Happy Birthday to the Apers—A Decade of Punk Rock: by Livy Star

May 29, 2006

I remember when the Apers were still a threesome and considered the up-and-comers to emerge from the Rotterdam punk rock scene. It was the original lineup consisting only of Ivo Backbreaker, Marien Nicotine, and Kevin Aper. Jerry Hormone was still fronting the Ragin’ Hormones and Kelvin Centerfold was off growing up and dreaming of one day being the new guitarist in the Apers. I’ve seen them open for bigger bands, play venues of all sizes, witnessed their first-ever performance at the annual Lowlands festival and saw them everywhere from mainland Europe to Scotland to California. I booked them to play my high school’s annual Winter Ball dance my senior year. I saw them almost every weekend from then on. I shot their first full-length album cover photo, which was also used for posters and even a Converse ad in a magazine (did I get credit for that though?). I celebrated their 5th anniversary and all I got was a lousy sticker. I took Kevin Aper to my senior prom and we double-dated with Faye Valentine and Ivo Backbreaker. Yes, you can say the Apers and I go way back. The Apers are my friends. So, naturally, I was excited as hell to be going to their ten-year celebration party!

The Apers have over 600 shows under their belts; they’ve toured successfully all over Europe, the U.K. and are coming back to the U.S. for the second time in just a few weeks. They’ve played with many great bands from all over the world of all punk rock subgenres and generations. The Zatopeks from the U.K. and the Retarded from Italy are some of said greats and they were more than happy to jump on board and join the Apers to celebrate their existence and accomplishments.

The Zatopeks are one of the best live bands hailing from Europe these days and also some of the most original and eccentric musicians and individuals you will fall in love with. They rocked the Faye & Livy Show twice and the numerous other times I’ve seen them live have been far from tedious—every show is an experience of its own. The Apers ten year party was no exception. I can’t wait for the Zatopeks to make it over to the U.S. to conquer the scene over there too!

And the Retarded, wow. For years I have loved this band and have never had the chance to see them live because I was always in the wrong country. I had great expectations to finally see them and they did not disappoint. They played fast and tight, delivering their catchy classics as well as some rockin’ new tunes that got me shaking my ass more and more. I couldn’t get enough and hope I don’t have to wait another six years to see them again!

The first of the four parties dedicated to the aging of the Apers was at the Waterfront in Rotterdam: the Apers’ home away from home. The walls were decorated with all their record covers blown up to poster size, they had a list of ALL their shows ever played hanging in the hallway, and the walls of the café were plastered with computer printouts of some of their classic photographs taken over the years. It was all about the Apers and it created a fantabulous atmosphere. The Apers had also come up with a little quiz for everyone to fill out and enter. The winners were announced towards the end of their set. Only four people won. And I was one of them! I won all the Apers merch I didn’t yet have. Yay!

The enthusiasm, the excitement, and the fun are what makes an Apers show an Apers show. It was obvious throughout the entire evening that everyone there was there solely for the Apers. Even when the Retarded and the Zatopeks played, you could feel the anticipation of the crowd. And when it was their time, the Apers rocked hard. I hadn’t seen them live in over a year and I was all hopped up about seeing them again as if I were going to see a band I had never seen before.

Their set list was filled with a good variety of songs: the good, the bad, the old, the classics, and the new. Every single person there was dancing and singing along. It was clear for anyone to see that the adoration from the fans—as well as the connection between the band and its audience, not to mention the pure punkrockedness and joy this band protrudes on stage—is exactly the reason why the Apers have lasted a whole decade. This was the first time I saw them with Kelvin, and even though he can never fully replace Jerry (no one can), he is a perfect new addition to the Apers: a great guitarist who has a lot of potential and punk rock in his blood. Marien not only is an awesome guitar player. His backup vocals always add that extra something all the Apers songs need. It is always such bliss to see this man dance on stage. Kevin may make too many lame jokes sometimes, but he does always know how to entertain the crowd. He has not lost his enthusiasm for his bass playing and still has that distinct voice that cannot be mistaken for anyone else’s. That’s what makes him an Aper. Ivo is one of the most fervent and passionate drummers out there. He is always so into every single beat of every song when he is up there on that stage it makes someone like me want to pick up a pair of sticks and start drumming myself. He’s fast and fiery and so full of punk rock’n’roll. The Apers wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.

Towards the end of the show, Jerry joined the Apers on stage for a rare treat: five Apers on one stage. He flung his guitar above his head for old time’s sake and the Apers went out with a bang with their legendary “I Hate Guys with Girlfriends,” and on to rock another decade or so. The Stardumb DJ Team spun record after record and everyone danced and drank and laughed and talked and had the times of their lives seeing old and new friends again from far and wide who had come to party with the Apers. 

So congratulations to the Apers for making it this far and the best of luck for future adventures. I’ll see you at the 20th anniversary party!

Ltr, xx Livy Star.

To check out if the Apers are touring near you or just to see what they’re up to, visit