Friday, November 23, 2012

In the shadow of Devil's Peak – Th'Damned Crows

Over the past few months I've been privy to the formation of one of Cape Town's latest sounds, Th'Damned Crows. Featuring Ronnie Belcher (drums), Zoltan Tibor Szabo-Taylor (harmonica), Liam McDevitt (double bass/vocals) and Sven Duncker (guitar), Th'Damned Crows have seriously started rocking the Mother City and gaining quite the following. Today we've got Ronnie over to chat about the band...

First off, if you have to describe Th'Damned Crows in no more than sixteen words, what would you say?

Th' Damned Crows are a rockabilly band formed in the shadow of Devil's Peak, South Africa.

How did you, Liam, Zoltan and Sven connect? Tell us a little more about the chemistry of the band.

Zoltan and I spoke for a while about starting a band in this genre. After about a year we connected with Liam (KC Royale introduced us via Facebook). I connected with Liam and then we started jamming together with in May this year. It was magic from the first note and drum hit. We wrote 10 songs in a few months.

We auditioned many guitarists, but when we met with Sven (I have known him for many years), it was perfect. He also plays for The Pits, and we have been fans of his for a while.

The chemistry is awesome, we are slightly older and wiser, so no bullshit.

Yeah, the chemistry on stage is pretty apparent, especially the balance between Liam's singing and Zolty stealing the limelight with his harmonica. You've played a couple of gigs here in Cape Town already, and the atmosphere in the venue has been electric. What feedback have you received from folks? 

It has been very positive. For a band that is still in its infancy, we have subsequently been asked to play festivals, and high-profile gigs. Our fan base is growing daily, with every show. We've even had a few panties thrown at us, and that was only at our second show!

The music might be quite upbeat with a devilish rockabilly edge flavoured with voodoo blues, but your lyrics can be considered quite dark. Care to give us a sample of the words? And tell us more about the particular song quoted? 

Lyrics for Heat & Haze & Mescaline:
Driving through the desert with a Colt .45.
A body in the trunk and The Devil Inside.
A rattle-snakin’, titty-shakin’ Mexican bride
And a bottle of tequila came along for the ride.
Heading south of the border in the blistering sun,
A body full of mescaline and I’m on the run.
My foot is on my pedal and my hand’s on my gun.
Having serious second thoughts and a whole lot of fun.
A sassy senorita stole my heart in Antone.
I woke up in a motel room and I was all alone.
Took my car and took my money and she left me with none.
Through the heat and haze and mescaline I found she was gone.
I’m gonna find empty solace in a bottle of fire.
In a fly-bitten bar I’ll take it down to the wire.
Revenge is on my mind and its burning a hole.
The violence starts to stir deep down in my soul.
So it’s just me and the bottle and the open road.
Gonna hit her with the sin which The Lord has forebode.
To unburden my conscience of this heavy load,
I’m gonna leave her in a hole in the side of the road.
Walking through the desert with the sun to my back.
Dehydrated, start to feel my senses under attack.
The Law ain’t gonna find me, got them on the wrong track
And her wicked plan for me have started showing the cracks.
Well she can try to outrun me but it ain’t no good;
Got a Chevy V8 engine running under the hood.
She better hope The Police get to her before I do,
There ain’t no telling what a wicked mind like mine might do.

Ronnie Belcher, Sven Duncker,
Zoltan Tibor Szabo-Taylor and Liam McDevitt
The seeds of inspiration for Heat & Haze & Mescaline were sown while driving through the Karoo desert and the overwhelming feelings of desolation that come with such a experience. The sense of isolation is all-consuming and combined with the narrative of a dangerous liaison in a small backwater town, the song tells a uniquely South African tale of one urban man’s naïve shortcomings in the desert’s vast, uncharted territory, and man’s capacity for evil and deception.

The song evokes images of shimmering heat, long straight roads, an unending horizon and the hallucinogenic effects the desert can have on one’s mental state; the strain on the man’s physical and mental strength taps deep into his subconscious and leads to erratic behavior, uncharacteristic of a typically urbane man, reducing him to psychotic episodes of split-personality and violent fantasy.

And a last word from you as to *why* people haven't lived until they've seen Th'DamnedCrows? 

Th’ Damned Crows play it damn loud Th’ Damned Crows own the night, and Th’ Damned Crows will prove to you that the dead can dance...

Now is your chance to be part of Th' Damned Crows...
The band has set up an Indiegogo page to help raise funds for its highly anticipated debut album. And, trust me, I've been to several of their gigs. The sound is wild, rocking and ultimately gets your feet tapping. 

Go check out the indiegogo here.
The campaign is running until March 13, 2013. 

Check out their website here...

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