“IT’S not a job, it’s a lifestyle.” These were the words of vocalist Chris of the cover band Too Close, who have recently celebrated five years at Zack’s at Wilson’s Wharf. The band – couple Chris and Michelle and keyboardist Chris Ruiters – have made a name for themselves in South Africa, and have performed at numerous major corporate and social events at places such as Montecasino, Sibaya Casino, Ushaka and Zimbali Lodge.
Tonight chats to Michelle and Chris about how the band started and what type of music they specialise in.”We formed about 17 years ago,” says Chris.
“We had just come out of recording in Joburg and things hadn’t gone too well. We were a band called Trippin’ back then, and we released a single that had some extensive play on East Coast Radio.
“Michelle and I are the original members of the band. But after disagreements with the Joburg companies we came back to Durban. When that went pear-shaped, we decided to regroup, and we relaunched ourselves as Too Close on the cover scene market.”
Chatting about the cover songs market in South Africa, he said: “There’s a huge market for cover bands. When we entered the market, it was taking off at that time. People make a living out of this market and sometimes these bands are busier than our local recording bands.
“I think that because cover bands play a wide variety of music, we are reaching a diverse clientele. Most corporate functions take cover bands for their year-end functions and so on.”
The three-piece group perform music from a range of genres, from R&B and pop to jazz. Their repertoire is diverse and they play music from the 1960s to the present. Asked about their five years at Zack’s, during which they have played a weekly Sunday slot, Michelle and Chris say they consider the milestone a huge achievement. Their first gig Zack’s was a wedding.
“Not many bands can hold on to a venue for so long. We earned our respect… and it wasn’t easy,” the couple say. For Chris, the best part of being in the entertainment industry is watching the way people in the crowd respond to you.
The group give cover songs a twist. “We make them our own and change the style. We can take a pop track and sing it in a jazz style. So we’re all about that,” says Chris.
“You need to be multi-dimensional. You’ve got to adapt and you need to be constantly reinventing yourself. You need to come across as fresh and different.
“I find that the hardest part is making it believable. In this market, you need to be patient. There’s no instant success, so you have always got to be pushing yourself.”