Kongos: Coming
your way, USA!

Kongos’ second album Lunatic has been in the racks for a few months now, and it’s a record that is never far from the Vinyl District turntable. Polished, yet vibrant, confident without arrogance.

The band of brothers, (and sons of ’70s pre-glam doyen John Kongos) head out across the USA this week, touring straight through to November 16th. Check the band’s website for dates, and free tracks etc.

Vinyl rules, right? Your thoughts please. (Feel free to disagree!)

We’re big fans of analog gear in general – in conjunction with modern digital technology rather than instead of – they both have their strengths. There’s definitely something to the sound of vinyl, but it’s hard to say how much of the attraction is based on positive associations with the great music that originally came out on vinyl vs. the actual sonic characteristics.

In general modern production techniques are not suited for a vinyl end result, so while we appreciate it, we’re not inclined to go down that road purely for nostalgic reasons – there’s new audio territory to explore!

Your father is famous in the UK for some very original and distinctive hits, were you aware of this growing up?

We definitely were, we listened to his Kongos album a lot and it influenced our style greatly. If you listen to “I’m Only Joking,” “Come With Me Know,” and “Hey I Don’t Know,” you can hear the impact of our dad’s music on our sound.

Tell us about your two albums, the gap between which was long.

The first album was released in 2007 and was the product of a very long and tedious time in the studio. We were really young at the time, especially Dylan and Danny, and we were experimenting with our sound. Although it received a lot of great reviews, it didn’t really do anything commercially, so we decided to try to get some “buzz” before we put another one out.

We started releasing singles for free and finally when I’m Only Joking hit on South African radio, we were inspired to finish the next album. By this time we’d done many more gigs, often playing 4 hours a night with 30-40 songs (originals and covers and instrumentals). As a result, we’d often play the new songs live before recording, so it was a different studio experience with Lunatic. We had about 30 songs that were demoed from which we chose 12 (rest to come on future albums).

We still took our sweet time though… it seems about half the work on Lunatic was done over the years following our debut album and the other half was finished in 4 weeks before releasing it in South Africa!

What are your plans for the next 12 months or so?

We will be touring the US and playing a few festivals in South Africa until the middle of November. We have some nice shows lined up in cities like LA, NY, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, etc. We’re constantly working on new material so another album is definitely in the works but the timing of that release is uncertain. We also plan to shoot more music videos for the singles on Lunatic.

Name 5 great records.

Tinariwen – Aman Iman
J.J Cale – Special Edition
The Beatles – Sgt. Peppers
Jackson Browne – Late for the Sky
Dr. Dre – Chronic 2001
Arvo Part – Te Deum
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew … that was 7 but I’m having trouble stopping.

Name 5 great books.
Zorba The Greek
I am America, and so can you!
Calvin and Hobbes – Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”…that counts right?

What is your Spinal Tap moment?
Not sure if it’s Spinal Tap or not but we once played a show in San Diego at a bar that used to be a strip club. It was right next to an Alcoholics Anonymous building and there were 2 people in the audience – the bartender and the sound guy. The bartender was playing pool and we have video of a perfectly timed pool shot when Dylan says, “Hows it going San Diego!” to an empty club.

Making records or playing live – which do you prefer?

We like each more than the other – haha. There’s something extremely satisfying about demoing a new song or finishing an album and perfecting (or trying to at least) something that you’ve worked on for such a long time. The recording process is always so much more fun though than the mixing/mastering process.

Then, there’s nothing like playing live. The energy you get from the crowd (or lack thereof – haha) can determine an entire set and its spontaneity – you learn something that you just can’t get while isolated in a studio.

Is there a scene, or wave of bands you feel a kinship with in South Africa?

We definitely met some amazing people and bands in South Africa that we feel connected to, but I’d say we have more of a “kinship” with some of the amazing bands here in Phoenix where we’ve played for nearly 10 years and “slogged” it out together.

Please name one glorious vinyl treasure.

A rare 10 inch South African release of a Jerry Lee Lewis record from the 1950’s. Also, a collection of our dad’s early records which he will never let see the light of day. (He’s barely even let us hear them!)

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