There are fewer honours than getting to put a few questions to South African rock ‘n roll legend, Anton Goosen and am pretty keen to hang with him at Lush! If you’re unfamiliar with the man, he’s regarded as a father of SA rock and has been going long enough to answer my questions using Dire Straits references:
Richard Chemaly (RC): What an honour to speak with the dude who was such a huge part of my childhood. My dad got me to learn Afrikaans by making me read and watch Trompie so I had a daily dose of Anton Goosen. At the time, it must have been the greatest kid show. What was it like to get asked to compose the theme? Did it go against the rock n roll ethos?
Anton Goosen (AG): Heita bra. I used the Trompie books when I was teaching Afrikaans at St Stithian’s prep – the kids really enjoyed it because it was similar to the William books. When asked to do the theme song, it was easy *laughs*. Don’t think a rock n roll version would’ve worked, but now that you mention it…
RC: Putting out over 20 albums is a lot of work. What have you been doing to keep your energy?
AG: Money for nothing and chicks for free as the Dire Straits’ song has it! On a serious note, on stage and in studios energy appears because that is what we musos love doing. I never believed in quantity – rather quality, hence the fact that my latest “Padkos” took years to complete. It is organic in the sense that I went back to the roots: accordion, acoustic guitars, jaws harp, stomp box, violin etc.
RC: You’ve spoken quite openly about your anarchist views which was the staple of the rock n roll scene of old, but increasingly rock n rollers seem to be taking active political stances. What’s your stance on the way the genre is going?
AG: The political genre or rock n roll genre? Things changed a lot in ‘94 and for a while democracy killed protest, but thanks to Zuma and the Guptas et al, there is still a lot to say musically in protest, however the music has moved away more from political protest to social protest. Rock and roll is about girls, sex and the fast lane. The genre survives despite politics, Trump, or weird musical forms.
RC: You’re on record for claiming that you can’t dance but can still dance better than Kurt Darren. Does this mean you can do the Kurt Darren kick better than Kurt Darren?
AG: No no no! We were in a show – The Makufi show in the Sand du Plessis, Bloem. It was a big mixed cast and everybody at the end got a change to sing something up front in the finale. When I saw Kurt from the back of the stage dancing I realized that he should do that! I cannot dance at all…difficult with guitar in hand…but Kurt convinced me that day to never attempt the dancing thing on stage. *laughs*
RC: I’ve never seen you perform without your chauffeur hat. Is there a story behind including it in your style? I haven’t been able to find answer.
AG: The Andy Capp cap? I don’t know – it just happened – same as the velskoen thing. Maybe it was an insecurity problem *laughs* – It did become a trademark so I stuck to it.
RC: It’s been said that your teachers tried to convince you to let go of pursuing a career in music. Did you ever return to your school, play a show and stick it to them?
AG: It was a school psychologist that told me only the big names in music like Hennie Bekker and Nico Carstens can make a living from it. I told Hennie the story the other day – he is Canada, and he laughed a lot. The thing is, that the psychologist could’ve been right. That’s the problem with guessing – it’s a 50-50 chance.
RC: Having been on the South African scene for so long, who has been the best artist you’ve shared a stage with and is there anybody you still wish you could share the stage with?
RC: Most definitely Lucky Dube and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. I have over the years enjoyed all the gigs with the musos and I made a point of surrounding myself with the best musos. That way the odds are more in one’s favor. I also always gave them as much freedom as possible – they are booked for their talent, so it’s stupid to not use that side of their muse. Albert Frost and his band will back me at LUSH. The first-time Albert and I jammed a gig, it was 45 minutes after the first two songs – we promise not to let that happen again. But Albert will still have sufficient solo’s! *chuckles*
RC: Thanks for years of awesome music Anton! Looking forward to your set!
AG: Aweh bra…