The Make-Overs interview with Martinique “Pulsar” Pelser and Andreas Schönfeldt
If garage rock is your game and you’ve never heard the name The Make-Overs before, I’ve got a hell of a treat in store for you. Tucked deep in the fold of the South African scene The Make-Overs managed to escape their home stomping grounds and invade Chicago for a short period last year, and thanks again to the keen ears at Permanent Records Chicago, I was clued into this delightful madness! Ramped up, psychotic, psychedelic, garage rock at its finest, The Make-Overs are a force to be reckoned with.
When I first listened to them they were one of those rare bands were I didn’t even notice that they were only a two-piece there was so much going on! Pounding melodies with machine gun precision drumming build an airtight bottom end while the gnarled, distorted guitar blares above the din. The back and forth male/female vocals add a really nice dynamic to the music as well, Martinique’s Riot grrrl like screams are enough to shatter glass or level a building, dynamic and destructive at once, while also being rather pretty sounding at times. And rest assured, Andreas is not out of his element, tossing guttural quips back and forth lyrically as he jabs and attacks with the one two of his twisted guitar antics, building these frenzied chaotic rave ups only to drop the bottom end out of it all and letting the tempo hang like Stallone in Cliffhanger. Spastic punk garage rock with caustic twinges of psychedelia and noise, this music is like white lightning in a bottle; you better watch yourself because there’s no telling what’ll happen once you ingest it! You know a few things when a band internationally comes up out of the South African scene. First off you know that they are hella talented, no one escapes that vacuum without a shit ton of talent. Secondly, you know that they’ve got a sense of work ethic that would put ninety-nine percent of us to shame; you don’t escape a vacuum without a lot of hard work and planning. Thirdly, and most importantly, you’re talking to people who’ve dealt with an extreme sense of alienation from the rest of the globe due to Apartheid, and which while unfortunate in a lot of senses leads to this really unique creative voice in a lot of cases. The Make-Overs are no exception to anything I’ve stated, they’re a viciously original, loud, raucous and incredibly talented voice that’s managed to claw their way out of the isolated and often ignored South African music scene. They also happen to be some of the coolest people I’ve ever talked to about music. It was really interesting getting to chat with the two-piece about their musical histories dating back even pre-Make-Overs and really delve into the situations, scenes, bands and individuals that have made The Make-Overs who they are. After months of back and forth, editing and formatting I’m so happy to finally be able to give you this interview I’m not going to waste another second of your time with my words. Instead I’ll pass the torch to The Make-Overs, enjoy!
Are either of you in any other bands at this point? Have you released anything with anyone else? If so can you tell us about it?
Andreas: Right now I’m really involved in two other projects/bands, Brown Spiders and Splinter Sect but I’ve also recorded some new songs with Martinique for another project. I play drums in Brown Spiders, we’ve got a 7” coming out on HoZac Records and just finished recording our second album. Splinter Sect is a combination of loud drone live improvisations and bedroom recordings. We’re not really anticipating any live shows, but we’ll be putting out the EP on the KRNGY logo as soon as we get the cover art done. The guys from Brown Spiders helped out with the live recordings, but the idea is that the members of the band are ever changing.
Martinique: We’ve played in quite a few bands in the past; together and apart, for the past ten years, If You Are What You Eat Then I Could Be You By Tomorrow, PoodlePiss, The HearingAids and Sticky Antlers are a few I should probably mention. Sticky Antlers, the group we had before The Make-Overs, is one I look back on very fondly. There was a point in South Africa, although lately it’s much better, before the internet, where it was very hard to find music stores that catered to different tastes, and we’ve always been a few years behind due to a turbulent past. Imports were expensive and our government controlled a lot of the music that came into the country, which meant a lot of stuff was kept out. This led to us struggling to find similar minded people who we could talk to and share music with. The mind-set at the time was also very stiff, bands had to be “professional”, following certain industry standards. Albums had to be multi-tracked. If you didn’t spend thousands, to hundreds of thousands, on mastering and recording then it couldn’t possibly be any good. We were irritated by the lack of pure passion. Most acts were boring, watered-down versions of popular international acts. It was fickle, artificial and we wanted to start a group that challenged that in every way. First of all, Andreas and I had to find like-minded souls who understood that it was not about fame, or professionalism, or even being the best, but rather about having fun and making art. We couldn’t find musicians who were willing to put themselves out there like that. Doing this meant no one would be able to relate to it, and because it wasn’t based on a popular sound, it meant standing out, and no one wanted to do that. So we approached two of our friends, Jaco and Damon, neither of whom had any musical training before, and we “tricked” them into joining us. They were the only people brave enough to go onto a stage and just improvise noisy, relentless, sonic templates. And more often than not we would start with about fifteen people, and end with two, and they just stayed because we were their lift home. However we kept at it, and against all odds, we somehow started writing songs and because we stood out so much and acted so obnoxious, like refusing to talk to the audience, selling handmade CD’s and merchandise when everyone thought we were nuts, and poking fun at the pretentious and mundane acts we felt deserved it, and just kept sticking to what we believed in, we started making a deeper impact than we ever thought we would. The band was featured in various online and printed publications, we had a very successful Cape Tour where we played in front of more than one hundred people for the first time ever and got a significant mention in the Punk in Africa documentary by Keith Jones and Deon Maas. We made our own two-hour on the road doccie (documentary), two full-length albums and various obscure improvisations. However the band came to an end in 2010 when Damon was offered a bursary to go study at Cambridge University in the UK and we just couldn’t replace him, because it would never have been the same.
Why a two-piece as opposed to a traditional trio or something? Did you draw any influence from any particular duos from the past when forming The Make-Overs?
Andreas: It’s really convenient. We live together, so we can decide to practice or record at any time. It’s cool not having to compete with any other string instruments when playing live. It makes sound checks really quick and easy.
Martinique: Andreas and I initially started making music as a duo when we first met, so it wasn’t such a strange move for us. We had previous projects where we had played live and released albums that just involved the two of us, like PoodlePiss, where we were later joined by JHC on keyboards, and The Hearingaids. Once we realized that Sticky Antlers was coming to an end we immediately wanted to start something new, and even though we loved the group, Jaco being a Type 3 Diabetic who doesn’t take care of himself like he’s supposed to, and Damon obviously needing a lot of time for studies, made us realize we wanted a group that was committed to nothing else, so that we could make as many albums as we wanted, when we wanted, and also tour whenever we felt like it. And that meant keeping it just to the two of us.
What are the major pros and cons of being a two-piece band?
Martinique: Pros: because we’re a couple who have been living together now for eight years and going out from almost eleven, we know each other’s schedules, we can take a show immediately, without first having to clear a thousand details with different people, it’s incredibly economical! We can share a single couch, we have many times before. We don’t have to split the finances four, five or six ways, we’re very comfortable with each other physically, obviously, and it translates into a certain energy on stage that other bands will never get. Not because we’re better than them, but because we do share a connection that goes beyond just band member camaraderie. Traveling, and being on the road, doesn’t drain us, although I’ve heard it does a lot with other bands. It’s like being on holiday permanently. We get to see new places, meet new people and play a show every night, for both of us that’s a dream come true, and when we get home we can look back at it together. Cons: safety in numbers, especially in South Africa, less hands to help carry heavy equipment; we have lugged amps and drums up and down so many stairs. In some ways our band has become our child, and therefore we’re very careful who we work with and we try to control as much of the management as we can, as well as marketing, booking, making merchandise and so forth. However writing and recording takes up time, time we can’t spend and don’t want to spend on other aspects. So we can dip off the radar every now and then when it comes to online media, especially when we start work on a new album.
Andreas: We can fit all our equipment into a relatively small car and tour locally in South Africa on the cheap. We sleep in the car when necessary; there are a lot of pros. We don’t have to deal with the drama or politics that come with each member you add to a group. I mean, things like work schedules, egos, money, etcetera. As much fun as it is to hang around with your buddies the whole time when touring as a bigger band, I think we’re far more productive as a duo.
Where are you originally from?
Martinique: South Africa, Pretoria.
Andreas: Kilnerpark Local. I have no pride in that.
Were your households musical growing up? Were either of your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music when you were growing up?
Martinique: Not really, my step dad introduced me to stuff like The Troggs, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks to name a few, but he never played in a band or an instrument, neither did my mom. I think my aunt plays the organ, but it’s mostly Christmas songs and church hymns.
Andreas: My dad had an acoustic guitar, but he was more involved in art and photography. I did steal a lot of records from him, and still do; Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Leanard Cohen, Donovan. My mom did fashion design work, and liked Melanie and Francios Hardy. Growing up I was more into drawing this comic book called Melting Man until I got my first electric guitar, a Hawk. It was basically a plank with strings, it cost a R100 (ten dollars) and I used to plug it into the hi-fi and play along to L7 and Nirvana tapes.
What was your first real exposure to music? When and why did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
Andreas: I had this friend whose parents were always out, or maybe they just didn’t care. We could do anything at their house. My parents constantly told me to stay away from them. He had a mean older sister in high school and her fucked-up friends would hang around sometimes. Mostly they would listen to shit like 2Unlimited but every now and then someone would pitch up with something cool and we would tape it to cassettes whilst they were out smoking pot. We had tapes filled with stuff like Babes in Toyland, Jesus Lizard, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers and Nirvana.
Martinique: When I was three, I loved playing my parents records on the record player. But being three meant I was not delicate. I think I destroyed a lot of needles, but it made me happy and my mom just kept replacing them. I’ll always remember my stepdad playing me The Troggs, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Herman’s Hermits. And to this day I love all those groups. We moved from Pretoria to Pietersburg, now called Polokwane, when I was about thirteen. This was in 1995, only a year after our first free democratic election. The whole world had sanctions against us, and rightfully so, because of the terrible way our Government at the time treated other human beings. But that meant that small towns like Pietersburg, were super conservative, super backwards, and very depressing. We had no music stores, the internet wasn’t a common thing yet, and I felt like I was stuck in the worst place in the world. It seemed like everyone’s mom was either a part-time nurse or a primary school teacher. Otherwise, they just stayed home and raised the kids in these brown and turquoise suburbs. Eventually, someone played me Nirvana and The Pixies from a tape they had copied from their uncle who could drive into the bigger cities and find these albums, it blew me away. I never thought I would hear anything I liked as much as I liked the Troggs and so forth, all the music I heard from people before the commercial 80’s pop terribleness, you know, Spice Girls bad… I don’t know why, but I was suddenly taken by the idea that a great way to escape all of that, would be to not only find more bands I love, and expose myself to as much variation as possible, but to buy a guitar and create my own sounds. I could go off on my own and write songs, it was escapism. The best kind. When I turned thirteen, I asked my mom to buy me a guitar.
When and how did you two meet?
Andreas: We originally met at a recording studio owned by a lunatic we both were acquainted with. They had all this gear and soundproof rehearsal rooms there… And yet they never seemed to get any work done. So I moved on to go and study film and video the next year, Martinique ended up at the same film course and we hooked-up almost instantly.
Martinique: That’s a very long and complicated story… I think the lack of work ethic we both experienced at that studio Andreas mentioned is what made us want to do as much as we can, they had so much, an office, a rehearsal room, a recording studio, a lounge, a practice room, and they did nothing but sit around and let it go to waste. And that really got to both of us, we would go crazy if we could get a space like that. We would be releasing an album every month! Neither one of us were eager to continue any type of relationship with that studio, so we both left. It’s funny how things just lined up though. I had a massive crush on Andreas for a whole year, but I just didn’t have the guts to tell him.
What led you to form The Make-Overs and when exactly was that?
Martinique: The demise of Sticky Antlers in 2010. We wanted another project that could play live as soon as possible. Sticky Antlers played their last shows in August of that year, and The Make-Overs played our first show that same night, on the same bill.
Andreas: It really just happened very naturally, I had always played in bands with my friends but most of them didn’t achieve anything because my friends were usually deadbeats who couldn’t actually give a shit about music. Then I jammed with a new drummer and we decided to get Martinique in on the bass, since she was hanging out there with us anyway. Since then we’ve played in a ton of projects together, and she’s played just about every instrument imaginable.
Martinique: I feel like I need to mention that I wasn’t just hanging out there for lack of something better to do, I was hoping Andreas would ask me to join in. Up until that point, my dealings with most men in our music scene was that women would idly stand by on the sidelines. Andreas, on the other hand, had so many influence from female fronted bands and all girl bands that I knew he would ask me, and because they needed a bassist I moved to bass. When The Make-Overs started I had to move to the drums and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite instruments.
What does the name The Make-Overs mean or refer to?
Andreas: That terrible show… I think it was called Style By Jury. They would take a unique looking person and turn them into a living Barbie doll. It was the most horrific thing ever. I think they first had all these assholes judge them and explain to these poor people why they’re ugly and will never succeed in life. I was looking for a name that was representative of our times, the modern 2000-and-something life. Society takes something completely functional and unique and fucks it all up, just so that it’s easier on the eye and acceptable to some imaginary standard that’s actually complete bullshit. I doubt anyone really thinks about our name in that way, they just go, “That’s such a shitty name I’ll never listen to that…” So the real meaning is mostly lost on people, but that’s fine by me.
Martinique: Because we had so many projects going on before Make-Overs, and we were always trying to re-invent ourselves sonically, we thought it would be fitting. We don’t ever want to define ourselves through only one style, or one type of sound. So calling ourselves the Make-Overs, means we can change from album to album, show to show, as we see fit.
Where is the band currently located?
Make-Overs: Kilnerpark in Pretoria, but we’re talking about moving. Pretoria is depressing.
How would you describe the local scene where you are currently located at?
Andreas: Pretoria is pretty dead at the moment, it’s a city void of decent venues and events. We hardly ever play shows here in Pretoria, we have to drive down to Joburg where there’s some action. I don’t want to diss the place, because I love it almost as much as I hate it, but I can’t pretend that there’s anything happening here. It’s partly our fault too. We see Kilnerpark as a place to come hide away, and write and record and work. There’s almost no distractions here, no real reason to go outside.
Martinique: If there is one, I’m unaware of it. We do much better in the neighboring city Johannesburg, Cape Town and other parts of South Africa. Our hometown has always been a blessing and a curse, we isolate ourselves a lot when we are here and not on the road. We only ever really go out if we play shows because there’s so little happening that appeals to our tastes. We try to spend our time writing and recording, painting, working part time jobs to save up money for the road, getting merchandise ready, running the KRNGY logo and hunting down old guitars and gear at charity shops and second hand stores. Coming back from a tour always takes a bit of a toll on us. We have so much fun and then suddenly we’re back, and everything seems a little bleak. So we start working to keep our minds on something else. At the moment however our place is really nice, rent is cheap, and it’s easy to lock up and leave when going on the road.
Are you very involved with the local scene?
Andreas: Not actively, never intentionally.
Martinique: We try not worry about a scene so much, or being part of one. We make music and art to stimulate ourselves and find happiness in a world that is harsh. We’re in a third world country and it’s different, we’ve been to America, the UK and Greece, so we have some perspective and although I love my country and it builds a lot of character, it’s tough and getting tougher, and a lot of people are suffering and you witness it not on the news, but in person, and it affects you. We have shows and try to organize fun events like the KRNGY Slumber Part and Halloween shows, but you must actively create these events, or support friends who are doing so in order for them to take place. There are other scenes here, but we just never “fit in” to any of them.
Has it played a large role in the history or evolution of The Make-Overs?
Andreas: What, the local scene? Nah, not really. Except for Jaco + Z-Dog, we played some shows with them in Cape Town and their live shows were out of this world. So seeing those shows influenced me to some degree, but I guess the lack of a scene has actually played a huge role in Make-Overs. It’s forced us to create our own events and to put together as many bands as humanly possible. We were pretending like there was something happening and that seemed to trigger more bands to start up in other parts of the country like Cape Town, Joburg and Durban. Now Cape Town actually has a pretty cool thing going on… And we’re still pretending.
Martinique: Yeah, not on the sound, not on the idea, but on us as individuals. We would’ve probably never started Sticky Antlers if it wasn’t for the local scene and the desire to oppose it. We would have definitely still played in bands, it wouldn’t have been the same though.
I am really awful at labeling and classifying music, I just don’t think it fits into all the neat little labels and categories that people like to put it in. For our readers who haven’t heard you yet, how would you describe The Make-Overs sound?
Andreas: Honestly I don’t know anymore. We never really discussed what type of music we wanted to make or anything. We do tend to be loud, and are sometimes put under the ‘garage punk’ or ‘noise rock’ genres and we don’t have a problem with either of those genres. I guess rock music is such a broad genre it can be anything from Buddy Holly to Cosmic Psychos, so would it be okay to just say rock music and not go into more detail?
Martinique: I agree with you. It’s hard to classify, luckily the internet means that each and every reader can have a listen without much effort finding us. The problem is, there’s a big difference from our first album to the latest, so it depends on which album they’re listening to…
Who are your major musical influences? What about the band as a whole rather than individually?
Andreas: Neu!, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Troggs, Wipers, Devo, Suicide, The Mummies, Baseball Furies, Jay Reatard, The Milkshakes, Coachwhips, The Kinks, Butthole Surfers and then some fifties/sixties hits. I personally hate sounding anything like my direct influences though, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just ripping-off something I admire. So Can would be the one band that’s been with me forever, but I can’t just go try and play krautrock because of that, same thing with the blues. With The Make-Overs we try and just play what comes to us, I’m sure there’s major influences in there but I don’t like thinking about them.
Martinique: We listen to music together almost all the time. Influence is difficult, anything I hear and like is in one way or another influential, but I try not to think too hard about it, because the last thing I want is to sound like something else. So instead of drawing musical influence from what I hear from others, I try and find it elsewhere, the sound of distorted Kwaito coming out of a ‘combo taxi’ with super bad speakers, in the CBD when I drive to work, images, experiences. We’re both heavily influenced by bands that keep going no matter what, like White Mystery (Interview here) for example. There are, and were, many bands like them, but recently I’ve been blown away by those two’s consistency. It’s not on a musical level, although I love their sound. Rather it’s their incredibly amazing work ethic, their sheer determination to do what they do all the time! Even bands I don’t like or listen to, who have this work ethic are inspiring to me. Another example is The Minutemen, We Jam Econo was a revolutionary idea that I find to be very inspiring.
Let’s take some time and talk about your back catalog. You two are unbelievable prolific and I’d love to hear about the recording of your albums! Your first release was 2010’s MC1R on the 16th Chromosome. Can you share your memories of recording that first album? Was it a pleasant experience? When and where was it recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?
Andreas: We always record our albums ourselves as the KRNGY Logo. The Make-Overs tried out the fancy expensive studios, which just made us love make-shift recording techniques even more. We recorded the first album in a print studio here at home, it’s a large room with a high ceiling and tiled floors with printing presses all over. We recorded everything live to 8-track tape used as 16-mono channels, on a Fostex machine paired with a Studiomaster analogue desk. Basically we just threw some mics up and made sure all the channels were in the red and pressed record. I think I was mainly in charge of the engineering duties back then, now Martinique does most of it.
Martinique: It was great. Rushed, raw and energetic. I played bass in Sticky Antlers and I only had one month on the drums, from the end of June to the end of July, to learn the basics of the instrument. Then we recorded and the album was done by November, with a release that December. Andreas was very eager to play live as soon as possible, so while I was trying to just get drumming right, he was getting me to write and remember song parts. Pressure is a great thing, so we’ve always tried to put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves regardless of the fact we don’t answer to any label. I remember once reading a review and the artist was going on about how, if it wasn’t for the producer, the recording would have never gotten done. We don’t want it to be like that. You need to set yourself strict deadlines. For Sticky Antlers last album, Tupperware Tombstone we purchased a 16-track reel-to-reel tape recording machine and desk for a steal. We decided to record live using the same desk and machine, trying to not dub vocals whenever possible. The track “Cuss and Pray”, for both of us was a strange achievement. The song fits the album, yet sounds nothing like any of the other tracks. We did it live, loop and all; the effects Andreas used on his vocals worked so well. Since then it seems that we’ve always had a song or two on each album that’s just completely off-track with the rest of the album, but somehow just feels right.
How was MC1R on the 16th Chromosome originally distributed and released? Was that release limited? Who put that out? Is it still in print? What does the name MC1R on the 16th Chromosome mean or refer to?
Andreas: MC1R on the 16th Chromosome is the biological reason for red hair, since we both have red hair it seemed appropriate. Album titles are always a bitch for us, so we end up with some strange names.
Martinique: It refers to us. We both have that mutation on our 16th chromosome, meaning we have red hair. There were 500 copies released on CD, no vinyl yet, but one day. KRNGY released it, we still have copies for sale. The first album was meant to be fun and energetic, and reflect us at that time. We decided to silkscreen the cover, so the first 100 or so were hand printed. Later, one of the tracks, “Surfbored”, from MC1R was chosen for the Surfbored 7″ released by HoZac Records from Chicago for their Hook Up Klub Subscription Round 3. The other side of the 7″ featured an exclusive track “Will it Ever Grow Back”. That single was also the first release where we asked an artist other than Andreas to create the cover, namely Lorcan White aka Mark Kannemeyer; a notorious underground artist who was, and still is, a great influence on both of us. He was one of the masterminds behind Bittercomix, a comic that was incredibly outspoken and daring during the time of Apartheid. They would paint and draw images that no one else would dare to, their first pieces were printed in local porn magazines like Los Lyf (Afrikaans, meaning “loose body”), so getting your hands on a copy as an under aged kid was a challenge. When we finally got to meet the artist, we instantly got along because of his incredible taste and knowledge of music, and we asked him if he would do the art for our first 7″ release ever; although it ended up being the second. We got impatient with waiting so we did our own 7″, It’s Unnatural which came out almost a year before Surfbored.
You followed that up in 2011 with …By Natural Selection. Was the recording of that album handled in a pretty similar fashion to MC1R on the 16th Chromosome or did you try anything new or different? When was that material recorded? Who recorded it? Where was it recorded? What kind of equipment was used?
Andreas: We recorded that in our rehearsal space which is now the KRNGY HQ, and our living room. It’s a much smaller room than the printing studio we used for MC1R. Things were way more cramped, but since it was just the two of us we managed to find a spot for the tape machine, drums, amps, desk, and even left a little nook for each of us. I wanted to stop singing at that point, Martinique did the vocals for just about all the songs on this album. We had a crapload of songs for that album, I think there ended up being something like eighteen or twenty songs on the album and that was after cutting another ten or so tracks. We were just really getting comfortable playing and writing, and would record a lot of the songs as we were coming up with them.
Martinique: Same equipment, pretty similar, except sometimes we would do vocals live and other times we would record vocals afterwards and the location was much smaller.
What was …By Natural Selection originally released on? Who put it out? Was that a limited release? Is it still in print? What does the name …By Natural Selection mean?
Andreas: We released that as a CD on the KRNGY Logo and there’s a 7″ single from this album as well. We still have some left but nothing of ours is really “in print”. Most of our releases are limited edition items made at home by the two of us, not including the vinyl of course, limited to the amount we can make by hand in the time we have between recording and touring. The name refers to the ten songs that didn’t make it on to the album. We had trouble deciding which songs to cut, so we used the by natural selection idea to justify the decisions we made at the end of the day. I liked the name because my primary school didn’t teach evolution, we had creationism which made me feel uneasy, even at that age.
Martinique: It refers to Darwinism and evolution. We had a 7″ single released in a limited edition of 250 copies. I still have about one hundred left but they’ve been going fast lately, and then the full length is available on CD, and if all goes well we will press it to vinyl one day. Financing is a pain… Andreas did the cover art for the CD and the 7″. He did it in different layers, each color on a separate sheet. I still want to do a silkscreen run of the cover one day because that was the initial idea, but we ended up getting it digitally printed due to time constraints; we would have had to register and print the silkscreen run ourselves, and four colors is a lot when you have to print more than one-hundred.
2012 was an extremely busy year for you both to say the least, at least release wise. You had Centipede-Sing-A-Long to start off with, it seemed like you were really trying something new with that album. Did you consciously set out to try something new and different or did it just kind of happen to work out that way? Can you tell us about the recording of that album? Where and when was it recorded? Who recorded that material? What kind of equipment was used in the recording process?
Andreas: I guess it was a busy year. We try and create stuff, no matter how crazy it is, just so we don’t come to a stand-still. There just wasn’t much going on for us after …By Natural Selection, people enjoyed our shows since we had a consistent thing live, but the album wasn’t well received by the South African audience or media. I think Rolling Stone South Africa said it was okay, but just about everyone else wouldn’t even pay the slightest attention. Instead of promoting the album, we went straight into recording the next two albums, Centipede-Sing-A-Long and Too Much?. Centipede-Sing-A-Long sounds different from the first two albums because I switched some pedals around, but most importantly I changed the pitch-shifter from the vocals to the guitar and changed the pitch down instead of up. I used a Hofner 173 instead of the Strat for this album. I used a similar Hofner 173 on some songs from …By Natural Selection but this one had a really heavy bass sound, almost a bit muffled. The other 173 was way more trebly and piercing. I insisted on using that guitar, it made me happy, but the album did end up sounding a tad muted/muffled as a result. We never really wanted to just make the same thing over and over again, so I don’t think we set out to make it sound different, different has just always been part of the plan.
Martinique: Like I mentioned earlier, we wanted to re-invent our sound as much as possible and although we love both the first albums, they ended up being almost a continuation of each other. It was mostly because we were in such a rush to write and record, and as soon as we finished the recording sessions for the first album we started writing new songs, and we wanted to record them as well before moving on. After that we felt like we could take a little more time, not too much, but enough to experiment and mess around a bit. We took ideas like “Cuss and Pray” and expanded on them, more loop songs were written because I was getting better and better with practice playing over loops with confidence, and as soon as we had about seven tracks we started recording and just wrote the others as we went. Andreas would come up with an idea at night, and then we would work it into a song the next day and record it. We recorded it ourselves the same as our earlier work, and on the same equipment. However we asked another artist, Ben Rausch, to do the cover art this time.
What does the title Centipede-Sing-A-Long mean or refer to? How was Centipede-Sing-A-Long originally released? Who put that album out? Was it limited? Is it still in print?
Andreas: It’s on the KRNGY logo again. HoZac’s pretty much the only label we’ve ever sent a demo to. We just never seem to get around to doing that very often. We’re horrible at promoting our albums in general. I can’t remember the significance or reason behind the name Centipede-Sing-A-Long, maybe it just sounded cool.
Martinique: It’s still in print, but only on CD. We’ll release a vinyl version as soon as we can, the same with our others, or if we get an offer from a label who’d like to release the back catalogue… Hint, hint. We decided to make Centipede-Sing-A-Long and every album since, as economically as possible when it comes to paper and plastic, so the design is pretty much the same as a single vinyl sleeve; MC1R was similar but it was gatefold. This meant we could also do more, it took less time to make, less ink to print and so forth. Since then, we’ve made all our CD releases like that. It just makes sense to try and use as little as possible, and we cut out plastic cases completely also saving on weight when it comes to shipping.
Right around the same time as Centipede-Sing-A-Long was released you also put out another album Make-Overs IV (Too Much?) for free download with artwork to make your own cover. Why release the album for free? How did that album come about? Are there any plans for a physical release of Make-Overs IV (Too Much?)?
Andreas: We felt like we couldn’t expect people to actually pay for another album straight after the release of Centipede-Sing-A-Long, we just wanted to keep writing and recording. We didn’t even launch Too Much?, we just put it up on some random site. We haven’t actually checked on it since. We do sell it as a CD for super cheap, it’s usually our budget album on the merch table. We might release it on vinyl one day, but that’s highly unlikely.
Martinique: We want to release it on vinyl, but it’s incredibly expensive because there aren’t any local presses, so we pay heavy shipping costs and import tax, and customs has now also decided to tax extra for vinyl, which they did not used to do. If you think the shipping for two or three pieces of vinyl is expensive, you can imagine how much shipping one to three hundred of them would cost. We also had a lot of new songs written by the time Centipede-Sing-A-Long came out, and we were eager to share them, so much so we didn’t want to record and first have to make physical copies and then organize shows and marketing to sell copies, we thought let’s just give it out. We sell hard copies, but it’s only three dollars or so to cover the cost and time. We also wanted to release something for free, it’s insane how difficult our reserve bank makes it for us to sell stuff online, and up until recently we haven’t been able to sell our merchandise to an international market, only locally. We’re now setting up a site where people can order and download all our stuff, but it’s only because Woo Commerce now works with PayFast which is our version of PayPal. Back then we didn’t know how much longer it would take, so in the meantime we figured we’d just make it free and easy to download.
Can you tell us about the recording of Make-Overs IV (Too Much?)? Was it similar to recording your earlier albums or did you try anything new and different? When was this material recorded? Who recorded it? Where was it recorded? What kind of equipment was used in the recording?
Andreas: We just had fun with that album, on some of the songs we used one of those tiny 80’s Casio keyboards instead of a guitar. We just plugged it straight into my guitar rig and mostly used my old Pro Co RAT to make it sound trashy. We recorded it live here at the KRNGY Logo HQ, straight after the release of Centipede-Sing-A-Long; literally the day after the launch for centipede.
Martinique: Same equipment and pace. It was mostly live, although we started trying to record loop songs with only the drums and the loops, and then we would overdub a second guitar and vocals. It gave us more mixing room, between loop channel and what Andreas was playing live over the loop. I also recorded a bit “cleaner”, less in the red, for this one.
Just following the releases of both Make-Overs IV (Too Much?) and Centipede-Sing-A-Long you released your first piece of vinyl the It’s Unnatural 7” which was comprised of three tracks from the …By Natural Selection album and limited to only two-hundred-and-fifty copies. You all seem to be pretty prolific when it comes to recording, why re-release material from an earlier album rather than new or exclusive tracks?
Andreas: We couldn’t afford to do a full LP release of the …By Natural Selection album and had a lot of people wanting a vinyl release from us. I love 7″ singles and it seemed like a realistic plan since we were paying for everything ourselves and shipping from overseas is damn expensive. So we did the single mainly to have something on vinyl to sell at shows, etcetera. The songs were chosen randomly since we couldn’t decide which songs should be on the single, except for “Celebrate The Harvest”. That song became very popular here in South Africa and was even played on 5FM, a really commercial radio station. People got angry at us when we stopped playing “Celebrate The Harvest” at our shows, which was sometimes annoying since we had about eighty other songs. In hindsight I would rather have done some exclusive tracks for the single, but at that point we didn’t have any other vinyl releases, and chances are that …By Natural Selection will never be available on vinyl.
Martinique: We wanted something on vinyl and the 7″ with HoZac was taking a long time. We were last in the club to get released and obviously they deal with a lot of bands and releases, and if there’s any hold up, it affects everything. We didn’t mind at all, but we were so eager to get something on a 7″ out there we decided to release one on our own imprint, KRNGY. To be honest it was the art that decided for us. Andreas has been doing art for almost all of our releases in all the various bands. But at this point we still hadn’t used his art on a vinyl release, which meant a lot to him and to me, and we loved the design for By Natural Selection so much we decided to use that instead of recording new tracks and making new images. At the time we were also in a rush, and wanted to get the 7″ out as quick as possible. We wanted to market the album, but not everyone likes to buy a CD and we just can’t afford to put every release out as LPs at the moment.
Who put that out? Is that still in print? I know that …By Natural Selection featured four covers, were there four covers to the It’s Natural single or did you choose one of them to be featured as the cover? Who originally designed those covers?
Andreas: I drew those. The single has its own cover; it’s just really similar to the albums cover. The other three covers for the CD were completely different but in the same style and colour scheme.
Martinique: Andreas designed the covers for all of them. The cover we used on the single is different from the four covers for the CD. So in total there are five different covers, but the art looks intensely similar and links up. In fact, if you put all five covers together in a row you get one long panoramic scene. The CD is still in print, but as I mentioned earlier we decided to scale down on our plastic use, so the first fifty or so came out with four covers in a plastic case, and the new ones available now are only single sleeve designs, so they only feature one of the four covers. I think I still have one or two copies of the original version in plastic cases though. We’ll figure out a way to release it with all four covers and not use plastic cases soon. KRNGY put it out.
Finally in late 2012 you dropped Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here album. Did you intentionally set out to release so much music in 2012 or was it just an inspired year for writing and recording for you two?
Andreas: I don’t think we set out to do as many releases as possible that year we just have a very short attention span as a band. We like having something new to focus on constantly. We did multi-track recordings for that album. It was recorded on tape, but we decided not to record the album live. So I would go and do my guitar and vocal tracks and then record Martinique’s drums and vocals last. Then each track was captured and mixed on a computer, the previous albums were captured live-mixes from the original tapes. I must admit that I dislike the method we used for Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here and would never use it again.
Martinique: We just write a lot of music, we always have, we always will. Especially Andreas, he’s the heart behind so many things, Brown Spiders, Sticky Antlers, Make-Overs, Splinter Sect, Suicycle, Revenge Radio and a slew of other projects wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for him. The worst part for me is even though everyone else says we’re prolific, we feel we can do much better, and that we should be doing much more, and that we are not doing enough, and always falling behind or something… “Celebrate The Harvest” has a music video that still hasn’t seen the light of day, so does “Step Into My Office”! I remember not being very fond of the multi tracking process but here’s why we did it… Shortly before recording the album, we were approached by some industry professionals who wanted us to sign to their new label; thank the heavens we didn’t… They offered us space in their studio, which is very fancy and expensive, for free and said we could decide after the recording whether we liked the track and wanted to go with them or not. Well long story short, instead of sticking to the plan they sent the track off to some big producer and paid a ridiculous amount of money without really telling us. I mean the guy mentioned it one day when I ran into him over coffee, but he never elaborated on the details, he just said “Don’t worry about it you are gonna love it”. He clearly didn’t know me very well at all. It turned out that they had approached a sponsor of some type to give them the money so they could send the track off, without us even having made a decision on whether or not we trusted them enough to sign with them, they had already gone and spent more on one song then we spend on an entire international one, and that made us so angry! That money could have been put towards releasing some vinyl or making an entire album and we aren’t stupid, we knew if we were to agree to all of it we would owe them big time, that’s how they get ya. So we just said no, we don’t like the recording and we don’t feel comfortable with the idea. Luckily I had made it super clear from the beginning that we were under no obligation to go with them and that only once we heard the track we would make a decision. I had this long meeting with one of the guys where I explained why we were unhappy, I guess I must have been a bit mean and insulted the sound of the song. I think I said the drums sounded like a machine, like it wasn’t even me playing them. And he changed the guitar parts around, and that really got to Andreas who felt very strongly about the structure and melody, and that triggered a very honest response were the guy admitted that he didn’t see anything special in us and that we were just basically talentless hacks who would never amount to anything and sounded like a thousand other bands and we stood no chance internationally… That whole event sparked something in us, we wanted to record the track and multitrack it and get it sounding better then they did, with less equipment, space and money. Funnily enough, when I play both mixes to people almost everyone agrees ours sounds better.
Can you tell me about the recording of Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here? Was it much different than the recording of your previous five albums? When and where was the material for Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used in the recording of that album?
Martinique: Everything is a blur. I think we recorded it in 2012 just before we went on our December 2012 Cape Tour, but we’d had The Devil’s In The Detail in the pipe line and were starting to play those songs live rather than stuff from Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here, and we were still throwing in songs from the previous album, it was a mess. We never marketed that album the way we were supposed to, instead jumping to the next album to quick… The same equipment was used, and we recorded it ourselves, but we did it completely differently and tried multi-tracking the thing to tape. We have a couple of unfinished animated music videos that will probably never see the light of day… The same thing almost happened to The Devil’s In The Detail so we decided to hold off recording the new album, which we’re busy doing now, until after last year’s December tour where we focused on marketing The Devil’s In The Detail instead. Another local label also approached us during the same time, and we were so unsure of what to do. This was one of the bigger labels here, but we didn’t feel like it was the right place for us and decided to just say no to everyone, in hindsight it was the best decision we ever made. We want to change the way the industry works and create our own path. I wouldn’t mind signing to a label, but then it has to be someone I trust one hundred percent, and neither of them fit the bill.
How was Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here released? Who put that out? Was that a limited release? Is it still in print?
Martinique: On CD, KRNGY put it out. Yes it’s still in print. Yes we would love to have it on vinyl.
You started out the year with a release on one of my absolutely favorite labels, HoZac Records. It was part of the Hookup Klub and limited to five-hundred copies. The A-side to the HoZac 7” Surfbored is from your first album MC1R on the 16th Chromosome but I haven’t heard the other track “Will It Ever Grow Back” on any of your other releases. Was that track recorded specifically for that single or was it left over from some previous recording? Can you tell us about the history and the recording of that track?
Andreas: HoZac is probably one of my favorite labels too! We wanted to do the song “Will It Ever Grow Back” for the …By Natural Selection album but then HoZac contacted us and we decided to do that track specifically for the B-side. I would have done exclusive tracks for it but I think HoZac wanted “Surfbored” to be on there.
Martinique: “Will It Ever Grow Back” is one of my favorite tracks and it was decided that it would only be released on the HoZac single because, to us it was such a special occasion. It was the first time a label we had massive respect for actually got back to us and offered to release a 7″, so we wanted to give them one of our best tracks. HoZac’s one of the most diverse labels out there, and to me it’s a very big honor to have been asked to be a part of it. It was also so easy to work with Todd, who’s one of the HoZac guys. He just said this is what we can offer and would you be interested, and that was that. No contracts or talks about sending tracks to be mastered and produced at immense costs. We also chose Lorcan White to do the cover, not just because he’s an amazing artist, but because he introduced us to HoZac. He’s got this beautiful box full of HoZac singles from the past, and we just couldn’t get enough of them!
You also put out your sixth full-length album this year (2013) The Devil’s In The Detail. I was lucky enough to pick up one of the It’s Unnatural singles that you dropped at Permanent Records that came with a free copy so I know it was released on KRNGY and recorded live to open-reel tape in February of this year. Who recorded it and where was it recorded at? Did you do anything differently as far as songwriting or recording goes for The Devil’s In The Detail?
Andreas: The vinyl’s available now on Angry Africa Records, Roastin’ Records and The KRNGY Logo, the CD is just on KRNGY. The Devil’s In The Detail was recorded completely live with a minimal mic setup, the only difference really was that we tried to keep the levels on the recording down instead of pushing everything into the red like usual. We used the same machines we always use I think we just have more experience working them now. I always use junk guitars to write the songs for the albums, I think I wrote most of the songs on a Fuji-gen test model. It’s sorta hard to play that guitar, so when I eventually play the songs on the Strat live or for the recordings, it just seems slightly easier and better sounding. I get really inspired by playing on old junk guitars, each one I pick up has it’s own strengths and weaknesses which dictates the type of songwriting that I’m able to do on it.
Martinique: A lot has happened with that album since we dropped it off at Permanent Records in May of 2013, and in the local music “scene”. We at KRNGY teamed up with two other local indie labels which are both Cape Town based; Angry Africa Records and Roastin’ Records. These are two new labels, which have both only started up recently, and both want to specifically release vinyl. The owner of Angry Africa is also a friend of ours, and he was also the artist behind the cover and Art Director of the final vinyl cover for The Devil’s In The Detail, and he wanted to release a full length but faced the same extreme cost problems we did. When he heard we really wanted to get a full-length out he offered to go half with us on the Devil, cutting costs. So it was a split label release with KRNGY and Angry Africa, and then the owner of Roastin’ Records, Wentzel van der Gryp, who is a big supporter of our merchandise and always has our vinyl in his shop, informed us he wanted to release local vinyl, and he would love to be involved, so it became a three-way split; three labels, 300 LPs, each getting 100 to sell. 333, the first track on side one is 3.33 long and there’s another track on side two that’s exactly 3.33 as well, we were continuously laughing at how much the Devil was in the detail as soon as you looked for it. Someone sent us an email asking if the vinyl was satanic or evil, and I had to assure them that the name was not meant in any religious or political sense, and it really wasn’t. But since then, we can’t stop seeing the Devil in the detail.
I also heard rumblings that there was a box-set released earlier this year but was only available in South Africa which contained all six of your first albums as well as a previously unreleased disc out outtakes and unused material from those sessions. Is that true? If so are there any plans to make that box available outside of South Africa at any point or at least make the disc of unreleased material available to international listeners in a physical or digital formats?
Andreas: We did design the box set and we wanted to make it available here in South Africa but we ran into a production snag when we could no longer get the physical box that the whole thing was designed for. So we’re still going to release the box set, it’s just going to take some more work.
Martinique: We’re working very hard on finding ways to release it in all formats, including digitally. Accepting money from PayPal is much harder for us, only one bank service provides it and we aren’t on it and even if we moved to it we would struggle to get an account that works etcetera, etcetera… So it’s not as simple for us, but we really are trying every possible avenue and should have everything working by the end of the year, we already have the site up, Make-Overs.com with a store coming soon through the KRNGY logo. The box set was never released though. It’s been put on hold until we can put in even more and offer it online. Other than recording and organizing our next tour to the States, it’s our main aim for 2014!
I know you also have two new splits out on Angry Africa this year as well. Can you tell us about those releases? How did these collaborations come about? What other bands are featured on the releases? What format are they being issued on? Are they limited release? Where are they available/going to be available?
Martinique: So Angry Africa started shortly after we released our It’s Unnatural single, and our friend who started it decided for his first release that he wanted to put out a 7” representing the new and current music he was interested in; now he’s working on re-releasing some rare and obscure early punk and experimental South African bands like the Kalahari Surfers. So he asked if we would contribute a track or two along with another band from Cape Town called Black Lung on the other side. Because he’s an artist and a fanatic when it comes to the overall artistic direction and design of any album or release, his second hand shop Time Machine, which is also one of his passions, is one of my favorite shops ever, the displays are just amazing, I will add pics for you so you can see for yourself, meant he really wanted something special for the release, his first release. So he did a picture disc, where he did the artwork for our side and Black Koki, a local artist who is amazing, did the artwork for the Black Lung side. We still have about twenty left for sale, and we’ll bring some with us to America and hold some aside for the online shop, I think Angry Africa also has some left. The run was either 250 or 300… I can’t remember. Then we did The Devil’s In The Detail together as I mentioned earlier, and now he’s releasing two tapes. One of the tapes is a Make-Overs best of, which is funny because a best of feels like something we should only be doing ten years from now. But he felt we had released so much stuff it was a good idea to put all of our favorite tracks, which was an impossible choice, on one tape. The artwork was done by a local artist Ello who does amazing work, and themed around the title TapeWorm with a lot of our friends and other local artists illustrated on the cover.
Can you tell us about the recording of the material for those two Angry Africa splits? When and where was the material recorded at? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used in the recording process?
Martinique: We recorded it at KRNGY, with our equipment.
Do The Make-Overs have any music that we haven’t talked about? If so can you tell us about it?
Martinique: Yes, the new stuff. We’re recording now, and still fighting about whether or not we should release two albums because we have too many songs already, but it’s coming out real soon. Then we have a new project that’s not The Make-Overs, it’s a side project we’re working on called Make-Outs. Someone in the States once mailed us and said they loved the Make-Outs and we loved the mistake, so we’ve decided to release something a bit different as Make-Outs. We’ve also been on two compilations that you haven’t mentioned, one was for the Garagepunk Hideout, I don’t know if you’re aware of that site but we have a profile up there. I liked the idea of being able to connect and send music across the world to different podcasters, so we joined up. They had to find ways to get some money to pay for the domain so we donated a track, “Jungle Seizure”, which was on one of the compilations; I can’t remember if it was volume two or four, I’ll attach an image. We’ve also recently been featured on a tape compilation for the Why Pick On Me blog that’s just come out and you can order it from them online.
Andreas: There’s also a whole bunch of unreleased songs left over from the albums.
I know you have several things planned for release coming up! There are two releases through Angry Africa, a split 7” and a split cassette as well. Who are the other bands going to be? Is there any news on when those are going to be available?
Martinique: The 7″ is already out and the tape should be here by the end of February. Angry Africa’s also releasing a Black Lung tape. Then we have the KRGNY mixtape coming out soon, it’s almost done, and we’re working on the online store so that everyone can order. Like I mentioned earlier the tape release is not a spilt, it’s a Make-Overs compilation of some of our favorite tracks from all our past albums. Then Angry Africa is bringing out a second tape for Black Lung, so there was one 7″ which was a split between the two bands and then two tapes, one for each band. The KRNGY compilation tape has a wide variety of local artists. Very few of them are actually signed to or on KRNGY. It’s just that we want to help promote them so we don’t mind having them on the tape. I’ll be sure to send you a copy of that so you can have a listen and if there is any artist you want to chat with, I can send you there email and so on. That was the point of the tape, to send it around and get people a bit better acquainted with some of the lesser known and more obscure local bands.
I also know you are working on your seventh full-length album right now as well! Are you going to try anything new or different in the songwriting or recording of this album? What can our listeners expect from the seventh album? Does it have a name yet?
Andreas: I think the new album is going to be really different from the previous ones. So far, it’s darker and more atmospheric and there’s less shouting, screaming and noise. There’s going to be a couple of nice loud riff orientated songs, but the general direction seems to be more towards hypnotic grooves with reverb drenched pop licks. I play more one-string stuff on the guitar, not much strumming or many chords. We’re still in the process of figuring out exactly how we want to record this album, we’ll use an 8-track tape and record it here at home, but I’m not sure about the amps, mics and guitars, etcetera.
Martinique: No name yet, but we have an awesome idea design for the cover which Andreas made that I love it! It’s very catchy, but not too obvious, a lot of lighter more hypnotic melodies, but with the same energy as the louder stuff. I love garage punk, but I think we’re trying to distant ourselves from the term and this album reflects that. I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to making decisions on the recording. I keep thinking I should get some better mics, work on the acoustics of the room, more padding for the sake of the neighbors, but at the same time every penny we can save to tour internationally again this year counts… So I’ll have to be a bit more creative on no budget.
Do you know who’s going to be putting that upcoming album out? What’s it going to be released on? Is there any word on when that’s going to be done?
Andreas: We will put the CD out on KRNGY as soon as it’s done, nothing really planned beyond that. We’ll see what we can do about getting it on vinyl after touring a bit and get back to doing some live shows, just to get away from here for a while.
Martinique: The plan was to release straight to 12’’ vinyl and silkscreen the covers ourselves, but it might not be possible to release it on vinyl until later this year, considering The Devil’s In The Detail has just come out and we have to keep expenses in mind at all times. We want to tour the states again this year, we did last year and we loved it, so most of our money is going into that.
Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to pick up copies of your music?
Martinique: PayPal doesn’t work the same here as it does on seventy percent of the planet, we can spend money on it but to receive cash is a whole other issue. You need to jump through a lot of hoops in order to buy our music, it’s been a real hassle, but we’re now working on a website with an online store, the url is already purchased as http://www.make-overs.com, soon anyone in the world will be able to place orders there. In the meantime, we have copies of the It’s Unnatural 7″ at Permanent Records in Chicago, but only eighteen copies, at Reckless Records Chicago they have about three in store, and they have some at Kim’s Video and Audio in New-York. Keep an eye on our other social networks like twitter for updates.
What about out international and overseas readers with the completely insane international postage rate increases?
Andreas: Horrid stuff, it makes it just about impossible to do this independently.
Martinique: Don’t take offense, but we’ve been paying extortive postage and tax rates on all our music for years. There’s the free album and we’ll offer digital download sales on the website, but the postage for physical media will be pricey. And until we have a pressing plant locally or a label that releases the albums, they cost a lot to make on vinyl. CD’s we’ll try and keep as cheap as we can, but sending even one CD is about ten to twelve dollars. However if you order a vinyl album, or you are lucky enough to pick one up at the stores that stock our stuff, then you can be assured you’re one of about only twenty people who owns one in the States.
And where’s the best place to keep up with the latest news like upcoming album releases and shows at?
Do The Make-Overs have any goals or things that you are looking to accomplish?
Martinique: We wanted to tour and we did, and we did the full-length vinyl release. This year we’re working really hard on coming to the States again in late May, June and July and anyone that would like to book us or find out more can send me an email to any of our social media sites, one of the mail addresses on our website or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?
Martinique: I keep answering your question before you ask it…
Andreas: 2014; tour America, record another album or two, maybe go do some shows in Portugal, spend as much time as possible in Cape Town… But we’ll take it as it comes.
You have played with some awesome bands! Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to play with?
Martinique: We have, the US was mind blowing! Do you know how long we have been starved for music that truly gets our blood going? I mean there are a few rare gems here but they are far and in-between, in one night at HoZac Fest we saw more cool bands than we have in our entire lives in South Africa; Tyvek, Unnatural Axe, Cop City/Chill Pillars, FNU Ronnies, Wizzard Sleeve, Tommy Jay and Mike Rep to name only a few! Lately there have been more and more local bands that I am having a blast playing with, I will definitely send you a list to check out!
Andreas: What she said, plus Chicago band The End Men (Interview here). There’re also a couple of local acts like Jaco+Z-dog, Dollfins and Black Lung. We’ve done a lot of shows with those acts and have become really close to them.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live performances that you’d like to share with our readers?
Martinique: Last year (2013) we had a show in Cape Town that was a swarm of craziness, booze everywhere, sweat everywhere, three hundred people packed in a room made for only two hundred and someone crashed into our amp, knocked the whole thing over, a valve pre-amp included. The audience threatened to beat him up. There was crowd surfing but it seemed more like fierce manhandling, a guy chipped his tooth and offered the broken part to me. He said it was what our set did to him, but he seemed happy enough about it. I remember a show where two of the guys in the crowd got so into the music, they started braking glasses and bottles all around us and Andreas got cuts everywhere on his knees.
Andreas: We played in a hall at some bowling club, I set up in front of the stage and we were just extra loud and obnoxious that night. A guy stormed in and threw a fit. He kept yelling, “Jissusss! Do you have any idea what it’s like living next to this!?!” He was pissed off. The cops eventually showed up, but by that time we’d already packed the equipment away.
Do you do a lot of touring? Do you enjoy being on the road?
Andreas: Not as much as we would like to. We love being on the road, even the hard times. It’s always an amazing adventure and you forget about everything else during that time. We usually become very efficient on tour.
Martinique: Would like to tour more, it feels like we could be on the road for nine months a year or more… Or forever, traveling is one of my favorite things apart from music. I’ve always wanted to keep moving, just keep on going, live everywhere, see everything. So yes, I love being on the road, it’s hard work, it’s constant and you always have a show to look forward to.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Martinique: There are so many good bands from all over the world and so many places we want to see. I’d love to tour with White Mystery (Interview here) because they seem to have such a great touring ethic, play a lot of shows and are always happy to be able to play.
Andreas: Heavy Times, Mudhoney, The Fall, Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Do you have a preferred method of releasing your music? With all the options available to musicians these days I’m always curious why artists choose the particular ones that they do and why. What about when you are listening to and or buying music?
Andreas: Vinyl, but records are expensive to make and there’s not much of a profit there if you want to keep it affordable. I’m enjoying tapes lately. I can dub tapes at home, so it’s fun and relatively cheap to do.
Martinique: We aren’t music snobs, we like vinyl, CD and tape. Making vinyl here is expensive and if it wasn’t for CDs we wouldn’t be able to do all the releases, we would have the material but not enough cash to release it. If we could choose, we would offer it in every format, CD, vinyl, tape and digital but I prefer that the fans choose the medium. Lately we’ve only been buying vinyl; you usually pay less for import and cost than for CDs, how that works I still don’t know! And you usually get a disc or a download card with it anyway. A lot of the labels we like seem to prefer vinyl and you can buy directly from them and save a bit on third party costs. And then the obvious thing is the aesthetic and artistic difference, the art always looks better. There’s just something special about taking some time to listen to vinyl, it’s a hands-on experience, but it’s not for everyone.
Do you have a music collection at all? If so can you tell us about it?
Andreas: We have somewhat of a record collection; we brought a lot of records back with us from America and England. We both spend quite a bit of time in pawn shops and charity stores looking for treasures here in South Africa. The other day I found a local pressing of Neu! for just 1 Rand (or roughly ten American cents). Some of the records I treasure the most would be The Wipers, The Mummies, Suicide, L7 and The Velvet Underground.
Martinique: I don’t see it as a collection, we buy what we like when we find it and can afford it, but there is a lot we like, and we love hearing new things, and old things we have never heard before, and there’s so much out there. So you find yourself buying more and more, to hear it all, but it’s not big. We have friends who are obsessive collectors, but they don’t play in bands, and don’t have to worry about still affording to cover making their own albums, so they buy much more than we do. I must say the US was one of the best places I’ve ever been for vinyl shopping, so many awesome shops and you get such variety at great prices. People also gave us a lot of music, and we are cherishing it now more than ever. Since we’ve come back each week has been like Christmas because we unseal one of the vinyl pieces we got and listen to it the whole week, so that we have something new to look forward to the whole time without having to spend money. I’ll always be grateful to each and every American friend who passed on such great music so freely, and I must mention HoZac Records and Italy Records in this regard, they showered us with vinyl; and A-ron!
I have a deep connection with physical albums. I grew up around them. They’ve always been around and have become deeply intertwined with my love of music. There’s something irreplaceable, almost magic about having an album to hold in your hands, liner notes to read, artwork to look at. The physical product serves as a temporary conduit allowing me a rare glimpse into the mind of the artists that created it and make for a much more complete listening experience; at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Andreas: I grew up with LPs and tapes, and then later on CD’s. The movies were still on VHS with no deleted scenes or making of special features, or any of that shit. I enjoyed the mystery behind the weird things I would find, now you just look a band up online and there’s all the info you could ever want. That sounds like a really good thing, but it destroys the legend and the mystery behind it all for me. I put absolutely no price on the Mp3s and digital music contained on our computers, if I lost all of it I wouldn’t flinch. However, I would die of sadness if anything happened to our records.
Martinique: I can’t say it any better than you or Andreas. Records to me, also often carry much more sentimental value. I’ll always remember when and where I purchased a record, what I paid for it, and the memories that go with it. When I put a piece of vinyl on I got from the States, especially one I got directly from the labels or bands themselves, I can’t help but think back fondly of the night and that show, or the place and the amazing people we met.
As much as I love physical music and as passionate as I am about collecting there’s no denying the ease and portability of digital music. On top of that digital music on the internet has opened a gateway to a whole new world of music for me! It’s destroying a lot of the decades of infrastructure inside the preexisting music industry though. There’s always good and bad with everything but as a musician during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Andreas: CD sales make up most of our bands income, that and t-shirts. We just do vinyl for the love of it and we don’t have downloads up for sale yet. I used to be a bit of a browser back when we still had record stores around, half the experience was in finding a record that you’ve been looking for or heard about. Things have really changed with all the digital stuff, it kinda bores me a bit now. I try to keep up with technology, but mostly end up listening to old records at home instead of looking for music online. I do embrace all formats though; I find most of them useful at some point in time.
Martinique: It’s great, people forgot how much mixtapes were seen as a threat at one point, but if it wasn’t for mixtapes I would have never been able to hear the music I did. Once I found hard copies of those albums I would buy them, because I wanted to support the artist. If a person prefers buying music digitally I don’t mind, pirating music can be problematic, but that’s why album sales shouldn’t be your only avenue of income. I find that we have fans who will always order an album as soon as it’s out. They want to support us and know we need it. We put everything into our live shows, we want to offer the people an experience they have never had and a show they will never forget. It’s amazing how people don’t want to rip you off when they can see it’s honest and fair. I think when someone is making so much money, and living so large, it’s hard to justify why you shouldn’t just rip the song for free. I’m personally very grateful to the internet. Honestly, I don’t know if we would have been on HoZac, or chatting to you, or going on tour if it wasn’t for the net. We would have obviously still been making the music, we just would probably not have been able to get it outside of the local market as easily, or maybe we would have, who knows. The only certainty is change and I personally look forward to the changes coming in the music industry, it makes for exciting times and possibilities. Bands are much wiser when it comes to the business aspects of things and being able to sell merchandise online, even though it’s still a big challenge for us, is a great way to stay self-sufficient. It really should be the consumer’s choice. I can understand if someone doesn’t have space and can’t afford vinyl, downloads are cheaper and only take up minimal space. However, if I really like a band I hear online, or on a compilation, I usually want a vinyl of theirs. I want to buy it so they can make more vinyl, because I want to support them and most of all, I want to listen to them on my turntable. It’s very frustrating when you know you won’t find that album, or 7″ because it’s rare, but it’s such a killer song, and that’s when downloads are just amazing. At least I can hear it in one way or another, and that’s better than nothing, there are some really life changing songs I would have never heard if it wasn’t for the internet.
I try and keep up with as much music as is humanly possible. I spend at least a few hours every day working on finding new music to listen to but many of the best bands I’ve ever heard have been from good old fashioned suggestions. Is there anyone that I should be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of before?
Andreas: The Straight Suits, The Hearingaids, The Future Primitives, Sticky Antlers, Bad Drugs, Jaco + Z-Dog, Death Pegasus, The Dollfins, Black Lung, The Buckfever Underground, Blackfins, Follow Me Follow You, Changeling, Beast, The Moths, Ampersand, Givan Lotz, Braf Charge, Us Kids Know… There have been quite a lot of good bands and musicians from South Africa over the last decade. There’s also quite a big psych music scene happening in Cape Town, they even have a Psych Nights event. You can probably find out more about that whole thing online, they recently brought Night Beats over to South Africa.
Martinique: Yes, The Brown Spiders, Black Lung, Straight Suits, Jaco and Z-Dog… KRNGY will be sending you a copy of the mixtape along with the Brown Spiders album and you can hear a lot of unknown South African bands on there and decide what you like the most. We’ve tried to include a large collection of bands, from all over South Africa on the tape.
What about nationally and internationally?
Andreas: I’m sure there’s not much that we can tell you that you don’t already know about. I’m enjoying a band called Protomartyr from Detroit at the moment. Some other bands worth checking out in my opinion would be: Smelly Tongues, Soupcans, Cop City/Chill Pillars, The Man, Heavy Times, Total Control, Nones, Ex-cult and Verma.
Martinique: I could mention a million things; I assume you know about a lot of them like Black Bug and The Luminanas. The guys from HoZac introduced us to a band called Royal Baths who are great and were just one among many, many, amazing things they played to us whilst we were there last year. David in Detroit also played us some amazing stuff and I recently listened to The Feelings new single and it sounded great, so I definitely want to get my hands on that. The Rainbow Gun Show 7″ we got is a faulty print and won’t play so I need to replace that, Andreas got to see the Nones live one night whilst we were there and I was really sick and couldn’t go. That still eats away at my heart every time I think about it; so much good music, so little time…
Thank so much for participating in this war of attrition that is my interviews, ha-ha! Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?
Andreas: Yeah, no I think you covered it. You are extremely damn thorough!
Martinique: We are touring the states again and if anyone is interested in booking or having us join a show… I’ve mentioned that before. We’re also doing a track exclusively for Heligator Records this year. It will be a song we specifically recorded for them and only available on that release.
The purpose of the label is to raise funds to maintain a library at the Malindza Refugee Camp that I (Ryan M Hall <email@example.com) helped renovate and start up with the refugees there. The money goes to basic maintenance and a small stipend for the volunteer librarian.
(2010) The Make-Overs – MC1R on the 16th Chromosome – KRNGY
(2011) The Make-Overs – …By Natural Selection – CD – KRNGY
(2011) Various Artists – The Best of The Garagepunk Hideout, Vol. 3 – CD – (The Make-Overs contribute the track “Jungle Seizure”)
(2012) The Make-Overs – Centipede-Sing-A-Long – CD – KRNGY
(2012) The Make-Overs – Make-Overs IV (Too Much?) – Free digital download – KRNGY
(2012) The Make-Overs – It’s Unnatural – 7” – KRNGY
(2012) The Make-Overs – Your Holiday Shopping Ends Here – KRNGY
(2013) The Make-Overs – Surfbored – 7” – HoZac Records (Hookup Klub Record Limited to 500 copies)
(2013) The Make-Overs – The Devil’s In The Detail – digital, CD, 12 ” – The KRNGY logo, Angry Africa Records and Roastin’ Records (limited edition of 300 red vinyl)
(2013) The Make-Overs – The Make-Overs Box-Set – CD – ??? (first 6 albums with bonus disc of unreleased outtakes) – a future release so does technically not count yet
(2013) The Make-Overs/Black Lung – The Make-Overs/Black Lung Split – 7″ picture disc – Angry Africa Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2013) The Make-Overs – TapeWorm “a best of tape” – Angry Africa Records (150 copies I think)
(2014) Various Artists – Why Pick On Me, Vol. 2 – Cassette Tape – Why Pick On Me Records