As the year draws to a close, it’s good to know Park Acoustics haven’t forgotten about us and Sunday looks to prove to be an awesome one. We caught up with Hennie van Halen, bassist for legendary aKing, and discussed repeat performances at Park Acoustics, potential new releases and, oh yeah, he let’s slip that he’s single…
Richard Chemaly (RC): You’ve been going for 10 years now. 10 year traditional anniversary gifts consist of tin or aluminum. I doubt you kept with tradition. How did you celebrate?
Hennie van Halen (HVH): If the release of our first album Dutch Courage is the counted as the start of the band, then our 10 year anniversary is only in March 2018. So, short answer, we haven’t celebrated yet. If we were to celebrate, we would do it in the traditional way. With the drinking of beer and braaiing of meat. Followed by a loud sing-along YouTube DJ session, at 4am, when no one wants to hear it.
RC: You’re veterans of Park Acoustics! Don’t you get bored of repeat performances?
HVH: Never. Would you get bored of doing what you love at one of the best organised parties in Pretoria, at the coolest venue, with the nicest people? I didn’t think so either. All jokes aside, each show is in front of a new audience and even though they might know the lyrics to our songs and sing along to their favourites, there is always a sense of the unknown in the time leading up to the show. You can never be too secure in your expectations. Sometimes you have a mediocre show experience at your favourite venue, other times you play a banger in front of 50 people at a small venue on a Thursday night. It’s all up to the energy that you as a performer can coax into/out of the audience.
RC: Coming out of the hardest of South African Rock ‘n Roll throughout the life of aKing and before, have any of you quit living as rock ‘n roll as before? Anybody quit drinking/smoking because it got too much?
HVH: I think getting a bit older and becoming a bit more involved in being an adult (sigh), has chilled us out, but none of us have quit or given up any habits that were, as you say “too much”. Both Laudo & Snake got married to their long term girlfriends and I think a natural consequence of that is less time spent partying with the boys, but no less partying!
RC: I watched a really cool American doccie awhile back called The Other F Word. It was about punk rockers who have to leave their families for months to go on tour. As musos, I’m guessing you have similar difficulties even if you don’t go on 6 month tours. With your experience, any tips for the new kids on how to balance work and family?
HVH: Jeez, I’m single so I feel that I won’t be able to answer that question. If I can afford any advice, I would say that it is impossible to separate work and family if your work is entertainment. Bring wives and girlfriends on tour once every now and then. Have your little sister/brother act as a cameo star in your music video. Wear the sweater your mom made, on stage. Dedicate a song to your dad.
RC: Given you’re so busy and everybody is probably asking you when you’re releasing new material (how annoying, right?) how do you make the decision as to if you want to release new music and when?
HVH: To be honest, I doubt that we’ll ever make a firm decision to never release anything again. That seems like something that will only happen when we physically can’t play anymore. We write new material when we can and are always working up to releasing something, whether that has a release date set or not.
RC: Finally, Park Acoustics is generally a more chilled gig than you may otherwise be used to playing. Do you turn it down a notch or would you still crank it up all the way?
HVH: We have played an acoustic setup at Park Acoustics once. It was fun and the audience loved it, but in reality Park Acoustics is only as chilled as you want it. We’ve seen okes passed out in the parking lot at 2 in the afternoon, so there’s no real reason to tone it down. Yew!!