Ama Voetsek, Music
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GUGZ AND THE BAM BAM

by Robyn Perros / 07.08.2015

Rooftops are the Kilimanjaros and Mount Everests of the city. Sacred, magical places where you can be heard by absolutely no one and the entire world at the same time. We all need some place to escape to, when the city grabs a hold of our ankles and starts pulling us into the concrete. And sometimes a rooftop is the closest mountain we can climb for a breath of (semi)fresh air, a good scream or even a sweet song…

Gugz and the Bam Bam are just one of the many young, up and coming Durban bands that sometimes just like to make music in the wind from a city summit. I caught up with 23-year-old vocalist of Gugz and the Bam Bam, Abigael Thompson, at a rooftop rehearsal about starting out, band secrets and singing in the city.

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Mahala: Let’s keep it simple and start off with the introductions… who’s who in this Zoo biscuit?

Abigael Thompson: We have four members in our Bandamily. Abigael Thompson (that’s me!) the lead singer and Thayne Flanagan, our percussionist, are the founding members of the band. Liam Flanagan was the third addition to the band, is Thayne’s younger brother and jams rhythm and bass guitar. Morgan Keenan is the fourth and final member and adds his own unique style of lead guitar and harmonica to the mix.

Gugz and the Bam Bam seems like it could have started as a jam session in the lounge with a group of friends over some quarts and ‘erb. You appear so natural and casual when you play… How did you four come together as a band?

The band was originally a duo. Thayne and I met through a mutual friend and had a jam session at my flat last year. We decided to go play at Amsterdam’s open mic that same night and alas, Gugz and the Bam Bam was born. It was the first time either of us had played in public as part of a band! Liam joined shortly after and after a few months we recruited Morgan who was already a great friend of Thayne and Liam’s. Our gigs are all about having fun and are usually linked to a lot of tequila, Black Label and great times!

Tell us a bit about the production of your music… Who writes the music and what’s this process like? 

We have a few original songs that we write ourselves. Thayne and I are weirdly connected in that I will write lyrics and be able to hear the song in my head, explain it to Thayne and he’ll pick up his guitar and find something that fits. We are also able to sit down as a band, come up with a melody and have a rad evening writing out lyrics over a couple of drinks and a box of Marlboro Gold. All our songs have originated in different ways, we don’t really have a set way of writing.

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‘Gugz’ and ‘Bam Bam’ sound like characters from a children’s book I’ve never read… Could you tell us a bit about the band name? What does it all mean!?

We like to keep the story of our band name private. It’s just something that is personal between the members… smile emoticon. A little bit weird, a little bit random, just like us. But we love it!

What have been the highlights or great achievements for you so far as a band?

Being such a new band, playing on the main stage at Splashy Fen this year was definitely one of our greatest achievements so far. The energy, the people, the sound. It was incredible. Winning the Amsterdam open mic and a Focusright home recording studio was also a huge achievement for us! What makes a gig special is definitely the crowd we play to. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a corner of Billy the Bums with half the sound equipment we need missing or a biker rally on a misty mountain somewhere in the Midlands off our face on tequila and schwarmas, it’s all about the energy from the crowd and getting them going.

Where would your dream venue to perform be?

Definitely Rocking the Daisies, The Holy Grail of music festivals in South Africa.

Where is the band at the moment and what can we expect to hear from your rooftop in the future?

Right now we want to focus on refining our music as a unit. Polishing our sound to take it to the next level. Another main focus is writing new material – we have about three songs we’re working on at the moment which we’re hoping to get recorded and released in the next few months. We have a few surprises planned for later on in the year if all goes according to plan but that, like our name, for now is a secret…

Tell us something about Gugz and the Bam Bam that we’d never guess…

Morgan’s nickname is The Captain (because he looks like Captain Morgan.) I cry when I hear new songs recorded. Thayne has opened for Monark and Gangs of Ballet at Botanic Gardens as the bassist for Chico Muya. Our favourite thing to do is have a smoke break. We have three secret hand shakes as a band. We play hide and seek in the dark when we’re bored. We howl during certain songs in our set-list. Every time I rap ‘You Need Me Man‘ I almost vomit on the crowd from exertion. We would be nowhere without our friends and family’s support.

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Pictured above: Morgan Keenan, Abigael Thompson & Thayne Flanagan

Follow Gugz and the Bam Bam of Facebake… or look up to skyline on your next walk through the city.

*Images © Robyn Perros

** Live video recording coming soon from the rooftop…

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