High Fibre Tunesby Roger Young, images by Justin McGee / 05.01.2010
Fruit n Veggies are a Durban based ska influenced rock band fronted by Purity Mkhize, who sings and wails her way through their anthemic calls to not give a fuck. They are a one of a kind band, solid songs, a derisive attitide towards conventions, a blistering stage presence and a really deep commitment to living life to the full.
For the last half of 2009 Fruit n Veggies went through some tough times, tough for other people, as they caused chaos wherever they went, got banned from venues, lost managers, missed gigs and generally seemed like a band on the brink of self-destruct. After a particularly rough November, in which thier guitarist left, they took time to regroup, to find a replacement and to write new songs.
To get to the interview we have to follow them to their drummer, Sweet Lu’s parent’s house, where their band room is situated. We drive through some very deep suburbia and then pass through what seems like a jungle to come out in Yellowwood park and we follow them and pull up to a bottle store. Sweat Face McGee, who has photographed them before, notices Loopy the bassist, has shaved her head. “My mom paid me to” she says, “How much?” McGee asks. “She’s cheap” says Purity, “R280”, Loopy wails, “It’s a payment plan, she’s paying in installments, that was the first one”. Loopy then walks over to me and hands me one of her shorn dreadlocks, I thank her, “I am like a river to my people” she mock proclaims and goes in to help James, the new guitarist, buy quarts. McGee says “You know this interview isn’t going to make any sense.”
When we get to the rehearsal space, it turns out that Sweet Lu’s parents have been away and the house bears the aftermath of a protracted raping of a large liquor cabinet. It takes a while to get them to focus.
Okay so you’ve been booked to support a few bands and you’ve started to pick up a reputation for not pitching, what bands have you missed supporting?
Loopy: I hate these questions
Sweet Lu: Um, Lark, Tidal Waves, some festival with Freshlyground, Karen Zoid
Loopy: Madonna. AC/DC. Vanilla Ice was gonna open for us.
[Degenerates into band members shouting different combinations of bands that were going to open for them]
Okay, the question is, is this deliberate, is it part of some elaborate plan?
Purity: No, No, That’s what everyone thinks
Winton: Everything is elaborately unplanned.
Purity: We just have really bad luck
Loopy: And we’re idiots.
Purity: Really bad luck.
Loopy: It’s a combination of bad luck, stupidity
Sweet Lu: Poor planning
Loopy: Bad genes, everything.
So how do you get it together to write songs?
[Loopy and Purity break out into laughter. Silence.]
Sweet Lu: We pick up a riff here, a beat there.
Loopy: Shut up! We right all our own songs. No, No, We love it.
Purity: How do we write songs?
Sweet Lu: Get dronk, have a jam, try remember.
Purity: Normally Darren will come up with a riff…
Loopy: Who? Who’s that?
Purity: Oh shit, sorry, I mean James, James comes up with a riff
Loopy: I came up with a riff once.
So, Purity, do you come up with the lyrics first or what?
Purity: Not really, like, plan it
Loopy: We talk about it, then we jam.
Sweet Lu: And try remember it after
So you haven’t performed extensively outside of Durban?
Purity: We have, we have, in Joburg
Loopy: Hah! Take that!
SL: It was some corporate gig.
Purity: At the Radium Beer Hall.
Sweet Lu: All I remember is that there was an open bar.
Purity: Open bar.
Loopy: I was giving tequila to hobo’s. I gave the car guard a six pack.
Okay, so mostly you perform in Durban, and the scene is not that big.
Loopy: We’ve made out with everyone.
Purity: There’s not really even a handful of venues
So over four months how many gigs can you play without running out of audience.
SL: Basically we play to the same eighty people.
[Loud laughing, James mumbles something, more laughter]
Is there a plan to release an album?
Purity: Since James has joined we’ve written new songs, we’re working on new stuff, we’ve got like twelve now.
Sweet Lu: There wasn’t much writing last year.
Purity: We have recorded some stuff. We recorded two songs and then we went to record a third and……
Sweet Lu: One day we’ll be a real band.
Loopy: We need a new drummer.
Purity: We’re going on tour with the Car Boot Vendors in February.
Loopy: We’ve been touring this town…..
Purity: I’m tryna talk! Matt from the Vendors will probably organize that.
Sweet Lu: Ja, Beard will do it all for us……
Purity: Just don’t tell him.
Loopy: We’re gonna organize our own tour one day, we’ve been touring Durban extensively
Explain your concept of “tour”
Loopy: Well the Durban tourism authority has been running a long time, only fat chicks allowed. [devolves into enthusiastic speed mumbles]
Purity: you’re not going to be able to make out a word she says….
Sweet Lu: We’re touring Yellowwood Park.
Loopy: We’re big in Yellowwood Park
Sweet Lu: We’re a household name, here. The neighbors have heard of us. Well they’ve heard us even if they don’t know who we are.
Okay, Okay, what are you’re um, influences, what genre, what would you call yourselves?
Loopy: I call them arsholes
Purity: We’ve got a lot of names actually.
James: Chilli boy
Sweet Lu: John Boyd, Jimi Hendrix
Purity: The Cure
Loopy: Look it doesn’t matter what you’ve read, its not what you know, its more of, like I’m more into the counter culture, that whole sixties thing, the dropping out part.
Purity: Le Cure
Sweet Lu: Rock n Roll
Purity: Beauty School drop out
[Loopy and Purity sing Beauty School Drop Out.]
[to James] So the last guitarist left because he says that Fruit n Veggies ruined his life, so is there any pressure
Purity: Ahhhh, Why! Why did you have to say that!
Loopy: The last guitarist left because he had herpes.
James: I’m pretty stoked actually.
Sweet Lu: He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. He arrived for his first rehearsal without equipment, late.
Loopy: He didn’t have equipment, late, no money for a taxi
James: I had been wearing the same clothes for two weeks.
Loopy: He smelt like a hobo
Sweet Lu: So he was perfectly qualified.