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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is hard rock dead in SA?

Heavy Metal concert somewhere in East BerlinImage via Wikipedia
With CD sales declining globally across all genres, and the further monopolising of airwaves by the Top40 playlists, certain 'genres' of music previously thought to be the staple of suburban identity have fallen by the wayside. Or have they?

In South Africa, rock is historically regarded as music played by and for the white suburban teenager. The harder brands of rock in particular have retreated into the dark corners of those suburban alleys, but can still be found thriving there, albeit on a smaller scale.

One band that happens to serve as a great example of this is Cape Town outfit STONECOLLAR, who are about to launch their debut album, and have been getting lots of positive buzz from international weblogs and such with preview and demo tracks.

But is wanting to be a hard rock band in SA really that advisable in this day and age?

"I don’t honestly see being in a full-time HARD ROCK band in SA as completely viable," says STONECOLLAR drummer Bryan Nicol. "The market is probably too small. One would realistically have to look internationally for enough support to keep the band going...which I can only imagine is a long and hard road."


STONECOLLAR's Myspace posts talk a bit about the international reviews they've received.

"We have put a lot of effort into trying to get people across the globe to hear our music, including SA," Nicol explains. "Clinton (Jurgens, guitarist) especially has been doing a lot of networking online with international music sites, publications, reviewers, etcetera to try and get them to hear our stuff. And it is starting to work.

"All the international reviews, of which we already have quite a few, have been very positive, especially surrounding the music itself – the feel, the song structure, composition, etc. I think that’s a great reflection of where the demand may lie…abroad.

"As a result we have had a tremendous spike in online traffic on our site with people, mostly from the USA, listening to our tracks online. We can’t say the same for the local scene…yet. The reviews have been quite varied and the interest in good old head bobbing hard rock seems to be less than our US / European buddies."

Touring in SA

But is there (still) a touring circuit in SA for a band that sits on the 'louder' side of the rock spectrum? Nicol is positive:

"We have seen that we seem to get great feedback and reception from all audiences. At festivals as well! We might play after a much mellower band and the people still seem to really dig it. We have also found that metal fans seem to appreciate what we do quite a we appreciate their music too!

"There is a rich vein of metal talent in SA and, along with them, a core of die-hard metal fans. Local bands seem to tour quite well on that circuit nationally, and we get a great vibe from metal lovers. The only thing being that we’re not a metal band per se and may not fully appeal to the ‘screamo’ / hardcore fans…but I think there are enough fans of rock and metal combined to appreciate hard rock. 

 "As for internationally, it’s to keep trying to create some form of profile overseas. Getting our stuff onto foreign radio stations, creating interest, to some extent, in STONECOLLAR in other parts of the world.

"We hope for this to pave the way, in some part, for an excursion abroad. This is part of our vision, but it’s still very early days, with the album launch still a week away. What's encouraging is that we're already getting approached by music journos and fans abroad who want to listen to and review our music. More of that would be nice."

STONECOLLAR launches its debut album on May 17. at mercury Live and Lounge in Cape Town.
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