Theatre Interview

Theatre are an experimental/chaotic hardcore band from Cape Town, South Africa. For fans of Norma Jean, The Chariot, La Dispute and other chaos-driven bands. I only recently became pretty good friends with some of these guys. They are probably some of the most genuine, nice, and passionate guys in South African music at the moment. Anyway, I’ll let Duke do the talking…

Why the name Theatre?

The name was brought about in a conversation during mid-afternoon lunch. The name was simple and easy to remember, and so we figured we’d stick with it. There is more to the name than what meets the eye though – the concept of the name grasps what we focus on achieving musically and in terms of performance. We always try to be both successful entertainers as well as to become an unfaltering example to the hardcore community.

JJ van Rooyen. Photo by Matt Keeson

What genres do you guys fall under? Who/what are your major influences?

We define ourselves primarily as an “experimental hardcore outfit”, though it is difficult to classify us musically. We have a rather broad scope when it comes to input; therefore resulting in an output of many interwoven influences. As far as sub genres of hardcore go, our perspective on song writing fuses both melodic and chaotic elements, as to ensnare the senses of a wider audience spectrum. Vocally, the band relies on the potent screams of our frontman. He tends to dabble in a few more empiric vocal styles to create a distinct contrast to Theatre’s overall sound. Our major influences stem from lively hardcore and post-hardcore acts such as The Chariot, Norma Jean, Admiral’s Arms and La Dispute, to name a few.

How did the band start?

The band was a concept contrived by brothers Tarquin and Byron Jones, in collaboration with vocalist JJ Van Rooyen, after the demise of their previous bands The Eve Of My Collapse and Era Of The Hero respectively. It started off as a small project, with a focus on placing a benchmark within the local hardcore community. The band later came together as a functioning unit when guitarist Duke Negus and bassist Jacques Jordaan joined to fill up the missing slots.

Who plays what?

JJ Van Rooyen – Vocals
Byron Jones – Guitar
Duke Negus – Guitar
Jay-Dee Bekker – Bass
Tarquin Jones – Drums

Photo by Altus Geldenhuys

What is the scene like in Cape Town? I hear it’s pretty dead in terms of heavy music? What’s it like compared to other scenes you’ve experienced?

Heavy music in general actually has quite a sizeable following here, but the majority being that of the straight-up metal genre. The scene here is sadly lacking in the hardcore department, though we are never discouraged, and are naturally always excited to see new hardcore and metalcore acts pop up now and again. Despite our society being outnumbered by those boarding the electronic music transit, we remain set on making the music we love, and will continue to do so until the band breathes its final breath.

Are you guys hoping to achieve anything as a band?

As a band, we thrive off new opportunities and would obviously be keen to make the most influential music we can. The fundamental factor, which forms part of that which we would like to achieve, is being able to deliver a performance which is captivating to both the eyes and ears, while still being able to convey the message of truth and salvation behind our seemingly-aggressive style of music. We would like to see people inspired, moved and changed by the melodies we bring forth, and would like to see them letting themselves go in the midst of a passion that they have yet to experience.

Anything special we should know about you guys?

We’d rather assert our audience on how special they are to us. They are the ones who motivate us to continue playing these shows. Naturally, we love crowd participation and really appreciate it when an anonymous stumbles on to the stage to join in the carnage; if not, then one of us would make it a point to become part of the crowd. Stage-wise, we are known for our rowdy antics – guitars frantically orbiting about bodies upon a platform, which we consider a playground, which has no tangible borderlines.

You are obviously a Christian band? Has this affected people’s reactions/reception of you at all?

Without God, this band just wouldn’t be what it is. We strive to deliver the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ, in whom we trust. This band’s entire infrastructure is built upon the rock of Christ and we, as His messengers, have made it our solemn duty to preserve His name. We see ourselves as ambassadors, and to be an example is always our main concern – people are easily influenced by music and we like to think of it as the most powerful means of spiritual communication. God has changed people through the music he has planted in this band, and we are glad to glorify His name in everything we do as both a band and as individuals.

Do you guys stand for other things besides Christianity?

We stand for all that promotes the preservation good in the world, anything involving the support of human and animal rights, and all values which may be counted as gracious.

What can we expect from Theatre in the future?

We are currently preparing for our first release, Atlantic, but will also be working on new material and will hopefully be recording a split or two within the first few months of the new year. We plan to work with a few overseas acts and hopefully plan some tours that branch out past our borderlines. There are still many surprises in the works, but we can promise that we will continue to deliver the best platters of performance we could possibly dish out.

How does your song-writing process work?

Song concepts and rough riffs are conceived during experimental band sessions, and are later woven into full songs by Duke, after which they are thoroughly analyzed and assessed by the rest of the band. Final alterations are made and the song is conducted at a band practice, where vocals are appended – the song finds its completion.

Any comments/complaints/thanks?

We’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of the process – from the conception of this band up until present. To magazines such as Rise and Mirovia and LMG for helping us promote and get our message across. To our friends and families, and most of all to our God, through whom all things are possible. We are looking forward to tearing up the stage again soon and bringing some chaos to every city in our wonderful country. Bless the noise!

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