SACROSANCT - Ron 'Brew' Brouwer in his own words
Something’ Brew-ing… - Noise from the Bro Soundhouse
SACROSANCT just introduced the new 2020 lineup. And alongside founding member Randy Meinhard and returning member Gerrit Knol on lead guitars, Jonas Schütz on drums and Mario ‘El Cappo’ Berendijk the honour to perform the vocals with SACROSANCT, both on stage and on the forthcoming album is entirely mine. And what an honour it is!
SACROSANCT have quite an illustrious history, emerging in the early ’90s as a progressive thrash metal act with debut album ‘Truth is – what is’, evolving into a dark, depressive metal act with ‘Recesses for the depraved’ and finding fear, hate, pain and melancholy on ‘Tragic intense’, to fall silent for a quarter century… only to return to the aural stage – and to form! – with ‘Necropolis’ in 2018.
I must admit that I had never heard of SACROSANCT, when throughout 2018 I broadcast my bimonthly three-hour radio show Ron’s Brew, as part of the Progressive X Grooves tandem. My formula was elementary: 1 hour of ‘playing records’ (interspersed with all kinds of trivia, which I just love to hurl into the world), broadcasting as many ‘station calls’ as possible (with artists mentioning Ron’s Brew) before playing songs by artists such as Neal Morse, Rob Lamothe, Ute Lemper, Anneke van Giersbergen, Eve McKing, Dark Suns and Mystery’s lead vocalist and lead guitarist, to name but a few; 1 hour was filled with promos, introducing new artists or releases, including my Ron’s Rotation Report – an overview of anything promotors had brought to my attention in the period between two radio shows, thus paying tribute to the promotors; the final hour was always filled with a studio guest, either a musician or even a full band. My last studio guest ever – the show disappeared from the air with the station’s unfortunate bankruptcy in January of 2019 - was SACROSANCT, with bass player Kees Harrison and Richard F. (!) Hesselink (whom I jokingly called ‘The Ronnie James Dio among singers – oh, we already had one’) joining me in the studio and Randy Meinhard joining online. Memorable! Three songs from SACROSANCT’s ‘90s albums (inluding ‘The silence of being’) and three from ‘Necropolis’ passed by, which I, being the proberbial verbal avalanche, swamped with trivia, meanwhile asking the SACROSACNT gentlemen their band shirts off their backs on the band’s history, origins and the four albums’ artwork, trying to obtain a glance into the fogged future.
After the show Richard and I continued our conversation over a coffee, while my ‘partner in crime’ Pieter was talking to Kees. Our connection was such that Kees soon returned to the radio studio to attend another radio show and later Kees and I got together for lunch in my home town of Utrecht, something we hope to repeat when the Covid-19 dust has settled; we regularly chat through Whatsapp to this day. Richard and I were discussing music and lyrics, as was to be expected and I played Richard a song of my own, hoping to arouse his interest in my contributing backing vocals on a future release – I had already been invited by Tom de Wit of TDW / Dreamwalkers Inc. fame, with whom by now I have already canned vocals for a second release, that is to see the light of day next year. To cut a long story short: after an extensive ‘radio silence’ (pun intended) I was whetting my whistle again!
When it became apparent in the Fall of last year that it would be difficult for Richard to combine his success with his modern country rock band Music Road Pilots with Randy’s ambition to take SACROSANCT out of the studio and onto the stage, Randy – whom I had sent some proof of my vocal abilities - tentatively contacted me to enquire after my availability, initially to replace Richard, should he be unavailable for the two German shows that had been programmed for January. I was comletely baffled: Randy’s query was no ‘would you be interested in auditioning for possible future purposes’, but instead an immediate invitation to ‘perform with SACROSANCT a couple of times, should Richard be unavailable’. With the possibility of my stepping into Richard’s shoes on a permanent basis in mind. In October Randy and I first met in person at a motorway restaurant in Germany. I was on my way to Hamburg to see my friend Ute Lemper, who had invited me to attend her sold-out performance of the symphonic ‘Die sieben Todsünden’ at the Elbphilharmonie and passed by Rheine, which is not far from Randy’s home. The connection was instant. As a result we agreed to get together for two full band rehearsal weekends the very next month, preparing for said shows – which Richard turned out to be available to perform after all (and all the better for it, as the shows were built around ‘Necropolis’ exclusively, the album that he co-wrote and is the lead vocalist on). I first met Gerrit when he picked me up from the railway station in Hengelo – exposing me to loud thrash & death metal, that much to my own surprise I discovered I appreciated there and then, not being a captive listener to that style at all – and at the rehearsal studio I met Mario and Jonas. Even though I had come well-prepared, I was rather nervous about it all... Again, the connection was instant; for me it was like sliding into a hot tub, albeit one that was electrified. I recorded parts of our rehearsals – which encompassed all of the ‘Necropolis’ album - for playback and further rehearsal purposes: there is always room for improvement.
At Kuhzifest in January I was able to put it all to the test: Richard granted me the stage halfway the show to sing ‘Melancholy’. What an experience that was, baptism by fire in a sense. Raging stage fright - and I must have sung out of key at times… How magnificent it was to feel the connection with the audience, with some people singing along to all the words and clapping along when the moment came – and after the show people came up to me and complimented me on my performance, with someone even requesting me to autograph the ‘Necropolis’ CD, despite the fact that I am not on that!
Then came that weekend at the beginning of February when Randy and I gathered at Rockawaits Studio at his home to work on the first songs for our 2021 album release that had begun to take shape. We were elated when we could play Randy’s spouse Maike the first result at the end of the day: we had recorded a fully-fledged demo for one of the songs. It had all gone so fast, our inspiration had given us wings – those of the weeping angel perhaps - and we were energized to a point of tirelessness that Saturday, which to my own astonishment went for my voice as well. Needless to say we had to pay for that the very next day; we finished our writing session around noon, before Randy took me back to the railway station in Rheine – armed with several sets of lyrics and that first demo, that had enabled us to truly assess the band’s new overall sound - which since has developed further, with each band member’s individually working on each of the three new songs, and others already in their scaffolding. I can barely wait for the moment when this marvellous quintet can get together again and turn up the volume, at the rehearsal studio in Germany or – better yet – on stage.
If such a thing as ‘vocal chords itching’ exists, then I am suffering from a severe case of just that.
Ron ‘Brew’ Brouwer