Highway Chile
  » Jul 14, 2024  


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HIGHWAY CHILE, a traditional Metal band formed in 1981 with a line-up comprising of vocalist Armand Van Der Stigchel, guitarists Ben Blaauw and Martin Mens bass player Ernest Thimister and drummer Ernst Van Ee.

In 1980, Blue transferred to the more serious band Highway Chile. This group rehearsed two to three times a week and soon played gigs just as often. Highway Chile got widely known, first in Rotterdam and later in the whole of Holland. Not only by being one of the best hard-rock bands in the country; the band worked intensely on their promotion. Before every concert the whole city was covered with self-made posters and at unseasonable hours the band members sneaked through the night with buckets of paint.

Subsequently a USA born vocalist, Armand Vanderstigchel , from a neighboring town, was active in the same manner, spreading the name of his band RIGELL STAR through poster plastering, marker messages in toilets and ingeniously organizing national act concerts, placing his band as an opener. This band would later produce another future Highway Chile member, bassist Ricky Finck. Through future co-song writer and investor Peter Koudstaal and Dutch Metal band Picture's management (which iniatially was interested in signing the bands Rigell Star and Highway Chile) vocalist Armand heard Highway Chile's raw demo. Armand was also drawn by the same "Kamikaze-like" dedication they possessed, while being himself disillusioned by the growing laziness of his own band. The searing guitar work and thundering drums on the demo, were indications of a band with a bright future, if guided and produced properly and equipped with an accent free vocalist.

Vocalist Armand Vanderstigchel joined the band, and soon found himself rehearsing in a World War 2 bunker in the heart of Rotterdam. From this point on, the band took flight, thanks to the combined efforts of guitarist Martin Mens and vocalist Armand Vanderstigchel. They formed a homegrown booking agency and tenuously called upon the club owners to book this hot new band. The effort payed off, making the band one of the busiest unsigned bands in the country, sometimes performing twice a day. Soon the duo found themselves fielding off many request of other bands seeking their representation as a booking agency.

It was also a great boost for the band when Blue won a gold- and mother-of-pearl inlayed Gibson Byrdland from Ted Nugent in a national radio guitar players battle. Many came to the concerts to see this special guitar but when Ben met Mr. Nugent in 1983 he took such a dislike to the man that he got rid of the guitar the very next day.

The main song writing team Blaauw/Vanderstigchel was a unique one. Blaauw's love for metal opus style compositions were cleaned up by Vanderstigchels love for short American style hard rock with a catchy chorus. Combined a unique blend emerged of catchy rock songs guided by a wall of heavy guitars and metal laden drums. The constant tensions and bickering over the final cuts were slowly breaking down the team writer relation ship. In hindsight, one will say "opposites attract". This tension created masterpieces, but unfortunately then, no one realized the greatness of the band.

HIGHWAY CHILE, a traditional Metal band formed in 1981 with a line-up comprising of vocalist Armand Van Der Stigchel, guitarists Ben Blaauw and Martin Mens bass player Ernest Thimister and drummer Ernst Van Ee. From their inception the band toured on a regular basis, which soon told on Thimister and Mens who were to quit. Their replacements were bassist Ricky Finck and guitarist Peter Barnouw. This line-up recorded the well received 1983 debut album 'Storybook Heroes'. With product on the shelves the record now enabled the band to step up a rung and support visiting international acts such as WHITESNAKE, MOTÖRHEAD and DEF LEPPARD.

1983's 'Fever' EP was released just after Barnouw left, to be replaced by Dutch guitar sex symbol Ronald Bakker. Although due to the bankruptcy of their former record company Inelco. HIGHWAY CHILE signed to Lark with super A & R executive Evert Wilbrink ( Joan Jett/Herman Brood) who re-released the debut album with backing of Dutch Music Mogul Willem Van Kooten, in a remixed form, adding the title track from the EP. Unfortunately, problems ensued during the recording of the second album resulting in Van Ee and Blaauw quitting to form HELLOISE. Replacements were quickly found in ex-seducer drummer Jan Koster and guitarist Erik Karreman and the Shell Schellekens (Golden Earring) produced 'For The Wild And Lonely' mini album proved a much more commercial effort than previous works...

Between '85 & '88 Highway Chile realeased 3 albums which earned them considerable exposure on U.S. and foreign radio as well criticle acclaim from worldwide press (Billboard, Kerrang, Hitparader etc.) and European tours with 'Whitesnake, Motorhead and Def Leppard'. After an unfortunate breakup in '88, vocalist Armand Vanders regrouped H.C. in Dec.'89, after a transition period and teamed up with U.S. guitarist Greg Reiter from the 'Philly Scene' who earned recognition playing in early band lineups with future members of Cinderella& Britny Fox, as well as featuring on Englands metalband 'Avenger' album 'Killer Elite in 87". The High Noon collection of songs is new material recorded in the U .S., Produced by "Mahogany Rush' drummer Tim Biery and penned by Armand &. Greg. Further material (B side) was recorded in Europe with Golden Earring Producer Shell Shellekens (TwilightZone)
& Al Vandengarde, with Jan Koster (Sleezbeez, Atlantic Records) participating in songwriting.

Armand Van Der Stigchel (vocals), Ronald Bakker (guitar), Erik Karreman (guitar), Ricky Finck (bass), Jan Koster (drums) Dutch metallers Highway Chile were a bit out of their time, opting for a style that mixed American hard rock with prime NWOBHM riffing, at a time where many of their contemporaries were on the heavier side of things. Ultimately they didn't achieve the success that one might have expected, as their Storybook Heroes album showed a versatile genius songwriting style that should have garnered a larger following.

To this day, Storybook Heroes is recognized by critics and specialist in hard rock history as an album that could have reached the same scales as Def Leppards album Pyromania.