Metal is the genre of youth. Not to be discourteous to those metalheads among us who have been around since before most younger bands were even born, but it has a certain chutzpah that is designed to capture “youth” in a nice, neat package. It is rebellious, loud, aggressive and as crazy as most hormone-secreting teens and it is in those formative years that most are drawn into the fold. What happens, then, when Real Life starts creeping up on you? I sat down with the informal godfathers of the Cape Town metal scene, Mind Asssault, to explore just how you keep that youthful “metal” attitude alive as adulthood rears it’s ugly head.
“To us, this is now so deeply entrenched in day to day living that we can’t really imagine a life separate to it. To have remained active as a single band for so long and with a pretty consistent line-up of members, it makes being in this band very special to us all,” says Patrick, when I asked him about Mind Assault being a force on the scene for nearly ten years. “We’ve developed a deep friendship that on the surface might sometimes look a bit odd or like it shouldn’t fit, but we’ve all been pushing this common goal for so long that some serious bonds have been formed. Despite what happens in the industry around us, we’re a band of brothers and it feels great!”
This ‘Band of Brothers’ cameraderie is something that any metalhead, whether they’re in a band or not can identify with. Even when you are at the lowest of the low you can slap on a record or hit up a show and immediately feel a sense of belonging and friendship. Some stranger at the bar might even buy you a drink!
With a solid lineup and a career that has seen a myriad bands come and go, Mind Assault has a staying power that can only come from a very clear vision of what the band should be. The band itself is also rather unique for their mixing and matching of English and Afrikaans lyrics.
“At the time of forming the band, we made a very conscious decision that we would not pretend to be something we were not. At that time, back in 2003 and 2004, there were more than just a few bands knocking about who would use American accents from stage, and that kind of got a little under our skin. Not to take away from those bands – some were pretty good – but as born and bred South Africans, we got annoyed by the pretence. In that spirit, we said we’d perform the song in whichever language best suited its mood. Afrikaans, as it turns out, is a pretty great language for the genre and Jacques writing is much more expressive and genuine feeling is conveyed when sung in his home language.”
And nobody can deny that Afrikaans is, indeed, a metal “sounding” language. A band like Rammstein would have much less clout without their German lyrics, and the same goes for Mind Assault using their home language, especially considering the South African political climate and attitudes towards the Afrikaans vernacular.
As one gets older your perspective begins to shift as well. The days of navel-gazing and self-obsession start to evolve into more proactive and global thinking, and when it comes to politics, Mind Assault are no strangers to sparking debate. From their donning of overalls and brandishing strike signs at a gig during the height of mine worker’s protests to taking to the stage in South African flag kilts with a large, black national flag as a backdrop in protest of the Protection of Information bill, they appear as a band who certainly have their own ideas about the world and are not afraid to express them.
“Some people find politics boring. We try to make it exciting! This shit is about our lives and the world we live in; of course it is exciting to us. Instead of just complaining, we choose to tell stories and throw challenges at tempting targets. There are a lot of issues also relating to global affairs that interest us, and we like to take a bite out of those too. At the end of the day, we provide entertainment of an ‘escapist’ nature, like most of the metal genre. If people want to come out and vent a little steam about things that they feel are not always in their control, they’re welcome to come and take part in a Mind Assault mosh pit because that’s what we are about, except we throw in a little twist of victory here and there which generally makes people feel good.”
With two EPs and a full length in their wake, Mind Assault are reportedly hard at work on a new album, which judging from the previews that have surfaced on the internet (and in this very post,) is shaping up to take the band to a whole new level! Time and experience have brought new approaches and elements into Mind Assault‘s camp that certainly come through on the new songs.
“As with any band, it seems almost natural to drift into new territories as the members progress. And we’re not talking only about skill, but also life itself, and the headspaces that an individual moves through as different things happen to them – big, life altering things! With the new album, we feel that there are three ‘spaces’ we can fill; the past, the present, and the future. The new album seeks to encompass all of those. The track “True Force” is a good example of that. A lot of folks who saw “True Force” live say that it’s super thrashy. We’re not claiming to be a thrash band by any means, but thrash is a big part of our background as individuals.”
With Metal4Africa’s Winterfest fast approaching, and judging by Mind Assault‘s previous antics on stage, I had to ask if they have anything planned for their headline slot at the show. All that Patrick could offer was a knowing smile and the promise that “We’ll certainly be putting in the required effort to make it memorable for the audience. Mind Assault always has a trick up the ol’ sleeve.”
So brace yourselves and get ready for a punch straight through your cerebral cortex at Winterfest ’12! It is still a mystery as to what the show will contain but rest assured that Mind Assault will be bringing their A-Game, doing what they do best. See you all in the pit!
Listen to “New World Disorder” today only, right here on Metal4Africa and tell us what you think in the comments!