Originally known as Abiogenesis, Suiderbees is a quintet that blends death metal, black metal and symphonic elements, blending brutality and melody without compromising on either. This year will see the release of their debut album The Segregation. Ahead of Suiderbees’s co-headlining performance at SummerFest 2013, band members Marc Olwage (vocals and bass) and Karin Pretorius shed some light on the inner workings of the ‘Bees machine.
M4A: Suiderbees’s band biography states that the band struggled for years to find a suitable line-up. How long did this process take, and what were the main frustrations during this process?
Marc: Well our previous bassist and I had been trying to put a gig-ready band together since 2004. After many attempts we finally got a full line-up in April 2010. Getting the ideal line-up together was a tedious process. The number one frustration while putting together the band was finding a capable drummer. Finding an experienced metal keyboardist wasn’t a walk in the park either.
Karin: After a while we experienced various issues within the band. We had a member change, and then lost our bassist just as we started to get going again. The major frustration of course was that we had to put gigs on hold as we went through a bit of a hiatus. So Suiderbees was inactive for most of 2011 and a short while during 2012. When Marc announced that he was going to take over on bass, I was pleasantly surprised. I wondered how that would affect things, but as it turns out, Marc was definitely the best choice; he rocks that bass guitar!
M4A: The South African metal scene is dominated by death metal acts. In light of this, what inspired the band to embark on the difficult quest of standing out in a relatively well-populated market?
Marc: We never really set out to stand out from other SA death metal acts. It’s merely a case of writing music that we wanted to hear. Most of us in the band have a love for symphonic and chamber music, so nobody ever objected to incorporating it with what we write.
M4A: What was the most difficult part of promoting Suiderbees after the name change?
Marc: Quite a few people questioned our name change, stating that it’s a “stupid” name and that an Afrikaans name will never work with metal fans from overseas. So it was a little annoying dealing with the naysayers, but overall it wasn’t really difficult promoting the band. We get great support from the worldwide metal community and every now and then I have someone come up to me and telling me how much they like the band name. I think the name change helped a lot more than it did any harm.
M4A: How does the songwriting process work in the Bees camp? Does it start with a single member bringing in an idea, or is the process usually very collaborative?
Marc: The majority of the music in our current set list was written by our ex-bassist, Ryck. I helped here and there with writing and structure arrangements. With the new material I am currently writing everything except the keyboards. Seeing as we have such a talented keyboardist, it would be sacrilege for me to tell her what to play. And with me not being much of a drummer, I merely write drum beats and fills as a suggestion to Cole as to the vibe I had in mind. Then after a song is complete, I sit down and write lyrics for it.
I feel that it’s very important to write what is in your heart. With that said I want Suiderbees fans to know that I’m not going to try to write in the same style as Ryck did. We are still flying the death metal flag high but I will be bringing more of my own flavour to the band. But trust me, the new songs are sounding great.
Karin: Marc has taken over the writing, with a couple of new songs in the pipeline already. I’m going to be writing most of the keyboards for the new material. So at the moment, songwriting does entail a single member bringing in an idea, although we’re hoping to become more collaborative in the future.
M4A: Your lyrics present a grim view of the human race. Are there specific factors that influenced the band to express themselves in this way?
Marc: Examining mankind in everyday living situations influences my lyrics, whether it is in the streets, reading the newspaper, watching television, etc. It’s so frustrating seeing how we murder each other for bread money and alienate ourselves via living class, race or religion. Not to mention corruption! The list can go on and on. Living in South Africa, the rape capital of the world, it’s not really hard to see where my influences are spawned.
M4A: With regards to the upcoming album The Segregation, the band recently announced that they would be leaving out the choirs and going for a more natural feel. Do you consider this a setback or a positive? What are your thoughts on scaling back the album?
Marc: We decided against the choirs because we want to try our best at capturing our live energy and sound on The Segregation. I’m very happy with the outcome so far. We haven’t even completed the tracking for the album and already everything is sounding as “BEES” as fuck! There will be no disappointments.
Karin: I’m happy with the decision; it’s our first album and I think the natural feel will work well. We’re keeping the songs pretty close to how we play them live, with a few extras here and there. I wouldn’t mind some choirs etc. On the next album though, but that’s something we can think about!
M4A: What does it mean for Suiderbees to be performing at SummerFest?
Marc: Nothing less than a huge privilege! To go from opening act at SummerFest 2011 to co-headliner in 2013 is a great honour. To be considered co- headliner material shows that we must be doing something right! Thank you to Patrick and all at Metal4Africa for doing all in your power to spread awareness about the African scene! To all the Suiderbeesters reading this, we fucking love you all! Here is to 2013! The BEESPOESBRUTAL will prevail!
Karin: I think playing a Metal4Africa event is always an honour, and the fact that we’re co-headlining makes us feel very privileged and excited. We’re also feeling more motivated about our future plans, such as the finalization of the album, new material and the potential of touring the country.
Marc ‘Aap’ Olwage – bass and vocals
Karin Pretorius – keyboards
Divan de Kock – lead guitar and vocals
Dawie Pretorius – rhythm guitar
Cole Grainger – drums