By Chelsea Haith
Nick is sitting outside by the fire with the roadie Richard, while Shane, Craig and Doug lounge on their bunk beds inside the backpackers, chatting about the old days. It’s been ten years and Desmond and the Tutus are older, wiser and keen to be in bed by 8.30pm.
Coming off the back of the successful release of Part One of their new album Enjoy Yourself in September last year, the band are getting huge radio air play with their singles ‘Pretoria Girls’ and ‘Teenagers’. They have no intention of taking it easy and will be releasing Part Two within the next two months, after which they will start recording Part Three at High Seas studios with the aim of a year-end release.
“We’ve always made Desmond a priority. We want to push it further and further every single year. It’s like any other business really, you know, if something’s working you keep doing it,” said Craig, the drummer and manager of the band.
Desmond and the Tutus have unlikely roots in the Valley Methodist Church in Pretoria where Doug, Shane and Craig used to play in the worship band.
“That’s why I learned drums, I wanted to play in the worship band,” Craig said, laughing.
Shane gestured at Doug, the lead guitarist, laughing while he recalled a particularly funny memory: “I’ll never forget when your uncle bought you a guitar on the way to practice, and you took it out of the box at the practice, brand new, and started soloing. I was like, ‘When did Doug learn to play the guitar?’”
The band has a come a long way since the church hall days, but they credit those years for their tight sets now.
“We had that student band phase in which we never gigged, and thank god,” said Shane.
Doug added, “We got really good, just trying to play rock ‘n’ roll, before any of us were really proficient on our instruments. It’s a brilliant strategy actually.
South Africa will always be home to Desmond and the Tutus and the guys are very loyal to their fans. “I think other bands are quick to discredit South African audiences as being undiscerning. The audiences here are worth something,” Doug said.
Shane concurred, adding that the band is deeply rooted in South Africa, not only because of the fan base, but because theirs is a sound and atmosphere that speaks to South African audiences.
“Here we travel around the country playing to huge audiences where everyone knows the words to every single song. Why would we go to London and try and make it there where our music is irrelevant to people?” he said.
Speaking about their friendships, Nick said, “I don’t know of any other bands that are 10 years in and still enjoy the connection as much as we do.”
They are tight, professional and hard working, but Desmond and the Tutus are also just four good mates rocking out, having a laugh and making goofy indie music.
Keeping the details hush hush Shane said that they are excited to be playing at the major music festivals around the country this year and will also be playing at Park Acoustics at the end of May in Pretoria.
Desmond and the Tutus is Shane Durrant on vocals, Douglas Bower on lead guitar, Nick Dinnie on bass and Craig Durrant on drums.