At the end of March, Johannesburg’s Climate Control released a brand new single, “Ghosts”, which peaked at #2 on the South African iTunes Rock Chart. It felt like a major victory for this young band that’s been snapping at the heels of the local music scene, yet never quite getting the deserved recognition. I caught up with Nicolas Gonzalez (NG), Luca Zeeman (LZ), Wesley Smuts (WS), Jacques du Toit (JDT) and Brooklyn Pakathi (BP) to discuss the band’s popularity overseas, the future of their music and if they’re going to call it a day anytime soon.
It’s been awhile since Climate Control released a full-length album or an EP. Instead you’ve gone with singles. Is this how the band is planning on releasing future music rather than invest in longer releases?
NG: Not at all. We want to build up to an EP and another full-length soon, but the method of releasing singles has proved to be the most cost-effective route at the moment for us being an independent band. Something we’ve particularly enjoyed about it is being able to focus all of our efforts onto a single track and allow it to shine in every way it possibly can. We put a tremendous amount of effort into everything we produce and put out, so we want the singles to have their attention and make as big of an impact as possible.
Your debut album, Preludes, was many years in the making, finally finding its release in 2013. Did you find that it achieved the success you envisioned it to?
NG: We’re happy with how it performed, but we’re always craving more. I’d have liked it to have done way more and spread further across the globe, but the feedback and response were good. It motivated us enough to push harder and further with our releases since. You’ve got to stay hungry, and we are – we want to take things to entirely different levels with our new material.
Stylistically, the band seems to have moved to the melodic route and Wes is no longer doing harsh vocals, as was evident on “Tidal Wave” and now “Ghosts”. Is this something that was discussed amongst the band or just a natural progression?
WS: To be honest, it was just natural progression for the band. We never came together and said that we are moving on from the harsh vocals. It came down to the point where our music did not need it anymore; it would’ve been forced and it would’ve been in there just for the sake of having it in there without having purpose. But we do have something coming up that might just surprise people a bit.
Despite being around for nearly a decade, Climate Control has yet to perform outside of Gauteng. Why is this? Do you think this could be holding the band back?
WS: It’s definitely been in the works to perform outside of Gauteng; a tour to Cape Town is something we’ve been working on for a while now. But with anything involving traveling, it involves insane amounts of planning to make sure it’s the best it could possibly be. It would benefit us immensely to broaden our fan base some more. Watch out, Cape Town, we’re coming for you soon.
Interestingly, it appears as if Climate Control is more popular overseas than it is in South Africa. Why do think this is? Also, doesn’t this give you an indication of where the band’s future lies?
JDT: I would say there is definitely interest in the band overseas. We’ve received some great feedback from across the globe. Social media platforms like YouTube and music services such as Spotify and iTunes have made our music very accessible globally. I think there is interest in our music overseas because we pull a lot of influence from international artists, and therein is the appeal. We don’t write music with the intention of it being esoteric either; we like to write music that is very relatable and can be enjoyed by many.
As for the band’s future, we have always talked about taking on the international circuit and I think that the fan base is there. Our job is to grow that fan base to the point where it would be viable for us to do a couple of international shows. When you get to that stage, you get a better idea of the feasibility of making a permanent move. We’re all very determined to make that a reality one day.
A lot of successful rock and metal bands, such as Zebra and Giraffe and Pestroy, have called it a day in recent times. Undoubtedly, band members get older and priorities shift. Do you ever see the same happening to Climate Control?
LZ: It’s sad to see such established local bands call it a day, as they are the ones with the most power to build this genre’s fan base and grow the scene because of their reach. I do think, though, that bands that show growth and persevere have the ability to fill those spots and carry on growing the scene. So, to answer the question, I don’t see Climate Control being put to rest anytime soon as we’ve got so much left to achieve.
With almost no real avenues for airplay for South African rock music, how do you view the future of rock radio here?
BP: The future, like most things, is unpredictable – but, as cheesy as this sounds, is in our own hands. That very same future can be shaped by active, passionate, driven individuals and groups who see a need and make it viable. Whether that’s podcasts, pirate radio or taking commercial entities head on, only those who want rock on radio can do something about it to get it played. There’s a lot we can do as a band to aid that desired future, but we can also be stagnant and complain and there’s no future in that.
After the release of the next single “Little Mess”, where to next?
BP: We’ll always find a way to try and bring something new, refreshing and certainly authentic to each of us as members in the band. We’re more than just sound through your speakers; there’s a desire to put out more art, more video work and the likes. Best way to see that come into fruition is to follow us on our journey.