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UK band Livingston excited to check one off the bucket list at Oppikoppi

2015-08-05 13:03

Cape Town - One of the international acts playing at this year's 21st edition of Oppikoppi will be UK outfit Livingston. However, don't be deceived, as this hard working band is mostly based in Germany these days, while two of their members are in fact South African.

Beukes Willemse, who with fellow South African Chris van Niekerk, Englishman Phil Magee and German Jakob Nebel make up the band, spoke to Channel24 ahead of their tour of South Africa, which begins at Oppikoppi this coming weekend.

"To be honest with you I've been a lot more excited than we normally are for festivals. It's a bit of a big deal because I come from South Africa and so does Chris," Willemse says over the phone from Germany, where the band are rehearsing ahead of their tour.  

"For both of us, before we went over to London back in the day, Oppikoppi was the first festival we had ever seen, the first big stage, the first big band. That's the foundation of music for us so it's a big homecoming bucket list moment for us."

When Beukes and Chris left, they swore to return and play at Oppikoppi, but every year there was something that needed to be done in August and 2015 was the first year the band had a bit of a gap. Their appearance this year has been in the works for almost a year, with Willemse saying the band are "very excited".

"I actually played a show there. It was the first festival I ever played and I think I was 17 or 18. It was in 1997. I still have the t-shirt and I played on top of the hill at Oppikoppi," he says.

While Willemse, who grew up on a farm outside of Newcastle in the Drakensburg, and Van Niekerk, are returning to the land of their birth, Nebel is also no stranger to South Africa.

"Jakob's girlfriend, completely random, I'd never met her before, she grew up on a farm maybe 30kms from myself and went to school in Maritzburg, as did I," Willemse says.

"There is a lot of connection there. Jakob has been to South Africa now three times I think. Phil has never been, and Jan Siekmann our session drummer has never been either, so it's going to be a bit of an eye-opener for them."

Livingston are currently touring their 2014 album Animal, which will form much of the set they are going to play at the Skellum Stage this coming Saturday, with a fair amount of their older work thrown in for good measure.

"We doing a bit of an amalgamation, just getting a nice festival set going there. It's nice and up-tempo, with some intimate ones in the middle," Willemse says.

You can listen to their album via Deezer below, and download it for free by clicking here.

He personally has not returned to South Africa for eight years, which is going "to be fascinating".

"It will be an eye-opener to see how much the country's changed. That's one of the things I am looking forward to most, to see what has happened in the past eight, nine years I haven't been there," Willemse says.

"Just to travel for example down to Cape Town, going to see everything in between Durban and Cape Town, and the Transkei. I'm very keen to see what has happened because the news you see here, people tend to sensationalise the bad stuff. 'South Africa sucks'. You only end up hearing the bad stuff so I'm very keen to see firsthand how it is over there."

The band also intend on doing some writing while in the country. Willemse's father has organised for the band to go to the farm for around one and a half weeks, with the hope that their next album will be influenced by Africa in some way.

At the end of 2012, long-serving member Paolo Serafini left the band, leaving the band heartbroken for some time. However, it brought its four remaining members closer.

"It was like losing a brother, absolutely awful and very disappointing. It was quite a crucial point in our career, we really needed to step up to the plate. For us, we were very fortunate that to make decisions and have a band with four people versus five, it just happened to be much easier for us," Willemse says.

Asked what advice he might have for bands that suffer the loss of a member, the word that stuck out most in Willemse's reply was "democracy".

"A band has to be democratic and everyone has to have an equal say completely. In my experience, and this is just my experience in my band and we have been together for a very long time, the moment one person has more say or money or credit or anything than anyone else in the band than it causes resentment and makes people lose faith in the project," he says.

"It then puts more pressure on the one guy who is doing all the songwriting, or whomever. I can't see how a band can have longevity when everything isn't literally split down the middle, job wise, money, time wise. Everything needs to be equal."

Livingston SA tour dates:

8 August - Oppikoppi, Northam
14 August - Arcade Empire, Pretoria
15 August - Rumours Lounge, Johannesburg
22 August - The Music Kitchen, Port Elizabeth
27 August – Aces & Spades, Cape Town

Like Livingston on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to see what they're up to while in SA.

Read more on:    oppikoppi  |  local music  |  music
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