An Interview With WONDERboom
It’s almost time for the Canadian rockers, Crash Test Dummies to arrive in South Africa for two shows! The band has toured South Africa before, but this time, SA fans have the opportunity to enjoy a day-time picnic in both Cape Town and Pretoria, while jamming to the performance of this legendary band.
I caught up with Cito from WONDERboom, who had a massive 2017 and will be opening for CTD in both Cape Town and Pretoria, to talk about the upcoming shows and all their recent success.
2017 was quite the year for you guys! You’ve won first place at Silk Road Indie Festival in China (congratulations once again), and you’ve also released a new album. What was the ultimate personal highlight for the band?
Thank you! We are quite stoked at the moment. The end of last year just whirl pooled into a crazy rock n roll dream. There were two defined highlights from last year that will last with us forever. One, was our killer album launch. We did it at the Good Luck Bar and were sponsored an enormous amount of production equipment by AV Unlimited, Dream Sets and Marshall Music, and put on a WONDERboom “Bucket List” kind of concert. The crowd were huge and lovely and sang all of our classics back at us. The second highlight was definitely winning that competition in China. It was just surreal and unexpected and exactly what we needed to experience as AN affirmation of our journey.
That’s amazing! Tell me a bit about the Silk Road Indie Festival in Chengdu, China: How did you guys enter this competition and what was the actual competition like?
Well, a South African music industry colleague of ours, Adrian Skirrow, approached us and asked if we would be keen on representing South Africa at this multicultural music festival. We said yes. Turned out to be a competition with crowd votes, judges and fourteen other incredible acts from different countries. There were three days of performances, in front of mixed Chinese audiences, in this insane circus tent. The top six bands were chosen, and we had to perform two songs each in the finals. We won gold, a band from Georgia (the country – LOL) and Lithuania won silver and bronze respectively. There were bands from the UK, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Italy, India and such.
And how was the crowd in China?
The crowd was so polite, yet very responsive. It was amazing seeing the response from people that knew nothing of us. Afterwards, they just wanted to meet us and have selfies with us. Very sweet people. Some saw us off at the airport with tears in their eyes. The whole experience was like some kind of movie!
About the new album, Rising Sun, why the long wait (7 years) to produce a new album, and how was it working together on a big project again?
Look, there are a couple of reasons why it took so long, but the biggest reason was that we were just finding our groove again, with our new drummer, Jonathan Bell. We also took our time song writing, doing pre-production and recording and mixing until we were really happy. We’ve never recorded an album like this before and we’re so glad we took our time. It’s great to have gone through the whole process as a band again and, of course, to finally release it.
I see, so 7 years since the release of The Automatic Shuffle, what has changed for the band since then?
We’ve become quite hands-on, with regards to producing and recording. Extremely meticulous and very honest about the songs, the takes and even the sound. As a band, we decided to “GO THERE”. Don’t over-produce but still keep it fresh. Stop watering down ideas and get the essence of the song, at its best. The album is dark, but colourful, heavy but very musical. Lots of rocking and dancing moments.
And how has the new album been doing so far?
Rising Sun seems to be going down well with everyone who listens to it. As far as sales and popularity is concerned; it’s too early to tell. We’ve accepted at the end of last year, with the launch and tours, that this is just the beginning. We have quite a few new singles with videos to release still.
You are performing at the Crash Test Dummies show, do all of you still get together to rehearse or how will you prepare for this show?
Yes, we definitely do. Because of our vast repertoire, we have the benefit of choosing the right songs for whatever event we do. Still deciding on our song list, but pretty sure it’ll have the classic WONDERhits. However, as much as we prepare setlists, most of the time there will be a change of some sort; because we can never truly predict what kind of audience we have. Like a DJ would read the dancefloor, so do we.
You are one of South Africa’s longest-lived and most legendary bands, how do ensure that you still, after all the years, offer these big, powerful and solid live performances?
Thank you! Well, we just love playing our music together for people. WONDERboom is a performance band. Every single gig has its own crowd and dynamic, so we just plug in to our virtual WONDERbank and play for that crowd. WONDERboom is about being here and now. Music has kept us young, excited and happy. And we just can’t help being moved by it.
Finally, what’s in store for WONDERboom in 2018?
2018 looks great so far, but there’s plenty to do. We’re on a mission, promoting the new album. Going back to China in a few months to hit the other cities at festivals. Touring South Africa properly; not just to the Vaalies at the coast during the holidays! Cape Town at the end of March. Some more single releases with videos. Hitting some local festivals. You know.
Images: Pieter Annandale
Crash test Dummies Tour details:
Date: Saturday 17 Feburary 2018
Venue: Hillcrest Quarry, Durbanville
Support acts: aKing, Wonderboom and Bed on Bricks.
Gates open: 14:00
Date: Sunday 18 Feburary 2018
Venue: Pretoria National Botanical Gardens
Support acts: aKing, Wonderboom, Adventure Man and Bed on Bricks.
Gates open: 12:00
Early-bird – R250; Unreserved Normal Entry – R400; Unreserved VIP – R1000.
Tickets are available from Computicket.