Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Black Mamba Beat: Interview
With a new show coming up I thought it would be a perfect time to catch up with Black Mamba Beat and hear about their recent tour, their label, favourite bands and a few other things too...
Kicking things off with introductions, tell us a little about yourselves... How was Black Mamba Beat formed? Can you tell us about the Wake Up Dead project? Any new projects planned for 2011? Fill us in!
Space Rat: SANBONANI! I am Etienne, AKA Space Rat and I play bass, sing and sometimes scream a bit too. I like beer, braaing (barbequing) and noise. The Mambas formed at the end of 2007 after The Chief finally kicked mine, and Rosie's ass into getting our shit together. I had had a bass guitar collecting dust for about 8 years, riffing every now and then but never constructively enough. Rosie had played drums in her high school rock band. So out of a mutual love for bands like Creedence, Springsteen, Minutemen, Fugazi, traditional and modern South African guitar and rhythmic music, Black Mamba Beat was formed, the name was there before the band too. Influences we would end up learning from each other also inspired Mamba’s sound. We wanted to bring a punk rock band to the 'scene' that has loads of different influences and hopefully doesn't only get labeled as garage-rock. The Chief and I are from South Africa and knew each other back when we were growing up skateboarding at the beach and getting drunk at shitty nightclubs, Rosie and myself are a happily married rhythm section.
As for Wake Up Dead, the mastermind behind the project is Andrew Low, a previous resident of New Jersey and leader and axe-man of a good few (popular) bands. He moved to London and had been playing 2nd guitar in Black Time after meeting them at a Live Fast Die show in Paris. WUD started up back in NJ, so that's where the true USA powerpop/punk rock feel comes from, with the obvious 70s/80s influences. After Andy moved to London, WUD continued as a more stripped down punk rock outfit (they had been a bit more new wave and poppy). The line up was Andy on vox/gtr, The Chief (Stix of Black Time) on bass/b.vox and Lemmy Caution on drums/b.vox. They started busting out when we were lucky enough to have our very own practice space/studio, which we have since been evicted from for being too noisy. I have since wormed my way in to play bass, so Stix and Lemmy now share drum and 2nd axe duties. We hope the world will be seeing more WUD this year and maybe the birth of MUNK, a metal/punk project Andy, Stix and myself have fucked around with a bit before in practices.
Besides that we hope to do as many of our own shows again this year and release a few new tapes on our small label Shabeen Scene. Look out for a full length Wake Up Dead tape, another spilt with The Chief's other side-project Work That Skirt and a new-ish, secret side-project from a pretty well known band.
Chief: This is true I was staying at their house in between moving out of my house and a Black Time tour. I couldn’t stand to see the bass and snare drum looking so sad. They asked me why their owners didn’t play them, I explained they hadn’t found the right innovation and I would ensure we formed a band. In return the snare and bass said they would offer fame and fortunes on completion of this task. This information is exclusive to glided gutter.
I saw you guys play Ryan's Bar a few months back, unless my eyes were playing tricks on me two of you look like brothers, is that correct? If so, what's it like working with a sibling?
Space Rat: That is quite funny, sorry, we haven't really gotten that before but no, we aren't blood brothers. Rather soul bruthas of rock or summin cheesy like that. Like we mentioned before, The Chief and I are both from South Africa, born and raised, maybe that has something (actually probably a lot) to do with how we behave.
Chief: I concur this is the first time we heard this but when that family demographic comes back we shall be sure to milk it. Maybe we can do a white stripes enigma marketing ie: Are they a gay couple or brothers? Maybe this is part of the bass drum fame prophecy.
You just came back from a tour of your homeland, how did it go? Do you enjoy touring?
Space Rat: Yea, we did 4 shows in South Africa, it was a holiday to see family and we thought to just do a few DIY kind of shows there while we were all out there together. We were lucky enough to have awesome buds help us out and ended up making it so worth while and fun, up there with some of our most memorable shows ever, if not the most memorable. We haven't really toured much to be honest that will hopefully come soon. We have done a few shows over the UK and once over at a garage rock fest in Sardinia and recently the small stint in SA. The Chief is a veteran (from Black Time days) and is trying to prepare us as best he can I think for the tour lifestyle so when it hits us we can hopefully handle it.
Chief A good friend of mine Sadie from SF band the husbands once said that everyone should experience the tour lifestyle ounce in their lives, as it’s a good educator in livin your life. I’m paraphrasing but it was something to that degree and something I agree hence why I am trying to do a proper US tour at the end of the year. The SA thing was as space rat said a holiday with a few shows but it was great and the memories shall burn forever.
How would you say the music scene differs between Africa and England? Are there many record stores out there? (What's the best one?!)
Space Rat: It differs hugely people love a lot of mainstream rock and trend rock (ska/rockabilly/folk-punk) there. Although not all of that is bad, it can be a bit sad and almost frustrating I guess as it just feels that sometimes you are limited out there. On the other hand there are some amazing bands out there, in particular this band we had the honor to play with twice out there called Fruits & Veggies, from the town we grew up in, Durban. They mix up traditional African Maskanda style jams with punk and funk and reggae to bring a completely refreshing sound with awesome energetic live shows. More people need to hear them and get them out here and famous, I reckon we'll all be seeing them on Jools Holland one day. There are also huge kwaito, dance and hip hop scene happening there that is the real South African sound. As for record stores in SA, it's weird as everything is pretty commercialized, there are a few places that sell secondhand vinyl but it's mostly flashy stores no real punker ones we know of. But then again we haven't lived there for 10 years now better to just support the local music there, as there is enough. We hope to do a scene report on it all for Maximum RNR soon.
Chief: It was really cool in our hometown of Durban where there was a specific scene going on. Shows are organized regularly where people come out get "loose" (drunk) and watch the shows. When we were playing shows in Durban it could have been playing anywhere in the world. Anywhere that has enthusiasm and makes events, gigs happen. The quality and style of the music might not be up to our or MRR or Termbo standards but the main thing is a scene is created.
Do you have any memorable performances in any past or present bands you've been in?
Space Rat: It's pretty much all been good for both BMB and WUD. Stand out shows have been, South Africa for sure and the Big Take Over shows we've gotten to play in London with really cool bands and one was even outdoors at The Hayward Gallery along the river! As well as the couple times we have been up North to play a show or two and party with our good buds The Hipshakes / Bruce 'n' Carl, wild times.
Chief: Playing drums in Blacktime and getting to tour around Europe and the US (3 times) has provided me with many awesome memories and good times to replay in my mind when I’m old drunk and boring at the bar. In terms of the Mambas I guess besides our recent SA jaunt. It would be the Sardinia show cause a lot of good things came out of it (album with Jeetkune) and it was one gig but weeks worth of partying with our close buds the Hipshakes
What about as an audience member - are there any bands that have totally blown you away?
Space Rat: Wow, so many, damn. FRUITS & VEGGIES! French duo The Magnetix. I saw The Jesus Lizard on their reunion tour, I felt privileged to be there, such a legendary band and an insane performance. We also broke into the Rage Against The Machine show at Finsbury Park, liberating to say the least. One of Hot Snakes' last shows, Rick Fork totally wasted on stage downing cheap-ass tequila (Sierra) and complaining about the quality of it. I love totally different spectrums, like noise-rock and then pure pop-punk, Dear Landlord and Statues were amazing last year. And of course, local bands like The Shitty Limits and The Sceptres who always keep it real and their new band The Love Triangle and Human Hair, Facel Vega, Bird Calls, Guilty Parents, Suspect Parts, etc, the list is endless.
Chief: In the last few years it has been the Golden Boys. Blacktime played with them in Columbus Ohio to five people. Never the less they ripped it was all the good shit I liked rolled into one. I wont bother dropping references cause the internet can sort you out. After there show I immediately bought $20 of merch and met them they were cool dudes. I saw them again in SF at the budget rock festival and they were amazing again and super nice. The guitarist of Golden Boys "John Wesley Coleman" has released 2 solo records on Goner and the first one "Steal My Mind" is amazing. Other than that in Europe Magnetix are the best duo (jack white eat a dick) in the world just go see them. Wau los Aaarghs are a great band from Valencia Spain who I’ve seen many times and they never disappoint. Not forgetting Fruits and Veggies who were an awesome band in SA.
What's the current status of the Black Mamba Beat and Wake Up Dead, any shows/tours/recordings planned for 2011?
Space Rat: To conquer the UK, do as many shows here as possible and hopefully do a small tour of the USA. A new BMB album, a WUD full length/discog tape, more recording too as time allows and things progress, maybe in a jazz direction?
Chief: USA USA USA !!!!!
Are there any bands you're really digging at the moment? Stuff you recommend?
Space Rat: This Moment In Black History from Ohio, I don't know if many people are hip to them yet, they remind me of a more boombastic Nation Of Ulysses. Also, Texan band Black Congress, pure feedback and noise from the ashes of Fatal Flying Guilloteens. Also all bands mentioned before and stuff like Marked Men, Hex Dispensers, Golden Boys.
Chief: The Hunches “Exit Dreams” record rules as does the Eat Skull “Wild and Inside”. I was also late on this one but I got into a band called The Coathangers from Atlanta V awesome if you like girls and punk and rock and keys and shouting.
Your split cassette is on America's Kind Turkey and album is on Italy's Jeet Kune, how did it come about that your stuff was released on labels overseas?
Space Rat: Well our debut LP evolved out of friendship and luck basically. We played our very 1st show with Italian band The Intellectuals who were already friends with Black Time and we got to meet up again in Sardinia at the fest when we all played. Tina from The Intellectuals and her boyfriend Marco had just started up Jeet Kune. They dug our sound and we had done a few tapes and CD-R's ourselves already. They just asked if we wanted to do an album and we didn't even have to think about and said yes, finished up a few more recordings ourselves on 4-track and that was that. We got hooked up via the net with Bobby who co-runs Kind Turkey with some of his buds he is a big Black Time enthusiast and got stoked when he saw there were 'side-projects'.
Chief: Blacktime has helped turn heads.
I first found out about Black Mamba Beat on Termbo's website and the internet allowed me, like so many others to find out more through blogs and myspace. Sure, these things help get music heard, but from your experience are there any hindrances to the pro digital era?
Space Rat: I think most people who are used to using the internet nowadays couldn't live without it, it has been really helpful in setting up shows and just being able to get in contact with pretty much anyone you want to make contact with, more or less. It's all good, I think people make music on computers too now? We're all for the digital age as much as we still try be DIY making posters and flyers, it has to be both.
Chief: I think its good and inevitable no matter how many sites Lars Ulrich tries to shut down, people will always download etc. All it means is new bands get a break and older bands (especially the 80's shit hair metal) can’t rest on their laurels. So they either got to tour again or do "rock of love" (the Brett Michaels dating program). The only downside I see emerging is a lot of marketing rising to the forefront as the only way to make money out of music. If the amount is decent I’ll take the money but your song will be forever known as that "Gap song" or that "Starbucks song". The choice is yours.
Thanks so much for spending some time answering these questions. I have one more, 'I'm full of dust and guitars' - Syd Barrett, if you were to be cracked open what would be inside?
Space Rat: Beer, meat, marinade and a brain half rotting.
Chief: Skateboard, economics, girls, beer, production ideas.
Black Mamba Beat Myspace