Pretoria-based band, the December Streets, are all about the love of music with their “share and care” philosophy. But what’s behind the vintage cars and the band’s beach-style aesthetic? Perdeby sat down with the five-piece band to find out more about their recent mainstream success and the new dynamic of the band since the changes they underwent late last year.
You have been very successful. Any advice you can offer to upcoming bands?
Learn from the masters and make music that you like. Don’t try make music that you think is going to be commercial. If people like it then it’s a huge bonus. In the South African music industry it’s quite important who you know and to make friends. If you play a show, it doesn’t matter with [whom], stay afterwards and don’t be arrogant. Meet other guys and make connections. It’s all about the contacts.
It is really difficult for a local band to break into the mainstream radio playlists. How did you guys manage it?
I think our style of music [is radio-friendly]. It [the music] has got to fit a certain genre for national radio. Especially the 5FM playlist, which is our biggest playlist so far. That was purely because of the normal process. We just gave it [tracks] in like any other band. We didn’t know anyone there.
You guys have an orange vintage car as the image on your EP and websites. Is there any symbolic reference?
That photo was actually taken at Cars in the Park last year. At first I [Nico] just thought – that’s a cool photo, it’ll look good on the EP – but it’s got symbolism. It has to do with that sort of beach-boy lifestyle. I can just imagine road-tripping in a car like that to the beach so I think it turned out quite well.
The band has been through a few changes. Would you say the new set-up has changed the sound of December Streets?
I’ve [Tristan] been writing music since high school so it’s always been changing – the members of the band have always been coming in and out. For me, whoever I write music with doesn’t really matter as long as they’re good at what they do. And when you become friends (the recipe we’ve got now), you just gel well together.
How did you find Rag this year? As Tuks students, was it weird to be on the stage rather than in front of it?
It’s always been the dream to be on the Rag stage. Playing for a crowd of drunk students is the best. It started raining and [they] were dancing in the rain. That was cool for us. It wasn’t a huge crowd but the people that were there were enjoying it.
Where can one find your EP?
The EP is free on the internet and on our Facebook page. The idea is for people to copy and share it. At this stage it’s not about making money, it’s about getting our music out there. That’s the main goal for us, for people to enjoy it. If someone can sing along to it and enjoy it, then goal achieved. Our EP is for sale at shows in a physical format.
What is your favourite gig to date?
OP Beerfest. The vibe was so sick.
Who would you guys most like to collaborate with, either locally or internationally?
Locally: Tumi and the Volume and Captain Stu. Internationally: The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and Muse, while we’re dreaming.
Who writes the music for the band? Or is it a collaborative effort?
Everyone has a say. We’re not one of those bands where one guy has an overarching idea. Even the bassist has a say [laughs]. What normally happens on a structural level is that someone will come with a guitar riff and we’ll start working around that. Then once we get a proper structure going we’ll write lyrics.
What projects are you most looking forward to this year?
Splashy Fen in April. We’re recording new tracks as well. We’re at a stage in our band where things are starting to gel well. We’re starting to get our own vibe – a new vibe – but not new as in completely different. It’s just adapted to a better way. Also, touring in Cape Town in June is going to be sick.
Some kids like to play fantasy football. Here at Perdeby we like to play fantasy rock fest. Who would you include in your ultimate line-up?
Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Arctic Monkeys, White Stripes and The Kooks – they’re one of our main influences.
The band has performed at a couple of gigs now. What is the weirdest or most embarrassing thing that has happened to any of you so far?
We haven’t had enough experience to have a really embarrassing moment. We did throw an EP at someone and it landed in the dustbin.
Do you guys have groupies yet?