The Cape Town-based rock group Sons of Settlers has created a lot of buzz since its inception, yet very little material has been released to the public. Now it looks as though an album might be on the way. Gerdus Oosthuyzen sheds some light.
Good day, Gerdus. How are things?
Hey there! We are doing really well. Working very hard at getting the album done – that is the main thing occupying our time besides our day jobs.
Congrats on the release of the new single, "Living Lies". It seems to be creating quite a buzz. Where did the song come from in terms of conceptualisation and execution?
The original idea for “Living Lies” actually came from a project I did for one of the modules I did at Berklee College of Music. At some point it just appeared in a jam session – I had this idea on keys, Bossie got a great beat, I had the melody worked out long ago ... and so the song came into being. With regard to the message of the song, it was written quite collectively. I wrote the first verse, while Le-Roi and I wrote the second verse; Le-Roi wrote the chorus. The main message of the song is how in our view some people are living lies, not following their hearts and their dreams, but juxtaposing that notion with the fact that while we are following our passions we aren't really getting any recognition for it.
The band is releasing singles in bursts, it would seem – the video for "Stay Together" appeared on Vimeo about a year ago, "Climb on my back" was released on SoundCloud eight months ago, "Former Lover" five months ago, and "Living Lies" just about a week ago. What is the strategy behind this approach?
I dunno, man. We are just releasing the content that we feel is appropriate, when we feel ready and stoked to do it. “Stay Together” was never released as a single, though. “Stay Together”, “To Yesterday” and “You are Not Alone” were all just part of a live performance video campaign. Funnily enough, everyone did think that “Stay Together” was a single release and that that was the music video, mainly because we didn't do a one-take of the video, an approach we later amended. We worked out a great radio version for “Stay Together” and hope for it to do very well when we do, in fact, submit it to stations. We are going to be making some more live performance videos as soon as the album is done. It is something we love doing – we love working with our videography friends and I love recording and mixing live performances. The thing with the live performance videos is that it is kind of like playing to the world – any person in the world can see how we perform “Stay Together”, “Former Lover” and “You Are Not Alone” live. I hope we can do that with each song.
According to your Facebook page, ten tracks have been recorded at Coffee Stained Vinyl Studios. Can you shed some light on how the new tracks will sound, considering there's a bit of diversity in the tracks that have been released already?
That is a bit of an overstatement. We opted to rerecord a couple of the tracks in their entirety, and of the tracks that we did, in fact, use from Coffee Stained Vinyl, only the drums remain. We rerecorded all the guitars, bass, percussion and vocals in my studio. With the new tracks we really started to find our sound. We are very excited for you to hear the album in its entirety. Although the songs are quite diverse and eclectic there definitely is a coherence that forms over the whole album.
When are you planning to release the album? Will it be accompanied by the rumoured national tour?
If all goes well we release the album in April. If all goes well we will tour to support it in April.
On your website and Facebook page the fact that you're "a group of friends making beautiful music" is repeatedly highlighted. How and where was this tight friendship formed?
Something I want people to understand about me (and us) is that I believe that while music is one of the most important things, it is not more important than life. To me music has no importance or meaning without friendship, love and union, especially when you are in a band! Buckle and I are old school friends, and every band that I ever played in, I played in with him. Le-Roi and I became friends through friends, through music. I introduced him to yoga, we started practising together, we started jamming, now we live together. Bossie and I lived together for a couple of months in Blaauwberg and subsequently became very close.
You guys all come from musical backgrounds where you were involved with other bands, namely New Holland and Foto Na Dans. What kind of experiences did you learn from in previous bands and how are you applying this in Sons of Settlers?
There are a couple of things that we learned, the one being how high the ceiling of success in our country is and that it is really not something that one should see as your aim. We also learned how easily wiping issues under a rug can lead to big problems later in a band. Otherwise, the main thing we learned is that the reason we get together to jam is to make music better than we could on our own, and it is the music that is our main concern.
On the point of having previously been in bands – how are you guys planning to make this project sustainable in the long run?
We are going to tour the world.
What is the one thing you'd like listeners to get out of listening to SOS's music or by attending shows?
Hopefully a venue with a good sound and a decent mixing engineer, because if we have that we will melt your faces off with our music. If you come to a show where we are having a good time, you will have a great time. This is a promise.