The band itself is quite similar. Their music has a rock edge but is quite melodic – and while onstage its members are the epitome of cool, in reality they are a bunch of nice guys whose parents never miss a show when their boys perform in their hometown.
The band has just released a new album, Form & Function, Part 1. I met the Durban-based trio at Universal Music in Rosebank. They came across as friendly and down-to-earth and answered my questions with enthusiasm, despite having been on the interview trail all day.
“We were kind of forced a bit into where we ended up because our base player left in February,” says lead singer Brad Klynsmith of the new EP.
“We weren’t going to replace him because, first, he was really, really great at what he does and second, we wanted to give it a go as a three-piece. Jono is now playing synth base. It’s been good for us – it was forced creativity. We really had to dig deep. We wrote 40-plus songs and now we’ve got six.”
How did they narrow it down to those six?
“We asked our moms,” says keyboard and synth player Jonathan Rich with a laugh. The new album is the first in a trilogy to be released by the band.
“Josh and I do the songwriting together. With Gangs stuff, one of us has an idea and the other one will often finish it off. Which is awesome – there’s a good synergy. With this album, a lot has been written on a keyboard. The whole writing process has been a part of the reinvention of us,” Brad says.
“The idea is to always grow. We’re quite hard on ourselves and we push ourselves. We really want to push the envelope on the live side of things. We’ve looked at actual stage clothes we’ll wear from now on,” drummer Josh Kynsmith says.
“We have our own lighting rig – we’re taking all of our stuff with us when we tour so we don’t look like any other band.”
They’re not going to go with the whole Parlotones make-up thing, are they?
“No, my eyes are pretty enough,” Josh jokes. The band has managed to stake their claim on a piece of the crazy landscape that is the South African music industry. However, with so much diversity out there, it must be quite daunting to try and find a niche.
“We are in the smallest slice of a very small pie,” Brad says with a smile when asked where he thinks Gangs of Ballet fits in. This is not to say the guys aren’t enjoying what they do.
“To be honest, we are living our dream. We are grateful to do what we love and not sit in an office from nine to five,” Brad says.