No one-hit wonders

2011-07-04 07:53

Is there anything The Parlotones can’t do? In a first, the multi-award-winning SA pop rock band who’ve earned international acclaim are launching their 3D concert this month. FARRAH FRANCIS chatted to them about their latest adventure.

The debate about the state of local music is one I’ve heard many times as a journalist. Whether it’s from other industry insiders or friends and family, it’s always the same – there isn’t enough talent, money and backing for local musos.

But The Parlotones have proven otherwise by becoming a sensation in South Africa, churning out hit after hit.

They’ve been featured on CNN, in Billboard magazine and Italian Vogue. Perhaps, most importantly, they have become marketing geniuses.

The Joburg boys have quickly learnt how to navigate the corporate landscape while maintaining their rock edge with campaigns like Earth Hour, their KFC Snack Box and the recent Parlotones laptop.

These corporate efforts have put them in the pound seats for their 3D concert, curiously titled Dragonflies and Astronauts featuring The Parlotones – corporations are jostling to be a part of it.

Sponsored by a car manufacturer, the concert, according to lead singer Khan Morbee, “will be a live concert played across the US and Europe at3D cinemas.

South Africans will be able to watch the concert live at the Teatro in Montecasino, but the concert plays out like a theatre production with costumes, actors, a plot and elements of 3D”.

The band, which played at the World Cup’s opening concert at Orlando Stadium last year, realised they were onto something when the show was filmed in HD while Sony streamed the concert in 3D in other countries.

Morbee says: “It just seemed like the right thing to do. We are the first band in the world to try something like this.”

The Parlotones have become synonymous with the hi-tech aesthetic, as seen in their elaborately designed and creative music videos.

The concert promises to be in the same creative vein of rock icons such David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

Using the band’s hits as well as some of their more obscure recordings, their performance has been described as “a futuristic, science-fiction yarn of a rock opera”.

Audiences will be able to indulge their senses when they experience The Parlotones playing live as a theatrical performance unfolds on stage.

“There’s a sci-fi side to it but a love story running throughout so there’s something for the guys and also something for the girls,” explains Morbee.

The five-time Sama-winning band have pushed the boundaries on various occasions with their music videos, sets and make-up, which Morbee seems to get right for him to be taken seriously as a rocker instead of a clown.

Their busy schedules and global jetsetting make it seem like this time they just might have bitten off more than they can chew.

The band is now touring the US to promote their latest offering, Eavesdropping on the Song of Whales, starting on the West Coast and moving their way up.

In the meantime, drummer Neil Pauw recently launched an art collection, while they fulfil their obligations to other campaigns they’ve signed up for and ready themselves for the 3D concert.

But Morbee assures me over a static New York line that indeed this was their plan from the onset.

He says: “When I think about our first CD launch all those years ago in a dingy and dark nightclub, we decided then and there that we would do better next time and we did.

“We have constantly been looking for ways to outdo ourselves, use our passion and push the boundaries.”

Will the band finally settle down in the US where some of their biggest fans live?

“Never! South Africa is home and it’s always good to come home,” says Morbee.

Dragonflies and Astronauts featuring The Parlotones goes live on July 16 and will be broadcast from the Teatro at Montecasino in Fourways, Joburg, to various 3D cinemas locally and globally.
“There’s a sci-fi side to it but a love story running throughout so there’s something for the guys but something for the girls too,” explains Morbee.

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