Get Ready For Rock The River. CTMS interviews: Wrestlerish

By Dee Theart (@deetheart)

Photography by Luke Daniel


There is only one way to say farewell to 2012 and welcome 2013 – at Rock The River SA, of course. To get you in the mood of what you can expect from the upcoming festival, SA Music Scene will be interviewing a bunch of the exciting acts you can expect to see in action on one of the three stages.

With their distinct folk-pop sound, Wrestlerish has fast become a must- have act at any festival, Rock The River being no exception. We caught up with front man, Werner Olckers.

Wrestlerish by Luke Daniel

What can people expect from your performance at Rock The River?

Probably a fuller sound than they’ve heard from us before. We’ve spent the last few months just tweaking our live performance with the new members.


Playing a festival like Rock the River must be exciting, but also daunting at the same time. What’s the process like of prepping for a festival like this?

We’re lucky enough to get to play quite regularly. That really helps keeping you stage fit. I think over time you learn how to translate your music in different ways. The way we play and perform at a festival is very different from the performance in say a club environment. We’ve been very fortunate to do both a bit in the last two years and have learnt that we like to build up to a festival with a few club shows before the festival.


Do you guys have any cures and/or remedies for those pre-show jitters?

Etienne and Dave like to enjoy a whiskey. I don’t really get nervous anymore. I think excitement has taken over where the nerves use to kick in.


Name three can’t-do-without items you always pack for a festival.

Wet wipes. Water. Extra socks.

Wrestlerish by Luke Daniel

Who will be standing next to you for the NYE countdown?

I’m not sure yet. Hopefully she’s really pretty. But realistically it’ll be more a case of holding up a drunk band member.


Tell us about one of your most epic festival experiences?

There honestly have been so many. Every festival is different. But that’s the great thing about being able to play these events – you walk away learning something new about your fans and your band every single time.


Who are you as band most looking forward to see perform live at Rock The River?

Definitely Zebra and Giraffe. Their new line-up and setlist is a killer. Always great to see them on a festival stage. I am also really amped to see Enmity play again!


What have been the best thing a fan/critic has said to you this year?

A fan in Cape Town used our song “Sleep” as the first dance song at their wedding. That was pretty great to hear. It’s nice to know our music has that kind of impact on someone.


Looking back at 2012, what was your highlight of the year as band?

Opening for The Tallest Man on Earth was amazing. The venue and vibe was great. We also got to hang out with him for a bit and pick his brain about music, touring and writing.


Now that 2012 is drawing to a close, what can fans expect from you in the New Year? Any big plans?

We’re just taking our time and learning to write as a band again. We have two new amazing members that allow for so much more space and options within our music. But a third album is definitely in the pipeline. So that means new videos, tours and all those extra elements that come with putting out a new record.


Give us one of your short term and one long term goal for 2013.

Short term would be recording the third album. Long term would be releasing the album and giving it a proper tour.

Wrestlerish by Luke Daniel 

Anything you can reveal about the songs, themes or styles of the upcoming album yet?

We’ve been in studio for about four months now and we’re probably halfway done. The new album is a lot more guitar driven. Lyrically, the third record picks up where the first one ended. So it’ll be a bit more of an extension of the themes and content of “The Rude Mechanical”. It’s a little darker than the previous two, but still has a hook or two in there.


It seems as though the majority of fans and music critics preferred your debut album to the second one. Listening now, what is the band’s opinion?

The first album was toured and played live for two years. We put out four videos around it. We had numerous singles on the radio and promoted them across all media platforms. With the second record, the minute the line-up change happened (which was two shows into the launch tour), we decided to scrap it. We only released one video and one single. I personally think it’s less fan friendly than the first, but I’m not very concerned about writing for fans; I write for myself. The second album was slower and more textured; I think people found it hard to swallow after the first album was full of hooks and a stronger pop sensibility. No band wants to write the same album twice. We’re still growing.


I still hear people mispronouncing ‘Wrestlerish’ and I’m sure you’ve heard some very funny versions. Please share. Looking back, would you change it if you could turn back time?

Westwish. Liquorish, Wrestlefish… We’ve heard them all. It’s just a name. Band names become dumber and dumber. There are so many bands out there now and every one of them needs a name. I wouldn’t change it though. I think learning how to pronounce it and succeeding is almost a reward in itself. Once you have it, you’ll never forget it.

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