Brainwreck is one of my favourite South African bands. Made up of previous members of Among Friends and others, these are some of the most passionate and dedicated hardcore fans I have ever met. Not to mention some of the friendliest, most generous and humble. Their lyrics have substance and they have progressive, forward-thinking mindsets that seek to make this world a better place. Okay, I’m just rambling now. Read the interview and download their EP (link at the end). Excuse the lack of photos, but they don’t have any, and it seems like no one has ever taken photos of them. Enjoy.
Who makes up Brainwreck and what do each of you play?
Taryn – guitar
Brett – vocals
Adam – drums
Roche – bass
What do each of you do outside of the band?
Taryn: This year I’m mostly doing volunteer counselling, and a bit of writing. I’m hoping to do my Masters degree in Clinical Psychology next year.
Brett: I’m in my final year of studying Medicine, so next year I’ll be working as an intern.
Roche: At the moment, rapping, rhyming and writing, and random jobs.
Adam: I’m in IT, but I’m also trying to do some amateur boxing when I find the time outside of work, and I study part time.
Is Brainwreck a continuation of Among Friends? It does sound a little different, to me at least.
Taryn: No. We wanted to start something new, and since Roche and Adam joined, they’ve really added a lot to the band as a whole. They’ve both been in other bands as well, so it’s definitely not a continuation of Among Friends.
Why put your music up for free download? I know many people who would think it’s crazy not to try to make some nice cashmoney instead.
Brett: We just wanted to get something out there from the get go. Hardcore (or 90% of underground music) is not going to sell very well in South Africa and more often than not the expenses will outweigh the profits. It’s also quite a mission to put out a release. It’s far easier to just drop a link for everyone. It’s also great to get free music!
Taryn: If we were in it for the money we’d probably be focusing a bit more on our pop and R&B skills. Maybe we’ll do a proper release later on though, we’ll see what happens.
Where did you guys come up with the name?
Taryn: Brainwreck is the title of an Iron Age song. But mostly we just liked the sound of it.
What’s your opinion on the future of South African hardcore?
Brett: That’s a hard one to predict. You never can tell really. Bands come and go all the time, and so do crowds. But I guess you can’t take things too seriously here, just take shows one at a time and enjoy them for what they are and the experiences they bring.
Roche: It’s definitely growing. But it seems to be in a dry spell at the moment.
Adam: There are still the die-hard few that share the same passion we do. Things have been a bit quiet but we’re hoping to get people amped up on it again. If more people were just exposed to this kind of music in this country, it would change everything, but as long as there’s an interest (however big or small), I think it will always be around even in years to come.
Taryn: I think it’s still got a long way to go, but I’m hopeful. More bands are keen to tour here every year which is awesome, and it’s always a good way to create awareness and get people amped. I do kinda like the fact that we have a small scene though, purely because I think we appreciate it more than people overseas who get to see rad bands on any given night of the week. Obviously it can get frustrating at times, but I think if more local bands get going things will be awesome.
Favourite / least favourite things about SA?
Taryn: I love South Africa. The weather is great; the people are generally pretty cool, too. The diversity of people is awesome. What I don’t like is the government, the crime, poverty, and the ridiculous amount of ignorance. But every country has its problems.
Brett: My favourite thing about SA is probably the people – unique and diverse. You can learn a lot from people of different backgrounds and cultures. My least favourite thing about SA is probably serious crime and senseless killings. Other things really get to me though. Inequality. Greed. Uneducated people in positions of power.
Roche: Favourite: The diversity of cultures, the weather and braais. Least favourite: The crime and lack of compassion, and the over whelming ignorance towards other races. And dumb ass politicians.
Adam: Favourite: the people, the sense of community and the heaps of talent waiting to be discovered. Least favourite: well…we pay way too much money for cars over here, that’s my only gripe.
Brainwreck seems to have a different lyrical content to AF. What does Brett sing about nowadays?
Brett: Mostly socio-political things which annoy or frustrate me. There are a couple of different themes, though. Borderline is a song about a guy I met in a psychiatric hospital who had Borderline Personality Disorder. The song is pretty self-explanatory but I think the last line sums it up quite nicely – “A broken home with no hope is enough to make any mind break”. Haunt is a song about the time I thought I was going to die. 3 guys with guns held my family up in our home. I truly feared the worst and thought that terrible things were going to happen. They didn’t and we’re ok, but it’s something that each of us will carry with us until the day we die. Basically, I try to write about everyday things which pretty much affect everyone. If you read the lyrics, I’m sure you’ll find a couple of songs which you could relate to.
What music should people be listening to right now?
Taryn: Whatever gets you amped!
Brett: Listen to music which makes you think. Anyway, stuff I’m listening to at the moment hasn’t changed too much of late – Downpresser, Bitter End, Forfeit, Cold World, Backtrack and a bunch of other stuff.
Roche: Real music that tackles real everyday issues. There’s a lot that can be learnt from music.
Adam: Anything that comes from the right place and means something to that person. To each their own.
What are your thoughts on hardcore in South Africa? I’ve always enjoyed that you guys have pretty socio-political focused lyrics, while most people seem to have quite apolitical or apathetic attitudes toward things you guys speak about.
Brett: It can be quite temperamental. At times its rad, other times it’s a bit of a letdown. But that’s ok, it’s to be expected in such a small scene. New bands will always pop up along with new kids at shows. I am actually a bit surprised that hardcore isn’t bigger in SA, maybe there are just too few bands. There’s a lot that everyone, and in particular the youth can and should be angry about. But I guess hardcore is not an outlet for the vast majority.
Adam: Again, if there were more exposure and people willing to be a little more open minded, things would be different. Hardcore is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Right from the start, it’s always been about going against the grain, doing things outside of what’s considered “normal”. I think any band that has the right level of intensity and who touches on anything that evokes some kind of emotion, then they’ve got it right. But at the same time, I know what a hotly debated topic this is! You get people who swear by the old school rules of what hardcore is, and then you get those who take it a step further and who have a little more of a progressive approach in what hardcore should be or sound like. South Africa is no different. There’s a little less of the “traditional” sound in this country. I still believe we can all co-exist in this small community of ours and stray away from “what is” and “what isn’t”. If you need a clear definition of what it is though, you should be able to sum it up in 2 words: attitude & values.
Taryn: I think the cool thing is that the few bands that are around are all pretty different in sound and style, which is important if you want to get more people into the music. As far as lyrical content or a message goes, I think it’s a good thing having bands with different views and ideas, to get people thinking and questioning. I think SA has some super sick bands that we’re all pretty lucky to get to see.
Any touring plans in the works?
Roche: You Bet.
Adam: Once we start hitting shows hard, we’re looking to travel out to the rest of the country sometime in the near future.
Taryn: We’re definitely amped to tour. It’s just a matter of time and money.
Brett: Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to download our music, we hope you like it. Read the lyrics, there are probably songs you can relate to. Come to the next show, get angry and sing along!
Adam: Let’s all get amped about South African hardcore again! It still exists and there’s so much talent out there, we just need to work together
Taryn: Thanks for the interview, Pete! Keep up the rad work!
Categories: FEATURED, Interviews