The Nits

The Nits

The Nits are a Dutch art rock group, founded in 1974. Their musical style has varied considerably over the years, as has their line-up with the core of Henk Hofstede (the group's lead singer and lyricist), Rob Kloet, drummer, Robert Jan Stips (Supersister, Gruppo Sportivo, Golden Earring), keyboards.

Their biggest hit in the Netherlands was "Nescio" (1983), a tribute to the Dutch author Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh. The major hit that brought the band to the attention of an international audience was "In the Dutch Mountains" (1987).


The Nits originally comprised Henk Hofstede (vocals, guitar), Alex Roelofs (bass), Michiel Pieters (guitar) and Rob Kloet (drums). Influenced by English pop music, especially the Beatles, they also incorporated influences from New Wave music into their sound. They made their live debut in 1977 and the following year released a self-financed limited-run LP, "The Nits". This brought them to the attention of Columbia Records, for whom The Nits would continue to record for the next 22 years. Their major-label debut, "Tent", carried on the new wave style of "The Nits", but was considerably more polished, partly due to the influence of producer Robert Jan Stips. Two more albums, with an increasing use of synthesiser, were issued before Stips joined the group full-time, replacing Roelofs for "Omsk" (1983).

In the meantime, the group had been developing their sound on their numerous European tours. Many songs were radically reworked for live performance, a practice the group would continue throughout their career. Between the group's experiments with different arrangements, and the addition of Stips to the line-up, The Nits gradually moved toward a more distinctive musical style, with Kloet playing a wide range of percussion, and Stips' keyboards used to produce a lusher sound. "Omsk" showcased the new Nits sound with songs like "A Touch Of Henry Moore", almost entirely based around Kloet's percussion, and the dramatic hit single "Nescio". The follow-up "Adieu Sweet Bahnhof" was another hit, but tensions between the group and producer Jaap Eggermont led to the departure of Michiel Pieters, and a change in the group's working methods. In future, they would produce their own material and bring in guest musicians as required.

The album "Henk" was recorded as a three-piece, after which new bassist Joke Geraets became the first female member of The Nits, completing the line-up that would go on to enjoy commercial success with single and album "In The Dutch Mountains" (1987). The group's extensive tours during this period led to the accomplished live triple-LP "Urk" (1989) which became their best-selling album.

When Geraets fell ill with a muscular disease, meaning that she was unable to play bass, the group (now using the shortened name "Nits", often rendered in capitals to emphasise the absence of the definite article) continued as a trio. "Giant Normal Dwarf" (1990) was a kaleidoscopic affair which at first glance seemed like a return to the psychedelia of "I Am The Walrus" and "Glass Onion" but was actually inspired by Hofstede's desire to write musical fairytales for his newborn child. The subsequent album "Ting" (1992) was a return to a much more minimalist approach, both with respect to the emphasis on the piano and the inspiration of Philip Glass on several songs. At the same time as working on "Ting", the group were also preparing material for a TV special with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. Mainly composed by Stips, this was later issued as the album "Hjuvi - A Rhapsody In Time".

The 1994 album "dA dA dA" was something of a return to basics, with "traditional" songwriting largely replacing the quirkiness of recent Nits releases, and the group's early influences (particularly The Beatles) once again to the fore. The album was the first Nits material to gain a release in the USA. Ironically for a group that had always performed in English, regarding it as a necessary evil for international success, recognition in the major English-speaking markets always eluded them. "dA dA dA", despite critical acclaim in both the UK and USA, still failed to break the group in either market.

In 1995, the group released "Nest", a 20-track retrospective album, and the accompanying tour ended on a high note with a concert broadcast live on television from the Uitmarkt festival. Stips then left to pursue a solo career.

The group continued, releasing the introspective albums "Alankomaat" (1998) and "Wool" (2000), followed by another retrospective, "Hits".

The group continues to this day following the return of keyboard player Robert Jan Stips in 2003 for the release of an album entitled "1974", commemorating the year of their formation. A new album titled "Les Nuits" was released in October 2005. After an extensive tour and some solo activity, the band returned to the studio in mid-2007 to record the album "Doing The Dishes", released in January 2008. The album was once again followed by a tour.


*"The Nits" (1978)
*"Tent" (1979)
*"New Flat" (1980)
*"Work" (1981)
*"Kilo" (1983) (mini)
*"Omsk" (1983)
*"Adieu Sweet Bahnhof" (1984)
*"Henk" (1986)
*"In the Dutch Mountains" (1987)
*"Hat" (1988) (mini)
*"Urk" (1989) (triple live album)
*"Giant Normal Dwarf" (1990)
*"Hjuvi - A Rhapsody in Time" (1992) (With The Radio Symphony Orchestra)
*"Ting" (1992)
*"dA dA dA" (1994)
*"Dankzij de Dijken" (1995) (as FRITS, together with Freek de Jonge, in Dutch)
*"Nest" (1995) (compilation album)
*"Alankomaat" (1998)
*"Hits" (2000) (compilation album)
*"Wool" (2000)
*"1974" (2003)
*"Les Nuits" (2005)
*"Doing the Dishes" (2008)

All of the group's albums have been re-issued on CD, except for their debut, which the group consider too rough for a proper reissue (though semi-bootleg copies can be obtained with the band's blessing).

External links

* [ Official NITS website]
* [ Nitsfans - A popular fan-built website]
* [ A forum for NITS fans]
* [ Watch their Paradiso (21-12-2006) concert in great video quality]

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