From recording and launching their fiery debut album ‘Guns And Money’ to supporting Kings Of Leon on their South African tour, 2011 was a busy year for blues-rock trio Shadowclub. And they couldn’t be happier.
“It’s feeling amazing,” admits frontman Jacques Moolman backstage at Synergy Live in late November. “We’re working really really hard and we’re riding the wave that came when we signed our record deal at the beginning of the year.
“Obviously the Kings of Leon thing is doing amazing things for us – it was a big turning point. We had a lot of good feedback from both shows, especially from people who’d never heard of us before and have subsequently become fans on Facebook and follow us around. A lot of the venues we’re packing out now are because of the Kings of Leon show,” he explains.
“We’re also being treated a lot better by venues and the rest of the music world which is also very nice, so touring is a lot more comfortable for us now – although we’re getting a little bit exhausted because we’re playing four or five times a week.
“But we’re really loving it,” he grins. “We’re building up balls of steel and biting the bullet every day, taking the good moments and rolling with the punches as well. It’s all working out great because we’re doing it full time now which is what we’ve always wanted to do.”
In fact, at the end of 2010 the singer and guitarist gave himself an ultimatum.
“I wanted to be at this position, I wanted it so badly, but I expected the best and the worst. Thank god it worked out for the best because I’d given it one more year. I’d decided either it works out really well or I get a desk job.”
That was a major decision for someone who’s spent most of the past decade in bands – first with the hard-partying jazzy rockers Airship Orange and then, since the end of 2007, Shadowclub.
“I really enjoy what I do,” confesses Moolman of his chosen path. “I really enjoy the music that I play first of all, so getting up on stage is me actually being very much at home. I feel very relaxed and very calm up there.
“I’ve always thought nerves are a good thing as well and that keeps me alive – it always keeps it new and fresh getting up on stage. You’re pretty much hoping nothing’s going to go wrong. But being in a three-piece there’s a space to play with that sort of thing – there’s got to some sort of mess,” he laughs.
Not that Shadowclub are sloppy – musically or personally.
“The days of being a rock ‘n roller back in the ’60s and ’70s where you could take copious amounts of substances are long gone. Nowadays to run a professional musician’s lifestyle, you’ve got to be on the ball constantly and you’ve got to have a lot of physical energy – you’ve got to be physically fit. If I had a major hangover and a cold, I wouldn’t physically be able to do what I do.
“So it’s all very well having that image and the partying is definitely part of it. We know how to party, but we also know how to work very hard.”
That hard work helps Shadowclub stand out.
“I think we’re a very tight band personally and as musicians. We communicate telepathically, that’s how tight we are. Our style as an individual three-piece is pretty damn original and from that point of view it definitely stands out, especially in this country,” he reasons.
“Internationally there are thousands and billions of bands doing the same thing we’re doing – that’s why you’ve got to have a lot of balls to do what we’re doing. And you hope and pray that you make it and each day is a fight to get there, but you’ve also go to love it a hell of a lot.
“You’ve got to absolutely love it with all your heart.”
It’s clear that Moolman does.
“For me, Shadowclub is a spirit and it has its own life – it’s got a lot of life in it now and it will move where it needs to and we’re guided by it as much as we guide it.”
- This article originally appeared on EntertainmentAfrica.com.