On stage, Midnight Oil’s lead singer Peter Garrett cuts an imposing figure. Bald, six foot four, bestowed with an intense stare, he’s prone to flailing his limbs with wild abandon while singing passionately about politics, the environment, racism, militarism, and nuclear disarmament. In conversation, he’s thoughtful, articulate, and just as passionate. He has strong opinions on everything from climate change to legacy bands that go out and play the same 15 songs over and over, night after night.
Jack Lawrence-Brown is a bit stressed. It’s mid January. In less than two weeks White Lies hit the road for four months. They’re playing 55 dates across Europe and North America. They’re marking the 10th anniversary of their debut album. Oh, and they’re launching a new LP.
“This is always one of the toughest parts,” the drummer admits, looking ahead to the release of ‘Five’ on 1 February. “It’s all done, you’ve had it done for a little while, and you’re just drip-feeding songs to people, constantly checking the internet to see what they’re making of it all.
Five years ago, Wilko Johnson never imagined he’d reach 70. But now the straight-talking survivor is celebrating the milestone with his first headline show at Royal Albert Hall.
In the run-up to the gig, he tells us about overcoming a diagnosis of terminal cancer, an unlikely collaboration with Roger Daltrey, learning to live in the moment on stage, the effect of seeing The Beatles and Chuck Berry play live, and pretending his guitar is a machine gun.
A lot’s changed for Mike Doughty in the 20 years since he lived in London. He split Soul Coughing, the “deep slacker jazz” band that brought him success and anguish. He quit the drugs that helped him cope. He went solo. He wrote a memoir. He wrote a rock opera. And he started taking selfies with various food products.
But what’s not changed are his feelings towards the city he called home for most of 1996.
How would you recover from a gruelling US tour? Goldfish’s David Poole went surfing in the Maldives. Dom Peters, the Cape Town electronic duo’s other half, attended a music festival just outside his home town.
“That was probably the wrong thing to do,” Peters laughs on the line from the group’s studio. “I wore a hoodie, which helped, because everybody kept asking me what time I was playing.”
You can tell a lot about someone from their Instagram account. The Rock clearly likes working out, meeting fans, and raising his eyebrow. ‘Expresso’ presenter Katlego Maboe is a snappy dresser who meets many socialites and enjoys coffee and rugby. And Founding Director of Black Real Estate, Thato “TT” Mbha, is a dynamic, gregarious, well-travelled family man with no time for negativity. Always smiling (often with equally happy celebrities by his side), he’s mad about his two daughters, golf, fashion, and sharing inspirational quotes like “Pay attention to your dreams”.
“Life,” says Bruce Dube, “gets to be hard. But it’s a beautiful struggle.”
He should know. Today, the 27-year-old rules a pan-African digital media empire that incorporates youth portals, e-commerce sites, gaming and video channels, recruitment resources, and classifieds platforms. But his beautiful struggle to the top — marked by failure, hunger, and even death — has been as taxing as it is inevitable.
Dan Patlansky won’t soon forget 1 February 2014. It’s the day he opened for Bruce Springsteen at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium.
“That was fantastic, even though it was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever done,” he remembers. “The scary part wasn’t the actual number of people, it was that none of those 80 000 people were there to see me,” he chuckles.
London in January is cold, dark, and miserable. Yet Arno Carstens is excited to be back in the city he called home while making his third solo album.
“My memories of recording ‘Wonderful Wild’ are that there was a lot of serious thinking and kind of hard work but amongst the angst was just great fun and partying,” he says, thinking back to 2009. “Most memorable was all the good friends I made.
The last time éVoid had done a full South African tour, PW Botha was president. The brothers Erik and Lucien Windrich were 20-somethings with a thing for beads and face paint. And their politically charged, African-flavoured ethnotronic songs were considered subversive enough to warrant police attention – and popular enough for jumping fans to cave in the floor of Stellenbosch Town Hall.
That was 30 years ago – an eternity in the music scene. So the siblings were understandably a little worried about doing it all over again to celebrate their self-titled debut album’s anniversary. No need: all 10 of their August homecoming shows were sell-out successes.