Mike "McCully" - Interview - McCully Workshop

2006-03-29 11:01


- Download the McCully Workshop's new MP3, Reaching for a Dream http://www.mweb.co.za/hubs/entertainment/music/download.aspx
- WIN! Four sets of four tickets to see their show, or advance copies of their new best of CD. Enter here.


MWEB: What will it be like to play Vegas - or SA's Vegas, the Grand West Casino?

Mike: We have'nt started there yet, but I'm sure it will be great. The Market Hall has a great vibe (I've played there before with 60something) and the audiences go crazy!...We did our first concert in 26 years yesterday at Buitenverwachting in Constantia to about 2000 people (open air) and the audience response was awesome! It was a phenomenal feeling to be there and a wonderful start to our reunion. We will be doing it again soon, as that concert sold out in two days!

MWEB: What other SA rock bands would YOU like to see reunited? How about a big Rock Reunion concert - would you do it?

Mike: I think if Freedom's Children were to reunite it would be amazing, and we would certainly like to be on a bill with them.

MWEB: Ever hated a fan? Or been praised in a way you found insulting. No names required, just tell the story.

Mike: Never really hated a fan, although we did have some guy from the UK force us to end a show early. "Make 'em 'ate you!" he said, "then they'll always want more!" Twisted logic hey? There was also this member of a top SA group of the time ( who shall remain nameless suffice is to say you may call him Paul and he's quite batty), who said he'd eat his hat if "Buccaneer" ever became a hit ! He's probably run out of hats by now!

MWEB: What's the saddest death in Rock / Folk in the last few years - Frank Zappa, Jim Capaldi, or Gerry Garcia?

Mike: I think any death of a Rock musician is a tremendous loss to the industry, and I wouldn't like to single out any one ...but I really miss Zappa!

MWEB: Amor Vittone or Patricia Lewis? Firstly you have to answer. Then tell me why you feel that's a stupid question, if you wish to.

Mike: I don't really know much of Amor Vittone's music, but I have met Patricia Lewis and I think she's a lovely person, so if you're asking me then I'd have to say the latter. Its not really a stupid question as music has many faces and people have their preferences and I wouldn't judge them for that. Its just that my personal preference is rock. (I once spent 2 hours trying to convert a die-hard rave junkie to the music of Kansas. Futile!)

MWEB: Do you think SA rock music has it too hard, or too easy. Is the audience dying out or is it essentially an imported genre that's dying because it resists changing to become more African?

Mike: I don't think SA music has an easy time. audiences are extremely varied and not enough to support a genuine rock act, mainly due to the diversity of our music. People want what they know, so for a local band to play a whole evening of original material may not appeal to the masses unless the group was so dynamic onstage visually that the music was secondary. The only other thing to do is to mix covers (own arrangements) with original and get the best of both worlds...which seems to happen everywhere else except in SA! I think the biggest mistake a band can make is to try and change its roots to suit the market. Just because you live in SA does not mean you have to have an African sound. Look at the Commitments. Irish Soul Band. Who said the African Americans have the monopoly?

MWEB: Who is your favourite African musician - of any race?

Mike: My favourite African musician ...Johhny Clegg

MWEB: So after being a staple of the SA rock scene in the 70s and '80s, and being off the scene for a while, you're bringing out a new album in 2005. Tell me about the new song on that album - Reach for a Dream. How's it been working with Reach for a Dream?

Mike: The new album is actually "The Best of McCully Workshop" with songs from each of our four original albums. The only new song is "Reaching for a Dream", which basically says you can reach your dream if you really try. That is exactly what The Reach for a Dream Foundation does, helping a sick child reach their dream. Thus, from every CD sold, Reach for a Dream will get R30.

MWEB: And what's next, then? Do you think you'll ever be world famous... or is it too late? Did you ever - say when thirty or forty years ago - feel sure you'd be the next Beatles?

Mike: Although we wrote, recorded and produced all our own material and had 6 top ten hits in the 70's, we didn't think it would be easy or that we'd be another Beatles. We were supposed to go to the USA in 1980, but were blocked at the last minute. With the right record deal we could have made it then...but funnily enough the two latest signings in the States have been 70's sounding bands! You never know. I mean "Buccaneer" has never been released internationally, and two years ago they released our first album recorded in 1970, in South Korea!

MWEB: And now?

Mike: Now we just have fun doing our charity performances and hopefully get to play in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in the near future To those McCully fans out there, we say see you soon!

- Jean Barker

SA Rock pioneers McCully Workshop are playing live again after 25 years! Catch them at the Market Hall at Grand West every Wednesday to Saturday during February. Tickets through Computicket or contact Christine on 021-461-5342. Mike McCullagh, frontman for the band (who got their name from the owner of the garage they rehearsed in, not from Mc) spoke to us about the past, the future, and reaching for dreams.

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