KIRSTI BUICK

Local rock heavyweights Van Coke Kartel and Zebra & Giraffe teamed up this month to launch a country-wide tour. The Haal Asem Kwagga Tour finished off on a high note last weekend with a show at Pretoria’s Arcade Empire. Perdeby caught up with the bands before their final performances to talk about fake snakes, comic books, and a bit of music.

 

ZEBRA & GIRAFFE

This is the last show in the “Haal Asem Kwagga Tour”. What has the experience been like?

It’s been seriously fun. We weren’t best friends with Van Coke Kartel, we’re not really part of that scene. But we’ve had an amazing time, there have been no issues. We’ve all learnt from each other.

What was your favourite performance of the tour?

At Cool Runnings in Joburg, there were about 800 people there. It was our biggest independent show. We promoted it ourselves.

Who came up with the name for the tour?

Mike: It was me. I was just sitting in my brother’s shop, and I thought up two joke names. The other one was “Auntie Veronica Se Toer”, like the Fokofpolisiekar song “Antibiotika”.

Would you tour with Van Coke Kartel again?

Without a doubt. We aspire to the same standards in live performance. They made us up our game, to make our shows more fun to watch.

What was the funniest moment of the tour? Any crazy antics you’d like to share?

In PE, Greg bought a pet snake, and threw it on Jason’s [the drummer from Van Coke] snare drum while they were on stage. He’s terrified of snakes – he just froze, stopped playing. The rest of the band were screaming at him, they didn’t know what was going on.

Your new album, The Inside is a lot edgier than your debut album, Collected Memories. Was this consciously done?

Greg: With the first album, I was in a completely different headspace. I had no intention of releasing it. The second album was thought about. I don’t think we tried [to make it edgier], we just had different influences. It wasn’t contrived.

The Inside was released late last year. What has the response been like thus far?

CD sales haven’t been great, but CDs just don’t sell anymore. Unless you’re the Parlotones or Prime Circle. But our fans on Facebook and Twitter have grown. On Facebook, we went from 6 000 fans to 20 000. The response has been positive, in terms of critics and radio play. We’re all very proud of it. It did as well as we could have hoped.

Collected Memories did extremely well on local radio and at the SAMA’s and the MTV MAMA’s. Do you think The Inside has lived up to this standard?

We had seven singles on the first album. It’s tough to write an album full of singles. But this one has more longevity. It doesn’t grab you as quickly but it definitely has more staying power. It’s not a flash in the dark but a long-burning candle. This year [at the SAMA’s] we were nominated for Best Rock Album. Awards are great, they help push your career in a certain market, but at the end of the day, they don’t change what we do.

Greg, the first album was a solo project for you. Was it hard for you co-writing the second with the band?

Greg: It was, in a sense, when we first started. We had a tough time with our old keyboardist. We just didn’t get along musically. The tipping point was when we went away to the coast to write, and it ended up being me and Alan doing all the work.

Alan: But we reached a point [in our writing] where, if something was k*k, we’d tell each other.

What’s on the cards for Z&G in 2012?

Alan: Greg’s going skiing and Darren’s getting married…

Darren: We need to record some new stuff, an EP maybe. We need to keep new stuff happening.

Alan: We might do an audiovisual EP – a DVD/CD combo.

 

VAN COKE KARTEL

This is the last show in the “Haal Asem Kwagga Tour”. What has the experience been like?

It’s been awesome. We didn’t know what to expect. The idea was to team up a popular English and Afrikaans band and see what audiences we could pull. We’re also very tired at this stage. We’ve been to Potch, Bloem, back, Newtown, here…

What was your favourite performance of the tour?

Joburg Cool Runnings. We didn’t expect so many people. We were very happy with the turnout.

What’s the name of the tour about for you guys?

Francois: [Laughs] It’s just a funny name, it doesn’t mean much more than that.

Wynand: For them to keep up with us, they’ve got to take a breath.

Would you tour with Z&G again?

Absolutely. Next year we might do a follow-up. We did a recording together earlier this week, which might go on our album. We think the song is the bef**k, but we want to see how the mix comes out. It’s Afrikaans and English. Other bands have done it, but we think we did it better.

What was the funniest moment of the tour? Any crazy antics you’d like to share?

Every day had its comical moments. Like when Zebra & Giraffe photoshopped Jason’s face on to gay porn.

Your fourth album is due for release in November this year. What can fans expect?

It’s still going to be rock, but it’s quite different. The big thing is the two new members, Jason and Jed. It’s got a lot of variety – ballads, heavy – a whole spectrum of stuff.

What sets the new album apart from your previous work?

We have more years of experience and maturity, so let’s see if we get it right. We didn’t write this album for ourselves, but for others.

Skop, Skiet en Donner  won a SAMA this year for best Afrikaans Rock Album. How does the new album compare?

We believe this album is by far the best. The other was just a mengelmoes of stuff, this one is more complete.

Tell us a bit about the comics?

It’s a series of five comics, five different artists. There’s a Kurt Cobain figure, and he kind of challenges us to make the best rock album ever, otherwise we’re doomed to play sokkie treffers forever.

What’s on the cards for Van Coke in 2012?

We’ll tour through December, and Jool, all that. Our goal is to up the live shows. We want to take it to the next standard.

Image: Jerome van Zyl

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