04 Aug The Tazers: An old-school sound with a modern day mentality
“One of these days I’m gonna punch you straight in the face,” says lead singer and guitarist Jethro Lock to bandmate and bassist Guido Assmann. “Ja, ja I’ve been hearing that once a week for I don’t know how long now,” Guido shoots back. Next to them, drummer Tim Edwards shakes his head and laughs.
It’s just reached 2pm on a Saturday afternoon and The Tazers, now finishing off the last of a stiff vodka-orange juice mix, are taking a break in Newtown’s Mary Fitzgerald Square.
The first half of the day saw the psych rock ‘n roll band kicking up endless amounts of dust in a vast and derelict building just around the corner. It was a curious space, mottled with graffiti, rubble, overgrown weeds, tattered clothing and the various other effects that come with Jo’burg’s forgotten spaces.
The Tazers were right at home – cracking jokes, laughing at the repeated occurrence of the word ‘dick’ throughout the building, and tossing debris off the rooftops as they moved about the space for the themed photoshoot. “I love that sound,” Tim enthuses as a sizeable chunk of concrete lands with a dull thud on the earth four stories below.
Back at a recording studio in the quiet, leafy suburbs of Saxonwold, they’re just as comfortable. “You all set for your show tonight?” Guido asks the others as they load equipment into the back of a car. Tim and Jethro have a gig at Goodluck bar later that evening with their other band, Hey!Bang!Dead! and they’ve yet to rehearse. The Tazers are on the lineup too. “Ah I guess so, but I still needa get new sticks. My old one’s are all bust up” says Tim nonchalantly. “You’re such an idiot dude. I told you to buy new ones” Guido groans.
It’s quite possible to spend an entire day with a band like The Tazers, without saying a single word, and still manage to come out thoroughly entertained. They’re a tight-knit group of friends and bandmates, poking fun at one another whenever they’re given the opportunity, but when the need arises, getting straight down to business. Business of course, being the trio’s unique brand of raw, howling psychedelic rock ‘n roll that’s swiftly taken to stages in nearly every city and small town across the country.
Still young in years for a South African act, The Tazers first took shape in PE through Jethro and Tim. Guido would later join once the act moved back to Jo’burg and from there The Tazers went from strength to strength. They all share a love for live performance too, even if it came to them in different ways. For Jethro, it was the moment he picked up a bass guitar and took to the stage for the first Hey!Bang!Dead! gig. A swiftly cancelled application to art school and a spur of the moment decision to pursue an education in music saw Guido’s dream take shape, and for Tim, it was at the age of three, standing behind a local church’s drum kit that music first took its hold on him.
But in a local music scene that churns out a new band every second week, and a gigging circuit that often sees the same few rest atop its pedestal, just how did The Tazers rise up the ranks so quickly?
“We’ve all been part of other bands and played through really bad shows before we formed The Tazers,” says Tim. “So now we’ve all brought our own experience to this band and that’s what makes it work.” The three are sardined onto a two seater couch now, legs stretched out before them after a long day of walking, talking and bickering.
“No dude, I disagree with that,” protests Jethro. “It’s because we’ve worked fucking hard. We all work damn hard to keep this band –”
“I think it’s because of our professionalism” interjects Guido. “We have fun, but we take The Tazers very seriously.”
They’re all right, of course. The Tazers bear the mark of a committed, practiced and hard-working band, but perhaps the most defining element of the group’s success is their way of pioneering an old-school rock ‘n roll mentality in an online-driven world. They’re a band that’s wholly invested in entertaining fans, both on stage, and through social media. Take their Instagram for example – a comprehensive timeline of their journey so far, all filtered through a black and white set of tiled images, readily available to their ever expanding network of fans and followers.
“Look at our first post,” says Jethro. “It’s a photo of us rehearsing back when we used to practice in Guido’s garage. It’s got about four likes, but it’s the start of our whole story.”
Similarly, their Facebook is home to a constantly refreshed set of updates in the form of gig dates, tour information, new releases, band merch and more. In order to garner a larger Facebook audience, Tim offered to quite literally be tasered if their page reached 500 likes. At 1000 likes, Jethro offered himself up as the next victim, a target reached while the band finished up their tour earlier this year. Tim executed the act after their EP launch at The Bohemian and in addition to the photographic evidence on their timeline, he still bears the grin to prove it.
It’s not just a fine-tuned social media presence either. Besides photos, videos and updates, The Tazers also regard the very music they make as a type of content to be engaged with. “At the end of the day, it’s not solely about the music and the gigging,” explains Jethro. “We work hard to build a brand. It’s more than just a band, because we’re creating content that we put out to different types of audiences.”
To this point, Guido cites Jeremy Loops as a musician who’s also built his persona up through live performances and a heavy handed social media presence. “Obviously we’re not at his level yet, but we’re getting there, to a point where all of our content isn’t only based on the music, it’s based on all of us and our personalities, what we’re doing, what we get up to on a daily basis,” he says. “It’s a way to ensure our audiences get to know us beyond the music.”
Musically too, the band works hard to remain relevant in a supersaturated Soundcloud generation. Above their prolific gigging and touring, The Tazers put out the equivalent of an album a year through holding themselves to an output rate of an EP every six months.
“It’s becoming harder to keep the attention span of an audience you know? So more frequent releases help with that,” explains Tim. “You could put out one album a year, but no one’s going to listen to it for the whole year. If you put out EPs throughout the year, there’s a chance that your music will be listened to for far longer.”
Clearly it’s paid off. This Friday 5 August, The Tazers are set to play their debut OppiKoppi set, a dream for the trio. “We made this pact that we weren’t going to another OppiKoppi if we weren’t playing it and fuck, now it’s happened,” says Jethro now sitting forward in his seat. “I went to Oppi for the first time three years ago and I would never have dreamed we’d be playing the Friday night slot on the Bruilof Stage. It blows my mind, I’m just so so excited.”
If you aren’t headed to OppiKoppi this year, don’t fret. There’s a high chance you’ll get to see The Tazers in your hometown soon enough. They’ll be loud, a little drunk, and probably taking the piss out of one another, and they’ll certainly be having the time of their lives, playing on as always.
Catch The Tazers at Oppikoppi this Friday 5 August on the Bruilof Stage at 11pm.