The birth of Bread & Butter took place in November 1969 near Antwerp, in a town called Ranst. Two school friends gathered there, thanks to their obsession to play music.
Marc Mertens (b.1954.02.18) had learned to play the guitar, initially from an uncle who played several instruments. “My uncle locked me in a room after he’d showed me three bars and he would not let me out before I could play them… It took me two hours…” he laughs. But the real love for guitar-playing he got from his nephew, not only a great musician but a gifted composer as well. When he was about twelve years old, Marc also started constructing his own drum-set, using everything usable in the house. Only the cymbal was real factory made… His first electric “Kings” guitar he had to plug in in a record-player amplifier, as those days a real guitar-amplifier was quite an investment for a fourteen year old kid. …
His friend Johan Lefevre (b. 1954 06 11) started to play together with Marc, at first on the improvised drum kit, while later he used his father’s guitar. Marc who played the guitar much better showed him all the chords.
They rehearsed in Marc’s garden shag and there they also met Rudy Goormans (b.1952 06 27) a few times, who used to come over with an acoustic guitar he had since he was 14. Marc’s older brother was one of Rudy’s classmates and that’s how they met each other.
Marc also started teaching Rudy the basic things on his guitar. It was in November 1969 at a party where Johan and Marc had played their guitar, that they suggested Rudy to come over to Marc’s place to rehearse a bit more serious.
Rudy had by then already bought his first cheap (€ 90 !) electrical guitar and was proud to show it to the others, who were indeed impressed. There was no money left to buy an amplifier, but just as the others, his parents radio became very useful.
Rudy played bass lines on his guitar, but soon they found out that they also needed a drum-set to play certain songs so once more they tried to construct one themselves with everything they found around the house.
Now with Marc and Johan switching both guitar and (so called) drums, and Rudy playing bass on his guitar they started rehearsing tunes as San Quentin Boogie, Rock Around The Clock or The House Of The Rising Sun.
In the summer of 1970 one their friends, Eddy Van Dijck, who called himself their manager, organised a special evening where this new band would play it’s very first show. Eddy himself had chosen a rather strange name for this band: Bread & Butter. Marc; “we liked it right away as we wanted something simple…the daily bread and butter …” That day at the Gildenhuis in Ranst, they only played four songs despite that the people who were gathered there wanted to hear more. Marc showed off his mouth harp while Rudy used for the first time his new Meazzi amplifier, indeed a memorable night for these youngsters but still… without a drummer. A second gig as a three-piece followed but then they started looking around to find a drummer.
Dirk Coene was the first to try out, simply because he had something that looked like a drum-kit. They moved it over to their new rehearsal space at Eddy’s place, but already after a few rehearsals Dirk gave up. This was the start of a never ending search for the right drummer… real spinal tap…although years before the movie…
A lot of friends came to try out; Laurent Peeters, Gerry Verlinden, Eddy himself, but none of them succeeded… In 1972 the next opportunity was a gig offered at the cellar of Rudy’s school, the VTI in Lier. The problem was that they had to find a real drummer now. There was a guy from Borsbeek named Koen who wanted to step in for that one-off gig and so they rehearsed about fifteen songs at Koen’s place. Among them were Blue Cheer’s “Summertime blues“, Johnny Rivers’ “Ode To John Lee Hooker”, Them’s “Gloria”, Ten Years After’s “Going Home” and Pink Floyd’s “Free Four”.
Although the equipment was still really worthless (Johan stole his father’s tape-recorder to use as amplifier…) they got away with it and were asked to play the next day as well. The problem was that Koen wasn’t able to play the next day, so they had to look out for another drummer.
A friend from Rudy’s class, Werner Somers offered to step in, although … he had never played before! He rehearsed all night and the next day right after the gig he was offered to join as the new Bread & Butter drummer.
They bought some new equipment and looked forward for a new upcoming concert also in Lier at “Den Eyckenboom”.
But that night Werner had a traffic accident and didn’t showed up, so that another friend who never played drums before, finished this horrible gig…
But from there on things really started to work out… In Schilde they entered a contest “the golden guitar” were they won the price of “most promising band”. A promising band who still moved all their gear, including the drum-kit, by motorcycle… Rock’Roll, yes!
Now it showed that drummer Werner could not follow them in their progress and early in 1973 he was replaced by a guy from Viersel, Ludo Van De Wiele. Ludo had played with a dance-orchestra prior to Bread & Butter but he did all he could to play the rock tunes now.
Around that time they rehearsed at a pub called “Lindenhof” and one day, when the owner was disappeared, the place was closed down. So they had to break in through the cellar hole to gather their instruments just to prevent them from being sold.
Rudy: “Just as many bands around that time we started playing long sets. We were much into the new British rock bands such as Slade (“Get Down And Get With It”), Status Quo (“Roll over Lay Down”) and Bad Company (“Feel like Making Love” & “Rock Steady”) (with the Bread & Butter lady’s on backing vocals!).”
But then we found out that Ludo wasn’t the right guy to play those tunes, so pretty soon we were once more on the lookout for a new drummer…”
Marc: “As we knew that we had to find a new “rock” drummer we placed an ad and it was a guy from Halle-Zoersel, named Max who came to see us and told us he had played with Mustang! That really impressed us,… but it wasn’t true at all, Max could sell everything to anybody…”
Mark “Max” Van Hoof (b.1954.02.09), a solid rock-drummer with a more professional attitude joined early in the summer of 1975.
“Bread & Butter was actually my very first band” he laughs…, “I only started playing along with records when I was sixteen, but I did went to see Gust Meert from local heroes Mustang play almost every week. Gust was certainly an influence back then…” Now they could finally play their favourite songs such as Bad Company’s “Can’t get enough” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”.
From there on more and more unknown hardrock-songs got into their setlist, as Max introduced quite a few tunes to the others. Humble Pie’s “Four Day Creep”, Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”, “Snakeskin Cowboys”, “Stormtroopin”, Rick Derringer’s “Rock ’n Roll Hoochie Koo”, Pat Travers’ “Boom Boom Out Go The Lights” or evenGolden Earring’s“Just Like Vince Taylor” and “Back Home”.Everything started rolling much better with Max, as he also was good in managing the band, together with Marc he visited a lot of venues to ask for gigs. He negotiated a better fee and started making publicity, a real blessing for the band. Max remembers: “this wasn’t such a big deal as I knew all those venues and the people behind them from my weekly visits to the Mustang concerts. On the other hand my dad financed our Bread & Butter concert-posters to announce our gigs. We never thought about making money, this was all about having fun…”
It was around this time that the boys started writing their own songs (the very first was named “The Worker”) and were seen very frequent on stage. They had now a serious live-reputation as Bread & Butter concerts sometimes lasted more than 3 hours, split in two or three sets!
It happened that things didn’t go as planned as in one of their favourite venues; Juventa in a town called Emblem.
Marc: ”I had been in the hospital for three months due to an accident with my motorbike. The only positive thing about that, was that I could save me around 1000€ to buy me a brand-new Gibson guitar. In February 1976 my leg was still plastered right up to my middle as we had to play our first gig in Emblem. I couldn’t move and was therefore sitting on a bar-stool. Everything went well right up till the last song when Rudy started jumping around on the improvised stage. The improvised stage collapsed, everybody fell down but I couldn’t do a thing so I fell in the audience and broke the neck of my brand new guitar… The people from the venue later organised a benefit for a new guitar. After all I could exchange the broken Gibson and 300€ for a new Fender Telecaster…”
For a few gigs who were already booked before Marc’s stay at the hospital, he was replaced by Cois Vergauwen or by Yves Kuypers.
In the winter of 1977 Max came with the idea of a fan-club and together with Rudy he made a newspaper named “Het Boterhammeke”. Besides the usual stickers they now had also T-shirts for sale.
On April 2nd, 1978 Bread & ButterAll For The Love Of Rock ’n’ Roll” from the American band Tuff Darts” and especially this one the jury liked very much. Next they played their own “Stealer” and “Don’t Get Mean”. Only two of the bands that day were allowed in the finals a week later in Brussels. A band named De Kreuners won this pre-selection while Bread & Butter only got an “honor-full mention”, as some people said, only because they played hardrock.
The boys were pretty motivated now but as Johan had less time they didn’t played that much in the summer of 1978. On July 29th they were seen in Emblem on an open air festival along Big Bill, The Misters and Raymond Van het Groenewoud. This turned out to be the last show with Max on the drum-seat as he left due to an argument with Johan. Initially Max left, together with Mark and they started searching for a new band or for people to play with.
But nothing materialized from it, and that’s why after a while Marc returned to the others when they had found someone new to fill the drum-seat.
The new recruit was Ludo Seghers (b. 1952) from Deurne who had prior to Bread & Butter played in Living Things and Flame. They had a month to get this new Bread & Butter ready for duty as the next gig was planned on September 9th once more in their beloved club Juventa in Emblem.
They now rehearsed new cover-tunes like Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town”, “Suicide”, “Rosalie”, “Don’t Believe A Word” and Bob Seger’s “Night Moves”. A week after this new start they had to play an open air festival in Borgerhout along Orange and Dutch rockers Vitesse.
Being on the road playing rock ‘n’ roll was always good for a few crazy stories… Rudy: “Our second concert in Holland was in Gierle, (October 7th) with Ludo Seghers on drums who had a brand new Premier drum kit. During the break it appeared that the spot-lights were put too close to the drum and it caught fire! Panic all around! And even more panic during our second set; some stupid did throw a teargas-bomb so that the whole place had to evacuated…”
On November the 2nd during a gig in Herentals the boys were proud to present for the first time a brand new song that later would become one of the highlights in a Bread & Butter set: “Son Of a Bitch”. Rudy: “This song, Son Of A Bitch was autobiographic, the story of my very first love…I was still angry when I wrote that…”
They were thinking about recording some songs for a single and to be sure which songs to pick for recording, they asked the fans to vote at a concert on December 2nd. The five choices were: “Light My Fuse”, another brand new one…, ”The Worker”, “Stealer”, “Don’t Get Mean” and “Son Of A Bitch”. It was that last one that was voted number one!
Already a week later at December 10th they were invited to play support for The Sensational Alex Harvey Band at the Townhall in Vosselaar. And the good news still wasn’t over yet as right before the new year on December 27th they were once more invited, this time to support Tjens Couter at Herenthout’s Lux. This last month of the year they also recorded their songs at rehearsal. This tape was made in order to find a record company interested.
In January 1979 Ludo Seghers decided to quit the band as he wanted to slow down for his health.
Marc saw an ad in Humo magazine where a drummer was looking for a band. From a group named Blue Flame and out of a town named Stekene came Armand “Armando” Cappaert.(b. 1955 08 17)
Johan: “Armando was probably six levels higher than us, a very professional attitude, original idea’s, and he really took the general level up with fifty per cent… so it happened that he said play it like that, or try it this way, study this piece, and the thing was…, mostly he was right… For me everything fell into place when I played with him, as there was some sort of click. My rhythm guitar-playing and his drumming matched perfectly together… also his backing vocals were very good… the backside of all this was that he sometimes was a real pain in the ass to work with…” Rudy: “ he really was a great drummer and musician, we became more organized and rehearsed even more. When we delivered riffs, Armando always came up with something special or quite different that gave the songs that little extra it needed”.
The second half of the seventies more and more Belgian bands managed to promote themselves with a single release even though it was mostly a local or private initiative. That’s also the way it went with Bread & Butter.
Rudy: “There was a guy Herman Jansens who saw us playing live (at the Zoeten Inval) and he came to us when we rehearsed to ask if he could record a single with us. He worked as engineer in Oldway Studio (from “Jack Jersey-fame”…) at Roosendaal, Holland and was allowed to use the studio for free to experiment.”
On Saturday March 10th, only a few weeks after Armando had joined, they already entered this studio to record and mix two songs. It took them twelve hours (9 till 9) during several takes, but still in that one day…
Johan: “Entering a real studio was quite an experience but after all it worked real good to record all the instruments one by one, although I had to play my parts quite a few times. I remember that one of the rhythm guitar parts is used twice in the final mix to match up the sound.” That day of recording Rudy had forgotten to take his bass guitar with him, lucky enough there was an almost identical one in the studio he could use.
Armando’s first concert with the band was the Juventa Club in Emblem on March 17th, 1979. Johan: ”The band itself started to get pretty much organized, a PA desk, lights and more important; we had two roadies (Rudy Verheagen and Roderik Freabus), who drove our truck (with “Bread & Butter” painted on the side!) to the hall in the afternoon, made the whole set-up, so that we only had to plug in and check the sound when we arrived”.
On March 24th, 1979 during a concert in Kalmthout (De Zoeten Inval) they finally released their single with: “Don’t Get Mean” / “Son Of A bitch”. Both songs were mid tempo hard-rock similar to Foghat, AC/DC or even B.T.O., and totally representative for the rest of their material. Rudy alone was mentioned as composer as somebody opted that it was better for financial reasons…nevertheless they never got one single penny from the author-rights organisation… as with most private pressings. If it isn’t already, this will be one of those sought-after relics for the near future. It was made in an initial pressing of 500 copies. As it happens, the label had a misprint so that A and B were switched, while the sleeve-cover showed the right order. When they complained about that, they got themselves another 500 copies for free but now with the right label-printing. But these were housed in a simple white sleeve… The picture on the cover was taken at Armando’s place right after the initial photoshoot and strangely this one turned out to be the right one after all, considering that it all had to go very quick.
Rudy: “The only kind of payment we had to do for these records was playing three concerts for free (that first one there in Kalmthout being one of them)”. Together with the singles they posted out for promotion they sold more than 350 singles the very first week! The record even made it a few times at the playlist of national radio BRT in Belgium and Hilversum 3 in Holland.
Those first two months with new drummer Armando turned out to be very productive. From now on they worked all four together writing new songs. They soon came up with “Dig Me AHole”, “Kind Of A Girl”, “That’s Where I Come From” and a ballad “Sad And Blue”.
These new tunes were first played on May 5th at a concert in Armando’s hometown Stekene.
By June another three new ones were written: “Ufo” (music written by Eric Celis ex Blue Flame), another autobiographic ballad “Ain’t That Love” and finally a more funky rocker entitled “Dreamlands Fantasy”. The next day they played an open air show in Deurne together with Tails Blue.
In July 1979 they were asked by Rudi Torfs to come to his brand new ACE-studio in Wilrijk to capture their songs on tape. The recording was for free as it was a try-out for the engineers in this new studio; therefore the sessions were spread over several weeks. Finally they recorded nine songs. The results of these sessions were sold (on cassette) at their concerts in September, although the general idea was to try to get a record deal with it.
A few weeks after the end of the Ace recordings they once more came up with some new written songs: “Rock & Roll Masturbation” and “Suicide”.
Marc about writing: “It worked pretty smooth, if me or Johan came up with an idea, the other one picked it up and Rudy wrote a lyric in no time…” Rudy: “Marc is very gifted when he improvises on the guitar, especially slow tunes as “Suicide” or “Ain’t That Love” are really his kind a stuff. Johan’s sound is more bluesy and this matches perfect with Marc’s melodic guitar-playing”.
The very last songs Bread & Butter would ever compose were: “Backstreet Crawler”, “Is It The Wine”, “Ain’t That A Lovely Way To Die” and “The Lottery”.
By the end of the year the band generated quite a lot of press-coverage as they were part of a “rock-package” named “BEPOP”. Together with three others bands (all three ex Rock Rally participants: The Jets, Smalle Wikke and Humdrum) they started playing concerts. This unfortunately didn’t resulted in a record deal yet and the first cracks started to show…
Rudy: “Armando was really the most ambitious of us four and he wanted us to become semi-professional. This worked until he came up with the offer of a three day tour in Germany; Johan and I refused and Armando left the band disillusioned…”
The boys then rehearsed with Ludo Janssen on drums but things didn’t worked out as it should. Finally early 1980 Armando was replaced by Alan Fursman, a guy who was much older than the others. He was British but lived in Belgium as he was married here, and had prior to Bread & Butter played in Boast and Flyte. Alan was different in his playing, more into jazz and therefore things didn’t work out between Johan and Alan on stage. So after one gig it was Johan who left the band. Johan: “building a house was my main goal back then and when Armando left, the pleasure of playing decreased. With Alan it simply wasn’t the same anymore…”
Bread & Butter was supposed to play the 1980 Humo’s Rock Rally selections on March 8th so they had to hurry up to find a new guitar player. It was Alan who suggested another Englishman Carlos Wright. Carlos had worked in Belgium with Irish’s Coffee’s William Souffreau and Burt Blanca. They played this important gig, but as there was no real chemistry they could not convince the people who judged to vote for them. They tried their luck with one of the new songs, “The Lottery” where Rudy threw away fake money. Only a handful of concerts followed and even before the summer the band would die a silent death… Marc remembers those last weeks: “the chemistry was really gone, Alan was a good guy but not really a rock-drummer and Carlos, yes Carlos… he wasn’t really reliable then and had his head in the clouds…”
Johan remembers another side of the story: “The band had a small Mercedes truck which I looked after and made ready for the next gig. Now that I left the band I wasn’t able anymore to do those things as I simply didn’t had enough time for it now that I was building my house. When this truck finally broke down, the band wasn’t able anymore to move their gear to the venues and this didn’t made it easier for them…”
Just as Johan before him, Rudy sold all his gear and stopped making music for twelve years…
In the summer of 1980, right after Bread & Butter, Marc Mertens decided it was time for a new adventure as he joined the new incarnation of the legendary band Mustang.
Marc: “Bread And Butter was history and the boys from Mustang asked to join their band and that felt very good. There was already a girl singer named Bernadette and I brought in Walter Lavent after some time. He was the kind of rock-singer they were looking for. They all were such top-class musicians; I enjoyed very much those days rehearsing in Oostmalle.
The trouble with Mustang was that even after a year, they were still playing unknown cover-songs which they claimed to have written, but no originals at all, not even one from the Mustang album. Especially Tex and me were getting tired about this approach so after a while, when the amount of gigs increased, we started a new band, Major Event.”
Together with singer Eddy Maes, keyboard and guitar-player Nick and drummer Luc, this Major Event alsoplayed initially covers, but this time it took them only a few months to come up with original songs who were more modern and who had this “wave” sound. Unfortunately also this band only lasted for a few months as Nick left to start up his own company. Marc: “Tex then asked me to join his new project but I didn’t like the new songs they’d written so I refused and since then I only kept playing at home for pleasure.”
In 1994 when Rudy was on holiday in France he met Danny Massez and the two of them started jamming on acoustic guitars, even resulting in a few gigs. This turned out to be the first spark for Rudy while another spark would follow a year later. Convinced by seeing so many good bands during a six months stay in St Louis, MI, he decided to take things more seriously from there on. He asked his old partner in crime Marc Mertens to join his alliance with Danny. A drummer (and backing-vocalist as well) was found in Bart Meukens and with this line-up they rehearsed a lot of cover songs and started playing concerts. They looked for a relevant name and came up with Brood Zonder Boter (bread without butter) as it was only half of Bread & Butter.
Four hour sets were no exception and sometimes they even played one or two of those Bread & Butter originals!
The trouble was that Danny Massez happened to be a lot in France and therefore he was not able to play each concert with Brood Zonder Boter. The idea then, was to work with temporary replacements. When Rudy heard that Johan was interested in playing again, he invited him to rehearse. The initial idea to ask Johan to play with Brood Zonder Boter fell to pieces when they realized they already had 75% of Bread And Butter together. That’s why they decided to ask Armando back, so that they could go for a complete Bread & Butter reunion in the strongest line-up… Armando did agree…
They rehearsed for quite a while and in December 16th, 1996, after a few try-out gigs, they came back with a sold out show in their hometown Ranst at the Gildenhuis.
After support band The Cardinals they entered the stage coming straight through the audience to climb on stage as if they were to say “we’re still one with our fans…” This concert was a big success and they decided to continue with both bands.
Armando even stepped in a few times to help them out on Brood Zonder Boter gigs when drummer Bart had to cancel.
A year later they filled the Gildenhuis in Ranst once more, while in Schoten the “Parkrock” open air turned out to be really successful. But then again after these concerts, just as in the past, the cracks started to show. Armando wanted to go for it again, in a professional matter (spending more time on it, asking more money and playing shorter sets) something the others didn’t wanted… so just as seventeen years earlier Armando left the band…
It was Rudy’s brother Dirk Goormans who stepped in to play the drums. But after four gigs with Dirk, it was Johan who put Bread & Butter on non-active by the end of 1997. He explains: ”I wanted to keep the Bread & Butter legacy alive by playing the original songs, playing more cover tunes as the others suggested was not my cup of tea so I thought it was time to take another break while Marc and Rudy could continue with their BZB cover band…”
Brood Zonder Boter (simply named BZB now) played since 2001 with a new drummer Jan Mertens as Bart Meukens didn’t have time for such a serious amount of gigs. In 2003 the band came up with a cd “Nummer 4” that contains their interpretations of some of their most requested cover tunes. Highlights were Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” (number 4 on the setlist…) and the more obscure but beautiful “Can A White Boy Play The Blues” from Billy Peek.
Another decade later the three long-time friends got together once more under the original moniker, and this time they asked BZB’s Jan Mertens to play drums for Bread & Butter.
Jan enjoyed playing these Bread & Butter songs and everything went very smooth as Marc and Rudy were already used to play with Jan Mertens.
In 2009 the band played at first a try-out show and was then seen on the local July 11th celebration, a real crowded event. Since then they have played more than ten concerts… A show they had recorded in 1997 at “Parkrock Festival” was released as a limited edition cd “Bread & Butter Live” to sell at these new concerts. The sound quality is far from perfect (the lead-guitar is mixed in the background) and therefore it’s not exactly reprehensive for the power Bread & Butter generates playing live. Otherwise it was the first time “Rock ‘n Roll Masturbation” and “Suicide” were recorded. Especially this last one is a fantastic semi-ballad worth to be captured for prosperity. Highlights on this cd were “Kind Of A Girl” (here in a longer and faster version) and the classic “Son Of A Bitch”. It’s remarkable that this song stays really powerful after all these years… Along the B&B originals were three cover songs and from those, it was John Sebastian’s “Darling Be Home Soon” that impresses the most, with great dynamics and guitar playing.
Rudy: “Since then we have played a three hour set with AC/DC, ZZ Top, Status Quo, Ted Nugent but of course all our own songs as well. Some tunes such as “Son Of A Bitch” or “Rock ‘n’ Roll Masturbation”, are still making people sing along, and that makes me extremely proud as a songwriter…”
Another absolute highlight in their new set-list, besides those original Bread & Butter songs, is Steve Earle’s “Fuck The FCC”… if not for their own crafted originals, then only for this one cover-song everybody should check outBread & Butter at one of their concerts!
Rudy explains the magic of Bread & Butter: “I think a band like ours is like a football team; It only gets good if you play long enough together. We are not the star players but because we play together for years now, there is some sort of chemistry, that makes this team good in what we do…” Marc: “It’s probably true to say that if we took a few more risks as looking abroad it could have brought us further, but then what about family matters… considering that, I’m glad the way it went…” Johan thinks the same as Marc: “I look back without regrets as I’m a person who will always remember the good things in life, although a small exception for that Gildenhuis-show in ’97 as that one leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, as so many things felt wrong that evening… ”Mark “Max” Van Hoof sold his drum-kit in 1979 as he found new goals in life. Looking back he says: ”If I would have kept playing I would have never achieved the things in life that I have now, so I guess it all went the way it should be, as one thing always leads to another… so yes, … only great memories…”
Since 2006 Rudy is also seen on stage together with his daughter as Rudy G and Marian. They recorded two cd’s, one with country cover-tunes and one with singer-songwriter classics.
7” Don’t Get Mean / Son Of A Bitch (RCS 1080 — 1979)
Tp Bread & Butter (private — 1979)
-That’s Where I Come From
-Light My Fuse
-Kind Of A Girl
-Sad And Blue
-Dig Me A Hole
-Ain’t That Love
-Don’t Get Mean
-Son Of A Bitch
Cd Live (private — 1997)
-That’s Where I Come From
-Light My Fuse
-Don’t Get Mean
-Son Of A Bitch
-Ain’t That Love
-Rock ‘n Roll Masturbation
-Kind Of A Girl
-Darlin’ Be Home Soon