Is Arts Expo: Infiniti ready to whip up a Rukuz?

Rukuz press picture

In the build-up to Emalyth‘s next installation of their annual Arts Expo, with this one sub-titled Infiniti, UnScene‘s Zain Domo took an interest in pursuing some of the band’s for a little chit-chat and sought out a home for it here at M4A. This is one of a series of interviews we were only too happy to indulge. Conversation between Zain Domo, and members of Cape Town groove-thrash-we’renotsosure-metal band Rukuz.

If you’ve never partied with Rukuz before, count yourself lucky! This self proclaimed “Hobo Metal” outfit are as filthy as they are captivating, barging through the scene with a groovy metal sledgehammer, equipped with a high tolerance for alcohol consumption and sporting one of the toughest (and naturally talented) lineups around the Cape area, consisting of Matt “Oldog” on lead, Byron Dynwoodie (previously with Sindulgence) on bass and Tanya Markowitsch (previously with Junkyard Lipstick) on vocals.

Since its formation, Rukuz have graced M4A SummerFest as well as Rock The River back in 2012. These dudes are your archetype tour bus crashing, backstage overdosing, titty slapping groove metallers of yesteryear and I finally caught up with them to get their take on the upcoming trip into the jozi wilderness come end of January.

Zain: “Hobo Metal”! Just what the hell is that and how do you keep making it look good?

Tanya: “Hobo Metal” is a Matt-invented music genre that’s a mixture of groove, thrash and a little bit of country and blues. We have fun and rock out. It’s about making music that makes people feel good and want to have fun, which is far more important than looking good, innit?

Byron: “Hobo Metal” is when Matt takes his shirt off and starts doing his two-step shimmy instead of actually playing his guitar. It’s also when we run out of petrol on our way to a show.

Matt: You know the deal by now. Rukuz tunes cater for all kinds of cats, from the deepest dodgiest sons-of-bitches to the cross-armed analyst. We groove, we party, and we spread our symptom of dirty dodgy music. Hobo groove was the only way to explain it. We make it look good cause I’m sexy without my pants on.

Zain: You guys have gone through a string of lineup changes since your formation in 2012, but you just can’t kill the Rukuz. What keeps you guys coming back for more and what fuels the engine room of one of the grooviest bands in Cape Town?

Byron: It’s unfortunate when a band member leaves, but it happens and you just have to press on. I think the main reason we’ve carried on is because we love being in a band together and writing songs. You hope that when someone joins they share that same passion. And many do. But life has a habit of throwing out curveballs at you, so you deal with it as best you can and move on.

Matt: Well, that’s the funny thing. We have gone through some tough shit over the years. I can’t even begin to explain. We don’t quit, no matter what. Music feeds my life. Rukuz is like a “stukie broot opi pad.” It keeps me going among the day to day living through bullshit. I got an old school attitude; either make it, or die trying. Not like that dude with the NY cap and a bulletproof vest. Hehe!

Tanya: That was 50 Cent, dude! Before I joined Rukuz, I remember watching a show of theirs about two years ago, when Joel was still the vocalist. One thing that really stuck out for me was the amazing energy that each member had. You could feel and see the passion! The entire show was fantastic because it was sincere and everyone up there was just doing their thing. I think once you get into that frame of mind, where you just let the music speak through you and you don’t over-analyze or over-think things too much; that’s when the magic happens. It’s not an easy place to get to, but I saw it. And I feel it every time we jam.

Zain: It’s obvious that you take heavy cues from the Pantera-style of song writing, but what other influences contributes to the uniquely gritty sound you produce?

Byron: Pantera is a huge influence on our writing style, no question. I think the combination of heavy riffs and a real sense of groove is a deadly combination. Other influences have also started to creep in though. From a guitar perspective, it would most definitely be Soundgarden and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Matt’s been listening to a lot of Stevie’s songs and it’s influencing his guitar playing all the time. Candlemass has also started to find a way into some songs. Sometimes you just need a solid doom riff to sort things out. We try not to place boundaries on ourselves, but that’s what’s influencing our song writing right now.

Tanya: A lot of people have made that comparison. Personally, I never set out to sound like Pantera, even though, ironically, they’re one of my favourite bands. Phil Anselmo is a fantastic vocalist and I love how he keeps the grit within his singing, but also keeps the tone melodic. That’s something that’s really important to me as a singer. In this case, a bit of Chris Cornell, Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell’s vocal harmonies which pull at the heart strings. And of course, Mr Dave Mustaine! Gotta have Mustaine. For our slower songs, I also like to throw in a bit of a country twang, like Hank Williams 3rd and Dolly Parton, just to keep everyone on their toes.

Matt: Bru, these days I catch myself listening to Bob Seger naked.

Zain: You have been a bit quiet lately, but all of a sudden find yourselves on a lineup of some of South Africa’s finest metal acts. How did this come about and just what does it mean for Rukuz in 2016?

Byron: From what I remember, we jammed with Boargazm when they toured Cape Town and I guess through that, we got on the bill. For the band, it means that we’ll be working harder than last year and progress further than we already have, starting with an album.

Tanya: We have been working on our album and that’s taking up a lot of our time, hence us being quiet lately. I’m really happy and excited to play the Arts Expo with so many talented bands, it really means a lot to me, so thanks for asking us Sash (Sashquita Northey – Emalyth Arts Expo event organizer)! We are truly thankful! 2016 means refining our skills and learning new skills to progress even more.

Matt: It’s because I got such a great smile. You can find the fucker on Google Maps.

Zain: The Emalyth Arts Expo is a unique blend of local arts, culture, music and other facets of the usually hidden South African “underground” lifestyle. How important is it that local artists have this outlet and how does it contribute to the ever growing alternative and metal community in South Africa?

Byron: It’s great that something like the Arts Expo exists. It gives bands a sense of prestige and accomplishment when they’re on the bill. It also keeps ambition and hunger going, which is very important.

Matt: Very important, I guess. Since most heavy acts are limited to only a handful of venues, I think having more events like the Arts Expo will help improve the quality of gigging. Make it feel like you’re growing.

Tanya: To me, the Arts Expo is a very important event to have within the Metal/Alternative music scene. With venues either closing down or refusing to host “heavy” bands, it’s vital that the artists have something to strive for and this is one of the events you do want to play. I’ve played it before, it’s awesome.

Zain: Given the extensive variety on display at this years expo, what do the hobo metallers bring to festivities that will stand out from the rest?

Tanya: Piñatas and fun!

Byron: We’ll do our best to bring the Rukuz spirit to the expo. Not just the riffs and pants-less guitar player, but also that there is pride in being in a heavy band. Despite the many difficulties that all bands go through, playing music is a gift and that time is short. Whatever you do, do it now and do it hard.

Matt: My naked ass and a whole lot of grooving.

Well, if that’s anything to go by, “Indecent exposure” will have a whole new meaning in Pretoria by the time Matt gets off stage. But the Rukuz party bus seems in buoyant mood and will be hitting the Emalyth Arts Expo: Infiniti from Saturday 29th January. So get your beer funnels, Sunday shorts and boerewors-braai-bellies ready to catch this freak of nature tear Wolmer Bush Lounge a new one. Visit the official facebook event page for full details.

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