Breaking new ground

2012-11-22 00:00

THE Parlotones are both excited and a little daunted about relocating to the United States in January next year.

Speaking to The Witness, ahead of the two KwaZulu-Natal concerts on their Farewell Tour, lead singer Kahn Morbee said of the band’s new venture: “America is the biggest music market in the world, but by default it is also the most competitive … there are thousands of bands competing for the same audience.

“The good news is there are also loads of bands making a really good living from music. Bands can sustain a career in music in America.”

Fortunately, The Parlotones are not going in cold. The band has made several successful tours of the U.S., Europe and South America, and already has something of a fan-base overseas.

“We will be able to build momentum from that base, and what’s really good is that we’ll be able to accept gigs that we’ve had to turn down in the past because we simply weren’t based there,” Morbee said.

Being based in the U.S. will also mean that the band is closer to Europe and Asia for future tours, and it will allow them to attend U.S. press conferences and interviews.

Together with his band mates — Glen Hodgson, Neil Pauw and Paul Hodgson — Morbee will be based in Los Angeles, which has been billed the “creative capital of the world”, because around one in six people in the city is involved in the creative industries.

Morbee said he is looking forward to living in Silver Lakes, a suburb of the city, and that the band isn’t daunted, as it has already spent time in LA during previous U.S. tours.

“We have even attended a reading of The Simpsons,” he said, adding that the cast of the popular cartoon sitcom sat around a table reading the script to members of the public and testing what made people laugh.

To coincide with their nationwide tour, The Parlotones have released a treat for fans — the live recording of their rock theatre production Dragonflies and Astronauts, which was originally transmitted live, via satellite, to 3D outlets around the world on July 16 last year.

Dragonflies and Astronauts wove a narrative through the band’s catalogue, including 16 songs that were top 40 hits in South Africa, and some of the more theatrical elements that The Parlotones have become known for in their music videos and more recent performances.

In the tradition of performers like David Bowie and Pink Floyd, the show is set in the future, in a world ruled by three dictators, where fear of apocalypse has eliminated every discordant voice and all passion. Things change when an alien visitor falls to Earth and is discovered by a young man who falls for her. The space creature’s untouchable beauty is so spectacular that all are entranced by her and the three dictators want to possess her. They present her with offers of wealth, power and knowledge, but she remains unmoved.

To maintain order in their world, the dictators decide to isolate her from all others on a distant moon. Overcome by the loss of his true love, the young hero risks his life and, with no hope of returning to his home, follows her into space.

Asked how Dragonflies and Astronauts had come about, Morbee said that during the 2010 World Cup fans were able to watch games in 3D in a special space in Sandton. Several bands also performed at the venue and during several conversations the idea of filming a Parlotones concert in 3D, and then broadcasting it in cinemas, emerged.

“But we felt that just filming a live show would be a bit boring and that we should do more of a stage show with a storyline. Then, through my contacts in the United States, I got a deal to broadcast it live in 3D in America,” Morbee said. “It was a crazy experience. We had just finished a two-month tour and had to work to rehearse the show with the dancers and props and everything. But the first time we performed it on stage at the Teatro [at Montecasino] was on opening night. We did 24 songs without a break … it was an awesome thing to have done.”

The double Dragonflies and Astronauts CD features 24 studio versions of all the tracks that were used in the theatre production, as well as a DVD of the ground-breaking performance. A Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray will also be released.

For now, you can catch The Parlotones on their Farewell Tour at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino, in Umhlanga, on November 22 and November 23. Tickets cost R165 at Computicket.

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