Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Vengaboys
In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them
1When his band headlined Glastonbury in 2013, which rock icon said they usually have Vengaboys’ ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’ as “an alternative encore”?
Robin Pors (aka Sailor Robin): “Rolling Stone person!”
CORRECT. Otherwise known as Mick Jagger. When the singer asked Twitter for setlist ideas, comedian David Walliams suggested the band play “anything by the Vengaboys” – to which Jagger responded: “We usually have ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’ as an alternate encore. But it might not run in Glastonbury…”
Kim Sasabone (Captain Kim): “I’d love to hear a Rolling Stones cover of us (Laughs) . That would be an honour. When we were nominated for a MTV Award in 1999, we were beaten by Britney Spears, but we went anyway. Everybody was there, like Whitney [Houston] and Bobby [Brown]. We had an early flight at 5am, so everybody was coming back into our hotel lobby, walking past us totally pissed after the afterparties – Mick Jagger was one of them. That’s the closest we’ve got to him.”
Ever been tempted to bust out a Rolling Stones cover in a Vengaboys style?
Donny Latupeirissa (Cowboy Donny): “We actually do a rock medley in our shows bringing anthems like ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ to our party.”
@davidwalliams We usually have ‘We’re Going To Ibiza’ as an alternate encore. But it might not run in Glastonbury…
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) March 29, 2013
2Vengaboys only ever won one NME Award. What was it for?
Denise Post-Van Rijswijk (D-Nice): “Best outfits? (Laughs)”
Kim: “Cheesiest Eurotrash Pop Band?”
WRONG. In 2000, you won ‘Worst Record’ for ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’.
Donny: “A prize is a prize!”
Kim: “But everybody who goes to Ibiza now still sings the song on the plane! I remember interviewers used to ask me: ‘How does it feel to be the most loved but most hated band at this moment?’. And I was shocked! We had as many haters as lovers back then, but now all the indie and rock people who didn’t like us then do now because we’re camp, nostalgic and harking back to the ‘90s when you had Snake on your Nokias. It’s a good job there wasn’t social media then because we would have got trolls. And we don’t now.”
Robin: “Well… we joked in a recent interview about wanting to represent the UK at Eurovision and people took us seriously, so now I’m being harassed on social media by angry people saying: “I don’t want Vengaboys to represent the UK! How dare you say that!” Eurovision is a touchy subject for the British! (Laughs)”
3What is the name of the character Pete Burns plays in the video to Vengaboys’ 2010 (ahem) ‘Rocket to Uranus’ single?
Kim: “I don’t know. That song was such a flop that we forgot about it!”
WRONG. The late Dead or Alive frontman played the villain Phalzistor.
Kim: “I think we just wanted to forget about the whole thing as soon as possible so there’s nothing much to say about it! Although having Pete in the video was the best thing about that single. We got to chat with him.”
Donny: “There wasn’t much left of Pete Burns! (Laughs)”
Denise: “He was there, but he wasn’t there.”
Robin: “He was very slow and looked like the child of Michael Jackson and Cher. Everything was done verrrrrryyy….sloowwwwly, but it was still very special to meet this big legend. And have him spinning around us.”
4In what country was ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’ adopted as a left-wing protest song in 2019?
Robin: “Austria. I want to win!”
CORRECT. It hit Number on Austria’s iTunes in the wake of the “Ibiza affair”, where a video of a scandal that took place on the Spanish island emerged showing the deputy vice-chancellor of the governing far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, offering public contracts to a Russian investor in exchange for campaign support. The song was used by anti-Government protestors after its video was posted on Twitter by German comedian Jan Bohmermann.
Robin: “It was really cool because we brought the Vengabus to Ballhausplatz [in Vienna] and we performed a show for protestors in front of their parliament.”
Kim: “It was electric. Since we started, we were always told never get political, but the story behind the situation in Vienna was so funny, we had to do something with it.”
Apparently there were protests against you in various countries when you first started…
Kim: “There were protests against us in India and Malaysia, which were scary. In 2001, we were the first international pop band to play the Indian city of Hyderabad, but some [hard-line] student groups were against it and there were riots at the show. I remember being on a plane from Singapore to play Kuala Lumpur, and opening up the free newspaper. In big letters was: ‘VENGABOYS CONCERT IS BANNED!”. We’re there thinking: ‘Guess we’re watching a movie tonight!'(Laughs)”
5In 1997, Vengaboys were allegedly arrested for “provocative reasons” after throwing how much money into the crowd at a Spanish gig?
Kim: “Oh the Cash Chaos Concert in Barcelona! Was it $10,000?”
CORRECT. Early (possibly fabricated) press biogs claim you threw $10,000 into the audience, in a performance that only lasted eight minutes, and ended up with you arrested after chaos ensued.
Kim: “(Laughs) We couldn’t comment!”
Robin: “Every show we do now, we end it by throwing fake notes – Venga Dollars with our faces on – into the audience. Back in the day, it might have felt real when we did it.”
Ever come close to being arrested?
Robin: “There may have been some nudity involved in public places.”
Donny: “(Joking) Weren’t you caught with George Michael?”
Robin: “(Laughs) Maybe I was the other guy he was with!”
6Your new single is a cover of Charli XCX and Troye Sivan’s ‘1999’. Can you name any three ‘90s icons they appear as in the original video?
Robin: “Of course! Spice Girls?…”
Denise: “Kate Winslet? TLC?”
Kim: “Backstreet Boys?”
CORRECT. Among others, you could have also had: Steve Jobs, Eminem and Justin Timberlake.
Kim: “1999 was our time! We were inspired to cover it by seeing Charli XCX in a radio interview mentioning that Vengaboys’ ‘We Like to Party!’ was her guilty pleasure song, and the station asked: ‘Can Charli XCX bring the Vengaboys back?’. So we instantly loved her. We decided she’s now our best friend and needed to borrow her song.”
Have you had any reaction from Charli or Troye? And would there be any chance of Charli herself jumping on a remix of it?
Denise: “Not yet. We’re sitting stirring our coffees and waiting patiently (Laughs) to see what they think of it.”
Donny: “Of course we’d love Charli to feature on a remix of it. That would be an honour. Do it Charli! Do it!”
In Charli XCX’s original ‘1999’ video, Troye Sivan appears as Leonardo DiCaprio and apparently Vengaboys turned down an invitation to party with him in the ‘90s…
Denise: “True story! We were in a London club, and one of his guys came up to Kim and myself and asked: ‘Would you like to join Leonardo at his table?’. But we had to be up for The Big Breakfast, so we had to return to the hotel and get an early night. I was really in love with him, but Kim was like: ‘Look sharp! We need to go! (Laughs)”
What are your memories of 1999?
Robin: “It was the best year for me in the Vengaboys because we started out in 1997, but in 1999, everything was big. Big arenas, big TV shows, meeting big names like Madonna, Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. We had two Number One hits in the UK. And a lot of sex.”
Ever had sex to your own music?
Robin: “No, that would feel like incest! (Laughs). I had a date once with someone who put on our music, and I said: ‘This isn’t working. I’m going to go’.”
What was touring with Christina like?
Robin: “We did some US radio tours with her and at the time she was shy and young and always looking at us like: ‘Oh, those crazy foursome’. By the way – someone in the group had some fun with her dancers (Laughs).”
7In 2017, a video went viral showing an impromptu street party breaking out to Vengaboys’ ‘Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!’ in which English town centre?
Kim: “It’s a very small town. Oh shit!”
Denise: “Was it something with an ‘Upon’?”
Donny: “Newcastle upon Tyne?”
Denise: “Notting Hill? (Laughs)”
WRONG. It was Cheltenham.
Robin: “We brought those guys [who recorded the video] to our Birmingham gig when we supported Steps. We played their little video on the big screens and gave them a shout-out on the front row.”
8What animal reportedly attempted to have sex with Robin while shooting the music video for ‘Hot Hot Hot’?
Kim: “A very horny dolphin.”
Robin: “Yeah, I got harassed by a dolphin. It was very scary. You think they’re sweet, but they’re really strong big animals. I thought: ‘What a nice dolphin!’, but it wasn’t a nice dolphin. It was a dolphin that wanted me! But it was a very special moment.”
Weren’t you replaced in the group for a period when you left by a former dolphin trainer?
Robin: “Yes, Yorick [Bakker] replaced me when I was pregnant from the dolphin. And now he’s in China working with orcas.”
Denise: “I remember swimming with dolphins with Yorick in the middle-east when one came up and hit me hard with his tail in my face. He had to rescue me. It wasn’t a nice experience.”
Kim: “(Laughs) Robin being harassed by a dolphin! Denise getting bitch-slapped with the back of a fin! Just so you know: our next single will either be about dolphins or we’ll record the song entirely in dolphin.”
9Which rock band used to regularly cover ‘Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!’ live?
Robin/Denise: “Bloodhound Gang.”
Robin: “Who gets the point?!”
Kim: “We’re working as a team. Were you counting you own points, Robin?”
Robin: “I’ve been writing them down!”
Denise: “We had such a great time with Bloodhound Gang back in the day. [Bloodhound Gang frontman] Jimmy Pop was a huge fan of ours, and we gave him one of our gold records.”
Kim: “We were tour buddies, and they taught us to drink a pre-show Jäger. We never drank Jäger because we thought it was for grandpas, but they showed us how to say ‘Up your bum!’ and do it as a shot, before partying with them backstage.”
10On the single cover of ‘We Like to Party!’, how many flags are on the front of the Vengabus?
Robin: “(Quick as a flash) 17! Hold on, hold on… did you actually count all the flags on the front of the Vengabus? So you had a er, busy night?! (Laughs)”
Oi! We can’t all spend our evenings fending off the advances of dolphins and Xtina’s backing dancers, Robin…
Kim: “(Laughs) I’ve never counted them but now I would like to know!”
Robin: “We need to know or else we won’t be able to finish our report to management!”
WRONG. It’s eight. What do you remember about that single?
Robin: “Clearly nothing about the flags! (Laughs) It’s an amazing song to perform live, because as the horn sounds, everybody goes loco.”
Bonus question! For half a point: if it takes 2,902 miles from New York to San Francisco, how many miles does the Vengabus travel in the lyrics of ‘We Like to Party!’?
Kim: “I’m out! (Laughs)”
Robin: “It’s one trip, so 2,902 miles.”
WRONG. You repeat the ‘New York through San Francisco’ lyric five times, meaning the Vengabus covers around 14,510 miles in total.
Robin: “But we only repeat it for you guys so you’ll remember the lyrics. We only did the journey once!”
The verdict: 6/10
Kim: “Not too bad! We do have some brain cells left.”
Robin: “I’m pissed off that I didn’t get the New York through San Francisco question right. I won’t be able to sleep tonight!”
Donny: “Robin, you cannot be both pretty and smart. We know which you are!”
Robin: (Starts singing Beyoncé) ‘Pretty hurts….’
– Vengaboys’ new single ‘1999 (I Wanna Go Back)’ is out now.