Thursday, July 24, 2014

Go Barefoot Interview Part 1

 The weekly column on South African bands and live shows.
 by Omri Ismail Cassiem
This week: Go Barefoot

Eclectic /I’klktIK/: (Adjective) deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. A word that needs defining when speaking about this band. Go Barefoot are a five piece band that are truly diverse in their musical compositions. It is really difficult to be in a bad mood while listening to them. For one thing you can’t stop your foot from tapping, then your damn body wants to join in. Before you know it you are dancing around like a maniac with a smile on your face that threatens to turn you into a Canadian South Park character. I managed to get an interview with these guys and sit in on one of their band practices. What follows is part 1 of the hilarity that ensued:

How did you guys meet one another?

Mike: “Online Dating”

Saul: “Well Mike, Jonny and Noah started playing at 44 Stanley in the courtyard for a restaurant every Sunday and they would play an instrumental set”

Noah: “It was like Austen ado patterns that went on for quite a while”

Mike: “Each song was 20 minutes and we only had 5 songs and each person had a 5 minute solo at some point”

Noah: “We had like a 3 hour set to cover and it was first just Mike, he started playing at a restaurant”

Mike: “It was Salvation CafĂ©, just give a big shout out to them because they are really yummy. I went there and asked if I could start playing at their restaurant and they gave me a spot at the Halloween that year. And 6 months later I brought in Jonny because we had been playing together for years. That’s when songs became 20 minutes long. And then we got Noah to join in.”

Saul: “One night these guys got asked to play at some dudes party and at the end of the party they were told that they were awesome and they should start a band. So we met up after and they asked me to come join them on drums and then we got Clive on bass about last year August”

Mike: “And the rest is history”

What would you say your influences are?

Cpt Jonny : “Mike and I have been playing for years and my dad also plays guitar so I was brought up on slow blues and folk. Mike has always been interested in African guitar and Jazz so we would always teach each other things that we had learned and then we kind of blended together. And then when Noah started playing with us, we didn’t really know any theory, so Noah taught us the theory side so that’s where the jazz came in. Saul came in and he has a bunch of very technical influences.”

Saul: “Noah plays Jazz piano and classical piano and I come from a predominantly rock background but I’m studying Jazz at WITS, and Clive has always been into his African vibes and he enjoys his indie and reggae”

Noah: “What I really think it is… Is that we all have specific backgrounds and when we mix together, especially when it’s exactly the five of us in a room, we draw out this genre of music. I don’t know if we can call it a whole genre, but we have Mike drawing on an African aspect, Jonny drawing on a Folk, Blues aspect, Saul drawing out very creative, glitch beats, sometimes good Rock beats, sometimes good Funk beats. And then I bring an Electro aspect sometimes just playing along with them. And Clive finishes it off with solid bass lines.”

Mike: “Everyone plays an equal role in all the songs. We all let each other lead at some parts and are very aware of where we all sit in the song. You know, who needs to sound up and who needs to play back and stop. We are all just very chilled, there are no egos in the band. We just want to be productive and have fun”

Is that how you guys write songs? Just come to band practice with an idea and just play around with it? 

Cpt Jonny: “Just before you came, we were kind of just looping one idea and making lots of noise”
Mike: “Usually someone will write a riff at home and we will expand it here”
Cpt Jonny: “Then everyone will go home and work on it and come back with a bunch of new ideas”
Noah: “Sometimes a song will start in one place and by the time it’s even half ready, you can’t even remember what it sounded like in the first place”
Saul: “Our first few songs were written by Jonny and Mike previously and we just reworked them into a band environment. And only recently we have actually started writing together. It’s only been a year.”

This interview will continue next week, so stay tuned to hear Go Barefoot talk about starting out and their band name. (UPDATE: find part 2 here.)

In the meantime here is a taste of their music, which is available on Soundcloud for free. Enjoy, and follow the band on Facebook here.

As always feel free to email me at and follow me on twitter @Omri_Cassiem for more news from the Johannesburg music scene.