Go! Go! Bronco Interview

Photo by Willa-Rae Culpepper

Go! Go! Bronco were and still are very important to me. The reason? Not only are they one of the defining hardcore bands of the Durban and South African hardcore scenes, which I love with all my heart, but I have had some of the best times of my life in front of their stages. I was fortunate enough to have played shows with them and seen them more times than I can remember. I watched them progress from the their ‘Every Time I Die’ stage (which Luke talks about in the interview) to this. Professional on stage, organised, friendly, and here to have a good time. GGB are and will always be one of my all-time favourite hardcore bands. I spoke to Luke Smith about what’s happening in the GGB camp…

When, how and why did Go! Go! Bronco start?

James, myself and our old drummer Guy were the OG’s of GGB land. James and I had spoken throughout Grade 11 about forming a ‘hardcore band’ and it was in the summer holidays of 2005/2006 that we actually began practicing and ‘writing’ songs. We knew Tom from around the punk/hardcore scene and James and I were keen to get him on vocals since he could scream/sing. It was either our constant nagging, promises of grandiose or several beers at Burn but we somehow convinced him to jump on board. Fast forward a few weeks we were lamenting about the lack of bassist’s in the scene and Russell piped up that he would try and play bass for us. We actually used money from our first shows to buy him a utter piece of shit bass, haha. Our 1st practice as a 5 piece was in Feb of 06 and our first show was on the free stage at Splashy Fen that year. Fast forward a year and a month and Sheldon joined the band. Looking back I think that’s when we really began to be ‘a band’ as opposed to a group of goofy kids with an even goofier name than GGB playing some seriously shitty and out of time music. When we got Sheldon on board a lot more things clicked into place and it was pretty much smooth sailing afterwards.

Photo by Gareth Bright

Who/what influenced the music?

In terms of people/ideas/bands there is actually very little that directly influenced us. A large part of the driving force behind GGB was that we shared this common desire to create something a little different to what was going on around us, but at the same time definitely sticking to those roots in punk rock and hardcore. In the beginning it was largely about mimicking the sound and energy of bands like He Is Legend and Every Time I Die, but as we got older and our music tastes expanded and matured it was more about creating a feel and sound that was our own. Whether we actually achieved that or not I don’t know.

Explain the name Go! Go! Bronco?

Ah fuck. I legitimately hate that name. I’ve hated both our names but I also think I’d hate it no matter what it was. Band names are the worst part of being in a band. Go! Go! Bronco (and thanks for including the exclamations) is from the South Park episode where Cartman and Kyle try and escape to Mexico on Kyle’s toy car called ‘Go! Go! Action Bronco’. I could spin some shit about how it’s a representation of youth, blah, blah but really it was just a funny sounding name and we felt it suited us at the time.

What was GGB all about?

Friends. Really just about friends playing music and having a good time. We did some of the sweetest and funniest shit a group of broke-ass students could do while playing this weird screaming music shit to folded arms acrkss the country.

Who were the band’s most recent members, what do you each play, and what do you guys do outside of the band?

I’ve already explained the first part of that question so I’ll skip to the second one. At the moment 3 of us are employed and the other 2 are living it up under funemployment. Russell is doing his masters and takes some bomb ass photos when he can. Sheldon has upped sticks and is living the mountain life in Cape Town while being a seriously talented web designer. James is finishing his never-ending degree and probably bums out around his house watching porn and eating unhealthily in his downtime. He also seems to be the occasional roadie/tech/bitchboy for the Mizers, as well as doing some shit at Amsterdam in Davenport Road. A man of many trades indeed. Tom is doing his honours and embracing the hermit life and I am in Hong Kong, teaching little Chinese kids English.

How did the GGB song writing process work?

With much blood, sweat and tears. Normally James or I would come up with a riff or two and an idea. Once everyone had their say about that riff and idea we’d come up with a new riff and idea instead and then try that out. After a few weeks we’d abandon whatever we’ve written and go back to the original idea and write a song in like 20mins. Seriously though, when you have a group of friends who all have different ideas about how a song should do it can be a bit difficult to write songs. That being said, we made it work somehow and I think out best songs came out of those weeks of back and forth and friendly arguing. In terms of lyrics, that’s Tom. What influences him in that regard is life.

You guys toured quite a lot around the country. Any good stories to share?

Hahaha, shit. There are a lot so I’ll do the highlights. If you know, you know. James shitting on Staubs car when we barely knew the dude and me feeling so bad I ended up cleaning it. Me pissing inside a foosball table ,”water on the pitch brah”, and insulting a shit ton of women, “where’s my sandwich?”. Sheldon getting black out/zombie drunk and quitting the band because “we are a bunch of assholes”. Getting ‘kicked’ out of a house party in Bryanston because James punched a random kid for no reason. The drive up to JHB for Have Heart and Shipwreck in a bakkie with no cover, as Russ put it, “hypothermia party”. Free monster and cheap vodka at Woodstock 2008 and playing one of worst shows. I think everyone in the band cried at some point that weekend. Getting obscene with the Mizers at Obscene Fest. Getting tribal with the Mizers at Lido. Fuck, anytime we hung out with City Bowl, Facing The Gallows, The Dead Will Tell and Conqueror. Cape Town 2010. Getting so drunk at our first show in JHB that we all fell over each other and Russ and I getting into an argument on stage because I told him his bass wasn’t plugged in. His response was “Fuck you.” Later that Russ got into a pair of red latex shorts, very cybergoth steez, and we spent the night pouring liquid on them; and him, “but it’s waterproof dude”. Haha, damn, it’s difficult to go on without revealing shit that the other dudes may not appreciate being on the internet so I’ll leave it at that. Apart from the drunken silliness, we did have some incredible times and it’s definitely something I think we’ll all hold onto.

Photo by Gareth Bright

Having been around for quite a while, do you have any comments on the Durban and South African music scenes? How do scenes in other places compare to Durban?

Durban hardcore from mid 2007 to around beginning 2009 was the best scene that South Africa ever had, and in my opinion, will ever have. People can talk about Joburg or Cape Town and how it was but I honestly don’t think they could hold a flame to that period, especially considering how small Durban and it’s music scene is compared to those cities. From Uprisings 2007 to Hellfest in 2009 the vast majority of shows were packed the fuck out and the whole community feeling was fantastic. Willovale, Harvest, Burn, Winston it didn’t matter where the show was, kids would turn up and bands and the crowd would give it there best. Hellfest 2009 was pretty much our scenes swansong. It had little revivals like Have Heart in July that year and Crossingpoint‘s last show but I don’t think it’ll get to that 2007/2008 point again soon. I’m not lamenting or bitching about it. Would I like to see good bands playing again and kids pulling into shows? Of course but I honestly that’s just the way it is. Kids grow up, their tastes change and they drop out of scenes, especially punk and hardcore, and get into other shit. So if you don’t get new kids coming in the scene dies. People are allowed to follow and embrace trends as they see fit. The fact that dudes actually get bummed that kids don’t come to ‘hardcore’ (broadest possible sense here) shows anymore is a joke. You should play music for yourself and if people come watch and enjoy your shit, that’s an added bonus.

I know you guys all believe and stand for different things? How did this influence/not influence the music?

We never got to write any satanic shit which always bummed me out. Haha, nah, it never mattered who believes in what or who doesn’t believe. We didn’t set out to be a specific type of band with a meaning/message so our personal beliefs on certain issues never really came into the fray. We wanted to write aggressive music that we would enjoy playing and listening too and that was what influenced us.

What’s with the Clint Eastwood shirt design?

It’s a badass picture of Clint Eastwood.

So… what happened? Did you achieve what you wanted to as a band?

Growing up and life happened. I don’t really consider us broken up or over, maybe a long sleep is the better term. We have still to release a legit recorded version of our music, so I don’t think we achieved everything we wanted to yet. If we don’t ever play again, so be it, we had a pretty sweet ride and I am grateful and happy for that.

Can we still expect full length/Conqueror split?

Haha, fuck. Look I’d love to say ‘coming some time soon’ but that joke has seriously run it’s course. I’d fully take the blame on that shit though. We wanted the perfect release and expected Staub to produce wonders and instead of accepting what was right in front of us we kinda just gave up and pushed it aside. We have the finished songs and Staub and I chatted about just posting them up on the net at some point, so maybe we can do that soon. The Conqueror tracks are without a doubt the best thing to come out of South Africa in regards to hardcore and it’s a bummer that people haven’t heard them. So yeah, coming some time soon. Hopefully. In terms of a full length? Well we’ve written and recorded the music for one. I don’t think we’ve laid down any vocals yet though, but I’m hopeful that it’ll get done soon and we can actually put it up for download.

What should people be listening to right now?

Mouth Of Flowers, Form & File, Give, Skin Like Iron, Hang The Bastard and Frank Ocean.

Anything else to add?

Booze, bitches and Black Sabbath.

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