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Civil Twilight comes to the garden

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SUCCESS: (from left) Steven McKellar, Richard Wouters, Andrew McKellar and Kevin Dailey.

US-based alternative rock band Civil Twilight are back home in Cape Town this weekend, playing Kirstenbosch, three years after their first successful concert in the same venue.

 

RICHARD Wouters laughs when I tell him it is 35ºC in Cape Town. “It’s like, 35° here. Fahrenheit (1.6°C),” he says via Skype.

The Civil Twilight drummer grew up in Hout Bay, along with fellow band members, brothers Andrew and Steven McKellar, so he knows all about the heat and misses it now that it is winter in Nashville, Tennessee where they have based themselves.

They’ll be back in town though to play Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens this coming weekend for the second time.

Wouters describes the first time they played the amphitheatre in 2010 as “really amazing”.

“Probably one of our most memorable shows,” he says.

He is tickled that they are on the same line-up as Johnny Clegg, one of the artists he remembers watching as a teenager on that very stage where they watched many a classical music performance.

This time around they will be accompanied by newish band member, keyboardist Kevin Dailey, who joined them back in 2012, around the time they released their second album (Holy Weather).

Fans who attend the Kirstenbosch concert should expect some of the new material they are working on for a third album, which promises a different musical direction.

“It has actually changed the way we work together, quite a bit,” he says about folding Dailey into the mix. “It’s quite interesting bringing in another person with a different musical sensibility.“

While their songwriting process has always relied heavily on Steven McKellar, they all get involved at some point, so there is an adjustment to the process and eventual sound: “I don’t think our live sound has changed, the sort of energy and what we do, hasn’t changed.

Maybe some of the sound has changed because Kevin brings a different sonic element but I think he really adds to it,” said Wouters.

Getting to know Dailey’s musical references has led him to listen to artists like Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel and Earth, Wind and Fire with new ears.

“We’re coming from more of a rock background with a little bit of jazz. “Kevin is a really studied musician, he understands music theory.

We grew up, ‘oh this is cool, let’s do it’ and we didn’t necessarily know what the chords were called.”

They spent most of last year working together in studio, as opposed to the previous year which saw them on the road, touring music festivals, for two thirds of the year.

“Touring is definitely not glamorous. it’s not like a holiday, you’re working the whole time. You’re in a new city almost every day, so you don’t get to sightsee.

“You go to a venue and that’s where you are, and then you’re in a new place, so you feel a little like a gypsy.”

Different people yell out for different songs, depending on where they play and the age demographic, and, he’s come to realise, their work being used on various television shows.

“I think it actually has a lot of influence.

“And the interesting thing is that there are certain songs that have been used on TV shows repeatedly and usually film and TV people are looking for a specific thing and they end up picking the same few songs from our catalogue.

“S Letters from the Sky has been used dozens of times and some of the other slower songs, that are more emotive have been used a lot. So the people who find our music through those shows, in general they are drawn to that particular type of song.

“But that’s been good for us, that film and TV support we’ve had, it’s been a big part in establishing our career.”

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