Interview with WHAM BAM!

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The artist’s new Single ‘Catching The Sun’ is out now 

Had a blast chatting with the band WHAM BAM! They’re a duo punk band based in Germany and South Africa, we talked about their new single, vintage cartoons, and shared some thoughts about the punk scene. 

HELLO GUYS, CONGRATS ON YOUR LAST SINGLE ‘CATCHING THE SUN’. TELL US MORE ABOUT THE SINGLE AND YOUR STORY SO FAR. 

Gideon – “Hey Romeo! Great to chat, and thanks, yes “Catching the Sun” has had a really positive response so far, which we’re really thankful for. We were lucky with a few official Spotify playlisting adds which really helped us connect with a bigger audience. And people have also connected quite a bit with the fun lyric video which is cool to see.”

Nico –  “We’ve been making music together on and off since 96, but Wham Bam! formed in 2019 when I shared a song idea via Whatsapp – Gideon loved the hook and quickly recorded a demo idea – a couple of rounds of remote collaboration later and our debut single “On Your Own” was born, and damn it was a catchy banger of a tune. This made us realise that we still have some unique creative vibes between us that needs to be explored further”

Gideon – “The name Wham Bam! also represents what we try to do with our music – keeping it simple, accessible and catchy, with the main melody/hook at the centre of the songs. We also collaborate with lyricist and author Ramon Rabie (based in Thailand) from time to time to contribute some words and storylines. He again helped pen the awesome lyrics for Catching the Sun”

YOU SEEM TO BE HUGE FANS OF VINTAGE VIDEO GAMES AND ACTION FIGURES. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE VIDEO GAMES AND CARTOONS FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD?

Nico – “Haha yes, we grew up with all these vintage games and characters and found them a great inspiration for the visual identity we wanted to create for the band – retro, throwback, fun and adventurous visuals that fit the music’s energy. 

Lyrically the songs deal with some deeper topics, but it’s packaged in a more fun way, which is a nice contrast. 

Our first videos for “On your own” and “Fool’s Gold” started off with a kinda “Back to the Future” throwback, which evolved into a retro “Double Dragon” type arcade game in “Alleen” and on “Catching the Sun” we teamed up with the Masters of the Universe with He-man and Skeletor helping out 🙂 Maybe we’ll try out Gummi Bears or Thundercats next. 

Anyone that grew up in the 80s/90’s should be able to relate to our videos. And if anyone has an idea for what we should try next, let us know! “

YOU NOW LIVE RESPECTIVELY IN GERMANY AND SOUTH AFRICA, HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO PRODUCE YOUR SONGS BEING SO DISTANT FROM EACH OTHER AND HOW BEING IN TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRIES INSPIRES YOUR MUSIC?

Gideon – “Yes, Nico lives the farm life in the Karoo in the middle of nowhere in South Africa, and I live in the bustling Frankfurt, Germany – this is for sure a unique set up and we guess does provide some different inspirations and influences. But we’ve been making music together since our teenage years so creatively we always feel on the same page, like two sides of the brain working together. 

So although we miss being able to give each other bear hugs now and then, the physical distance has not really hampered the creative process – we share ideas over whatsapp then demo parts in our own studios, share files via the cloud and record and mix it remotely in rounds, and before you know it, bob’s your uncle!”

Nico – “This also gives us more freedom to really focus, reflect and work on the song when we’re most inspired, without the pressure of being in the studio with the time pressure to record the perfect song asap.”

YOU PRODUCE WRITE AND DO ALL THE VIDEOS ON YOUR OWN. HOW DO YOU MANAGE THIS WHOLE RELEASE PROCESS?

Gideon – “Yeah it’s a real DIY approach where we do everything ourselves. From writing to recording in our own studios, to shooting and creating the videos. We’re also involved in our label HopePunk Records, so we’re involved in all the stuff around distribution and promotion as well. It’s a lot of work and sometimes difficult to balance and still keep it fun, but definitely worth it. It’s cool to feel in control of your creative process, with no limits or pressures from others.” 

YOU DID AN AFRIKAANS VERSION OF YOUR TUNE ‘ON YOUR OWN’. HOW WAS DOING A RENDITION IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE RATHER THAN ENGLISH AND DO YOU PLAN TO DO MORE OF THIS?

Nico – “That was a really fun experiment. Afrikaans is our mother tongue, but having grown up with American/British rock scene as the example of  “cool” music, we’ve been kinda against Afrikaans music for years, seeing it as being uncool/corny. But as we’ve grown older (more mature I guess), and having both lived overseas in foreign cultures, we’ve really come to appreciate the value of having your own culture and language, and it’s something to be proud of and to promote.”

Nico – “The Afrikaans scene has also exploded into a whole new world of really cool, cutting edge alternative artists that has also changed the perception of what Afrikaans music means. That said, we don’t have immediate plans to do another Afrikaans track, but who knows, we won’t close the door on that just yet.”

AS YOUR INSTAGRAM IS SHOWING OFF LATELY WITH AMAZING ROCK CONCERTS PICS, YOU PERSONALLY BEEN ACTIVE SINCE 1996, HOW DO YOU THINK THE PUNK MUSIC SCENE HAS CHANGED FROM THE PAST?

Nico – “Yes, our journey started in the 90’s when we rocked out in a hard-rock/nu-metal band in the hey-day of the South African music scene, really fun times and blurred memories. The scene is always evolving, and we’ve since experienced different scenes over in Asia, SA and Europe, and although the alternative scene has become less mainstream and moved a bit more underground again over the last 10 years (aka “rock is dead”)  the fans have always been there and they keep the flame alive, especially here in Europe.”

Gideon – “We also see a resurgence of heavier/rock music taking over the mainstream in the coming year or two, the time for rock to reign again is ripe. There are so many cool new bands pushing the envelope and creating new exciting rock flavors. The democratisation of recording and distribution has also helped this creative explosion, (even though it has also made it so much harder to find a real audience through the millions of new releases and social posts)”

HOW’S THE MUSIC SCENE IN CAPE TOWN?

Gideon – “The scene in Cape Town is really pumping at the moment (Covid aside) – there are some really epic artists in the mother city. We don’t live in the city anymore (being in the Karoo and Germany respectively), but being our home town we keep in touch with the scene, and think the rest of the world are missing out on some really epic bands rocking it out at the tip of Africa.”

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2021? 

Nico – “Continuing writing and recording new music! We have some pumping tracks coming out, look out world! Hopefully we can look at some live shows soon as well once the world normalises again”

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

Gideon – “Just thanks to everyone that has supported and given us a listen over the last year, much appreciated. And don’t be scared to share our tunes or get in touch, we don’t bite (only small nibbles now and then).

Oh and go check out our new customer merch shop (https://hopepunkrecords.com/wham-bam-merch), and treat yourself with some custom Wham Bam! Swag – really high quality items, plus  we do worldwide shipping.”

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By Romeo Ciarla