The Gypsies come to town

2009-05-22 00:00

HAVING performed on a number of occasions in Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg-based rock band the Southern Gypsey Queen will take the stage at tomorrow night’s Royal Show concert for the first time as a three-piece.

Lead guitarist Thys Smit left the band at the beginning of this year, and the adjustment has been difficult, but the band say they’re tighter than ever.

“Thys didn’t want the pressures of life on the road,” says frontman Gareth Wilson. “It got to a point where making music wasn’t an enjoyable experience for him. When it came to replacing him we realised how tight the three of us are — all of us went to school together, we’ve been through a lot together and have still stuck it out, so we made it work as a trio.”

So is change as good as a holiday? “It’s more rock than ever, but definitely more user-friendly,” says drummer Paul Wilson. “Being a trio means that each guy has to be on the top of his game. Also the dynamics are so much wider, the highs are higher and the lows lower. It has really paid off in the writing process for the new album, it is forcing us to be way more creative.”

“Ninety-nine percent of the audiences prefer it,” says Gareth. “I think it is an energy thing. Because Thys didn’t want be there made it hard for the rest of us to really get a vibe off of each other on stage. Now those windows are wide open and we take the show wherever it needs to go.”

Another change has been Gareth and bassist Tammy’s divorce at the beginning of the year. They’re still playing together though, and all these changes have prompted a new season in songwriter Gareth. The new album, scheduled for this year, has a new flavour, says Paul. “It is much less political. It deals with a lot of our personal issues: Gareth and Tammy’s divorce, the loss of a close friend, personal breakdowns but its also a celebration of life. It’s mainly what we been going through during the last few months.”

The band’s musical influences have made them one of the more popular rock band’s on the current South African scene. “Everybody knows we’ve got a soft spot for the old schoolers like AC/DC, Zeppelin and The Stones, but really anything from the Foo Fighters to Muse can also be picked up in the tunes. We don’t really think of what other guys are doing when we write songs, but I guess what you’re listening to at the time will always filter through.”

Audiences can catch SGQ tomorrow night at the Royal Show, and the band are upbeat about performing back in Maritzburg. “[This will be] the best SGQ show you have ever seen!” says Paul. “We have really been connecting with audiences more than ever before. So expect a good rock ‘n roll show with a lil’ funk and soul thrown in. We’re just there to have fun and want the audience to do the same.”

• Tomorrow night’s Big Beat Productions rock concert line-up begins with The Ranks at 6.30 pm, followed by Cape Town-based jacSHARP at 7 pm, then Cassette at 8 pm, Prime Circle at 9 pm and the Southern Gypsey Queen at 10 pm. Tickets are R35 to get in to the show throughout the day.

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