Music: Interview with Harris Tweed

2008-09-05 00:00

Ryan Calder: How is life in Harris Tweed?

Cherilyn Macneil: Things have been pretty crazy at the moment, what with all the planning for our theatre tour, having to change our band's name and the general mayhem surrounding getting an album ready for release! It's really been quite hectic (to choose a great South African-ism.) This year has in general been very challenging for us, but with a whole bunch of highlights - the peak being the four weeks we spent tracking our new album, Replace Why With Funny, which should be out soon.

RC: Is there a fixed line-up in the band besides you and Darryl?

CM: We are playing as a three-piece now with our friend Michael Wright joining us on the drums. The new album has a lot of interesting rhythms in it, so we needed to have a drummer to do it justice live. I'm loving playing with drums again. Mike has a very stripped down drum set-up and plays really intuitively. We're also still using the loop station, recording and layering my voice live. I think we're finally starting to find our comfortable 'tone'.

RC: How different is the new album going to be lyrically, musically, (generally?) to what fans and critics have come to expect from HT?

CM: This new album is very different. In general the songs are still heartfelt and accessible, just more matured, and perhaps a little darker. And the arrangements are a lot more experimental. We brought out Brent Knopf from the Portland-based band, Menomena, to produce the album. He brought with him a whole new way of structuring songs and recording them, and we are blissfully happy with the result.

RC: What’s the best part about being a Tweed?

CM: Well, very soon we will no longer be Tweeds! So your question touches on something that has been really hard for us this year. The Harris Tweed Authority in Scotland has decided that there can't be two Harris Tweeds in the world, and so sadly, we have no choice but to change our band's name. So our new album will be released under a new name (as yet undecided) in the next few weeks. But the best part about being in our band is that we get to make music, and making music is cathartic and beautiful and fun! Before a rehearsal I can be in the worst mood ever, and then I'll realise afterwards that I feel like a different person. It's great!

RC: Who is the most interesting band you listen to?

CM: At the moment I am listening to Carribou non-stop. It is the solo project of a guy based in London. Also on the interesting playlist of awesome: Menomena, The Notwist and The Dodos

RC: After a little while in the business, how do you find the SA music industry?

CM: The music industry is pretty complicated - it's a business unlike any other. But in SA it's a bit like a village; everyone knows everyone and mostly everyone gets along. (Which is great.) There are tons of amazing people in playing bands, DJing on radio, working on TV shows, journalists etc and it's cool to get to know them and work together. There has been a lot of growth in this industry over the last few years and I think it will continue to grow.

RC: Which overseas performances have been the most memorable?

CM: We had an awesome time in Hamburg last year in September. That is definitely our international highlight so far. But we've only played 9 shows outside of South Africa. So hopefully there are many more great international experiences to come.

RC: What has been the secret to your success?

CM: I think the secret to our success is that we've stayed true to who we are - musically and in the way we run the business of being in a band. And I'd say we're pretty grounded, friendly and respectful. And we work really hard. You can't expect anyone else to make things happen for you - it's all in your own hands.

Catch Harris Tweed performing live at the Kwasuka Theatre in Durban on September 6 and 7. Shows start promptly at 8pm and tickets cost R80. Book your tickets at to avoid disappointment.

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