Interview by Jamie Homer
J’s Restaurant, Primrose Hill, London – 30 June 2005
Cassette is a brand new band from South Africa. They are really quite solid and I like their sound very much. Within a few months their first CD will be released both in South Africa and here in the UK. I would like to introduce you all to them via my 15-minute interview with Jon Savage, their lead singer and the man who is working day and night to get their music known. Jon is the brother of a good mate of mine and is really a nice guy, someone who knows music and a truly gifted singer/songwriter and has a very unique stage presence.
First of all, how long has your band been together?
Can you introduce your band to us? How would you describe your style?
I would say we are a retro piano rock and roll. We combine 1950’s Elvis rock with 1970’s Zeppelin, 1980’s Depoche Mode, 1990’s Radiohead and 2000’s The Killers and Coldplay. We are rock and roll in every sense, we are certainly very performance orientated.
Where did you all meet? How did it all come together?
This is almost an impossible question. It was really a mad chain of events that should not have happened but it did. I had been asked by a good contact and friend of mine at a record company to start a band, and that is sort of what I did. I phoned up Amersham, who were to me the greatest band that had ever lived; they were a kind of fun South African Brit pop. I was able to convince their bass player to come and he eventually brought our guitar player along with him. Our drummer is a legend, everyone at home knows him, and it’s great that he is playing with us now.
When can we expect a full-length album to be released?
Well, we currently have about 50 demos now. We just need to find the right record company to record with. I would expect an album within four months’ time.
Where do your musical influences come from?
Coldplay, Dave Mathews, The Killers. Everything really. I listen to so much music, from Queen, to Robbie Williams and Wilco.
What is the best piece of musical advice ever given to you?
I am going to change the question if you don’t mind? I don’t have any formal musical training, so my inspiration comes from other bands. I would say that I steal ideas from everywhere. I am always looking for things to steal and borrow from my heroes and from other bands.
Describe your music making process to me.
It’s an ever-evolving thing. I would say that 9/10 of our songs I wrote. However, each member of the band is very experienced and has taught me so much about both making music and song writing. They have brought a whole new calibre of song writing with them, and I am ten times better because of it. The general process I guess is I might bring an idea to the table, the band then creates and makes it into a song from there. It is total collaboration, 49/50 attempts and jams go down the drain before we settle and pick one.
How much music have you guys played so far?
In three months we have played about 40 shows. We are starting to get pretty comfortable now. First few gigs were a bit shaky. But now we have started to hit upon something special. We have found a stage personality that before we did not have, and I think we are very similar in style to early Stones. We do this thing where we will freeze mid tune, and if we know the bartenders and wait staff, they will get into the act also. It’s a different thing that we do, called the Freeze, but we are starting to get kind of famous for it and it could be something that defines us. It just classic rock and roll rubbish, performance style gimmicks, but is fun. The biggest gig we have played was to about 1000 people, and have supported bands like Watershed (huge in South Africa) and also Prime Circle, so that has been very cool.