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Culture, Music

Big in Japan

by Dave Durbach / 02.03.2010

You know him as the frontman of Desmond & the Tutus, one of the few bands in SA guaranteed to turn any frown upside down. But behind the beautiful hair there’s also a regular human being. Shane Durrant took some time to chat to Mahala about rock ‘n roll, Jesus Christ, cake and evil twins…

Shane on the Tutus:

Wow, the last two years have been our busiest and most productive but at the same time our least productive. We finally released Tuckshop, after two years of trying to figure out how to release an album. We had the ‘Kiss You On The Cheek’ single released in France by Tigersushi, and according to the label guys, it’s become something of an underground club hit over there. Every Conversation in Japan released a cute little ‘Peter’ 7″ and Flake Records also in Japan released a special edition Tuckshop packed with crazy Japanese remixes. We did a European ‘tour’ (note inverted commas), and caught a glimpse of how tough it is to crack the international scene as a rock band, but had a wild time in Glasgow at the legendary Optimo Club, and in Sweden (queues around the block, for possibly the best show of our career). We did another little EP, to test out some new songs on the crowds and what not and it did okay, now we’re moving forward, 2010 should be good, hopefully we come up with a bunch of new stuff this year, hopefully another trip abroad and hopefully more being awesome and meeting other people that are busy being awesome.

On Jesus:

I love God and I love music and I love people and I love people reacting positively to our music. Sure, I care about seeing people get to know God, but I also know that hearing the gospel set to a disco punk groove would be cheesy as all hell. So the balance is delicate, but I’d much rather help cheer people up with some nonsense dance music than ram verses from Corinthians down their throats.

On marriage:

Shane and Angie

Angie and I got married in November of 2008, and so far it’s pretty damn awesome!

On living in Pretoria:

When we started the band I had just moved to Johannesburg and the rest of the guys were in Pretoria, so we claimed Pretoria as our home town. Now Doug lives here too, so it’s 50/50. I don’t think Craig and Nic will take the plunge though, I think they’re afraid of the big city lights and loud noises.

On the SA music industry:

Too few bands, too few venues, too few good promoters, too few labels. We’ll get there though. As dismal as it may seem, our rock scene is actually pretty awesome. We’ve got great bands here and more and more of them are getting huge by just being who they are. The sooner we all stop trying to be Nickelback the sooner our scene gets awesomer.

On paying the bills:

We make a bit of money, but apart from the occasional sweet payday, we don’t really make enough to keep us going. But I hear loads of other guys like the dudes from Ashtray Electric are full time band guys, and they do fine. Maybe it’s about taking the leap and making it work. I was in advertising for a long time, but the last job I had sort of pushed me over the edge. So now I’ve got some other stuff I’m trying to get going, at the moment my wife and I, along with a friend of ours – Greg Rom (he directed our Pictures music video a few years ago) are opening a coffee and cake bar in Illovo.

On record labels:

Awesomeland Records isn’t really a company. We started it because we thought we had to have a company to release our album, turns out we were wrong and now we just have a company and about 100 barcodes that we don’t know what to do with. I think managing the band was fun but it’s also what sort of burnt me out a while ago, so I imagine it would be great to have a bunch of people that know what they’re doing committed to making your band a success then you can concentrate on what you love doing, which is drawing flyers – I mean making music.

On Nic Durandt:

Born as conjoined twins, separated at age 4. He took to the boxing scene, I took to the indie scene, and now we never talk.

On the future:

I honestly don’t know. We’re starting to write again, so hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have a plan for album number two.

For more on Shane’s non-musical work (including advertising, taxidermy, dermatology and Jackie Chan impersonations), check out superduper.co.za.

On his bike

All images © and courtesy Douglas Bower.

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