We speak to one of the most successful rock acts in South Africa about their long musical career.
Since their formation in 2004, they have played major festivals and have been labelled one of SA’s best live rocks acts. Taxi Violence is made up of George van der Spuy (vocals), Rian Zietsman (guitar), Jason Ling (Bass) and Louis Nel (drums). They have been nominated for this year’s MK Award for Best Rock Video and are currently recording in studio.
How does it feel to still be acknowledged on platforms like the MK Awards?
Ling: It is a blessing. So many great bands have come and gone over the years, so to still be acknowledged after all these years is a great feeling.
Zietsman: It’s always rewarding, even just a nomination. Often, the other bands in our categories are groups we admire, so being mentioned in the same breath is great.
Nel: It’s always an honour. I feel very blessed to still be going after almost nine years.
Who would you note as the biggest influence on your music?
Ling: Music that came out in the 90s, definitely.
Zietsman: It’s odd, but probably my dad. He’s been playing me rock ‘n roll since I can remember. The first electrical appliance I could operate was his record player.
Nel: Probably the music I grew up with. The 90s grunge bands had a big influence on who I am as a musician today.
What has been the pivotal point in your career so far?
Ling: Touring Europe for the first time made us realise that we can be a better band than we were at that point. We learnt so much on that tour.
Zietsman: It’s hard to say, because it just keeps pivoting.
Nel: That’s a tough one. There have been a few. But I think the changes we made in 2009 with regards to running and managing the band were of critical importance.
What is the current state of rock in South Africa?
Ling: It’s very healthy. There are so many young and upcoming bands that are blowing my mind these days.
Zietsman: I reckon it’s good. People are generally curious about new bands, so gigs are pretty well-attended. Also, the more bands, the more competition and so everyone needs to up their game. That’s good for the scene.
What is the process of making a record like for you as a band?
Ling: We all write riffs at home, bring them to the rehearsal room and work on them till they are complete songs. When the time is right we go into pre-production and tweak them till they are 90%. The extra 10% which makes the album special just happens in the studio.
Zietsman: I love it. I get to go to the studio and make as much noise as I want. We all treat it as a creative time and space, so it’s pretty exciting.
Nel: We love it. We usually spend about three months on preproduction and then hit the studio with vigour.
What lesson would you pass on to young bands?
Ling: Don’t follow trends. Do what makes you happy.
Zietsman: Nothing comes easy. Bands that are successful have worked hard to be there.
Nel: Stick to your guns, do what you love and trust your gut.
Looking forward where would you say the band is headed to?
Ling: As Arno Carstens would say “another universe”.
Rian Zietsman: Mars.