Oppikoppi commemorates its 20th anniversary this year. What does it mean to the band to be performing at this momentous event?

It’s our ten-year anniversary as a band, so it’s nice to share an anniversary together with someone. It’s their 20th year and our tenth so everyone is celebrating something, which makes it special on both sides.

You’re launching your ten-year anniversary album in September, which is very significant. What does this mean to the band?

It’s a bit like when you read a good book and you reach the end of a nice chapter. It’s the same way for us: not the end of the book, but the end of a good chapter. It sums up what we’ve made through in these ten years. Anyone who’s in a band in South Africa will know that it’s quite tough, it’s hard work and it’s not easy to get recognition and to carry on. So ten years for us is a big thing. It’s an assessment of our friendship as a band.

Does being in the industry for as many years as you have make performing and making albums any easier?

It only gets harder because of self-expectation. When [your band] comes out, no one really knows you, so you put stuff out and it’s either good or it’s s**t. If it’s good, you need to beat that [with your next release]. You obviously don’t want to fail. It’s like any other sport or competition, you don’t want to lose. After ten years you have expectations of the crowd and you want to keep them happy, and that’s what makes it difficult for us. But as a job, it’s the best job in the world.

After writing and recording songs for this long, are there any songs that stand out above the rest when performing?

All of them, really. At another festival about two years ago, they gave us a two-hour slot and we actually struggled to fill those two hours because we had so many songs that we didn’t know what to do. Choosing a set list is the hardest thing because we love playing all our songs. Usually “Devil ‘n pistol” is a winner, along with “Venus fly trap” and “Unholy” – stuff that our older fans, who’ve been there from the start, appreciate. Last night we played four new tracks to test them out and the crowd [enjoyed them] just as much. This shows that we’re on the right path to keeping fans happy.

What can fans expect from the anniversary album?

Quintessential, typical Taxi Violence – rock‘n’roll. It’s not mainstream, but yet it’s catchy. We’ve done what we want and what makes us happy. We’re finishing off the album now and the mixes are sounding amazing, we’re happy with it. We believe that it’s the best work that we’ve brought out.

Has there been anything special about the recording process this time around?

Yes, over the years we’ve learnt the “tricks of the trade”, where to record, what’s the best drum sound, who’s the best at mixing and mastering [albums] – basically gathering a team who we’d like to work with. We’ve taken the best of everything [this time]. We did our drums and vocals at Heritage Sound in Cape Town, we did the guitars and bass by ourselves at George [Van der Spuy]’s studio, Kill City Blues, also in Cape Town. We weren’t on the clock, so we just had a whole month to do everything – we had time to add lots of guitars and lots of bass. That, for us, made it special. We took our time on it and it’s going to sound great.

 

Photo: Hendro van der Merwe

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