Interview with Francois Van Coke

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Ahead of his performance at the third annual edition of Blood Brothers we catch up with rock icon, Francois Van Coke, discussing his lengthy career in music, how things have evolved, and what to expect at Blood Brothers

francois van coke

You’ve been involved in the local music industry for almost 20 years. What would you say are the key differences between the rock music environment then and now?

Hey! I guess I have been playing music for that long, but full time for 14 years. It has been a blast with ups and downs. Everything has changed. We started touring with Fokofpolisiekar without laptops, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Youtube. It was a different story all together. Social media and all these platforms are the major differences. 

Which new local acts excite you and who do you hope to see on the Blood Brothers line-up in another couples of years?

I am a big fan of Matt Carstens and he is amazing. I just did a song with him. He is a great singer and guitarist. I think he needs to find what makes him completely unique, but he is fantastic and only 19 years old. He plays kind of mellow, folky, pop tunes, so I’m not sure if that will work on the BB line-up, but he is definitely currently my favourite young act in SA. 

In our last interview you mentioned that it was initially a joke for you guys to start an Afrikaans band. What started as a joke has seen you guys break records with your crowdfunding campaign for your latest album. Did you expect such a great response and why do you feel there was such great interest in supporting another album from Fokofpolisiekar?

We definitely expected an response, but nothing as big as the response and love we received from our fans. We haven’t made an album in 11 years and there was a definite demand for new music. We have been playing live and probably playing the same kind of set for 10 years. People still came to our shows through the years and the shows and our popularity continued growing over the years we weren’t as active as in the beginning. So, we were blown away by the response and it was great. 

14 years after forming the band, the support received for the latest album galvanises your place in the cult lore of South African rock and roll. What in your personal experience have been the most important factors in achieving longevity in the local scene?

I guess I have to say reinvention. I have done loads of different projects the last 14 years with different bands, collaborations and such. I have always tried to remain honest with myself, but also trying to make something that is relevant to myself and the time we are in. 

Tell us more about the latest album, Selfmedikasie. Your music has always provided sociopolitical commentary on South Africa through an Afrikaans lens. Can we expect commentary on the new environment and who is self-medicating?

Yes, we are definitely singing about what it is like being a South African at the moment. 

For Blood brothers you are collaborating with veterans in their own right. What has been most the most difficult challenge during rehearsals and who of the artists were you most excited to work with?

I stay in Cape Town, so I will only be rehearsing with the BB crew the day before the show. The biggest part of the band have been jamming together and I am probably most excited to sing something with Garth Barnes. We have been sharing stages since 2001, but have never been on stage at the same time. I am also excited to connect with the guys that I don’t know so well. The show is always a massive party and it seems like a lot of work goes into it. It is a massive thing to prepare and it is so much fun on the night. 

What can fans expect from the 3-hour Blood Brothers set? Any chance we’ll hear some of the new and olds track from Fokofpolisiekar?

We are doing some old Fokof stuff. The Fokof album is actually only getting released on the third of October, so we will probably only play the the new Fokof stuff on the Selfmedikasie tour in October for the first time. For Blood Brothers, we are also doing all the songs from all the others artist’s bands and their favourites too.


Blood Brothers takes place on the 30th of September at  The Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg. Get your tickets here. For all updates on Blood Brothers keep up to date with the hashtag #TenUnite and Follow Blood Brothers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

All photos by Andre Badenhorst
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