What drew you to metal, and what’s the metal scene like in Gaborone? Do you have many shows and a decent following?
Well I started listening to rock music when I was about 13 or 14, but even then songs from black Sabbath, Hendrix sounded familiar, so my guess someone was playing rock/heavy metal in the hood before I was 13. At one point in my life I lived in the army barracks so I suppose most of the rock/metal came from there. By the time I was 18 I was listening to more heavy stuff - Metallica, Megadeth, Iron maiden, the progressed to Slayer, Machine head, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse and so on. I have always been looking for faster heavier riffs, blast beats, double bass drumming and so for forth.
To answer the next question I think I need to point out a few things, Botswana has a population of less than 2 million, and Gaborone is about 350,000, which is really small. Half of those people don't care about music in general, and 95% of the music lovers listen to other genres here. I am talking about traditional African music, house music, kwaito ( a variation of hip-hop), African Jazz, rap and hip-hop music. So the scene is pretty small; just a few hundreds only. Our gigs usually have about 200 people. But those gigs don't happen so frequently (maybe like every 2 months or so).
In Maun there is pretty much a good audience; one can get between 300-2000 people, depending on the advertising. Maun is like a tourist attraction and the local people really love coming out for gigs. We also travel a lot to South Africa where there is usually a bigger audience. But then again this is Africa and a lot of things are very expensive therefore you make anything out the gigs.
For an unsigned metal band with limited financial resources, and who's based in an African nation, averaging 200 people per gig is impressive. I am very proud of you. Some metal bands here spend ridiculous money on websites, flyers, posters, etc. and promote themselves tirelessly…and if they can get 40 people to come to a show, it’s like God’s gift. Not to mention, you’ve created music videos, etc. Astounding!
Thanks, but you gotta believe me when I say we worked really hard, and the fact that there are not many metal bands around helps. The fans don't have a lot to choose from and the stuff doesn't become monotonous (as I see when we are in South Africa). I imagine in the States it could be worse. We also did a full South African tour in 2007 which helped as well; I regularly get emails requesting us to come again to South Africa and Namibia.
By the way - why did you live in the army barracks, and how old were you?
My mum was in school (university) so I sort of stayed for a while with my aunt's husband. I however didn't stay with them long, just a couple of months; I must have been 8 or 9 - I don't remember - but we visited them a lot back then.
When and how did you first start playing guitar?
I picked my first guitar ever on the 13th of September, 1998. I had had enough of just listening to music. I remember wanting to play guitar solos, just like Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) and Augus Young (ACDC).
What other instruments do you play?
I play basic drum beats (really basic). I am a guitar person and that's what I love the most. Doing vocals is also awesome, especially live, when connecting to the audience. I love it when the audience knows the lyrics and sing along ...amazing!! Locally, songs like "Why me" are like an anthem; when I get to the chorus they know what to do - which is awesome.
That's wonderful to hear! Now, how did your family feel about your taste in music and desire to pursue a career in metal?
I believe my mum knows she raised me well, so whatever I do, she trusts in me - which is a cool thing. I don't have negative energy around me. I can play as long as I want; obviously...I won't pick up a guitar and just play loud around 3 in the morning when my family is around; that would be disrespectful. Gals, however, can bring someone down; I have had my share of negativity - luckily, I got out of it.
So…girlfriends and music don’t go hand in hand? (laughs) How come? Do they get jealous of other women?
It depends; I mean really, if you found someone understanding and supportive, damn!! You become unstoppable, invincible, a genius - to some level a GOD. In my case I would say I met the wrong woman; she didn't understand what I was doing, the music was "too noisy" - stuff like that, you know.
Her loss. Now, I understand you also do solo work – more power to you!!! Who would you say your influences are and how did you come across them?
The main reason for doing my solo is to get rid of the music that rings on my head, but that I can't play in WRUST. You see, I love melodic singing and I just wanted to expressive my emotions deeper. I wanted something that one can relate to and sing whilst in the bathroom/shower or just walking around the house. My influence on this one would be Godsmack, Metallica, Creed - stuff like that. But then clean vocals ain't no walk in the park; that shit is hard....
WRUST has experienced many changes in its line-up. How do the current band members relate to each other and what makes this combination more successful than previous ones?
We don't have issues with our previous band members; we sometimes call each other, hang out at gigs, talk about bettering our music scene and succeeding. The scene is small, therefore the only way to succeed is sticking together. Besides we disbanded, not on bad blood issues, but mostly musical differences, direction and management stuff. So we're cool with each other. With this line-up, a lot of things are not assumed; everything is clear there is better communication, the direction is well-defined. We know the kind of music we wanna deliver in the end. We don't just want a replica of our idols' music, you know? We want something different but not weird and cool at the same time, you know?
Has WRUST ever had a female member? Will WRUST ever consider bringing in a female member?
We have never had a female vocalist and we have never thought about it although I used to jam with the 2001 Miss Botswana at the time but never thought of putting her in WRUST, but a different project. Yeah, I thought about it. Besides, to find a female in Botswana willing to do extreme metal...that's a thousand to one odds. It's almost impossible.
You have a wonderful voice and you are an excellent lyricist. What moves and motivates you to create as you do?
Really!! Are you sure you ain't just saying...? Thanks so much; its always nice to hear something like that. It gives me more energy, you know.... I try to be more realistic in my lyrics: I write about what I think, see, hear (just things around) and try to express my honest opinion. Being born in Africa, I think it exposes you to all kinds of shit - corruption, greedy rulers, wars (fortunately Botswana never experienced any wars over hundreds of years), witchcraft (hahaha), rural life, urban life, and a lot of changes. There's just so much one can write about - love, hate, rituals, sacrifices, and so on.
Which countries have you played in? How do different peoples respond to your band?
So far we have played in two countries excluding Botswana: South Africa and Namibia. We have always made a huge impact in all the gigs we played in outside Botswana; mostly because of the fact that we are black, and we play extreme music, and we are good at it. And the fact that we can sort of like have groovy songs that people can follow from the on set, choruses that are sort of straight in your face, one can quickly follow as well and then we have the insanity both on the songs themselves and the deliverances I suppose. We are usually well received and the people are usually nice you know which is a cool thing.
I’ve noticed fans comment on your “African influence on metal” – and I can hear exactly what they’re talking about. Could you elaborate on that?
I think a music writer is heavily influenced by the environment he lives in, and we are no different. Radio stations here, as you would expect, play music that is more African. As much as I love listening to metal, more than half the time I hear shit that I don't wanna listen to; but whether or not I like that shit, it's gonna influence my writing. Our traditional music here is mostly based on the 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures which is what we have a lot in our rhythm sections. We don't try and over do it, it comes out naturally and then we blend with the normal 4/4 rock time signatures. Some tribes here have music with odd time like 5/4 and the 7/8 and when you hear their music and imagine it as a metal riff - God!!! It's a killer and that's what we love to capture...hence the African influence.
I understand you’ve had trouble establishing tours in the US. Can you tell me about those difficulties?
Leaving Africa, I think, is the hardest battle we have ever encountered since the formation of WRUST. Believe me...we have had a lot of obstacles; to get the Sepultura gig wasn't at all easy we have travel about 1000 miles 4 times to get that recognition that we're a worthy band to play alongside an international act. To come to America for an instant, we need a promoter/agent who will be our sponsor for the tour. Even if we can sponsor ourselves we can't just come over there, because the US Immigration needs a guarantee that we will leave the States after the visas expire. Moreover, the costs are insanely expensive.
Some American fans would not place their ideal metal band in an Africa country, but with our continent’s history, one could argue metal music is a perfect vehicle to express our troubles. What do you think about that?
Well I won't blame them, really, but then again...to me a real metal fan does not care where the band comes from or look like but the music- nothing else: the music. He cares about what the band has to offer musically and emotionally, I suppose.
What can fans expect from WRUST in the near future?
We are in studio as we speak; we have laid down 14 songs and recorded all the drum tracks; soon the bass is gonna be recorded, guitars and vocals. The album should be fully completed by August 31, and the release date will be sometime in October. The album will be available at our Myspace and Facebook. Thanks you so much for anyone who gets to read this; you can always email me or look me up on Facebook as well. I am usually online so chat with me if you can....
Stux, thank you SO much for stopping by the bar. Any last words?
I think at this point I would like to thank anyone who took his/her precious time to read this article. Moreover, for us it will be a dream come true to just have a one-month tour in the States or anywhere outside Africa. From some of the questions we get it clearly shows that people who have never been to Africa have a big misconception about the continent. Some think of it as one big jungle with animals and extremely poor people dying from starvation...which is not the case, especially here in Southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe). I think the media is to blame for that. What are some of the stupid questions we get? Well, let me think...ahhh, a dude once asked me what do I use for my electric guitar and the amp as there is no electricity.
I was like, Really????!!!