Brixton Moord en Roof Orkes Interview

There is nothing we could have enjoyed more than chatting to Andries Bezuidenhout from Brixton Moord & Roof Orkes; an Afrikaans folk-rock band from South Africa. The band was founded in 1999 by Andries Bezuidenhout (Roof Bezuidenhout) and Ockert Greeff (Moord Greeff)

The Band will be doing a once off reunion gig at Jarr Bar on the 14th of December 2019. When we asked Andries how it feels to prepare for another show after 4 years of not performing, he mentioned that it feels both awkward and wonderful.

“Awkward, because deciding on a set list based on music recorded from 2002 to 2014 is almost like reviewing the music of another band. It feels so distant. Wonderful, because in spite of the distance, we’ve rediscovered what we liked about those old tunes. Some aren’t too bad at all!”

He said that the difficulty of coordinating from different parts of the world is a challenge. Ockert Greeff (Their first drummer) stays in Canada, Andries in the Eastern Cape, while the rest of the “Surviving members” are in Johannesburg & Pretoria.”A bit of a logistical nightmare, but we’re doing a lot of it electronically – WhatsApp, e-mail, etc.”.

Andries continued by telling us that he did not expect to have the following that they still have to this day, ” but the response to the once-off reunion gig has been kind of crazy. So we’re blown away. “

Drikus Brixton Barnard, bass player for the band, sadly passed away in July, 2015. We asked Andries if he ever imagined that the band would ever get back together after Drikus’s passing, where he said “not at all”.

“It felt like a fitting farewell when we sang his songs after the funeral, but for us, that was it. But those of us Drikus had left behind remained in contact – also with Ockert, who moved to Canada to join the love of his life. So when Ockert mentioned a visit, Gerhard Barnard (Drikus’s older brother, known as Kapelaan Pat (Plank in the band) thought it would be a good idea to do a reunion gig, also as a tribute to Drikus and his songs. We all agreed.”

The band has asked Simon Kruger, the bass player of Nul (one of their favorite bands), to fill in for Drikus. Ockert will drum on the songs from the first two albums (“Spergebied” and “Terug in skubbe”) and Louis Graham will drum for the songs from our last album (“Slaaptyd in die suburbs”). Louis was the band’s drummer when they finally disbanded (“ons stokkies opgehang” – to quote Drikus).

Andries really painted a picture for us when he described his personal favorite memory of Brixton Moord En Roof. “Difficult one. Maybe playing Oppikoppi, the crowd chanting: “Brixton, Brixton, Brixton!” Then again, those initial gigs to small, underground audiences in the Abelarde Sanction in Brixton were special in another way.”

Artistic ego is one of the main things mentioned when asked what the main challenges were that BMRO had to overcome. It’s explained that They’ve all contributed in different ways, often clashing over the direction that they wanted to take with specific songs. “The band never had a leader or a single front man. We were a collective of individuals with really strong opinions. But when we did agree, we made some songs we’re still proud of today.” says Andries.

A question that we love to ask all Bands that we interview is that if they could change anything about the South African music industry, what would they change? Andries explained that the crisis in the mainstream print and broadcast media has spilled over into music. “Because of cost cutting, there are so few journalists who specialize in reporting on music and other art forms.”

“There’s less room for left field, independent stuff. But in a way it has always been like that. As Brixton Barnard once wrote: “Hier’s net leë borde in die ondergrond” [Only empty plates in the underground]. Then again, if you choose to write music in Afrikaans, you do that well knowing that you’re writing for a very small linguistic community.” Andries mentioned that being underground in Afrikaans means being doubly underground. He stressed that it’s almost impossible to make a living out of it, but the scene rewards you with hard core fans who are really committed to supporting you.

“That is why, for our last album (“Slaaptyd in die suburbs”), we only printed 100 books containing the CD, lyrics, and reproductions of paintings by the artist Marguerite Visser. We wanted to make something small for ourselves and 100 hard core fans. Maybe we’ll release the entire album online one day, for the record.”

We at Rock Tot have been listening to BMRO for a long time and Rock Tot Co-Founder, Steve, has always looked up to The Band, not only for their absolute love of music, but for the poetry and the stories behind the lyrics. Andries mentioned that they grew up on the protest music of James Phillips (a.k.a. Bernoldus Niemand), Koos Kombuis and Johannes Kerkorrel (More special favorites of Rock Tot).

“As a Joburg band, our musical don was Paul Riekert from Battery 9. Paul recorded our first two albums and assisted Drikus in setting up his own studio to record the third. The Western Cape bands are into blues (maybe because they’re either descendants of slave owners or slaves, which links them to the South in the US). Joburg has a different sensibility – mine dumps, pylons, factories, banks. In Joburg our roots are closer to punk, rather than blues. Elsewhere quite varied, but maybe we can mention Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Neko Case, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, etc.”

It’s no secret that music scenes around the world are extremely different, but how different is the music Scene in Canada from South Africa?

“Ockert lives in Montreal, the city of Leonard Cohen. If you think Canada, you think of both Martha and Rufus Wainwright, of the Cowboy Junkies, of Neil Young, and of Arcade Fire – to name but a few.” Ockert currently plays for a band called “Death Drive”. He says about his experience in Canada that there is more of everything – more bands, more venues, more subgenres. “The audience for live, underground music has also been dwindling though. As far as the rock/alternative/punk scene goes, bands play simply louder (even in small, tiny venues, which makes ear plugs standard fare for many in the crowd).”

Andries mentioned that production-wise, most rock and punk bands prefer to record live off the floor when they go to the studio, opting for unison of sound instead of a production where you can hear the detail of every instrument individually. “It has been his {Ockert’s} perception that the lyrics take a bit of a back seat to the din of the guitars and rumble of the drums.”

As our last question, we asked Andries what advice he has for any aspiring rocker that is looking to follow in their footsteps, and he comically but simply replied: “Don’t. For your own sake, look for other role models.”

We want to thank Andries Bezuidenhout for taking the time to talk with us. We are going to be at Jarr Bar on the 14th of December to cover the much anticipated reunion, and we hope to see you all there!

WATCH: Brixton Moord & Roof Orkes – Vis

LISTEN: Slaaptyd in die suburbs Album – Einde Van Dae

LISTEN: Slaaptyd in die Suburbs Album – Word Wakker Mariaan

LISTEN: Slaaptyd in die Suburbs Album – C-Maximus

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