INTERVIEW: Taxi Violence

Photo by Laura Mccullagh.

Taxi Violence have recently started making a triumphant return to the live circuit and in light of their headlining spot on the forthcoming Robertson Rocks we decided to catch up with Loius Nel to discuss their time off, their position in the local scene and the chances of a new album.

You spent a good part of last year not performing many shows yet you seem to be making a live comeback this year – what influenced this break from touring and the current return?

I’m not sure if it was a conscious or deliberate decision. Looking back now, I guess with Ling moving to Germany we probably wanted to find our groove again with Loedi returning to the mix. Or we just wanted a break. I’m really not sure why.

It is difficult to deny that Taxi Violence is a huge name in the South African music scene. You’ve been around for close to a decade and partially influenced a resurgence in South African rock music in the early to mid-2000s. What is like to be held in such high regard by the local music scene? Has it put pressure on you with regards to how you approach your music?

We’ve actually been around for more than a decade! 12 years now. We’re the ‘toppies’ of the SA music scene! I’m super proud of our body of work and everything we’ve accomplished. I don’t really feel pressurised by anyone or anything when it comes to our music. We’ve always done what we wanted to do, and this hasn’t changed.

You’ve left an enormous legacy behind you with how you trailblazed your way through the South African music scene. Looking back at the time when you guys were just another high school band stuck in a band feud with another band – did you ever expect or hope to get to the point where you are now?

Certainly not. I think when I was in high school, I knew that music would be my chosen path, but I definitely did not expect to one day be in a band with George van der Spuy from Drain! Hahaha! There’s a great quote by Joshua Homme that I think every South African musician should take to heart: “If you’re expecting something from music, you’re expecting too much.”

On the note of band feuds, have you ever actually been in a feud with a band after those high school days?

No, not really. It’s so silly to have beef with another band in this country. Our pond is so small and we’re all trying to row in the same direction. It’s way more beneficial for the scene if we all pull together.

As with many older local bands, being a band is not necessarily your day job and you’re all involved in various other jobs some of which are linked to the music industry. How do you go about balancing your personal life with your commitment to the band?

It’s easier now than it was before. I guess it comes with experience. Time management and shared calendars are very important.

Your musical style has evolved over the years with each album pushing you into a new direction whether that direction happened to be blues-influenced rock music, acoustic musings or just straight up grungy hard rock. What pushed you to persistently change your sound?

We’re all big Radiohead fans, and they change their sound with every album. We probably don’t challenge our listeners like they do, but we do try to keep our rock ‘n’ roll interesting. Otherwise, you can just get one Taxi  Violence album because they would all sound the same.

You have independent ever since you started out which is pretty unique for a major South African band  because at some point all bands end up being signed to a label.  Was there ever a point where operating independently on such a huge scale made things difficult for the band?

Luckily not. We built a great team in the beginning – people with shared interests and who’ve grown with the band. It just meant that we had to work a little harder, but the returns are totally worth it.

Actually, how have you guys managed to stay independent for so long?

Hahaha! We don’t like giving away shares and percentages to people doing things that we can do ourselves. The Internet and the digital age have also made things a lot easier for musicians.

As veterans of the South African music scene, what are your thoughts on the state of the current music scene? Do you think the industry has taken a bit of a blow with entities such as MK shutting down indefinitely?

I think so. The rock scene is going through a bit of a slump at the moment. But it’s cyclical. We’re just waiting for that one kick ass young band to breathe life into the scene again.

Furthermore, what are your thoughts on the recent introduction of a 90% local radio quota? Do you think it is something that can be feasible in the long run?

I think it’s great. It should have happened a long time ago. Our country is filled with amazing talent and people should know about it.

You’re going to be headlining Robertson Rocks in October. The line-up is a pretty eclectic mixture of up-and-coming alternative bands. Are there any acts that stand out for you on the line-up?

I’m pretty amped to check out Black Math.

Finally, can we expect new music from Taxi Violence anytime soon?

Yes, you can. We’re currently busy writing a new album. It’s quite an exciting project, as we’ll be releasing it in a slightly different way. But you’ll find out soon enough.

Purchase Robertson Rocks tickets here and head to the event page for more details.

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