Pretoria, South Africa: last year we published two articles focusing some attention on a freshly-sprung tribute culture rising in South Africa. Our focus at the time in Cape Town, eyeing out bands like Wrath (Lamb Of God tribute) and The Thunder Gods (Amon Amarth tribute) amidst others who were taking to the stage in the name of their heroes. Today, our gaze has shifted northward to take a closer look at the tribute scene in and around Gauteng. We chatted with GUNSHIP who are doing a show tonight – the first ever metal show Johannesburg’s The Goodluck Bar, mind you – in the name of mighty Metallica to celebrate the coming release of the legendary band’s latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct which arrives worldwide on 18 November.
GUNSHIP, having started out as a garage band, first toyed with the idea of only doing a tribute show of Metallica‘s 1986 masterpiece Master Of The Puppets. With the greatest attention to detail in not only performance, but also in putting on a show which emulates the glory of the 80s, the band soon increased their repertoire to include music from more albums. The went live for the first time at Arcade Empire in Pretoria on 15 February 2013.
“Fitting the thrash genre perfectly with its aggressive attitude, the name GUNSHIP was chosen to not limit the band to only playing Metallica. We decided to concentrate on original material for a while and the writing began. Our first single ‘Savage City’ was recorded at Wolmer and released in June 2015. But, as most of the members play in two or more bands, other commitments and conflicting views of the way forward finally led to a decision to stick to the tribute on an exclusive, when requested, basis for now.” ~ Heins Worst (guitar, GUNSHIP)
With the mention of members’ activities in other bands, this begged the question of some other tribute acts which have come to surface in the area – our suspicions proven true. These musician super-fans are not limiting their expression of devotion to their favourite acts in any way.
“What can I say? – we started a trend! If I recall correctly, when GUNSHIP started, there were only about three other relevant tribute acts – SA/DC, Guns ‘n Posers, and Ham of Bob. We needed rehearsal space that could cater for our ‘over-the-top’nes’ – We don’t claim to be the loudest fastest band for nothing, you know? So we found this storage facility in Silverton’s industrial area, coincidentally in “Battery” street, and rigged it properly. After GUNSHIP’s initial success, various friends and fellow musicians joined in on the action, and a string of Pretoria based bands were formed – some tribute acts, and others original – all based in the same facility. I think at its peak, we were about eight bands rehearsing in five fully-rigged jam-pads on the same facility.” ~ Heins Worst
Heins explains how PowerSlave, an Iron Maiden tribute, was formed by his band mates Greg and Leon. The two acts have gigged and toured together, and now the scene includes other double-takes such as Motley Who?, System of a Down – the tribute, Megazeff and others.
“Yes, the ‘tribute’ scene is really growing. I think what makes it so appealing is the fact that people easily and quickly relate to and recognize the tunes. Fans and non-fans alike – no matter if they are into Thrash, Power, Speed, Death, Doom, Hardcore, whatever – they all know their roots. So, the tribute thing appeals to a wider audience, I suppose, and is all about having a good time. Both band and fans alike.” ~ Heins Worst
Of course, with the significance of Metallica on the verge of releasing its tenth studio album in little more than a week, we had to find out a little insider info from Heins about his own anticipation of it.
“I think we have waited long enough. These guys take longer and longer every time they bring out a new album. I like what I have heard so far; it is fresh, yet more in line with what I would expect from Metallica. There is a thin line between being fresh and completely losing the plot. I know we as GUNSHIP focus more on the old stuff because we cater for a specific crowd, but I personally have loved everything Metallica has ever released for what it is – save the one with the tin-bin snare – pits! In general though, Metallica fans always expect another Master Of The Puppets or Black, and then dismisses it when it doesn’t meet this criteria. Where is the fun in that? Getting the same thing over-and-over. I think it has more to do with nostalgia and the impact the ‘member-berries’ have on their better judgement. I mean, if one of these tunes played on the radio, and you didn’t know it was Metallica, it would have definitely caught your attention.” ~ Heins Worst
As for tonight’s show at The Goodluck Bar, promoters Wat Kyk Jy? and GUNSHIP are confident that this will be one for the books. The band are well-known for being able to bridge gaps between sub-cultural cliques and making the non-metallers feel welcome and equally loved.
“I think this can be attributed to the spectacle of a GUNSHIP show. Our 80s larger-than-life approach in everything we do. The big 9-piece drum kit with ten million cymbals; big Marshall stack amps; décor and stage props,; our energy and interaction; technical skill… all contributes to the spectacle that is GUNSHIP. So I guess what I want to say is, no matter who you are or what your preferences, come on over! You’ll have a blast!” ~ Heins Worst
To add to they hype of next week’s launch, another super-fan and affiliate of promoter Wat Kyk Jy? has launched a hilarious, yet accurate information channel to get fans further into the mood for the release. Check out the first video below, and more at the Wat Kyk Jy? youtube channel. A new one has been promised every work day in the build up to launch date.