(Warning: This article contains strong language)
Cape Town – A few weeks ago I got to sit down with all the members of Fokofpolisiekar at Kill City Blues studios in Woodstock.
It’s been 10 years since the release of Swaneswang, their last full length album up to date, and in true Fokof style, they’ve released a vinyl to celebrate this milestone.
I catch them after rehearsal. They ask me how it’s going with my 9-month old baby boy (as I had to cancel on them the night before due to an emergency room visit), I say okay, they offer me a beer, I accept.
I don’t have a lot of questions prepared, I say. They are super-chilled. We start to chat. The conversation goes from 2016 to 2006 and back again to 2016. It’s like we’re time-travelling, and I have to tell you, it’s the best ever.
If I were to post the whole conversation here, it would probably take days to read it, so here are 8 of the best snippets:
1. On touring then VS now:
Wynand: Everything is different! I mean it’s a complete fucking 360.
Snake: I am definitely fatter.
Wynand: 2006 was obviously the craziest year of our careers. You will obviously remember… you were around then (Sidenote: this journalist may be the guitarist for Afrikaans band Die Melktert Kommissie). We were into playing full time music for a good 3 years by then, so everything was like over the top. And we were probably on the heaviest party vibe of our lives, so that’s changed.
Francois: Our general consumption is way down now.
Wynand: We drank the whole day every day.
Johnny: Having kids now makes the touring a nice getaway. I think then, 10 years ago a two week tour was fine, but now you don’t really know whether you want to go, because two weeks on the road can become very long.
2. On playing shows then VS now:
Francois: During that time the party and the show was equally important, I think now the show is a bit more important than the jol.
Wynand: Ja the party vibe is less. It’s more, I don’t want to use the word job, because we obviously enjoy it, but we’re going on tour to do something specific, and that is to give a good show. Like now, I’m not going to a festival to eat fucking hot dogs or to fucking watch other bands play, you know what I mean?
3. On crazy tour stories:
Francois: The craziest tour stories are probably Snake who jumped out of the van and Wynand who wrote "fok god" on someone’s wallet.
Wynand: And "fok god" is not even that crazy!
Francois: Jumping from a car is pretty fucking extreme! Me and Wynand also obviously moered each other a few times and we were moered in a bar.
Wynand: There were lots of crazy things. If you’re kind of open to that kind of world of touring and partying then shit happens all the time.
4. On getting the word out there then VS now:
Wynand: Like in fucking 2006 we had like one cellphone in the car.
Francois: I remember with New World Inside I phoned from tiekie boxes.
Wynand: Now there is Skype and social media.
Snake: Yes, then it was actually easier to get people to your show because they weren’t as distracted by what everyone else is doing. They actually chat to their friends and say, yeah cool, there’s a Fokof show. It’s not like seeing there’s like 50 events happening tonight and I’m not even going to one of them.
5. On new Afrikaans music and bands now VS then:
Francois: There aren’t really new Afrikaans bands. It’s actually not cool at all to be in an Afrikaans band at the moment.
Wynand: There is fokol in Afrikaans.
Snake: There are no new rock bands in Afrikaans or anything else that’s cool.
Hunter: I am listening to the new Valiant Swart album, it’s pretty cool.
Francois: I think the music then was all linked to MK89, before MK it was probably like us, Melktert Kommissie and warra warra, not much.
Wynand: Warra warra poesparra.
Francois: With MK it sort of became cool to be in an Afrikaans band, all of sudden there were like hundreds of bands. And then all of sudden MK was dead. And it was like a quick way to become famous because your video goes to the fucking TV.
6. On how their idea to make beer was born:
Francois: When we just started out we wanted to make pineapple beer and sell it at our shows.
Snake: Before we even played shows, or rather before we went to record we had regular meetings and smoked a lot of weed. So we always took minutes at the meetings and we had brainstorming sessions and no idea was ever stupid, so you write it down. And at the end we would review it, it was just to get the think tank going. And one of those things was pineapple beer that could be a merch item. And at the end of the meeting we were like, fok it is never going to work, not one of us knows how to make beer. And B, transporting it will be impossible, and C, it will probably be unstable and we will land in jail because of licencing and stuff, fuck, imagine!
7. On the best advice they’ve received in their career:
Wynand: JP de Stefani, he produced many of our albums, he said many things like you should practice every day, and a drummer should play loud, you know what I mean? And he always said stuff like, 'You should play with these guitars and this amp, you should get a sound' etc. I think we applied those things.
Johnny: Wynand, I can’t think that there’s anyone who taught you anything about the industry in SA.
Wynand: Obviously we knew nothing when we started out. Albert du Plessis and Liny Kruger told us to get a press release. And said we should get stuff playlisted. We were like, what is playlisted? Albert, Liny and JP, you can write it there just like that.
H: It’s obviously difficult to distil their wisdom in a sentence, but they definitely showed us the ropes.
8. On what’s next for the band:
Wynand: Yes, the Fokof lager…
Francois: Wait, I want to ask a question, are we going to put this Fokof lager in cans or not? Wynand: No.
Snake: No, the cans are not happening, but maybe a bottle.
Francois: Well, people want to buy those glasses.
Wynand: Obviously the beer is like an ongoing type of thing.
Francois: I want to pose another question.
I love this, I say. It has turned into a band meeting!
Francois: What are we going to do next year when we don’t have anything that came out 10 years ago?
Wynand: We’ll bring out Antibiotika on a 7 inch.
Francois: Yes that’s a good idea.
Wynand: Yes in 2007 we have fokol yes. We can release a Van Coke Kartel greatest hits on vinyl?
Francois: And then we tour…
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