Vinicio Reyes, front man, of notorious Jozi punk band “The Vendetta Cartel” gives us some insight into the start of the 90’s punk rock revolution.
This is for all of you that were around back in 1997. In the beginning stages of the new SA punk rock revolution. It was the late 90’s, apartheid was over, the South African youth felt free to express themselves and music was becoming more accessible due to the internet.
Leek, Vendettas and Fuzigish. The Big Easy days. To all of you that are about to read this lets reminisce on how it all started for most of us here in SA from kid to adulthood and the music that drove our life’s journey.
One of the first gigs, that I remember, was sometime in early 1997, with some of the first punk rock bands playing at some up-coming skateboarders 21st (Adrian Day and Ockie Fourie).There was a pool and someone set it on fire while an epic improve jam session was going on. Waddy Jones now famously known as Ninja from the band Die Antwoord, was a part of that jam.
The bands making their debut that gig were The 85ers, putting girl power into the mix with both the guitarists and the bassist being ladies. Gary the cool dude on drums. It was a rocking punking ménage a trios, a real Punk Rocky trio.
Vendettas now known as The Vendetta Cartel were also on the line-up. With Brett Bellairs on drums, Stuart Spies and Mr Jay Bones - the front runner of the new punk rock revolution. Fuzigish. He was playing some guitar riffs and helping introduce another key player in the SA punk rock scene - Chris Webb. He went on to play lead for the Death Valley Blues Band.
From then on more and more bands started to pop up. From Pretoria, Leek, later Leek and the Bouncing Uptones. With Andre Wright’s melodic voice and Pieter’s up tempo drum beats, and Paul and Henk who went onto form ATFN (All This For Nothing). Out of Benoni came Humphrey the Tea Cup. Their lead singer Scott had off the wall antics. A Bad Religion type front man – like Greg Graffin.
Stefan lead singer of Misled expresses the same kind of sentiments which radiated protest. A stand and be counted point of view.
From then on there where new venues that were discovered that allowed drunk punk rocker kids into their establishment to let off some steam and be themselves. The Big Easy, Hunters, Bugsy’s Beat Bar, Troyeville, and London Calling became the home of the punk rock lifestyle.
With Fuzigish leading the way with awesome bass lines by Malcolm King and off the hook drumming by extraordinaire Big Mike and Jay Bones - soothing white man with soul voice and skanking guitar riffs. Ryan Tarboton on trumpet; now fronting the infamous Slashdogs. Both Slashdogs and Fuzigish after 20 years in the scene are still known to rock stages in to this day.
People always say nothing beats the good old days where things were simple and uncomplicated. For these twenty plus years of music full of passion fuelled bands like Bloodline, Evil Eddies, Submachine and Death Valley Blues Band all rocking with the roots firmly planted into the punk rock history soil. The future of Punk Rock music in South Africa is still rocking with the likes of The Stellas, and rocking smoking lady band Cortina Whiplash. Not to mention The Means Street, Shot Fired, Ceasefire, Primitive Anarchists, Hell to Pay, Gross Misconduct, and New Found Disorder.
As long as there is someone oppressing us and trying to drown our dream there will be the power to stand up and fight and create music from the heart, for the underdog.