Beat Thisby Mahala High Five Brigade / 12.11.2010
Provided you were born sometime before 1985, chances are you know The Beat. Yes? British two tone ska revival outfit famous for singles such as “Mirror in the Bathroom”, “Too Nice To Talk To” and “All Out To Get You”. Yes? Hurrah! No? Hang your head in shame. They’ve toured with everyone who was anyone including The Police, Talking Heads, Bowie and The Clash? Still no? Back in the day shitty little bands like U2 and REM used to open for The Beat! Seriaas. All we can say is get yourself down to Tanz Cafe tonight, or Mercury Live tomorrow and check these guys out for some seriously good vibes. But first, a few words from original vocalist and toaster with The Beat, purveyor of positive vibes and all round gentle soul, Mr Ranking Roger…
Mahala: First and foremost, why South Africa, and why now?
Ranking Roger: The Beat always wanted the chance to play South Africa even from the early days. Our message of peace love and unity was and still is what we believe in. We were asked to come and play South Africa In the early eighties but a combination of everyone being boycotted (by the rest of the world if they played in SA) and the horrible unequal laws, as they were then, prevented us from helping the people of South africa gain more awareness to the fact that there were people on the outside fighting for them. It would have been a challenge. It is a different challenge now.
You guys are known as The English Beat in the States. I’m assuming that’s because there already was a band there with your name. Who is the ‘other’ Beat? Do you know them? If you had to go up against them in a celebrity death match, would you win?
The other Beat in the USA changed their name to Paul Collins Beat. We met them a couple of times and even checked each others’ bands out. All in all there appeared to be no need for celebrity death matches, as our music was so far removed from each other, there was no need for competition.
Would you say that you have all aged gracefully?
I would have to say yes.
You’ve toured with some pretty amazing acts, including Talking Heads, Bowie, The Clash, The Police…. You must have done some fine partying. Can the fans here expect any opportunities for scandal?
Hey,I can’t tell the fans what to expect,when we don’t really know what to expect ourselves. This will be our first time ever so I am filled with excitement. I think half the reason we got to play with these great bands was because of the things we sang about and how brave we were at delivering it in a peace loving manner, and we also gave a lot of money to the CND. And Greenpeace too.
R.E.M are one of The Beat’s old favorite support bands. They must have done at least three tours with us, and I always knew they would make it big, but I didn’t think they would be that big! U2 opened up for The Beat in London 1982, I think, and look how massive they became.
It’s interesting the people you meet along the way. The one thing I have learned from being in the business and meeting all these wonderful people is: The best way is to just be yourself, but always remain grounded!
Are you guys adventurous eaters? Would you be down to sample a Smiley? It’s a township delicacy here. It’s basically when you take a goat or sheep’s head, fur on, and put it on a fire so that all the hair and skin burns off and the lips curl back so the face ‘smiles’. You then cook it until all the inside bits are smooshy and bon apetite!
Well that might be a bit extreme for me to try as I am a vegetarian. There might be other members of the band or crew who would though.
Who is the South African you would love to meet the most? And no, you can’t say Nelson Mandela.
Of course it would be Nelson Mandela. After all I did sing on the original recording of free Nelson Mandela. I would love to meet some of the local talent. How’s about the Kalahari Surfers, Moodphase 5, or even Zoro who sounds a bit like Curtis Mayfield sometimes.
Lastly, tell us something you’ve never told any other magazine. We want to put the word ”Exclusive’ on the headline when we publish this, but as yet can’t really justify it in any way.
I can’t really think of anything I that’s exclusive that I haven’t revealed yet. It’s more like, this is exclusive to us because we have never been to your country before, yet a lot of our influences over the years have definitely come from different parts of Africa including South Africa. For me, this is a moment in a lifetime I’ll never forget.
Thanks for your time. Really looking forward to jamming to you guys!
Peace! ((^_^)) Roger.
*Catch The Beat live in Johannesburg TONIGHT – Friday 12 November – at Tanz Cafe.
*Catch The Beat live in Cape Town TOMORROW – Saturday 13 November – at Mercury Live.