We sat down with the George Van Der Spuy, the lead singer of South African rock band, Taxi Violence. I am a great admirer of their music and was really excited to do this interview. Anyway, let’s jump right in!
Billy (AudioInferno): Hi George, How are you doing today?
George (Taxi Violence): I’m good, thank you. Just working on some mixes for some SA Rock bands at my studio. How are things in Nigeria?
Billy (AudioInferno): Nigeria is great. We’re working hard on projects here, all for the good of African Rock Music. This is the first time we’re talking to anyone from Taxi Violence. I’ve been a fan of the band for about three years now.
George (Taxi Violence): Rad! Didn’t know it reached you guys, it’s a nice surprise. Are there more people into us over there?
Billy (AudioInferno): More than you would think.
George (Taxi Violence): I’ve heard many good things about the metal scene there but not much about the rock side of things.
Billy (AudioInferno): Our rock scene is actually a lot more active but a bit underground. We’re working to change that here at AudioInferno. I’ve always wondered, what inspired the name Taxi Violence?
George (Taxi Violence): When we started out in 2004, we had six songs ready and we were booked to play a gig at a local club called Mercury but we had no name. We wrote down two pages worth of shitty names but all were shit. Stuff like, Robot Memorial. They all sucked. Our drummer however drove past one of those Argus (local newspaper) billboard posters on the street lamps and it read “Taxi Violence Rocks City”. He mentioned it and we thought, ‘Why not use it, it’s better than anything else we had.’ We played the show and people liked it so we stuck with it.
Billy (AudioInferno): Oh, wow. That’s really something, it is definitely a tale worth telling. You guys have been together for almost two decades now. How has that been for you? Particularly in an industry where bands go through many lineup changes due to unresolvable conflict amongst members.
George (Taxi Violence): It’s not been very difficult at all, really. We are friends first and band mates/business partners second. Obviously, there’s a bit of conflict from time to time but nothing worth breaking up over. We’ve only gone through two lineup changes. The first when Loedi (Bassist) left and Jason joined, and the second when Jason left to move to Berlin and Loedi came back. Most of the time we just have a good time and make jokes.
Billy (AudioInferno): That’s great. Let’s talk about the music for a bit. You have a new EP out titled ‘Shape And Form I’ and it’s the first in a series of EPs you’ll be dropping this year. Can you tell us a little more about this?
George (Taxi Violence): Nowadays, bands release an album, people listen to it for a month, forget about it and then forget about the band and move on to something new. People these days have a short attention span, so we thought it would be a good idea to release more material, more often. It also helps the band stay current, at least that’s the idea behind it.
Billy (AudioInferno): Sounds cool. Is there a plan to release all the songs as a full album later?
George (Taxi Violence): Yes, we’ll most likely take the EPs off and just have all the songs from the EPs on one album plus another 5 tracks or so.
Billy (AudioInferno): Nice. How many EPs do you plan to release?
George (Taxi Violence): One more with five tracks on and then the full album. We don’t want people to wait too long to get their hands on an album. I think people prefer a full album.
Billy (AudioInferno): Okay. You have a point there because when I listened to the EP, I was hungry for more.
George (Taxi Violence): That’s always a good thing.
Billy (AudioInferno): Speaking of the EP, What was the creative process like with this new project? I listened and drew comparisons with your earlier works particularly your last album ‘Tenfold’. It still sounded like you guys, but there were subtle stylistic differences. What was different about your creative process this time around?
George (Taxi Violence): It was much of the same with Tenfold except that we wanted the sound to be a bit edgier and we weren’t concerned with writing any songs for radio/commercial purposes. We usually write a riff at home, send it via email and the band votes it in or out. We then take it to rehearsal studio and mic up the room as we write/rewrite the song.
That way we can hear if it sounds as good recorded as we hear it in the room. If not, we make changes on the spot and listen again. Other times, we just jam and something cool will come up and we go with it.
Billy (AudioInferno): Nice. I’ve always had a thing for album arts and the first thing that struck me about this EP was the art. It looked like the scan of a baby embryo in the womb. Is there a reason for this and is there a general theme to this new album?
George (Taxi Violence): The EP series is called ‘Shape and Form’ and with every cover, the embryo will change shape into something you didn’t expect. You can see by the first cover that you’re not quite sure what it is, just like we’re not too sure what the next material we write will necessarily sound like. That’s the beauty of this EP, it changes shape and form.
Billy (AudioInferno): Interesting stuff. I can’t wait. Before I let you go, let’s talk about the African Rock scene for a bit. Outside South Africa, what has the reach of the band and response to the band been like across Africa?
George (Taxi Violence): Geez, that’s a tough one. I think only Jason can answer that. He has the stats on where the stuff gets downloaded or bought from, I have no cooking clue. *laughs*
Billy (AudioInferno): laughs I’ll be sure to ask him when we talk then. Generally though, what are your thoughts on Rock Music in Africa. How would you evaluate our potential for growth in comparison to other parts of the world?
George (Taxi Violence): I can’t really speak for the rest of Africa but in South Africa, it’s pretty small compared to the US or Europe simply because of the demographic. Not a lot of people listen to Rock in SA anymore and the ones that do, like different varieties of it and that number is so small.
Billy (AudioInferno): In your opinion, Can this be worked on?
George (Taxi Violence): It can, but I don’t know how. Social media means nothing anymore.
Billy (AudioInferno): I can relate to this. However, I believe if everyone plays their own parts (bands, rock organizations, fans) we’ll make some progress. Here in Nigeria, some of us were listening to Rock Music in our different corners until we found out there were others like us and now we have a community that is growing. Slowly but surely. Finally, would you guys be interested in coming to play here (Nigeria)? Also, do you know any of our bands or acts that you would like to work with?
George (Taxi Violence): We would definitely be interested in coming to play in Nigeria. Fuck Yeah! It’s just a question of getting up there without using our pocket-money to do so.
Billy (AudioInferno): laughs Awesome. I’m guessing you don’t know much about our scene then. I should definitely send some songs to you sometime.
George (Taxi Violence): Please do man, would love to hear some.
Billy (AudioInferno): Thanks a lot for your time bro. It was awesome talking to you.
George (Taxi Violence): Was a total pleasure man.
Be sure to check out Taxi Violence on their various social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and YouTube) and be on the lookout for more info on them as we get it. Buy their music on iTunes and stream it on Spotify.
Support your local rock bands by buying their music and merchandise as well a getting all your friends to listen to the awesome music they create. Rock on \m/