Burma Shave biography

download: Burma Shave biography (Word document)

In April 1984 Burma Shave first came together. No one could have thought then that more than twenty years later the band would still exist. Its name was chosen from a song of Tom Waits and based at The Hague (the Netherlands), Remco Prins (guitar, vocals), Paul Martin (lead vocals), Niels Göbel (guitar), Michiel de Vos (bass) and Lennart Bess (drums) played their first gig in November of that year. At that time, their music was clearly influenced by new wave and early-eighties pop.

In between many gigs and festivals in the Netherlands, in 1990 Burma Shave first played international at the Down By The Laituri festival in the Finnish town of Turku. This first stay in Finland resulted in close contacts with the drummer of Urban Dance Squad: Michel Schoots (Magic Stick). In the Summer of 1991, he produced Burma Shave's first album, recorded at the Orkater Studio in Amsterdam. By then, their style of music had already changed a great deal. Over the years it had grown into a mix of rock, funk, blues and rap, with a leading role for double lead vocals, groovy rhythms and an odd combination of guitar styles. 1991 was also the year that Burma Shave went back to Finland to perform at the Nummi Rock and Ilosaari Rock festivals.

This and the growing enthusiasm for the band in the Netherlands led to their first recording contract with the independent label Top Hole Records. The untitled debut of Burma Shave appeared in the Spring of 1992. With the release of the single 'Hippies', Belgium soon became familiar ground too. That year the band played many gigs, was support act of Primus and performed at the Metropolis festival in Rotterdam.

At the end of 1992, Burma Shave did a short tour in France, which drew the attention of the Sony sub-label Squatt and resulted in the band signing a record deal with them early in 1993. At the ICP Studios in Brussels, under the guidance of Michel Schoots, Burma Shave added new vocals to their debut, replaced two songs and remixed the whole album. In the Summer of 1993, this new record, Stash, was released in Europe. Supported by the singles 'Movin' up the Cattle' and 'Hippies' (with a high-rotation clip on MTV), Burma Shave continued its success, returning to France to play many gigs, such as at the Parisian l'Olympia and the Printemps de Bourges festival. In Belgium the band performed at festivals like Rockwood and Dour. During this period, they also went for the first time to Sweden, Germany and Poland.

Early in 1995, Burma Shave recorded their second album at the Eastcoat Studios in London with the producer Philip Bagenal. Zeal, as it was called, had darker, heavier and less poppy songs than Stash. Probably as a result of the past years of heavy touring, it also contained stronger metal influences. In spite of positive reviews and the release of the single 'Come Around', Zeal did not sell as well as its predecessor. Nevertheless, Burma Shave kept up its reputation as an impressive live band, playing at clubs and festivals throughout 1995 and 1996.

Sony Music dropped the band in 1997, however, and in that summer, after a Finland tour, bass player Michiel de Vos decided to leave the band. After a while, the four remaining members started playing live again, with Paul Martin taking over the bass and Remco Prins doing lead vocals besides guitar. In 1999 and the following years, this new Burma Shave line-up worked on new material. Slowly the style of these 'new' songs grew back to the 'old', original Burma Shave roots: swampy, organic, poppy rock and blues, but this time in combination with a crowded range of sounds sampled from every imaginable kind of music.

In 2001, Burma Shave started recording their third album at the Pablo Y Pablo Studio in Tienen (Belgium), again with Michel Schoots as producer. The recordings of this new album, Smile City, were completed in 2002 at the Sahara Studio in The Hague, and mixed later that year at the Markant Studios by Michel Schoots and Peer Rave (Rollins Band). The album was released in 2003 by Red Sea Records. To take care of all the samples at live shows, Thijn Teeuwissen (Grof Geschut) and his machinery joined the band soon after. Smile City generally received enthusiastic reviews and during 2003 and 2004 Burma Shave played several gigs in Holland and Belgium.

To celebrate its twentieth anniversary in the Spring of 2004, the band held a great party at the Paard van Troje in The Hague, where it played with a number of guest vocalists. In December of that year, bass player and long-time member Paul Martin left Burma Shave, soon to be replaced by Selwyn Slop (ex-Incense). Early 2005 sees this new five-piece line-up performing with new zeal and working hard on songs for a next Burma Shave album.

download: Burma Shave biography (Word document)