to the West Frislan island Texel. Finch often plays together with Kayak and are even booked as a supporting act to famous groups such as Hawkwind and Camel. A close-knit flock of devoted fans follow Finch everywhere and treat the band members to a thunderous applause after each solo. Beer fondly remembers this group of fans from Utrecht who always wore black T-shirts blazoning a big 'F' and showing up at each and every place Finch were playing.
The atmosphere in the band is great and a sort of family feeling starts to arise between the band members, also on account of the contribution of a few golden roadies. Particularly striking is the great discipline within the band: nobody is ever late and there are no excesses with booze, drugs and sex for music is first and foremost. Almost every penny the band makes, finds its way to the coffers of the band to be used as an investment. As a result it doesn't take long for the band to have their own bus (a PTT -Dutch postal services- truck) and sound and lighting equipment.
To meet with EMI's demand for potential hit material they decide, by way of a prank, to release a single entitled 'Colossus'. It is cut into two halves for the A and the B side and inform the public that this is 'the title track track from the film of the same name'. The film title Colossus, however, was made up. That single is nowadays a collector's item. It is to be found as a bonus track on the CD release of 'Glory Of The Inner Force'.

Joop van Nimwegen

The second album 'Beyond Expression' is released in 1976. The sound is in line with that of the first album. But by fitting in more inventively melodic songs (strumming guitars and thrumming pianos) their sound as a whole sounds more dynamic, also because of at times ferocious, simply smoking guitar-playing and bombastic keyboards. If their first album was strongly reminiscent of Yes, on their new album Finch prove they have developed their own sound. As an expression of artistic appreciation 'Beyond Expression' is acclaimed as Album Of The Week by radio and TV broadcasting company Veronica. Also music magazines Oor and Hitweek write very positive reviews. This leads to a boost in interest in Finch and the group is able to raise their price with an extra thousand guilders and no questions asked. In no time all concerts are sold out, even the Amsterdam music temple Paradiso attracts a capacity crowd. For that matter on the back-side of the album sleeve there's a live-photo of Finch in Paradiso, with liquid slides projections.
International recognition follows when Mike Stone, scout of a wellknown English record company, comes over to watch one of their concerts and is quite taken aback by them. But EMI is obstructive and isn't prepared to terminate the contract of the group. As a result of this Finch misses out on a lucrative deal, but it does bring in a little more money for the group moreover the efforts of Theo Roos of Negram Records result in a worldwide distribution of the LP 'Beyond Expression' The record sells well in countries such as Australia and Israel, the final sales figures fluctuate round 15000 copies sold. In Japan Finch are almost as popular as Focus and Earth & Fire judging by the excellent sales results of the CD-releases of the Finch albums.

Unfortunately for lack of time Cleem Determeijer was no longer able to combine his studies at the Academy of Music with Finch. Returning home at 4 a.m. and getting up a mere 5 hours later to practice scales proves to be too much for him in the end. His wish of becoming a concert pianist didn't come true, but he is a music teacher at a music school in Amstelveen at present. Keyboard player Ad Wammes is recruited as his substitut e. Ad has been a friend of Joop ever since they were boys and by the end of the sixties they already played together in the band Ex. Their repertoire consisted mainly of covers of Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Yes. Although they both followed new avenues (Joop joins the Kjoe and Ad attends the Academy Of Music) they had kept in touch through the years. It is therefore hardly surprising that Ad is asked to replace Cleem Determeijer. Ad doesn't hesitate for long, they practice the Finch repertoire for three weeks and then decide to go on tour. Ad had taken over most of Cleem's keyboard arsenal, including the Hammond L100 organ, the Solina String-ensemble and the ARP Axe synthesizer. In addition to this Ad also plays the Wurlitzer piano and a Roland electronic harpsichord. The first concert together with Ad takes place in Gouda and very soon they play some eight concerts a month. In the new cast Finch starts working on the material for their third album. They want to sound more like Genesis and in order to achieve this they choose a new producer, the Englishman Sandy Roberton. Unfortunately drummer Beer Klaasse isn't happy with a part of the new material as in his opinion it diverges too much from the original Finch concept. Since he is involved in various other businesses (such as art and designing leather clothing) he decides to leave Finch. He is, however, willing to continue playing with the band until the new drummer Hans Bosboom has settled in. In the beginning of 1977 Beer finally quits Finch. Through the years he has had a great number of jobs and is now an employee at SDU, Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Finch 1978

In 1977 the new Finch album is released on the London label Rockburgh Records, entitled 'Galleons Of Passion'. Admittedly the atmosphere on the 5 tracks of the album is reminiscent of the Genesis sound: pleasing and melodious with often a compelling build-up. Definitely less pulverizing and less contrasting.
However, 'Galleons Of Passion' is to be the last feat of Finch. The album isn't well-received by music magazine Oor. the sales flagged at 11.000 copies and the number of concerts dwindled. They do go on tour with Jan Akkerman in Germany. The latter makes it known that he is quite impressed by Joop's playing. A perfect recommendation as Jan was acclaimed 'best guitarist of the world' by the readers of the famous English music magazine Melody Maker in 1973. After the recording of 'Galleons Of Passion' drummer Hans Bosboom leaves the group because of personal circumstances and is replaced by Fred van Vloten. He is from the Utrecht formation Range as is keyboard player Rinse Posthuma who joins the band shortly afterwards. Finch want to follow a totally new musical avenue and they start writing new numbers and practicing them. They even hold auditions for a singer, but that comes to nothing.

Meanwhile Joop started to work out his own musical ideas outside of Finch. When he has finally become disillusioned by the negative attitude of the new Finch members with respect to the old repertoire he decides to leave Finch. He focuses on a solo career and produces a number of demos which all meet with great enthusiasm initially, but somehow never make it to the recording studio. Through the years Joop plays as a freelance guitarist in numerous bands such as Living Blues, revival bands such as Tee Set, Q65 and Brainbox.

Together with Mark Van De Geer he plays in the support act of Steve Hackett (ex Genesis). In the nineties he signs a contract with Van Den Ende. Joop Van Den Ende is joint manager of the huge TV & Theatre Production Company Endemol. Joop's qualities as a guitarist are swiftly recognised as he is subsequently asked to assist in a great many successful Musicals such as Miss Saigon, Cyrano and The Sound Of Motown. Keyboard player Ad Wammes very soon after his graduation from the Academy Of Music started writing music for children's productions' musicals, operas, youth theatre. He released 3 LPs for Sesame Street, wrote scores for short films and commercials for a.o. the Aids Fund, The Red Cross. Cleem and Peter join forces again in the latter half of the nineties in the band Veralin. The music of Veralin is a cross-over between pop and sympho. The band released two CDs, neither of them successful. As a result the band was dissolved. Today Peter is concentrating on his job as a teacher at the Utrecht Academy Of Music.

Having read Finch's biography so far, one would say that in the year 1999 we will have to make do with the three studio albums of Finch. Fortunately Pseudonym Records managed to lay their hands on master tapes from the period with Ad Wammes as their keyboard player. This material is now released on this double-cd. CD-1 (with drummer Hans Bosboom) contains 8 demo-versions for the LP 'Galleons Of Passion'. Five of them eventually found their way on that LP. The recording quality is excellent and the numbers closely resemble the original. Yet there are various delicate distinctions as regards to tempo, intensity of the solos and sound-coloring (the keyboards in particular) making this release a must for the true Finch adepts. In addition to this the three remaining, previously unreleased tracks 'Dreamer' (opulent as velvet with translucent guitar work and loosely woven strings), 'Nightwalker' (playful with varied keyboard play) and 'Phases' (exquisite build-up with a splendiferous interlacing of guitar and keyboard) are certainly no hand-me downs. CD-2 contains over 70 minutes of fascinating live-performances from December 1976 (with Beer Klaasse still behind the drums). You will hear Finch at their best playing four numbers from the albums 'Glory Of The Inner Force' and 'Beyond Expression' recreating the unique live-atmosphere and performed with a passion that is guaranteed to give you goose bums. Throughout the tracks you will notice the various improvisations. On the track 'A Passion Condensed' in particular guitarist Joop's loops wind and twist around each other reaching a crescendo of pure white noise. Furthermore it's interesting to notice how new keyboard player Ad Wammes manages to give the old Finch repertoire his own unique twist. With the help of his newly purchased Mini-moog synthesizer he artfully whips off many a spectacularly sounding solo. In addition CD-2 contains the 'previously unreleased track' 'Necronomicon'. This composition has a playing time of over 15 minutes and is typically a 'seventies' number with prolonged solos on guitar, synthesizer and bass.

'Nuf said'. lt's now time for you to enjoy a Dutch progressive rock band who once again will show your their unrivalled class. And mind you, every single note is instrumental, so you won't be bothered by egocentric, mediocre singers with which, alas, sympho-rock is riddled.

(Erik Neuteboom, progrock journalist, iO PAGES)

Finch 1974