This time an interview with Jan Akkerman for A4

 

 

My career is like a fluctuating lady


Jan Akkerman, over 40 years in the music industry and still going strong

Yes, I am being discovered over and over again.

The other day I realised that I play the guitar for 6 maybe 7/8 generations in a row.

Now, doesn't that mean anything? My motto is: if you throw enough shit against the wall, always a part will stick to it.


My most recent achievements? I am doing a Dutch theatre tour with the Rosenberg Trio and do some more in

January/FebruaryMarch/April in Holland with my own band and soon I'll be doing a fortnight's English tour.


What's the most stereotyped question that journalists ask you?

If I am the world's best guitarist. You know. That kind of questions. That's what they ask while walking in. That's something that ought to be levelled out. By me? No, by those journalists themselves. I don't need to level out such a question, because it does not bother me.


I mean, if you are standing at a distance of 5 cm from a cow, you still can't tell if it's a cow, can you? That's it. Besides, I don't care about such a cow at all. That's it.


What was your answer to such a question?

Well, I don't quite remember. It doesn't bother me. Yes. you might say that I always forget the interviews. Except if they cause a law suit.

So you're through with the journalists then?

No, I'm not. I still like them all, but I am always disappointed in the things they write.

This is my respectful criticism addressed to the Masters of Pop Journalists. You see, I do never mince my words. Actually, that's doesn't make any difference at all. If you do mice your words, those journalists still twist your words in a way they do matter. You know. So why should I worry?


The essence of my story is: what does come out of those hands? Musically speaking, of course.

And if they've nothing sensible to say about it, shouldn't it end for me there? What do I have to do then? Give them a career cut-out on that type of music? Like on that particular tune I went to the right and on that one I went to the left. And here I got 500 thousand guilders and there 10 thousand? Well. I don't have that kind of cut-out.?


But who is Jan Akkerman according to his curriculum vitae?

A fallout of the musical world. Who had almost been given up, but who was still capable of patching himself up to make a reasonable preset living.


Your peak was during the seventies with Focus?

Well, I can't help that, can I?


Afterwards you career went up and down?

It went up and down indeed. But that's how it goes in any career. My career is like a fluctuating lady. As long as she fluctuates horizontally, it's fine with me. The last sentence is not mine, but comes from mister Duisenberg (of the European Bank, IH)- but nice enough to remember.


Actually I never took a proper look at my own career. I don't give a shit about it. Of course others do take an interest in it. You always need a mirror to comb your hair in. If there's little to be combed, they will still have comments.


In pop industry you're like a mushroom. They put you in a dark room, throw lots of shit on you and by the time you're mellow, they eat you. It's as simple as that.


If that's too bad? All I can tell you is that you don't need to kiss every ass. Put a good face on the matter. If you're going for something that you believe in yourself for 100 % and fall flat on your face with it, you're an asshole. If you're going for something that someone else believes in for 100 % and fall flat on your face with that one, you're an asshole too.


But there's a difference, you did not put a proper face on the matter yourself.


At present, many people in their twenties and thirties have a motto of life that says: My career that's me.

Nonsense! If you live your life that way, you don't have any time left, for you very own way of living. You can't control everything, you'll need to delegate your business. Just choose your enemies and supporters carefully. That's what I've always done wrong in my own career.

I always threw my lot with anyone, irrespective of rank. But fortunately I am very rigorous. Wrong? Out and never come back in anymore.


There have been more than enough collaborators after the war. Certainly in the pop industry, It seems that's the repository of reincarnations of ? You know, Adolf Hitlist and his comrades.


To snare those career wolves, employers offer towering starting salaries and matters like a parking chauffeur?

Yes, I once had one myself. In London. I got this Rolls Royce at my front door with a chauffeur wearing a flat cap. And then I felt like an asshole. Why?


Many people consider the neighbourhood that I come from, the Amsterdam red light district, as a fusion of junk. But the people who lived there, made a living out of it.


I grew up in an enormous wealthy community with a mixture of different cultures. I do know the value of one and another. But that Rolls Royce chauffeur was a bit too much for me. One can also have the same view out of the front window of a Mazda, for example. But I interrupted you?


Besides a 100 thousand gross salary a year, employers offer the parking chauffeur, a barbershop at the office, the shopping service and the anti stress masseur. Moreover working should be great fun.

I never knew that it was fun. This gets to me like a new form of colonialism. If that's supposed to be fun, they can keep it to themselves. You told me they call themselves the Pamper generation. The Pamper generation? Well as far as I'm concerned they can pamper on. From the cradle, you know (and I'm not gonna change their diapers either.)


Some other phenomena is the fusion of making a living and a personal life. Do you have problems with that?

Yes, I notice those things take place around me. It doesn't happen to me personally anymore. It did in the past. If at a certain moment a Japanese tourist takes inside snapshots with his Nikon from of your own backyard, that's when things get too much for me too. But all is running very relaxing since my wife became my manager.


Your wife is your manager?

She likes that very much. Once I wanted to hire one and then? yes? then she started crying. I immediately said: I did not say anything. You did not hear anything. You'll become my manager.


She has this principle that no matter how long, how deep or how far a mackerel has to swim, it never sweats. In other words, one doesn't have to teach a Volendam woman, like my old lady, the value of a guilder. She likes doing it and she does a great job. Nearly for eight years now. From the moment we got to know each other.


Jan Akkerman was hardly born when daddy Akkerman put a guitar in his little fists.

I must have been one year old when I noticed one standing in the living room and started strumming on it. So you're close. But I'm not shy at all. I used to like playing the bass guitar. Actually I started plucking a double-bass. I also played the accordion for years.

Only the guitar always stayed.


What about you and your guitar?

If my guitar would be able to talk bullshit, one could attach a few chapters to the bible,. Section: Revelations. I consider it to be the Eleventh Commandment.


Does it match your character?

I see it as some kind of soul mate. It's a kind of hermaphrodite: the guitar has the body of a woman and the stick of a man. But the other things a hermaphrodite does is beyond my budget, so to speak.


Where's your sensitive chord?

Well, actually that's what I sometimes wonder myself. I think I got several. A human being is not touched by only one thing, is he? That would be the limit. Finished? Then we'll have another cup of coffee. Actually, from all this talking bull about myself I get a very dry throat.


Interview - Maurice Heuts
Translation - Irene Heinicke
Final editing - Jan Akkerman