Feature Interview

The Gang Reformed

In the wake of the success of their two new singles ‘Anthems’ and ‘Crossroads’ I sat down for a quick chat with Gareth Norwood and Spencer Martin, from rock band Newtown Knife Gang, to find out what their plans are now that they’re back and active on the scene.

Texx: A significant amount of time has passed between the release of your 2011 self-titled album and your single ‘Anthems’, that’s doing super well on radio at the moment, what else have you been working on in the interim?
Gareth: Well we have a new radio single we’ve recently release named ‘Crossroads (On and On)’ which is getting a bit if airplay and we’re hoping it picks up now over the holiday season.

Texx: Your single ‘Read Between The Lies’ had a crazy heavy rotation on MK at one point and I remember finding it ridiculously creepy. Rad, but creepy. I actually re-watched it this morning and it still freaked me out. Any plans to release another narrative-heavy music video like that?
Gareth: Hmmm I think we might do something more straight forward for ‘Crossroads’, like a studio type video, but we’ll have to see what the time and budget constraints are before we make any immediate decisions, I don’t think we’ll do a music video for ‘Anthems’ at this late stage in the songs release unless someone comes to us with a really interesting or unique idea.

Texx: Spencer, I didn’t actually realise that you had such a high range until I heard ‘Anthems’, is reaching those notes something you have to train for?
Spencer: ‘Anthems’ is one of the easier ones for me to sing, the bridge has a high harmony which is a little tricky and provided my voice is in good shape I don’t battle to nail it. Pitching for me is just something I’ve been good at since I was a child. I was trained by an opera singer when I was about 7 and then I’ve done vocal training at my music college and researched a lot online. Brett Manning’s singing success is probably the best place to start for anyone who’d like to try learn some technique. I suppose I am just very fortunate to have the natural talent that I do.

Texx: I’ve always been impressed with the high production quality of your music, do you find yourselves constantly pushing your limits because of the pressure to maintain that standard?
Gareth: Fortunately Paul and Nick run a studio for a living so they spend a lot of time working to push the limits of the recording process and improve the quality of their work which naturally filters into the band recordings we do there at Audio Militia.

Texx: In an interview Spencer did with Music Review back in 2011, he said that venues for rock music in SA were becoming scare, how has much changed venue-wise in Joburg over the last three years?
Spencer: In truth, not much has really changed sadly. A few venues came and went. Cool Runnings Moraletta comes to mind. The old Fourways Cool Runnings is now called Smugglers and I was very impressed when I saw the place. They’ve put in a decent amount of work there. Would like to perform there soon. So for now it seems the Gauteng area has 3 stable venues in Rumours, Sundowners and Arcade Empire.

Texx: It’s the same-old down here in Cape Town in terms of venues, but kids are starting to throw their own parties and it seems to have pumped fresh blood into the scene and given it a renewed energy. Maybe that’s what rock musician Gauteng needs, a monthly, dedicated party?
Gareth: Parties are a great way for bands to add variety to their gigs so that things don’t get stale playing the same old venues to the same people, it also often allows the band to perform on a bigger stage and rig than some of the clubs have which can be helpful to prepare towards performing better on a festival type stage.

Catch Newtown Knife Gang supporting Dead Letter Circus this month.