COLD HAND CHEMISTRY
(Progressive Rock/ Trend Setter NOT Trend Follower)
|Orange in Blue Photography|
Thank you for taking some time out to chat to Air Guitar! It is rare to find a progressive rock/alternative band in South Africa! Could Cold Hand Chemistry (CHC) elaborate on their repertoire especially to our readers abroad?
Chantel: I think music in South Africa is very “Afrikaans new wave” these days. Bands try to be the next “Die Antwoord, Jack Parrow or Fokofpoliesiekar” and we think that’s great. Cold Hand Chemistry from the start decided not to follow any trends and rather focus on the songs and music representation. With this in mind the lyrics, mood and melody dictates a song with a fine line of our individual styles that ties it all together. I guess also why we are classed as progressive rock/alternative and on occasion metal.
David: I guess the best description of our repertoire would be an organic blend of rock and ethnic genres with a ever so slight classical influence. The idea was always to make use of ethnic influences and cinematic themes in the vein of John Williams and John Carpenter.
The idea was not to replicate the symphonic style of bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation - although their influence is far more apparent at the start of our career, instead we have been crafting our identity to be more of a soundtrack to something fierce in it's conviction but never to far from the base beauty of natural melody. Currently we are still in the process of evolving our sound to it's next stage and we are pleased with the results that are likely to seperate us from the Epic Metal comparisons. We love the genres that inspire us but we want ours to be free to be it's on beast.
The band has had quite a journey since the humble beginnings in 2006. CHC, what has been your biggest challenge, musically, so far?
Chantel: Recording our debut album has by far been the biggest challenge. We had so many let downs, disappointments and financial challenges we had to overcome. With the added pressure we also lost some very talented musicians.
David: Where to start? We have had many challenges in the shape of line-up changes, creative confusions, contract sourings and the usual cliche list of things you see in pretty much any rock and roll movie. Our biggest challenge had to be the establishing of our identity in a saturated rock market that has consumed so many of our peers. We have outlasted our expectations and now we are hungry to establish our relevance beyond that. Not to prove anything to anyone, but to give the music every possible chance to exist.
I've touched on that the band has been on the gigging front for years – is this CHC’s way of connecting to the audience?
Chantel: This is the most important part of our existence, having that connection with our audience. A big thing for us is our live performance and entertaining our fans, we want to expand on our shows and bring on-board bigger and more engaging stage elements.
David: It most certainly is. We pride ourselves on our accessibility and while our live career has had many ups and downs, it has always brought the team and the audience together in a united push for creative bliss. No matter how ludicrous our ideas and somewhat ill-advised our experiments, our fans have blown us away with their consistent support. They serve as a constant reminder that we must follow this path through all it's ebb and flow.
As mentioned prior, CHC has played at a number of gigs – which have been the most memorable and which have been the least pleasant?
Chantel: Most memorable was WinterFest 2011 organized by Metal4Africa at the Klein Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosh. We always find Metal4Africa events to be well organized and the Metal community very inviting to our music even though we not “that Metal”, they just make every note memorable for us. Least pleasant was being attacked by an old lady with my own microphone because she thought the lyrics to one of our songs were demonic. I won’t go into too much detail for the sake of the event and organizers. All I can say that lady was F@king crazy!!! Next time I will hit back. lol
David: At the earliest stages of the band we would have been very quick to dismiss an event as unpleasant due to the inevitable technical failures, the band mate that indulged perhaps a bit too much the night before, the unpromoted venue, etc. We are greatful for each and every chance we have had to entertain and have our humble music listened to. Every gig throws the unexpected at you and this is part of what makes it so exciting.
Personally I will never forget the wondrous experience of playing at Africa Burns in it's first year, even though I think we could count our audience on one hand. The least, I guess that would be the one where our singer was punched out by an old lady in a shopping mall.
Tell us about your relationship with producer/engineer Fernando Perdigao and about his involvement in the soon to be released CHC album.
Chantel: Working with an International and award-winning producer has been one of the highlights and our biggest blessing. It’s easy to understand why he’s had such success and has benn nominated and won many awards and worked with real huge international stars like Sting and Jo Cocker. He just knows how to crack the code of each artist when he works with them. He gets right into your creative space and guides you without you even knowing. It’s like changing your mind and making you think it was your idea. He’s clever like that.
David: Fernando is a man with a very decorated past and a very well-deservd reputation in the industry. What he saw in us is beyond me. as baffling as his interest in our project was, it was the kiss of life for what was atthe time, very much a band on the edge. His faith and vision to help us bring out the potential of our art is what has not only kept the outfit together but allowed us to dream again of how far we could take our sound. His faith in us is simply invaluable and his contribution - incalculable.
I have heard a few promotional tracks from CHC – one that caught my attention is “Do You See Me”, the vocals are smooth and many symphonic elements are present. How importants are lyrics to CHC and where does the influences come from?
Chantel: Lyric plays a big part in our songs; I won’t say the deciding factor of a song though. It’s very important that the lyrics add to the spirit of the song and if it does not work we don’t force it. We have some songs that are pure instrumentals because it just makes sense to leave the interpretation of the music to the listener’s mood and have it guided by lyrics. However we do love telling a story and “Do you see me (hex) is based on the Afriaans Ghost story of the Hex of Hex river. Most of our songs have some historical or reference to something that happened around us. We like to bring in a double meaning the here and the now and the personal to each song.
David: This is where we struggle to define our creative process the most. We enjoy spontaneity in the writing process and the seed for the next song can as easily com from a flick of Goeff's bass guitar as it could come from a phrase pitched from Chantel's lips. Each an every member has been the proud parent of what would become a staple of our stage show and consequently our album.
On that note – can CHC reveal anything about the soon to be released album?
Chantel: There is a fine story line in each song and we hope the journey will be worth the wait. We also have a bit of a teaser track at the end for what’s to come on our second album without revealing too much. Its will have a song for everyone from the heavy of metal fans to the light hearted rocker out there.
David: This has been a lifetime of work condensed into this neat hour-long package. It is the start of our lives in many was but in one very important way, it is finally the end. We hope you enjoy it.
What are the future plans for CHC especially in 2012?
Chantel: This year we want to focus on our debut album and performing across SA’s top venues and festivals. We also want to work on our second album material and currently we are working very hard at writing songs and getting ready to get back out on stage.
Alternative music is still developing in South Africa and in the past five years there has been a grand surge in alternative bands from all parts of the country. What is CHC’s perspective of the current scene? Is it a limited scene or is it the artist that creates the scene?
Chantel: There is no limit to the scene. Why is “Die Antwoord” so successful? They did everything against what is currently happening here in South Africa and made their own success and created their own scene. We respect that and good for them. Being in a band is not just Rock and Roll all the way, what most people don’t know and see behind the scene is that it’s exactly like running a business. I can assure you “Die Antwoord” is one mean business when they are not all seff style LOL clever lot that Yolandi Visser and her Ninja ek se.
David: Honestly I feel unqualified to comment on the scene as it stands. There is so much potential in many acts springing up around us with fresh innovative takes on the genre. The challenge faced by local bands mainly seems to be the pressure to conform to popular conventions in order to gain the right to be broadcast. The internet has been a godsend in this regard and I'm certain that without it's ability to reach potential fands globally we would not have surived nearly as long as we have. I hope the rest of the brilliant acts we see emerging from SA realizes their potential in this medium to get their art noticed and appreciated.
And finally, does CHC have any last words?
Chantel: We are blown away everyday by our fans and as cliché as this might seem we are truly humbled by their support and the love. We hope the readers of Air guitar will enjoy the album as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you and hope to chat to each and every one of your readers on their preferred social network. Just like us.
David: Follow your path with conviction and forward momentum regardless of the set-backs. Your ambitions are attainable. If you are an old fan of our band, we appreciate your having taken this journey with us for so long, if you're a new fan - thank you for joining us. In both cases we are excited to share with you what we have produced.