Interview with Woodstock Mafia


woodstock-mafiaWhatsoninCapeTown was invited to the press launch at The Market Bar of Cape Town band Woodstock Mafia’s debut album Defiance. We had a chat with bassist Ryan Matthews about the album and the band’s plans.


WOICT: What  ways are you looking at getting your album out there?

Ryan: We’re looking at iTunes definitely. But what we’re trying to do in October is to sell the physical album, which is for the fan who really wants the physical album. There is still something about tearing the cellophane off a brand new CD. But towards the end of October we will be releasing the album on iTunes.  It will also be out on Deezer, Spotify, Amazon mp3 and bandcamp. As an independent band it’s quite difficult to publish our music, but we are speaking to certain labels about publishing us. But [first]we’re going to release the album, get it out there, play Rocking the Daisies, and get some more momentum. We have been on a compilation album that Sony brought out with 5fm. And similarly another compilation album that Just Music brought out, they’re the indie label for South Africa who look after Shadowclub and Taylor.


WOICT: What other artists have influenced you on this album?

Nick, our guitarist, writes the majority of the music for us, which we then take into the band room and panel beat until we’re happy with it. We grew up with 90’s grunge and rock, so that’s a strong influence, albums such as Nevermind and Insecticide from Nirvana, or Smashing Pumpkins, who we’re big fans of, Mellon Collie and Siamese Dream, there’s a lot of influence from those albums. I’m a huge fan of Bush and Skunk Anansie. Those albums from the 90’s were telling stories the same as vinyls from the 70’s would; they’re designed to be like a book. So in terms of a concept album, we try to look at doing something similar.


WOICT: Does your album tell a story?  Would you say there’s a certain theme?

There is kind of a theme on it. But with a theme album, the band would go into the studio and say ‘We’re going to do XYZ and spend the next three months on it until we’ve created that’, but we took it from the point of view ‘This is what we’ve got’, and we threw away 20 or 30 songs that were rubbish. The oldest song on the record is ‘Electric Light’, which was recorded last year, written in February last year, the youngest song on the album is ‘Fade out Night, we finished writing it while we were recording it. The design of the music itself is that it’s a continuous story and a continuous flow, which is why ‘The Abyss’  isn’t a song, it’s just music.


WOICT: What are your favourite venues to play in Cape Town?

In terms of venues, I think our unofficial home in Cape Town is Mercury, but we do love playing The Assembly. Recently we got to play GrandWest, it was just completely surreal. But when it comes to the club gigs, Mercury is where we feel the most comfortable, it fits like a glove. But we’re looking at growing our market.  I met with the guy who runs the Mitchell’s Plain Music Festival, which is more Jazz and Hip Hop. I drove out and delivered about a hundred albums to people who had pre-ordered and one of them was this guy in Mitchell’s Plain. What he is doing over there is using music, art and entertainment to stop the kids  from being involved in bad stuff and getting them interested in the right stuff. So now we’re planning this crazy collaboration gig with some hip hop guys in Mitchell’s Plain. It happens in Joburg where guys go play in Soweto a lot, but in Cape Town they don’t do it enough.  So hopefully that’s something the band can do, and not just play all the tried and tested Cape Town venues, but actually go out to Mitchell’s Plain and do a hip hop collaboration and be rocking it with the homies, that’s more fun.
An impressive self-made debut album, Defiance is a 12 track grunge rock ride with fast and pumping tracks like their first single ‘Trigger and Gun’,  which happens to have a brilliant music video for it. ‘Where We Gonna Go?’ and ‘Hand in the Fire’ have a harder rock sound combined with melodies and guitar riffs reminiscent  of a band like Audioslave. ‘Divided’ carries prettier melodies, and is a definite highlight of the album, as well as ‘Electric Light’ which is not only the oldest song on the album but also the strongest. ‘The Abyss’ is a hauntingly beautiful instrumental track. The album as a whole delivers songs brimming with uniqueness, with each song able to hold its head up high.

Woodstock Mafia’s album launch tour kicks off at Mercury Friday 13th September, and  then Thursday 19th September at Bohemia, Stellenbosch.  Be sure to catch them at Rocking the Daisies 2013.

By Cassandra Rowley

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