Cape Town – Live’s Throwing Copper was released in April 1994. I turned 10 that year and was in Standard 2.
That was also the year I had my first guitar lesson.
I was still young and grew up in a very small town, so the Throwing Copper album only really made a memorable appearance among my group of friends about 2-3 years later.
And as my guitar skills started to develop, Lightning Crashes was probably the coolest song I learned to play on the guitar, after Nirvana’s Come As You Are, of course (which everyone I know always learned to play first as it was an easy song).
I don’t think we always understood all the lyrics at first, as it was just something we knew would piss off our parents...
But as I went through my high school years, Throwing Copper became a sort of a soundtrack to my life. I slow danced to it at high school sokkies and house parties, jammed it at a braai, played pool to it, talked shit to it, kissed a boy to it... So when I found out I would have the opportunity to chat to the frontman of Live, Ed Kowalczyk, I freaked out, just a little bit. (well, more like totally!)
Being nervous and only having 10 minutes is not the greatest combination in the world, because what do I ask this man who has had such a big influence on my life?
Well, this is what went down...
As I am put through via conference call Ed is suddenly at the other end of the line.
"Hi, Ed?" I ask. "Hi, yes this is Ed."
This is so surreal, but as we start to chat, Ed’s calm and friendly voice settles my nerves.
For those of you who don’t know, Ed will be touring South Africa as part of his Throwing Copper Unplugged 20th Anniversary Tour in September. His shows went from two shows to four shows in a matter of days after tickets sold out in 48 hours.
"How does it feel to have such a following in South Africa and did you expect the shows to sell out that fast?" I ask.
"It feels incredible on so many different levels and it is such an amazing thing. The timing for this tour is perfect. We’ve been doing it and playing it for a year now, so the timing is so wonderful. As with any tour, you always wonder what’s going to happen, so having such an incredible demand is overwhelming," Ed says.
This will not be Ed's first time in SA, as he has visited our shores three times before with his band Live. This time around, however, it will be his first time visiting as a solo artist after he left the band in 2009.
"How will this trip differ from the previous one? What are your expectations and are you planning any sightseeing?" I ask.
"I am looking forward to it very much," says Ed. "I have been a solo artist now for 6 years. This is a new chapter in my life so I am looking forward to connecting with my fans all over the world and reintroducing myself, because it all feels brand new this time around. After doing our 4 shows in SA we will have one day off in Cape Town, so I will hopefully get to go around and see some things."
Throwing Copper is one of the most influential alternative rock albums of all time featuring hits such as I Alone, All Over You and Lightning Crashes. It was Live's best-selling album, having sold eight million copies in the US alone.
"What do the songs, and performing the songs, mean to you know after 20 years?" I ask.
"We perform the songs from 1-14, in the sequence of the album. I have a hard time with how I am feeling on stage as all the lyrics are still so relevant. I’m growing with the times, but performing these songs continue to surprise me as it doesn’t feel 20 years old, it feels so fresh," says Ed.
"What was the most difficult thing about going from playing in a band to becoming a solo artist?" I ask.
"I didn’t really find anything that difficult to be honest. I’d have to say the most difficult thing was probably that at the beginning I worked very hard. It was all about reconnecting with the fans, getting out there and spreading the word. That’s why I can’t wait to reconnect with my SA fans," says Ed.
I have to ask: "Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?"
Ed laughs. "I try not to think about the fact that I have to perform or about what’s going to happen. When I was still playing with Live, we used to do quite a bit of vocal warm-ups beforehand, but now I play a bit of music and so on just to get in the vibe, so I don’t have any specific rituals."
"And is there one thing you never tour without?" I ask.
"Oh gosh!" Ed exclaims. "My headphones are always hanging out somewhere, I always travel with them. I also carry a coffeemaker with me... I really like my coffee! The one thing I hate about travelling is the fact that the quality of the coffee just gets worse as you travel," Ed explains.
As my time is running out, I squeeze in one last question: "Will you be doing any of your songs off your solo albums? What can fans expect?"
"Technically the show is an unplugged show, but not totally, more like semi-unplugged. We also have a video projector that we use to screen visuals during the show, which is cool. We might be two guys on stage but the show is so much more. During the encore section I will play some songs from my solo albums and EP’s. South African artist Tailor will also be doing a song with me on stage at my shows."
Cape Town VIP packages still available:Fans in Cape Town can now buy exclusive access to a limited number of VIP packages, allowing fans "meet and greet" access to Ed Kowalczyk, along with other perks, like attending the sound-check and receiving an autographed Limited Edition SA Tour poster etc. These packages are EXTREMELY limited and available from Computicket. Details:Venue: Grand Arena, GrandWest Date: 25 September 2015 26 September 2015VIP price: R2 500 via Computicket.
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