There are very few SA bands that I actually like, in fact I could probably count them all on one hand and most of them don’t play anymore.
Anyone remember Squeal? Early Nude Girls (before Carstens became a jerk)? Boo? Sugardrive? I used to dig those bands, they had a great sound and put out a good couple of albums that were pretty decent.
I find the bands playing these days largely uninspiring with a few exceptions, one of which is Lark – Inge Beckman is the kind of girl you wouldn’t look twice at walking down a street (well, depending on what she was wearing) but on stage she’s all kinds of sexy.
Then there are SA’s favourite bands, the Prime Circles and the aKings and the Goldfishes of this world and whatever you do, DO NOT fuck with their fans. They are fiercely loyal and won’t hesitate to swear at you loudly for ‘not supporting South African music’ if you tell them that those bands are shit.
And lastly, there’s the Parlotones. If you don’t know who the Parlotones are, then I’m not quite sure what you’re doing reading this post. Crawl back under the rock you’ve been hiding under and stay there, because fuck man, the Parlotones are EVERYWHERE!
That song that plays in Outsurance adds? Parlotones. The free album that came with your Sony Ericsson W995? Parlotones. The band that played at the last big corporate function you attended? Parlotones. The band associated with Gigabyte laptops? Parlotones. The only SA band to launch its own wine? Parlotones. The band you hear playing in your worst nightmares? Miley Cyrus. But when she’s too busy working the pole, you bet your ass, it’s the Parlotones.
To be honest, I didn’t really give a flying fuck about any of that. You think it’s easy for SA bands to actually make a living out of gigging and selling albums? Think again buddy, it’s fucking difficult. At least 95% of SA bands have day jobs because the music industry in this country is miniscule in comparison to the rest of the world and the sad reality of being a musician in this country is that is doesn’t pay the bills.
So by all means, get in bed with a couple of sponsors, why the hell not? Cash in on your hard work, atta boy!
BUT there is a line. And the Parlotones crossed it when they got in bed with that giant behemoth of the fast food industry: KFC.
‘We driiiiiiiiiinnnnkkk, we driiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnkkkkkk, we driinnkk from the cupa LIE-YEE-IF!’
If I have to see that advert once more on TV I’m going to tear my fucking face off.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s part of this new series of adverts KFC has shot that all feature this nerdy, glasses-wearing girl who’s wetting herself because she’s on set for the filming of the Parlotones new video.
Amidst the hustle and bustle and action of everything going on around her gets all flustered and in one ad has a Parlotones SnackBox thrust at her and in another one, an ice cream. I don’t understand the logic behind either of these adverts, but I think the underlying message is ‘Eat some KFC and shut the fuck up.’
I found both adverts cringe-worthy, but the newest one, in which our nerdy heroine is pretending to jam Parlotones frontman Kahn Morbee’s guitar in a dressing room when he walks in on her, is definitely a new low for a band that I didn’t think could top their previous efforts at whoring themselves off to the highest bidder.
Are they on crack?! What band in its right mind would agree to have one of their songs (I presume it’s their song) butchered by a girl with the acting talent of limp celery?
What’s even worse is after Kahn walks in on her and asks for his guitar back, she bashfully stands up, edges towards him and then lunges at his face for a snog.
The saddest part of the whole thing though is that in researching this piece (yes, I actually do that sometimes, don’t look so shocked) I got a hold of both Radio Controlled Robot and A World Next Door To Yours (the Parlotones 2005 and 2007 albums) and I have to admit, grudgingly, that they’re OK. Not mind-blowing, not life-changing, but also not utterly crap.
I even took things a step further and found out how much it costs to hire the Parlotones for a corporate function and get this, the booking fee starts at R70k which, after you’ve divided it up between their agent, their manager, their technicians, logistical costs of moving their equipment etc, etc, etc probably only works out to be a couple of thousand, if that, for the band.
A couple of thousand to stand in front of a room of fat, balding men and bored, middle-aged women while you belt out songs about how colourful you are. That’s gotta start destroying your soul sooner or later.
Maybe what this piece should have been is an indictment against the South African music industry and how it forces bands who want to actually make it big in this country to turn themselves into big fat whores in order to do so, but the music industry in this country has always been like that. It’s not going to change, no matter how much we bitch and moan about it.
Local bands would do well to take a page out of Saron Gas / Seether’s book. They had the talent to make it internationally and so that’s exactly what they did. Sure, they’ve been called traitors for leaving SA and turning their backs on the country that made them, but seriously what the fuck else were they going to do?
Have their faces plastered all over KFC SnackBoxes? Fuck. That.
Making it big in Europe or the States should be the end goal for any local band because the sad fact of the matter is that the music industry here doesn’t have the money and resources to properly support and promote local talent unless you sell out in the most degrading way possible.
Never do this though. No amount of money in the world can replace your integrity as an artist and once that’s gone, it won’t be the cup of life you’ll be drinking from my friend, it will be the cup of crap you’ve irritated out of people.
1 Band 1 Cup, now featuring the Parlotones!
I rest my case.