TCH / Judges for Dealing Software,
Added on October 17th, 2005 (7448 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Johan van der Es. I was born on the 20th of December in 1973, so that makes me 31 at the moment. Ridderkerk/Holland is the place I moved back to after living in Rotterdam for two years. My hometown definitely beats that stinking noisy city even though I can't stay away from it (I was born there 8)). As a job, I'm currently fixing computers for a living, but I have done all sorts of things in the past. I have been a mailman (first I ripped them off with cheating stamps, then I worked there, haha), a butcher, and a warehouse manager. Seems the circle is complete as I enjoy working with computers again.
Other interests I have are the following: I enjoy playing bass guitar a lot. Les Claypool (Primus) is my old time favourite player, and Frank Zappa, the one with the craziest compositions ever! I was happily surprised to find so many remixes of SID tunes and I mostly listen to them when I am painting on the C64. I also draw on paper. The beauty of women has always struck my eye and I have improved my skills with pencils to the level that people are willing to pay for my paintings. Reading books is also something I enjoy, and especially sci-fi like Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds and Dan Simmons or Fantasy by Clive Barker, Anne Rice and Stephen King.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
There has only been one: Tch. Back in 1988, me and my friend Madhead discovered that there was a scene on the C64. As everybody had an alias, we had to get one for ourselves too, and abbreviations were kinda hot in those days. So mine was chosen because of the phonetic ring to it. The only thing I forgot was that it sounds OK in Dutch (T-like in TApe/C-like in SAne/H-like in HArd) but it's a pain in English. 8) The abbreviation didn't mean anything, but I usually said The Copyright Hater when asked.
What group(s) were you in?
It all started with the group JDS that I formed with Madhead. His name is Jeroen de Mooij (JDM), and together with my name (JES), we created the Judges for Dealing Software. Another friend of ours called Slash joined forces as well. We had a lot of fun trying to make things work and I remember going to a meeting with Madhead's father where a lot of old guys were amazed that we knew how to do a little assembler code. They were all playing around in BASIC. :P
Later when we got in contact with other guys, I was asked to join their groups. First there was Titan, a very large group from Germany. Slash and I wanted to go to the Titan party but our parents wouldn't let us. We were 16 years old, and we really couldn't see what the problem was! ;) But as nobody really knew who was in the group or not and because there hardly was any organisation going on, some of us left to form Time. This was the first group I was in where there were regular phone calls between the members. It was all going well until Bitrapper's computer broke down and the other members got inactive.
Then I was asked by R.C.S. if I wanted to join Atrix, and I did. I thought I would stay in Atrix for a long time because everybody seemed to be good friends, but due to internal problems (of which I still don't know the details), R.C.S. left and I did the same. I had no clue as to what group I wanted to join or even if they would let me join, so I formed Brutal together with Slash and Bleze+Raise of Viruz. There were several offers from other groups after that, but I enjoyed where I was, and so I always turned them down.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I started as a graphician doing Anti-Dixons pictures that I used in a demo-maker. Dixons was the shop where I bought my Commodore 64. The first two broke down so fast and they were extremely lame in getting it repaired. People had to be warned! At one point the salesman even told me not to use peek and poke because it would destroy the ROM, hahaha! Soon after that I tried to figure out how to code assembler, but as there was nobody around to help me, I had to learn it from magazines and books. By this time I had bought myself a disk drive and I got some games from a friend. On one of those disks was a contact demo and I thought 'why not send a letter'!!? Eventually I became quite an active swapper as well. I then started to receive originals, so I gave cracking a try and it was fun. Besides, my coding skills were not that good so I used it to make intros. Finally, I became an editor for Brutal Recall. This is probably where most people know me from. It was pretty popular in its time.
How long were you active for?
I became active in 1988 when I got my first working C64, and as long as I was a student, I had enough time for it because school was easy and I skipped a lot of classes to do my thing. After I graduated in 1992 and didn't know what school I wanted to go to, I started working. Around this time I also started to hang out with friends and there was simply not enough time to keep my C64 activities going. In 1993, I stopped altogether. R.C.S. tracked me down in 2003 and now I consider myself active again. I have recently joined Oxyron and be assured that I have plans to stay active 'till blindness strucks my eyes, or something...
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
It was pretty awkward. Almost everybody around me knew nothing about computers, let alone the world surrounding it. In the beginning it was very frustrating sometimes to get my coding to do what it was meant to do, but eventually I figured out how to get the results I wanted. Becoming a part of the scene happened all by itself, I guess. I don't know exactly when I considered myself a scener.
Getting contacts seemed almost impossible in the beginning. When everybody wrote 'only send new stuff or you won't get an answer' in their contact demos, and the best you had was three months old, it was hard. Luckily I did get replies from some people like Bionic, Sparky/Blasters (Hi Javier!!) and Rough/Chromance (greetinx Adam!!), but the guy that helped me most and became one of my best friends was R.C.S. (Hi Rudie, fill out your interview!!). Life as a scener is much like a writer lives, pretty lonely, I think. Spending a lot of time behind a keyboard with lots of wild ideas and compromised results. ;) But there was much more to it. Meeting people from far away, like Bitrapper who came to visit Slash and me in 1989. Also seeing R.C.S. in the flesh when he came to Rotterdam with his class and was allowed to spend time with us was great fun. We have spent many weeks together, both in Denmark and at my place. It made the scene so much more than just people behind computers. Thanx to Rudie's parents for their hospitality!
And let us not forget the phone calls. Sneaking into my parents bedroom to make calls and then taking the heat for it when the bill arrived, or getting called in the middle of the night to join an illegal conference. The quality of the line was always bad and the conversations very hard to follow, but it was fun anyway. I even connected a modem without my parents' knowledge in 1992, but I didn't use it that much because of the bills. There was only one problem that I think many fellow sceners also had: money. Swapping was an expensive business, so cheating stamps was a necessity. I almost got caught twice, once by the post office for cheating stamps, and once by the Police for illegal software. Luckily I answered the door on both occasions and talked myself out of it. 8) And the money that was left got spend on going to meetings/parties! All of that amounts to a time well spend and enjoyed!
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
First thing I did was always going through the mail of the day, reading the letters/notes and checking out the warez. I started with the demos, then the magazines and finally the cracks. This definitely took a lot of time but was maybe the best part of it all. It happened several times throughout the years that I had to drop contacts because I didn't have enough time. I hope nobody harbours any hard feelings about that, especially when Brutal Recall was rolling. I got so much mail there was hardly any time left to anything else. Being a magazine editor is definitely the most time-consuming work I've ever had. Writing the text was only part of it. I remember counting vote sheets when I was on the train to Copenhagen and it sure made the trip shorter.
When there were originals sent to me, I started on them as soon as possible. Most cracks were pretty easy and done in no-time and I would use the night to crunch them. I got so angry when Cruel Cruncher crashed because I had to it all over again. Besides that, I was almost always working on something. Greetings goes to my sister Jolanda who kept me company on many computing days. 8) Goodbye to Coca Cola! I drank so much of it back then that I have had enough for the rest of my life! It rests me to say that I never slept before the clock had struck 01:00 (thanx to the sugar ;P).
In the years 1991-92, the scene was close to becoming a real obsession. School was easy for me, and so I got into skipping classes a lot. I once returned after the two week Christmas holiday in February and the mentor had written an exclamation mark behind my name for ever day I had missed. There were so many he needed two lines on the noticeboard. How my mother didn't find out I was home and not at school? My room was in the attic and whenever she called to check on me, I simply opened the window and sat on the roof for some minutes until she left. ;)
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Can't really say I did. I made my own password decrypter to help me crack games, but mostly I used the standard tools that was out there. Converting graphics (char to sprites) was mostly a one-time thing, so I didn't keep those tools. The only tool I released was a 1x2 char editor that allowed you to load your own music. And I released UFLI-Editor v2.0 this month in hope that more people will use this cool format. ;)
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Hmm, tough one. I think that I'm most proud of being as active as I was and that I never looked at other peoples' code (except for cracking of course, hehe), hence the trouble with the sideborder and my inability to program vectors. As somebody recently stated, I was pretty innovative and I think that's the best I could hope for! Regarding graphics, I'm most proud of the logos in the Piction demos, and as of late, the Iron Lady that I made with the UFLI-editor. I also feel good about Brutal Recall as it went beyond all expectations and was appreciated by such a large audience. Thanx to all of you that contributed to it! I owe you one!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Coders: Trap and Walt/Bonzai for always making things look simple, Bob/Censor Design for releasing so many quality things, Lubber/Padua for having that special touch that I can't describe, and Crossbow/Crest for fooling us as often as he did, and for being the master of coding!
Graphics: The Sarge/Triad for making beautiful pictures with a simple hires editor, Gotcha/Crazy for doing the same in a variety of formats, and Goblin/Light for great Brutal logos that I unfortunately couldn't use. ;)
Music: Deek for making original tunes, JCH for the best intro songs ever, Reyn Ouwehand for stealing my heart when he still called himself MacMagic, Drax for being funky as hell, Jeroen Tel for making boring games fun to play, and Matt Gray for having that oriental vibe.
Crackers: Chrysagon/X-Ray for caring a lot about quality.
These are just some names that impressed me back then. I never idolised anyone and can't say that I wanted to be any of them either.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
For me there's only one suitable answer: FLI. It made the graphical possibilities so much greater and no matter how good the code is, I get bored pretty easily if the graphics suck. If it wasn't for FLI, demos like Cycle and Dutch Breeze wouldn't be possible. Besides, it inspired people to do 'old' effects again, but this time using FLI. Now I hope there are coders out there capable of doing something like FLD with UFLI – or try putting it in the sideborder! That would be great!! There already is a very informative debate about this happening on CSDb as we speak. ;)
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes I did. The first meetings I went to took place in Dordrecht opposite the rail station. It was very small and there were maybe 30 people present, but it was an easy way to get some new warez. Later I went to many Venlo meetings (about 15 I think) because it was much bigger and there were actually real sceners present. I met many contacts over there and even though the warez weren't that good, it was fun most of the time. It was also the place where I met Panther/Brutal and it is a lot easier talking about things when there is no bill involved. In November 1991, a whole bunch of Danes came down to Holland and we went altogether. That was absolutely the best of all visits!
As for parties, I have been to several. I visited two Silicon Parties in Utrecht. I went to the Arcade+Deadline Party where I was the only foreigner and that didn't pass unnoticed by the local town folk. I had to run for my life, so to speak. What a bunch of peasants! The guys at the party were great tough. Hi Count Zero! Thanx for sticking by me, I did get kinda scared down there.
I also went to the Light Easter Party and that was my first international event and I have great memories from it. The whole atmosphere was so totally different from anything I had been to. It was very impressive and I was finally able to meet the people from Scandinavia. It's one thing to be in contact by mail or phone, but to actually meet them is something else alright. I had made mental pictures of how people would look like, and boy how wrong I was. 8) This was the party that had the biggest impact on me. It was totally awesome!!
The Brutal Party was the last oldskool party I went to. Again, the whole ambience of people from all over Europe struck me as bizarre. Here you would have people speaking German, Scandinavian and in the middle, people were communicating in English. And even though Denmark beat Germany in the soccer championship, the vibe stayed positive and everybody enjoyed the party. I enjoyed it tremendously!
Only three weeks ago, I visited the Primary Star party. It reminded me a bit of the Silicon LTD parties in the 90's as most visitors were either from Holland or Germany. The only real difference was that almost everybody had a laptop or PC connected to the C64. Guess I should also get one of those fancy connections. Star Commander does suck. ;) The party itself was very cool – and no wonder – the booze was free and many people were working on their stuff. I had nice chats with most of the Dutchies (greetinxx SCout, WVL, Ben, Sander+brother, Hein, Exile, Tim, TDJ, DCMP, Earthshaker, Jeroen Tel) and Street Tuff made me listen to some truly amazing digi-samples in the middle of the night. (Hi Frank!) Be sure to visit the next Primary Star, 4-6 August 2006!
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
For me it was the perfect platform to experience things that I had taken an interest in. I was hooked to the C64 from the moment that Madhead showed it to me, and I wanted to do my own demos right away. (I know this is Church of C64 stuff! Hi Pingo!) I've never been much of a planner so I simply rode the Commodore wave to where ever it took me. I think that most sceners used the compy for creating things as best as they could.
With the rise of magazines, the scene turned more into a competition. For the demos this might have been a good thing as people really started thinking about how to impress the rest of us. As for cracks, it turned out the other way I think, especially when all those fake groups made their entry into the scene. Maybe it was just a sign of the times, but I think some are still hanging around even today. Ah, what the hell, not everybody wants to improve themselves, some just want to have fun. But after all, I think the combination of 'creating and response' is the heart of the scene.
What were the particular highlights for you?
My first highlight was when I got a positive response from a contact letter I had sent out. It was a reply from Sparky/Blasters in Spain and I felt as if I had finally touched the scene for real! The next was when I met R.C.S. in Rotterdam and we had so much fun in such a short time. We became instant friends. The following happened when I was in Atrix and it was more of a shock and a nice surprise. I was called by some German guy that wanted to interview me. I don't recall who he was, or what magazine it was for, but I was very honoured. After being interviewed five times back then, I don't get shocked that easily, but I still feel honoured Andreas!! 8) Also getting our first BBS The Lost Empire was another step forward for us. (Greetings Koen, how are you doing?) The best parties were definitely the Light party and the Brutal party, with the Light one on top!! The best meetings were the ones with the Brutal guys in Denmark. I attended two of them, one mentioned on CSDb, and another when we went to Tivoli in Copenhagen and had lots of fun. And of course seeing Brutal entering the charts was something that put a smile on my face!
But what I probably will remember for the rest of my life was the live performance by Jeroen Tel at Primary Star! It was a long and excellent SID experience mixed in a very professional way. It was hard to keep myself from dancing, but as I had never heard something like this before, I restrained myself and simply let the music capture me. Truly awesome!! 8)
Any cool stories to share with us?
Not really cool, but funny nonetheless. This one happened when Spikes, Baze, Iron Boss and R.C.S. came to Holland to attend the Venlo meeting. They came in a very small car, a Volkswagen Golf I believe. When they drove from Slash's place to mine, they wanted to take a shortcut by using the bus lane. But of course there's this hole in the middle of the street and one side of the car dropped into it. It was a big problem to get it out again before the next bus arrived, but they made it.
The next story happened to me. When I went to the Light party I told my parents that I would visit Guzzler/Brutal in Vlissingen (Holland). I was already going to Denmark some months later, so they would never allow me to go. Going there went as smooth as can be. The troubles started on the way back. I got on the train but when they came to check my ticket, I had to pay an extra fee because it was some kind of a special ride. It was only about 5 Euro (nowadays) but I'd run completely out of money so I got kicked out. I took the next train, but when I arrived in Osnabrueck (Germany), the train stopped. At 20:30, the last train to Holland had already left!! I had to wait until 07:00 the next morning before the first train arrived. I tried to sleep on the platform (it was cold as hell) but after some time a surprised railroad-guy let me sleep in an empty carriage. At 03:30, he woke me up again and I waited for the train and I was pretty miserable. I told my mother about this some years ago and she was in total shock. ;)
And another one…R.C.S. had been looking for me for a long time, but as I never cared much for PC's, I wasn't on the Internet. So eventually he hired a private investigator to track me down. As you can see, he found me! THUMBS UP to you Rudie for not giving up! Thank you for opening my eyes and it's great to be in touch again! 8) I thought the scene had died a long time ago.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
The meaning of contact is a bit different these days, I think. I am happy to be in real contact with R.C.S., Bleze and Yaemon again. We will meet somewhere this year. I have emailed with several people still active in the scene, and Drax will do some music for my new demo! 8) But 'contact' like in the old days... Apart from R.C.S. sending me disks, I haven't received any mail. ;)
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I bought my first one in 1988 and after having a lot of problems to finally get a working one, it has been with me throughout the years, and I still go it! I also have some 250 disks, a modem and a tape-recorder left. I even have two extra C64's and an extra 1541 II drive these days.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Definitely! The mere fact that there are so many sites about it and the activity on the forums should not cast any doubts on this. Of course there's a lot of nostalgia involved and guys trying to avoid their wives, but I think everybody liked it a lot. At least I never heard of people being forced to do something on the C64. The machine is cool and we keep making it special! Some old sceners even get interested again after seeing what's been done after they left. A good example is Bizzmo who recently made a great picture after 13 years of absence. Even new-blood is coming in, so yeah, the Commodore 64 is special.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
I have released some new pictures lately and my new demo is on the way. It's more or less finished except for some graphics and music. Don't expect amazing code, but maybe you'll enjoy the rest. It's a compilation of old and new graphics done by me. There will also be a coop-demo from Creators and Brutal in the near future. Mermaid had an unfinished Brutal logo lying around and thought it might be fun to do a little demo together. I agreed of course! 8) And as I joined Oxyron two months ago, the next issue of the diskmag Attitude will feature a picture by me. I have even written some new articles for it! It's been a very long time since I did that, so I hope it won't bore the C64 spirit out of you. ;)
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
OK, I hope you enjoyed the answers I have given. For all of you that have been in touch with me: I hope you're doing great and enjoying life with all the good things that comes with it. If you feel like reminiscing about the good old times, I can be emailed at email@example.com. Maybe I can even persuade you to do something again! As for the people still working on this great machine... Keep it coming!! You know there is an audience waiting for it! Greetinxx, Tch/Brutal
back to the list of available interviews