One of the most vibrant heavy music scenes in the world at the moment is South Africa. While many music fans might not be aware of it, there is great music coming out of South Africa each week, and we were very lucky recently to catch up with one of those bands – Southern Wild. Southern Wild hail from Cape Town, and have just released their debut album, Lead Role In A Classic Horror. We caught up with Southern Wild’s vocalist and guitarist, David van Vuuren to get the low down on the band.
“Well, Dylan, our drummer, is actually my brother-in-law and we are both from Johannesburg,” explains Dave. “We are both from considerably heavy bands. I was from a metalcore band, and he was from a kind of nu-metal band, and I wanted to not completely branch away from metal but use some metal elements in more of a hard rock type of music. But I love metal so, of course, I wanted to keep some of those elements – things like the rhythms and the breakdowns, that kind of stuff. We both moved to Cape Town because he started playing for a band there, and I said to him: ‘Why don’t we start a band?’ because at the time, I was a solo musician – I was actually writing folk music at the time. So we started this band ‘Southern Wild’, and it started out just Dylan and me, and then our now lead guitarist joined as our bassist, and we did our first show as a three-piece, and then we recruited Alex to be our bassist. So we started in 2015, and then we started writing a bunch of songs – like fifteen tracks – and then we narrowed it down and wanted to record an EP. But then we decided, ‘Well if we are going to do 5 or 6 tracks, we might as well do ten and make it an album.’”
With such a variety of music that he plays today, it is no surprise to learn that Dave was exposed to a lot of different kinds of music at a very early age. “My dad was a great folk guitarist,” he explains. “From an early age, I was listening to people like Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Neil Young. That was my early listening, and then when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I discovered bands like System Of A Down, Muse and Incubus, and that is how I got introduced to heavier music. Then by the time I was 16, I became obsessed with Killswitch Engage, so that’s where my metalcore side comes in. I dig death metal, but I prefer core music because I love the breakdowns and the melody.”
As our discussion goes on, we start talking about what the heavy music scene is like in South Africa. “It’s cool,” he says laughing. “There has always been those pioneers that have been bringing metal to our country. I suppose, being influenced by bands from Australia, bands from the U.S and bands from the U.K., there were bands like Facing The Gallows and Truth And Its Burden that were big metal bands here when I was growing up, and now it has kind of progressed. Those bands are still around, but some have broken up because there aren’t a lot of venues here in South Africa. I mean, there is a following, and it is a very loyal following, but there isn’t a massive following – it isn’t a massive following. You have festivals here, and they bring out epic metal bands, but they will only get three to four thousand people to a festival like that because that is as big as the scene gets here in terms of metal.”
When talk turns to Southern Wild’s debut album, we start talking about some of the things that were inspiring the lyrics when they putting together the album. “It’s been a crazy six years,” Dave says. “For me, writing the lyrics was interesting. The concept for Lead Role In A Classic Horror came about because one of my best friends is into classic horror films – he loves slashers and films like that. I always liked that term – classic horror – I’ve always thought it sounds cool. And then I was thinking about how most humans struggle with that bridge of making a living and doing what they love. So I thought it would be interesting to take those words ‘classic horror’ and kind of relate it to life, like being in a classic horror. It is always that same on struggle in terms of money, and in terms of trying to make a living, so I thought if we are going to write a concept album and an album that is about these things that make up life, then it would be cool to call it Lead Role In A Classic Horror because you have a lead role in a classic horror. I’m not one of those guys that think that life is all bad – I dig being alive, and being alive is great – but what I’m saying is not a lot of people in this life are doing what they love in these modern times. So I am trying to relate to that and calling life a classic horror. It is that same old story and that same concept that we are fighting against. It is quite a vast kind of concept.”
Lead Role In A Classic Horror is out now.