Ahead of his performance as part of the Led Zeppelin Tribute show we catch up with Cito discussing his roots, longevity in the music industry, and filling the shows of one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists
Born in America, your parents moved here when you were a teenager. What was their reason for moving here and what now is your motivation for calling South Africa home?
My parents were ministers and we moved here to do God’s work. Since I’ve been here for almost 30 years, have two sons, am happily married and tend to a full-on zoo at home; I’d say I’m pretty settled here. Oh, also, my music career is quite established in South Africa.
Your original band, Wonderboom, is one of the oldest rock bands in South Africa that are still performing together and creating music. What, in your experience has been important to the longevity of your band?
The WONDERbros are exactly that – brothers. We are friends first and love performing together. We’ve also gone through so much together. Jamming and writing songs with these guys is just second nature to us. We’ve also never put the pressure of living solely off the band. The last-but-not-least reason is that we truly feel that we have something special together, musically.
WONDERboom’s ninth studio album, Rising Sun, is due for release next month. How would you say the Wonderboom sound has evolved since the release of your debut album 20 years ago?
It’s hard to say how we’ve evolved over such a span of years, but we’ve definitely paid more attention to detail and become more involved as creators and producers. In the very early stages, we were still learning about ourselves and each other, and we were more focused on putting on an energetic show and standing out. Now, it’s more about the music, about creating something that is desired beyond the live performance of it. We basically want to listen to what we record without cringing!
In our opinion, an important part of longevity is exploring different sounds, styles and emotions through art; which is exactly what you do with the countless projects you are involved in. Tell us about progress on your solo album and what you get to explore on it that is not explored in your other projects?
Ok, well, I’ve had to pause the process of the solo album production so that I could focus on finishing the WONDERboom album. Tried doing both simultaneously and that ended up diluting my attention and slowing both processes down. So, now that Rising Sun is out and we are performing more, I’ve freed up time at my lair for the solo recordings. The cool thing is that most of the songs are already written and demos are made. Only thing is, I’ve grown from the Rising Sun sessions and expect to write more material as well as revisit the demos. I think that the break will do me good and that my co-writer on most of the songs, Erin Alden (producer/songwriter in LA), would be in a different space too. I get to embrace and indulge in a far more dark and ethereal space, with the solo project. And some electronica.
Jason Oosthuizen, organised the Led Zeppelin tribute as the band influenced much of his playing style. Who are some of the historic acts you would say had an influence on your vocal and music style? Moreover, who do you attribute your love of music to?
Yeah, Led Zeppelin was definitely one of the influential bands of my formative years. So was The Doors, U2, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Stone Roses and Radiohead. But, so many!
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin is regarded as one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists with a powerful and wide vocal range. How did you prepare for this show and are there any nerves in trying to fill the shoes of one of the greatest?
You’re damn right, there are nerves! Greatest range and style. He also oozed confidence and owned that shit! Yeah, look, I’m not looking at matching him note for note. It’ll definitely be my interpretation. Cramming lyrics, for a memory-challenged rocker like myself, is the biggest challenge.
Engaging in music as a performer is quite different from engaging in music as a fan or a listener. Which Led Zeppelin song are you most excited to perform and is that song the same Led Zeppelin song you enjoy most as a listener?
I think ‘Black Dog’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘Rock N Roll. are the ones I’m looking forward to performing the most. Attitude, energy and sheer musical brilliance!
Led Zeppelin takes place on the 4th of November at The Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg. Get your tickets here.