By Shannon Wilson
They write their songs from their experiences. The best part of the job is waking up late. Their last album ‘Morning After’ was released in 2014.
South African band aKING came to Grahamstown on the 31July to play at Monument. They took some time out to chat with Artbeat, discussing the band, its future and Laudo Liebenberg’s beard, which he is growing for an upcoming acting job.
The band is made up of Hennie Van Halen (bass), Laudo Liebenberg (vocals and rhythm guitar), Andrew Davenport (guitar) and Jaco “Snakehead” Venter (drums).
Q&A with aKING
What is a typical day in the studio?
Hennie Van Halen (HVH): That’s a very rare occurrence actually. It’s something that happens once in about 18 months. I mean, we rock up there with a song that we have written and then we start with drums and then we do guitars and so on. Then we sort of leave it for a couple of days and then do final adjustments, That process in itself is generally always the same.
What is a typical working day?
Laudo Liebenberg (LL): Well it differs, because we all have stuff on the side but these days we practice more then we used to. [Laughs] I mean we definitely got into this kind of job so we could wake up late.
HVH: Ja, we all have different things that we do so we don’t see each other every day.
Andrew Davenport (AD): If we’re lucky we do!
HVH: So there isn’t really a typical day so to speak.
LL: Which is good.
What do you find most enjoyable about being a part of this band?
LL: Waking up late [laughs]. Sort of being our own bosses. We get to decide what we want to do when we want to do it. We say it a lot that in this industry; the pros are the cons, because we don’t have a boss, but then nobody tells you how to do things.
HVH: You’re kind of feeling around in the dark. But ja, I suppose one of the best things is doing what you love for a living.
LL: It’s nice to be around your friends and play music. What’s not nice about that?
HVH: There’s a word in Afrikaans that means ‘play’. That’s what we do, we play. It’s work, but it’s also play.
What do you find most challenging about being in the band?
AD: It’s a very different lifestyle. You are on a completely different time zone to your friends, your family. You’re gone on weekends, your friends and family chill on the weekends and they work during the week. Then when you get back you’re so tired. I mean five years can go by and you hardly notice and that for me was a bit strange.
LL: I think you sort of get used to it but it will always be strange because you are out of sync.
AD: Ja, you know I have sort of started seeing a girl for not too long, but she will have been working all week and then the weekend comes and I’m going away again and you end up not really connecting for like a month at a time if you’re busy.
HVH: There’s a perception about bands, ‘when are you going to give this up? When you going to get a real job?’ Every now and again that pressure gets to you and you think ‘what are we going to do with our lives?’ But you know, we have been doing this for eight years and we can make a success of it and keep the motivation alive.
Was this something that you always wanted to do?
HVH: Ya well, when you’re a kid and you see a band you think, ‘ja I want to do that’, but it’s kind of a childish dream. I don’t think when I was eight I thought I’m going to be in a band touring South Africa [laughs]. I knew I wanted to play guitar and write songs.
LL: It only became a reality when we realized that it could be something. I mean it was always a pretty farfetched idea. For me I never thought that it was a reality. Then when we were able to write some songs and people responded to them, it actually became ‘cool we can actually do this’.
What’s next for the band?
AD: Straight to the top! [Laughs].
HVH: PE tomorrow.
LL: Ja I think we want to get back to writing. Start getting some ideas together again. You need to have ideas to feel like an emotionally rich man [laughs].
HVH: Start an album, tour the album. It’s a cycle.
Do you all have a favourite song as a band that you all resonate with?
AD: There is one song that when it plays… Ja it stands out. It’s different and it resonates with me. It’s called ‘Follow’ and I really enjoy it personally.
HVH: There’s songs that are fun to play. There are songs that I’m proud of because I think that song touched a bunch of people.
LL: Ja there’s songs that we find boring to play but people respond to it so we play it. Then there’s stuff that you’re more connected to that people don’t respond to [laughs]. It’s always a gamble but I don’t want to put too much emphasis on what we have done. Its more about what can we do.