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Voice from the Naught

by Dorothy Mhone / 11.12.2012

A few weeks back we reported on the rise of Jozi ‘man rock’ band, Juggernaught and thought it’d be good to follow up with an interview. So we sent Mahala’s resident metal head, Doll Mhone to meet the men in a bar in Pretoria. With all those intimidating beards you’d expect Herman, Jovan, Angilo and the aptly named drummer: Oneyedogman (Alexis), to ride custom Harleys, floss with g-strings and gargle with whiskey. But don’t be fooled by the helmet and leather jacket, in their own words their ride is, “more like a fat bicycle”. Juggernaught proved to be and erudite and laidback group of serious musos who simply like to rock the fuck out!

I know this is unexpected, but I found Juggernaught to be very welcoming. Their beards and demeanor belie how passionate they are about their music. They spoke about the natural progression of their sound and how they’ve had to compromise as a group of individuals in order to reach a kind of musical consensus that includes all their styles. Having spent some time in London, they have an understanding of performance culture that sets them apart from a lot of the bands on South African scene. And then they went on to mention how putting yourself into a specific genre, or pigeonhole, is limiting and somewhat destructive to the creative process. You’ve to give the music space to grow and breathe. With fans as far afield as the Phillippines, Turkey, Texas, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Canada, Boston and Louisiana, you’d think that their own country would have caught on already…

MAHALA: How’d you get together as a band and why?

Jovan: Herman started Juggernaught in late ’07, played a couple of shows and recorded the first demo, Alexis and I returned to SA beginning of ’08 and he asked us to join since his drummer just left he wanted to try with two guitars. We then went through a few bassists until we found Angilo a couple of years ago. Why? Why are the trees green? Why is the sky blue? It just does.

Do you think the ‘meat’ in music is missing?

Herman: Don’t think it’s really missing, think it’s there. The problem is that there is just so much absolute shit that you can’t find the good bands and a lot of people don’t even know what a good band is any more. They get told by radio and TV stations what to listen to so much that they can’t even make their own minds up. There are very good bands in this country, there are just way more shitty ones. To sort of quote Nick Cave, “you have to crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole”.

Any bands in South Africa that you think have got a royal flush in a genre similar to yours?

Herman: There are some great bands here, don’t really wanna mention any names because we’ll undoubtedly leave some out.

‘Women and some wine’, do you know or like women who drink wine?

Jovan: They can drink whatever the shit they want as long as it’s Brandy and Coke.

Just exactly how much whiskey does Herman [the lead vocalist] drink? It sounds like a lot.

Herman: It’s not exclusively whiskey, we also drink other brown liquids, but only brown.

Are you planning to have much cooler kids than Ozzy?

Herman: Not planning on having kids until China takes over SA and the working age limit is dropped so that I can start my own sweat shop making iPhone covers and shoes for PEP.

Do you even like Ozzy?

Herman: Never met Ozzy.

What would you like to incite the most? a) A riot. b) A mosh pit. c) church vandalism?

Jovan: We don’t really stand for anything so doing anything but moshing would be dumb.

It’s interesting how you describe your sound as ‘man rock’, the metal genre has been hijacked by high school graduates with the same voices as their sisters and shit, it’s a little awkward, is there any other reason you’re steering away from the metal tag?

Herman: Yes, metal has become synonymous with bands like Bullet for my Valentine and other overproduced, eye-liner wearing kak. Not to say that we don’t still love some metal bands, it’s just that when people hear metal these days they picture a flaccid kid that’s angry about not getting the car he wanted for his super sweet 18th and not Dimebag. Also we play rock not metal. But rock has also become a silly broad term for music with a guitar and a drum set.

How’d you pick your style of music, was that mutual or just a sort of mash up in way?

Herman: It sort of just happened from our influences and it’s still evolving, it’s not intentional or planned. We’ll sound like us regardless of what we do, this album is different from the last and the next one will probably be different again. It’s the way we write. If we write something that we like we’ll play it not because it fits into a formula or genre but because we think it rocks. We’re not really changing our style, we’re just adding to it, if you come to our shows you’ll still hear our old stuff as well.

Have you played in any other bands?

Jovan: Yeah a few. The Kiddiefiddlers, Hellbent & Hammered in London and a few others.

Alexis: Evil Eddies, Slack Grannies, Kiddie Fiddlers and Hellbent & Hammered.

Angilo: Malicious Deformity which was a progressive GrindCore/Death/JazzRockFusion thing, but it’s the only one I want to mention

Herman: Shadowlord.

You’re doing quite a lot of touring, where are you most excited to play?

Herman: It’s usually the most fun playing small towns like Polokwane, Secunda and the like. People go wild in those places and really appreciate when bands come around. Also Cape Town and Windhoek are always great, they’ve really taken to us so it’s always a pleasure going there.

You’re getting fuckloads of love in America, do you think there’s a specific reason for that?

Herman: Probably because the style that we play has many influences from that region, it’s not like we’re ever gonna have legions of fans in the Arab world, although that would be cool. “What are you doing today Akbal?”
“You know gonna beat my wife for exposing her ankle, stone some infidel for naming a teddy-bear Muhammed then it’s off to the Juggernaught show!”

The way people reacted to your song ‘Bad Idea’ was insane, that must be the next encore request, pretty damn sure. No?

Herman: Yeah, the reaction to the new stuff has been very good. You never know how it’s gonna be accepted until you play it live, but it’s been positive every time so far. As encores go, you never know if you’re gonna play one so don’t save the songs that you really wanna play for it.

‘The rancid womb of a whore’ and ‘like a priest loves a boy’, you guys don’t hold back on the lyrical content, do you?

Herman: Let’s just say that we do have way with words.

Did you guys really throw up in your video ‘Mountain Man’?

Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t, what we can say is that somebody will be throwing up when the new video is released.

How do like your steak?

Jovan: Medium-rare

Alexis: Straight off the cat.

Angilo: A week later in the trash can.

Herman: With extra mince on the side.

When someone’s dying, would you tell them to move towards the light or away from it?

Jovan: I’d ask them for their pin-code.

Herman: Yeah, sign on the dotted line.

Alexis: Move towards the brown. Always move towards the brown, whether you are alive or dead.

Angilo: It depends how over weight they are.

And then it devolves into the bottle. Herman and I agree that people who are actually interested in music become musical snobs refusing to listen to shit that is played on the radio, meanwhile people also become lab rats, sold into listening to ‘music’ that only plays on the radio and television making them ignorant of what’s actually happening live on the scene. We start talking about rude bands that go on for too long without even getting encored, super groups that get bored of their own music but still have the money to have a cranky promoter, crankiness in general, hangovers and how their beards double as air conditioners, how sport has gone all pathetic and pussy and how weed doesn’t count as doping because it doesn’t make anyone swim faster. Then naturally the tables turn and I end up getting interviewed, which brings us to stereotypes. The bearded men sitting in front of me intrigued, that as a black girl, I was born into the rock ‘n roll evolution from Armstrong to James Brown to Stevie Ray Vaughn to Clapton, Jimi Hendrix,, Jagger, Osbourne, Cobain, Graveyard, Grohl, White and what not and how growing up with that isn’t easy as a social creature. Angilo found this especially interesting asking what my dad listened to. Later on I hear about their philosophy that, “it takes a balance between passion and education” to be part of a band and then the night ends with quick talking to end conversations, actually more like quick shouting followed by burly laughs all the way to the door and then Alexis says, “shit we’ve missed our band practise.”

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