Shadowclub’s debut album, Guns And Money, has caused quite a ripple in the South African music scene since its release. With lyrics that hint at sex and danger combined with their blues-rock inspired sound, Perdeby caught up with Jacques Moolman (vocals and lead guitar), Louis Roux (bass guitar) and Isaac Klawansky (drums) to find out more about this three-piece band from Johannesburg.
You’ve become renowned for your bluesy, old-school rock and roll vibe. What was the inspiration behind your unique sound?
Isaac: We’re all very influenced by rock and roll and the blues. We have been since we were little kids, from our parents, listening to their music. [Jacques and I] played in a band before quite a few years ago called Airship Orange and that split up. So we decided to form another band. The idea was to keep it simple and basically keep the best elements of rock and roll (drums, bass, guitar – three-piece – and one voice) and that was the sound that came out. From the beginning, it was just an epic blues sound and then it changed from there.
Is there any significance to the album’s title Guns And Money?
Jacques: The way that Guns And Money came about was that we had all these songs that we were going to put on an album. We sat with the label [and] listened to all the songs that we had recorded already. We had performed [“Guns And Money”] like twice about two years ago and then we forgot about it but we had it as a recording. And the label said, “Why don’t you try this out? This will be really rad.” I didn’t have any lyrics for it yet. It worked kind of well when we first performed it. So, we thought, ja, let’s try it out. We went into pre-production and “Guns And Money” was the first sort of chorus that really made sense to me. “She knows…” is the beginning of it and it’s very similar to “Good Morning Killer” which is fine for us because it has a totally different meaning in “Guns And Money”. We eventually decided that that’s probably the strongest name for the album. It was between that and “Good Morning Killer”. It took about ten minutes to decide.
Isaac: Incidentally, it’s the first single as well.
You guys used to hand out demos of your music at gigs. How would you say your music has changed when compared to your debut album?
Louis: Well, the whole idea of the studio album was to capture the live energy and the live show. We found a really cool studio in town and we went in there, set up and did a live recording. The entire album is live. At the end of each take we knew whether it was for the album or not. We were lucky: some tracks we did in one take.
Isaac: If you compare the studio album to our original demos, it’s all recorded in the same way. It’s just that this time around it’s slightly more polished, but the energy is still the same.
The music video for “Guns And Money” has been released. Any new music videos we should be looking out for soon?
Isaac: “Good Morning Killer” at the end of August. That single is going to be released [this week] and then a week later we’re going to shoot the video. We’ve already done the concept.
Louis: Ja, the concept for the video is very cool. It’s going to be a one shot; one person being shot as one thing.
Jacques: Using a steadicam rig.
Louis: Ja, we’re working with a guy, James. He’s [South Africa’s] most renowned steadicam operator. It’ll have a nice gritty feel. The concept itself is very, very strong.
How was it having Brian Lucey master your tracks for Guns And Money?
Jacques: That was probablyone of the biggest perks of the whole production period. I tried to hook up with Brian Lucey on Facebook and he actually replied. It’s just amazing to work with someone who has such a big profile. While he was doing our album, he was also producing David Lynch’s new album. He had just finished working on the five Grammy Award-winning Black Keys album, Brothers.
How was the experience of working with Matthew Fink from The Black Hotels?
Isaac: He’s a very talented guy. He had seen us perform a hell of a lot so he knows the sound and he knew exactly what we were trying to achieve.
Louis: I think Matthew’s experience of being a producer and his knowledge of music and history [helped] – he knew where we wanted to slot in. He nurtured the project. He didn’t force anything and we didn’t force it. He just gently guided us. It was very cool working with him. He’s a quirky dude.
Isaac: I mean, if you look at the album there’s, like, a few songs that have extra guitar bits that he played.
Are there any plans to take on the international music scene?
Louis: Playing the South African circuit is awesome and it’s something we need to do. But we are very keen and ready to pack up, go and come back. It’s not aboutSouth Africa; it’s about being South African.
Photo: Esther van Eeden