Review

WONDERboom drop their latest single, “Voodoo Doll”, and their 23-year-long career is a textbook lesson on how to keep on

There are few rock bands in this country that have successfully made it to the 23-year mark. There are even fewer bands that make it that far with the majority of their founding members still involved.

Legends in their own right, the span of WONDERboom’s career has earned them the accolade as one of South Africa’s longest-lived bands, but even this far down the road they’re still finding new ways to keep things fresh.

Having just joined the Just Music family, Martin Cito Otto, lead vocalist and guitarist, chats to us about the band’s past, present, and future with their newest single, “Voodoo Doll”.

Cito understands the grind of having to make things happen for yourself and is relieved to have joined a team he admires, “We’ve been doing it pretty much DIY for over a decade now, so to have someone like Just Music behind us is something we’re quite excited about.”

I ask what’s changed the most for the band in the past five years, and he tells me, very excitedly, about the creative ride they’ve been on, “It’s like we’ve rediscovered the prospect of composing whatever we want, with a freshness and attitude. Groove and ear-candy.” Matter-of-factly but firmly he adds, “The band’s chemistry is also notably at its best.”

Cito and Martin Schofield, lead guitar and second vocalist, worked together on the last Lance James album, alongside producer Matthew Fink (Just Music), where a connection was formed. Fink expressed interest in collaboration with WONDERboom, and I wonder what he brought out in the music, “I think we’ve always wanted to work with someone like Matthew. Not only because he is technically a good engineer, particularly in the alternative and indie record-producing field, but he also brings musicality to the table.”

While rock has always been at the core of their sound, “Voodoo Doll” brings an entirely new element, a sound that WONDERBoom fans have been craving for some time — darkness. The mood, the soundscape and the lyrics are all of a darker quality

I ask what inspired this shift in sound, a person or an event, and he responds, “The darkness has been creeping in for a while now. I think that because Martin and I love the dark music of other killer bands, we’ve been letting go more and more, and really having fun with it. Not thinking of local radio play.”

Nine albums, numerous tours both locally and internationally, and a couple of awards later, WONDERBoom are keeping fans of old loyally interested, while creating new fans along the way. And if “Voodoo Doll” is anything to go by, the journey of their evolving sound is one fans will be happy to take with them.