Levi: I just purchased a few of your songs on ‘Rocksmith’, it’s a lot of fun getting to play along to songs like “Broken” and “Remedy”. Do you play the game much? And do you ever try playing your own songs on it?
Shaun: Actually I played the game a long time ago when it first came out. I don’t really play games much, but if did that would be the one I’d play because you actually get to play an instrument, it’s an interesting approach.
I remember a few years ago RockBand and Guitar Hero were huge. But Rocksmith is sweet because you actually get to play an instrument.
Levi: You’re coming to Australia really soon, what can fans expect from the set-list?
Shaun: Obviously we’d like to play a lot of stuff from the new album but we gotta play the songs people want to hear. We try to play as across the board as possible, we’ll play stuff from all albums because we want people to be ultimately happy with the show so they’ll come back next time.
Levi: You actually started out your career in South Africa. We hear about the rock scene in L.A and Seattle all the time, but you never really hear much about South Africa.
Is there a big rock scene there as big as other places around the world?
Shaun: It used to be, honestly the last few times I’ve been home there wasn’t a lot happening. The labels in South Africa don’t necessarily sign South African bands, financially it’s not very viable.
Over in the States it’s a lot easier, there’s a lot more happening here.
A lot of our national radio stations aren’t really playing rock in general so you won’t really hear local bands anymore, just top 40 stuff. There’s a lot of bands going over to South Africa now which I think is great, but the local market has really died out. Maybe I just go over at the wrong times, but that’s just how it feels.
Levi: It’s the same over here in Australia, radio doesn’t really play much rock music anymore. Commercial radio might play Nickleback and Green Day but that’s about it. The alternative stations are a bit better, but it’s still way less than what it was…
Shaun: Here in the States it’s becoming more difficult man. Alternative radio stations just don’t want to play songs with guitarists, they play 90’s alternative bands like Alice in Chains and Nirvana but they don’t play new bands with guitar.
They’re like “that’s not alternative anymore”, that’s just how it is now.
If we’re lucky enough to get played on radio, we’ll get played right after a Lorde song, which is fine I like Lorde but I don’t think she’s a god damn rock artist. She’s not alternative, I think she’s more pop.
I think there is a weird sort of grey area about what is rock music and what is alternative music, it's sort of annoying. It seems like alternative stations think they’re “the cool kids of the radio world”.
They can make and break careers man, there’s a lot of bullshit bands coming out and a lot of bands being ignored because they play guitar.
We used to be one of the 5 or 10 bands they’d play all the time, no questions asked. If we put out a single they’d play it because we’d done so much for them.
But now they’ve switched to "alternative" and we don’t get played at all.
We went for 10 years playing every single radio station, playing all their events and birthday bashes or whatever the hell you call them and then they turn around and say “we don’t play you guys anymore because we’re alternative, we don’t play rock bands now”. It’s like “get your head out of your fucking arse dude”, it’s bullshit.
For me alternative has become a dirty word, I’d always considered us an alternative band, I thought rock and alternative had little difference but now it’s changed. It’s like someone gets to pick what is "cool" and what isn’t "cool" anymore.
Levi: I guess that’s how radio works, they have their flavours of the month, sometimes you’re it and sometimes not, but I agree 100% it’s a bullshit charade…
Shaun: That’s it, it’s just big corporate produces that get to promote what they like and it changes all the time.
Levi: Anyways, I just got told to finish up the interview. Lastly I’ll ask have you guys started working on any new material?
Shaun: we’ve sort of started writing but nothing that serious right now. I’m more focused on touring at the moment but when we’re done I’ll look into writing more.
People don’t want to hear new songs they want to hear stuff they know, we don’t really have much new stuff now. If we did I’d enjoy playing it but sometimes testing out new material can get a pretty lukewarm response.