South Africa may have a vast history when it comes to music, but it’s the future we should be concerned about. While the music industry has progressed, it’s time we rally more support on all fronts.
Nic Gaud, from the Cape Town rock band Goodnight Wembley ratifies this statement. “There is this inherent view that what comes from overseas is better.” This wayward thinking needs to be dispelled. “Radio should be playing more South African stuff and support more genres and local bands,” Nic says. “It’s happening, but it needs to happen more.” South African music has greatly diversified over the years and reached international standards. “It’s in the production,” Nic asserts. “You can hear it, we are on par, the quality is on par. Nothing speaks louder than the product.”
Nic is one of the five members that comprise Goodnight Wembley, a band made up of seasoned musicians who all come from different bands. Along with Nic – who is on guitar and vocal duty for Goodnight Wembley and 7th Son – the rest of the band consists of George van der Spuy from Taxi Violence (vocals), Alex Krause (guitar) and Jean Labuschagne (drums) from Dead Lucky and Miggs Auer from 7th Son (bass). I sit down to talk about the new(ish) band with Nic, Miggs and George at Kill City Blues, a veritable musicians’ haven, situated in Woodstock.
Goodnight Wembley, which, considering the band is Capetonian makes me think of the Square a few kilometres away instead of the London stadium it alludes to, is about five musicians who love rock and have amalgamated their talents to create something new. Therefore, questioning whether the other bands’ styles bleed into their new work isn’t actually worthy of consideration. “The individual bands all have their own thing going. We inherently bring something of ourselves to the music, but the overall sound is unique.” With a new band comes more gigs, more touring, more promotion…basically more work. As if to illustrate the fact, a phone starts ringing somewhere and George has to step out to take a call.
It’s been little over a year and already Goodnight Wembley has played all the major local festivals, including Synergy and Rocking the Daisies, while this month will see them supporting Billy Talent for the Cape Town leg of their tour. Taxi Violence have supported Billy Talent in the past, but this had nothing to do with their latest tour. Miggs and Nic, who are “stoked” about the upcoming show, confirm this. “We’ve been told that Billy Talent chose the bands. It has nothing to do with Taxi Violence.” But before all this takes off, there is the release of their debut album BANG! which was pre-released on iTunes. They agree that an online presence is as important as a live one. “You can’t only do one or the other. Everyone’s connected these days and you have to push yourself on every platform. They work hand in hand. It helps bands out all the time [and] it’s a quick avenue all over the world.” The band has signed with Sony Music Africa and the recording of BANG! was yet another innovative venture. “We had a unique experience going out and moving the recording to a wine farm in Stellenbosch. Not a lot of bands get that opportunity.” The recording was also captured by local filmmaker Michael Ellis, to be released as a documentary, which Ellis is currently busy editing.
As for the band’s future, this includes plans to head overseas “For now we’re focusing on local tours and making it as big as possible…When we go over we want to have as much product as possible.” They approximate that they’ll be back in studio by December and heading overseas in January. “We’ll see how it all falls together,” Nic says with an easy shrug. Their demeanour may be laidback, but it’s clear that it is backed by a practical outlook. “Don’t give up your day job,” Nic says frankly. “Treat it [music] like a business…You can’t sit around in your garage and expect work to come to you. You have to take it upon yourself to get it out there. No one’s going to come knocking on your door.”