We had the absolute pleasure of putting forward a few questions to one of the best bands to come out of South Africa, the Springbok Nude Girls, ahead of their gig at Park Acoustics 3rd birthday this Sunday. Being a huge fan for years, we were besides ourselves with this opportunity. This rock band from Cape Town, who first came onto the scene in 2004, has been entertaining people for almost 20 years, albeit a short hiatus between 2001-2006. So much has happened over the years, this is what they had to say:
MA: Tell us, where does the name Springbok Nude Girls come from?
ARNO: It came to me in a dream. It must have been in my subconscious, from those old Springbok hit parade albums.
ADRIAAN: It was a dream that Arno Carstens had. I think he should tell the story.
FRANCIOUS: Arno dreamt it.
MA: Tell us about your journey to where you are today, a little bit of background?
ARNO: During my career as the lead singer of Springbok Nude Girls and subsequently as a solo artist, I has released 10 studio albums (5 as the lead singer of Springbok Nude Girls, 1 as half of the Electronica project, Bhelltower and 4 as a solo artist). I have had over 20 top ten singles, won 5 South African Music Awards and shared the stage with legends of the music world including U2, The Rolling Stones and REM. I have toured extensively in SA, UK, Europe and USA, headlined every major South African festival and performed at some of the most legendary international music festivals including Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, V Festival, T in the Park and Hard Rock Calling.
ADRIAAN: The announcement that the band will no longer be touring and gigging full time, in 2001, heralded a new era for me. I started working in theatre, and shortly after left for the orient to work in education. From there, I came back and took up my studies in psychology and music, studying and working for the best part of the last decade, to the point where I will be completing an MMus Music Therapy this year. I work in community music development, and am conceptualising and applying music based therapeutic initiatives. Gigging with the nudies at the moment, is truly a fun break!
MA: Who are your musical influences?
ADRIAAN: Miles Davis, Bjork, Rachmaninoff, Prodigy, Beck … a motley crew of very diverse and seemingly haphazard influences; whatever floats my boat at any particular time, really. At the moment I am also particularly fascinated by the piano based music therapy work of field doyenne Paul Nordoff.
FRANCIOUS: I enjoy 70’s rock and 80’s pop.
MA: The band has been around for over a decade, what is the most significant change you have noticed in the local music scene and what are your thoughts on it?
ARNO: The bands and quality of music are now world standard but radio has not evolved and is not representative of the live music scene. Therefore it’s keeping us stagnant.
ADRIAAN: We’ve actually been around for nearly two decade. I guess we are currently seeing some of what we saw at the very beginning, i.e. a marked shortage of music venues for starting-out bands. Also, there is a return to harder, alternative sounds in the UK, I’m not sure the extent to which that will blow over to our scene. I recently saw this interesting doccie on African punk bands since the 70s, which made a notable point: punk bands which are emerging in the Southern sub-continent at the moment seem to be returning to an ethic of issue driven, politically motivated lyrics (arguably similar to much of what emerged in the genre during the 80s) – something quite different from what happened when SNG burst onto the scene in the 90s. At that time, there was a pendular swing away from politicised messages in punk… maybe expressing the zeitgeist of the end-of-cycle we were in before the millennium turned: time to party!
FRANCIOUS: The biggest change is the internet. It solves most of the problems we faced when we started.
MA: To date, what has been your greatest achievement as a band?
ADRIAAN: We might have different takes on this, being very different personalities… but for me it was opening for U2 in 2011.
FRANCIOUS: I think being the opening band for U2 in joburg in front of 100000 people.
MA: Throughout your career you have had many hit singles, which of them is still your favourite to play at a live gig?
ARNO: Blue Eyes is still big but I enjoy the more obscure stuff like Gang Gang.
ADRIAAN: I think that for any band which has been around as long as we have, it might happen that the hits lose their punch relative to the ‘classics’. I think we made some pretty damn hot songs which did not become hits, and they would give me a deeper kick to play and ‘bring back’. Examples would be “Dimmer”, “Martha Jones”, “Shot in a day” … oh hell what am I saying – I just love playing “Illuminate”, and that was indeed a single!
FRANCIOUS: I enjoy playing the faster heavier songs.
MA: In 2001 you announced an indefinite break up, what was the turning moment in the reformation of Springbok Nude Girls?
ARNO: For me it was just missing the guys and the whole thing. We’ll never play like we used to but its great doing it now and then.
ADRIAAN: I guess for me it was a realisation that it makes little sense to just abandon something as special as this, completely. Even though we are not doing this full time anymore, we can still have fun with it from time to time.
FRANCIOUS: We had to take a break. I never considered the band ‘broken up’. It was more a question of changing priorities.
MA: Are you working on any projects that we might be interested in?
ARNO: We might be doing some songs soon for next year when we’ll be turning 20. So next year we might play some more shows depends on the venues and the band members’ availability.
ADRIAAN: I manage the Music van de Caab Heritage Development Project on Solms-Delta Estate in the Cape Winelands, working to keep alive and share with all of South Africa, as a nation building resource, the musical heritage created by the slaves of the old Cape Colony (and their descendants). It’s a powerfully positive resource, and something which affords all South Africans, no matter what their first language, a sense of being one as a nation when we dance and sing together.
FRANCIOUS: Working on electronic beats. Maybe something for next year.
MA: Which performance has left an everlasting impression in your minds?
ARNO: For me our shows with INXS before Michael died will always stay with me.
ADRIAAN: Aside from the one I already mentioned (opening for U2), there was also our blast at the Isle of Wight festival in 2011, and several of those really exploding gigs at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, where the balconies threatened to come down, literally, under jumping people.
FRANCIOUS: Too many.
MA: Any big achievement that is still on the ‘bucket list’ for the Springbok Nude Girls?
ARNO: Not really but I would like to keep creating interesting music with the guys.
ADRIAAN: An orchestral touring album!
FRANCIOUS: World Tour.
ARNO: Maybe not playing live much but making interesting music that could push boundaries for ourselves creatively.
ADRIAAN: Hell I have no idea. Every year thus far has come as a surprise of its own!
FRANCIOUS: Anybody’s guess.