Arts and Culture

Befok in Jo'burg

Lloyd Gedye

Inspired by distortion-dripping guitar, Jaco en Z-dog are here to change the face of Afrikaans punk, writes Lloyd Gedye

Punk rock was always meant to be in your face and offensive, both lyrically and musically, but like anything that grows beyond its means, it was bound to result in sanitised and watered-down imitations. Think Green Day.

A brief glance at the South African music landscape will highlight this fact, with a number of bands masquerading as punk acts when even your grandmother wouldn’t find them offensive.

Well, your grandmother is guaranteed to find Jaco en Z-dog offensive. Their debut EP, Eerste Leerstelling, should probably come with a parental advisory warning along the lines of: “Jaco en Z-dog contains strong language, crunching guitar riffs and a healthy slab of satire. Consume at your own risk.”

Seventeen minutes is all it takes the reckless duo of Jaco and Z-dog to turn Afrikaans music on its head as they plunge head first into their musical world of mayhem.

Conceived by artists Zander Blom and Jaco van Schalkwyk in 2009, Jaco en Z-dog recorded all the tracks on their EP live in one take, sans editing, and then used digital software to amplify and distort their creations.

“Technically we are making computer music,” says Jaco. “We’re very proud of our guitar sound.”

Standout track Alles Is Boring sees the band recount a road trip from Johannesburg to the Cape, to Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, where, well, alles is boring.

So, fed up with all the kak, the band drive their bakkie to Holland, which, surprise, surprise, is boring.

New York is next, on a “private jet with cocaine and bitches”, and South America follows, but the only time these guys feel alive is when they arrive home in Johannesburg, which is “befok!”.

It’s a simple yet hilarious song that points out two things. First: this band is a product of Johannesburg, with a little bit of Pretoria thrown in. Second is to stop looking everywhere else for your inspiration when it’s right in front of you.

Jaco en Z-dog sing fiery punk anthems about chasing around Johannesburg in a bakkie trying to buy a firewire cable for one of their laptops.

Not a genuine punk sentiment, sure, but you know it’s true to their lives and they do it with the gusto, noise and a punk attitude that should be required of all punk bands.

They make the more successful, more popular of South Africa’s punk bands seem like the lame-ass imposters they are.

Their sound is rudimentary and raw, similar to The Stooges on steroids fronted by a very young Robert Plant, and they have to be seen to be believed.

After their recent EP launch in Johannesburg, I told Jaco how amazing their performance had been and his response was that all he could see was a whole lot of very confused faces staring back at him. Mission accomplished, then.

Those who witnessed the launch will not forget it easily, whether they got it or not.

Eerste Leerstelling has been released independently by the band in an edition of 100 and is available live at their gigs or from the Dokter and Misses store at the 44 Stanley Avenue complex in Johannesburg.

Each CD comes wrapped in a see-through plastic bag and the plastic dual cases for the CDs have been custom-smashed by Z-dog for your benefit.

And, if Jaco en Z-dog blow your mind, the good news is there are a few more singles on the way before their debut album is unleashed. Z-dog says they are working on a book too.

Jaco en Z-dog will play live with The Buckfever Underground and Inspector RAS at the Bohemian on Saturday April 24. R40 gets you in.


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