Growing older and wiser

2013-04-12 00:00

AHEAD of tomorrow night’s gig at Live — The Venue in Durban, Alexandra Patrick spoke to Alan Shenton, guitarist for the band Zebra and Giraffe.

I must tell you that when the Collected Memories album came out in 2009, I played The Knife every single day, sometimes on repeat, for months.

The album won two awards that year, a South African Music Award (Sama) for best rock album and a MTV Africa Music Award for best alternative. The recent album The Wisest Ones has just been nominated for a Sama award for best rock album, what an amazing achievement.

Thank you. We are super excited. This is our third Sama nomination for best rock album.

How has Zebra and Giraffe changed since that first album?

The band has changed dramatically. Collected Memories was an entirely solo project that Gregg [Carlin] did himself. He wrote, sang, and played the keyboard and bass. Everything was done in studio by him.

Zebra and Giraffe is now a four-piece band, where the melodies are contributed by the whole band. Lyrically, because the album was written by Gregg over 10 years, the content was specific to his life, moving away from home, girlfriends and break-ups.

But after the success of the first album, we can write an album, where we all contribute, in one or two years.

You will hear the guitar melodies in this album are a lot stronger and this is partly due to us having lost three band members — our bassist Andrew Maskell, drummer Darren Leader and Rob Davidson on keyboard.

To my ear, The Wisest Ones sounds a lot more grown up.

We are a lot more grown up. With the success of the first album, we really started to abuse our fame. We learnt many lessons and had to come down from our high horses.

What do you mean by that?

I think the success was just so new to us. We literally quit our jobs and went on the road. There was a period where we forgot just how privileged we were to be doing what we do.

At the end of the day, the gear doesn’t produce good music — that is our job.We had to get back to the right head space, so that we could write good music.

What can we expect from you tomorrow?

We love playing in Durban and we love playing at Live — The Venue. Live is by far the best venue in South Africa.

This show is going to be awesome. Playing with Asleep in Transit is exciting for us. We know that they have a huge following in Durban, so I think it will be fun.

I think Live — The Venue will be very happy to hear that.

Everything is just run so smoothly there. From the management to the actual sound. The building is amazing to play in. If the venue is sorted, then we can do our jobs properly. Everyone who works at Live is just so passionate about what they do and we appreciate that.

Anything else you want us to know?

The tour we are doing now is to promote our new single and music video for Sons from our latest album. It is now at number 26 on the 5FM top 40 list. We are playing Durban as part of a mini national tour, so after tomorrow we will be heading to Port Elizabeth and East London.

• Zebra and Giraffe will be playing at Live — The Venue, 166 Stamford Hill Road, Durban, tomorrow. Doors open at 8 pm. Tickets cost R70.

• Alexandra.Patrick@witness.co.za

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