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Interview: Stereozen

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

The distance from the dancefloor to the stage has never been shorter for three-piece funk rock outfit Stereozen. We pick what’s left of frontman Carlo Glenn Thompson’s brain after checking them rock out the Mercury Live in Cape Town.

Carlo Glenn Thompson

What’s with the tight pants?

Maybe not my pants, but tight pants-wearers of Cape Town do disturb me. I say its wack yo!

How long you been making music as an individual? And as a band?

Personally been playing for 20 years this year. Classical piano for 10 years til ’bout 16; the rest I’ve been jamming my axe on and off from ’round 18. Stereozen been jamming since 2 feb ’04

Who’s your biggest influence?

Groove bands like (old school) Chili Peppers,and Funkadelics, also Muse, The Mars Volta and Beck with a bit of The Edge.

Digital rights management is on the way out. What’s your take?

Ha? You must understand that I’ve had my head in almost every club/venue in Cape Town and haven’t really kept up with things. Own everything yourself.

If someone ripped your hard-worked album, would you beat them to death?

No, if they’ve been to five or more shows. And if them ripping our CD brings 50 more funk-hungry fans then I guess it’s alright.

Who pays/will pay for your recording?

We pay and will continue to do so we can own the material for as long as we can.

Where do you rehearse?

Underneath Paul Bothners in Claremont. It’s a shithole but it’s ours. Really, once there was actual shite in the parking lot.

What’s your ideal gig?

Any gig where there’s D&B speakers and lots of xpensive processing. At the mo we really wanna play with the New Acedemics. They Rock. I crave to play festivals ’cause the people are there to listen and party.

What do you call your music?

Progressive funk rock

Why do you make music?

Love. I’ve been playing instruments for a long time and nothing can give freedom of expression and adrenalin-filled enjoyment like playing live.They guys I’m playing with now makes writing music so effortless and thats all I ask for.

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    Stereozen Claim The Groove Nation

    Monday, February 25th, 2008

    If Zen is about sitting under the Bodhi tree in absolute silence while stray dogs sniff you, count upcoming funk three-piece Stereozen alongside Kings of Leon and The Shins as one of those groups whose name means precious little. Stereozen write ass-shakers, not foot-tappers, as we discovered at the Mother City’s Groove Nation, alongside jazz/alt rockers Southpaw and spoken word songstress Blaqpearl.


    Backstage, they’re fumbling about and chatting idly about the various avenues of funk yet to explore, but up in the limelight, they’re…well, drummer Justin puts it best: “I’m loving it.” Unabashed in their stage act, Stereozen save their energy for the moment. Coming in strong with a short and potent 40-minute set, Carlo Thompson, Clem and Justin Wiggett pretty much put a solid end to the rather dismal turnout at the Groove Nation.

    What’s my name? Stereozen, beeyatch.
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    You don’t have to look much further than the soundproof room at Paul Bothners to find Clem in his element. Poster-flapping basslines layered thick and fat assault the non-dancer like an American nuclear attack, which should happen any day now. Pedals almost outnumber guitarist Karlo’s. Who’da thought longhairs still had class…?

    Karlo has enough style to openly say the p-word. Enough said. Just make sure you know the chick in the audience you’re hitting on next time, buddy. Nobody knows where surferboy Justin gets his laid-back, approachable steez offstage (that’s style with ease, chump), but he’s about ready to unleash it on the world from behind the kit. Stadium-rock, mid-tempo powerdrumming a la John Bonham and Red Hot Chili Peppers and, closer to home, Prime Circle and The Parlotones.

    As underground gigs go, these guys have the type of power that upstages soccer-mom pop icons like Ike Moriz and Arno Carstens. Perhaps a little less pandering to ‘support SA music’ (I mean, honestly, how unoriginal) and a little tighter control on the volume knob will go a long way for the mal, party-hard group. Be yourselves. That’s all we want.

    The band’s approach towards their future is pretty clear. We met up with all three of them separately that night, and all were on the same mission: ALBUM. You’ve seen their name on the flyer. Now get to the gig to check it out for yourself. It’s like a groin shiatsu by the Artist Formerly Known As Prince. You’ll bop, curl and get on uppa.

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    Groove Nation With Southpaw

    Monday, February 25th, 2008

    Even four years after you’ve beheld Southpaw bassist Newton Stanford pop a super-rough demo of City of Sin into your CD player and ask what you think for the first time, there’s still something about the song that makes you wanna just sing along. Aloud. Even when the turnout is kinda dismal, the lefties get down to some tightly practised material at Mercury Live in Cape Town alongside funk threesome Stereozen and spoken word siren Blaqpearl.


    Ok, I won’t mince the green beans here, I’m mates with the band and their manager. Let’s get that out the way. But let’s also take a close look at the group, and not just a glossy front-row report that you’re likely to get in some bulk email from the latest blog rocker. We’ve been covering them a lot lately. Let’s do some actual music journalism here.

    Southpaw take their clothes off at Groove Nation.
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    Lead singer Stephan Roach – a totally Kravitz-inspired sex symbol with genuine moments of Chris Martin songwriting and a left handful of glam-pop glitterati thrown in (miss ‘COCAINE’ in gold-print on the t-shirt and you’ve had one too many). Actually, the jazzy, film-interlude-styled songwriting credit here goes to rhythm guitarist and rocksteady wingman Daniel, who pairs up with Stephan to come up with material and plays some weird chords deliberately. Left-handed.

    The band is extremely marketable. There’s talk. Take a look at what Overtone has to say about this, and let’s all hold thumbs while they make the decision that’s gonna shape their careers as alternative, Generation II SA musicians. Whatever that means. We all know SA music IS already international music, and seeing as the MP3 revolution is already crossing waters, why won’t this kind of music? There’s nothing stopping the international image and sound of Southpaw from earning a following in areas like the United States, Australia and Europe when the album lands (more from Stephan about this). Or even right now.

    Unless you’re Zane Henry, the tendency in this industry is to examine all the artists and praise/criticise them one by one, for their various on- and off-stage strengths, and to “please support” local music. Bollocks. Right now, this band is a bunch of amateurs, compared to where they’re going. At the risk of sounding like some lovestruck 19-year-old girl (you know who you are), Southpaw have got loads going for them. Material seems to keep coming in; they don’t seem to be one of those groups that recycles their Myspace EP for ten years. It’s good to see drummer Kurt‘s talking kak with his shirt off. Now if we could just get some more movement on stage to match the creative flow…

    I’m no professional, but I think that any group with the right sound, look, vibe and determination will eventually get where they’re going. It’s inevitable. Especially when you’re practically all related and seem not to know how to do anything but luminescent songwriting that (strangely) compliments the eye candy. The girls in the front row may be getting a bass chairbuzz, but guys like me at the back are also digging the sound. Bigtime. Keep an ear out for the alien invasion…

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