Earlier today, Rolling Stone South Africa published an article reporting that South African rock band, The Parlotones (or, as Gareth Cliff calls them, The Par-lot-ones), are moving to Los Angeles, California, in an attempt to reach further into the international music market. While I’m not a Parlotones fan, I am a big lover of South African music, and wanted to mull over a few thoughts, here, regarding this latest move by The Parlotones.
South Africa met The Parlotones several years ago. Instantly, the nation saw something in these gents (I’ll bet even your great auntie knows who they are). Since their inception, they’ve played at the FIFA 2010 World Cup, featured on television & radio… hang, they even had their own KFC-sponsored meal. To many South Africans, this is common knowledge and The Parlotones are a household name.
When looking at the South African music scene, there seems to be an inherent divide between the independents and the major labels. Many fans of ska, punk, metal and other, less-commercially friendly genres tend to “rebel”, if you will, against commercial artists, slating them for being “same-y” or “poppy”. While I’m certainly not a fan of The Parlotones (all their songs sound much the same to me), I feel it’s important to say a few things about and to the band, as they jet off to further their careers (as a band, and most likely as musicians in general, I’d imagine) in Los Angeles:
For starters, GOOD ON YOU, guys. Fan or not, it is impossible to ignore the fact that these guys are taking a big leap of faith and are successful in their own right. Music is often seen as a labour of love (particularly in countries like South Africa, where our independent scene is still quite small). Therefore, most musicians in bands tend to hold down full-time (or, at the very least, part-time) jobs in order to support themselves and their music career. True success is often found by taking a risk or a leap of faith… the problem is, many people don’t want to take that risk. So, GOOD ON YOU for taking a leap, gents.
Will The Parlotones remain a “South African” band, and should we care?
Frankly, The Parlotones could become as South African as Charlise Theron, for all I know. Does it really matter to us? I’d say that, in a way, it’s nice to know that a band from South Africa is “making it” overseas. I don’t necessarily think they needed to move there in order to do so, but that’s their decision. As I see it, the band will either stay proudly South African and pay homage to their roots wherever possible, or will attempt to fully integrate into local society. Either way, that’s up to them and wouldn’t really affect their shows (unless for the better), if they came back to play one or two here and there.
A note to The Parlotones, as I see it:
Gents, all the best with your move overseas. Hey, if it doesn’t work out, you’ve always got a home in South Africa. While I’m not a fan of your music, I applaud the leap of faith you guys, as a band, are taking and wish you all the best with it. We’ve got so many South Africans who moved overseas seeking greener pastures in their careers. Learn from how they’ve done things, and stay true to yourselves, at the end of the day.
If you braai at least once a week, I reckon South Africa will forgive you for leaving. 😛
Seriously though, guys, all the best. The music business is a tough nut to crack. Give it your all and do your thing. The world awaits.