Retro Dizzy is a surf, punk rock band with slivers of psych swimming in reverb and distortion. We interviewed the band to discuss the psych revival, their latest album, and all things Retro Dizzy.
Retro Dizzy can be considered as one of the major psych bands in South Africa. You guys only formed the band early last year, yet you’ve already achieved so much. What was the motivation behind starting Retro Dizzy?
That’s so nice of you to say; well basically we all just love music. Surf rock, punk and psych mean a lot to us and make us feel like we can express ourselves properly. We just wanted to be in a band and create music that we like and if other people dig it, well then that’s just the icing on the cake.
The band consists of three guys, just rocking out and doing their thing. Is that how you guys see Retro Dizzy? Or is the ideology behind the band more planned and articulated?
Definitely, we are super laid back guys and the band is more of a family than a band. There’s no band leader or main man, we all contribute to the sounds and try making each song the best it can be. We obviously take the music seriously though and I guess that part could be considered planned out.
Earlier this year you released your album Creatures of The Black Desert which has a prominent Western surfer sound to it. What was your process behind creating the album?
We recorded it at Peace of Eden Studios with our own Yoda, Howard Butcher. It took us about just under a week to record it, but we spent a lot of time mixing etc. Simon Berndt of OneHorseTown did the amazing cover artwork. We really wanted this album to be a true representation of the live shows, but still be a good record to listen to at home. It’s quite hard to find the line between those two things but we think we nailed it.
You recently just finished your Joburg tour a couple of weeks ago, what are your thoughts on Joburg venues compared to that of Cape Town venues? Are there any major differences?
Joburg is amazing; we’ve been up two separate times now and both times have been amazing. Joburg crowds are super energized and just want to jam and party which we really like doing so we have started a bit of a love affair with those Northerners. There aren’t any major differences to be honest but I would say that Cape Town crowds are more about the experience and Joburg is about the energy if that makes sense?
With reference to playing with Allah-Las earlier this year, what is the main difference, in your experience, to playing with a well-known local band compared to that of an international band?
The main difference is that people are super excited when international acts come to our shores and make way more effort to be at shows and to party super hard whereas I guess people can almost take it or leave it when a big local band is in town. There aren’t too many big local bands left anyway, the head of the snake was cut off awhile back but just wait, there’s something brewing in the small dirty clubs and bars of South Africa ready to take that spot.
In my personal experience, over the last couple of months the local garage, psych and surfer scene has expanded majorly. What do you think has aided in this growth?
Psych Night have pushed that scene a lot and have brought down 3 (going to be 4 by the time this comes out) international acts so I think that could be a major factor. Also I think people started to realise that garage, surf and psych can be fun and sarcastic and something clever and almost feel like an inside joke and everyone wants to be in on the inside joke.
We just experienced the Black Lips touring South Africa with a number of opening bands such as Sol Gems, The Sisters and The Gumbo Ya-Ya’s. Do you think the inclusion of local acts in international shows greatly affects the exposure of South African music as a whole?
They definitely affect the exposure of South African music. The local bands get to be on the bill with a big name and with social media, a lot of people will get to see that. Black Lips are the tits by the way, we are so excited to see them and we may or may not be doing something with them before they leave.
Which local band that you haven’t collaborated with, would you be most excited to collab with?
I think just cause we are huge fans of them still it would have to be either, Fokofpolisiekar or Pretty Blue Guns. They mean a lot to us still and we would love to do a show with them one day if they come out of retirement.
Past tracks such as “Your Love is Like a Switchblade Knife” pertain to a more classic rock sound, whereas “Lick Your Tongue” is a more surfer garage sound. Was this change in sound a conscious one, or did it occur naturally?
Probably naturally just cause we were listening to that style of music so much during the writing process of the record. We also learnt to play our instruments better so we can have more choice on the genres we can play.
Your track “Honey” pertains to a feeling of need and perhaps love, with lyrics such as: “girl I’ve got to see you, can I kiss you.” Is this particular track about someone specifically or is it an umbrella love song that doesn’t correlate with any person in particular?
“Carlos The Jackal” is a purely instrumental track where we don’t see the inclusion of lyrics, what was the purpose behind including an instrumental track on an album which is heavily based on its lyrical aspects?
It was always a song where we just wanted to jam to it and I think lyrics would have taken away from that- and all classic surf tracks were instrumental; this is kind of our nod to that era.
What can we expect for the remainder of the year and looking ahead to 2016?
We still have somethings up our sleeves for 2015. 2016 will be a year of going forward, experimenting and touring. RETRO DIZZY FOR LIFE
Check out the music video for “Blasphemy” below and read our review of Creatures Of The Black Desert here.