When I walk into Mr Big Stuff, the restaurant that brothers Shane and Craig Durrant co-own, Shane is busying himself with a frame. He finally mounts it on the wall and it reads: “Hungry? We’ve got chicken. Thirsty? We’ve got beer. Lonely? We’ve got chicken and beer.” It’s cheeky and cute – much like the content on Enjoy Yourself.
This is the third album from Desmond and the Tutus, which is comprised of Shane (vocals), Craig (drums) as well as Douglas Bower (guitar) and Nicholas Dinnie (bass).
The first single off the album, Teenagers, has done well on mainstream radio. It’s a funny ditty about being young and in love which includes the line: My poetry is really bad, I’m just quoting Boys II Men.
Sitting across from me in their American diner-style eatery, the brothers laugh when I bring up the quote. “I didn’t even think about a specific Boys II Men line,” Shane says. “I was just trying to be romantic. And you know, as a kid, your frame of reference when it comes to love is quite limited.”
Naturally, with a song like Teenagers doing the rounds, I was curious to find out how they grew up. “We were such crazy teens,” shares Shane, “there’s just no easy way to say it. I was an aspiring rapper and Craig was an aspiring breakdancer, just to put it in perspective.”
He looks at Craig who seems unsure if he should divulge the details of his childhood, but decides to go for it. “I think I just told someone that I like breakdancing and then I just got into it. We even had a crew. We were called the Scrutiny B-Boys.”
At this point, Shane giggles before he brings in a funny detail: “Their logo was an actual screw!”
Craig joins in as the resounding laughter spills out of the booth that we’re sitting in and I get a glimpse of how the guys are with each other. The band in general doesn’t take itself too seriously. Their name is, after all, a play on the name of the country’s most beloved archbishop.
In addition to their teenage love affairs, they take a trip down memory lane in the hilarious Youth Group Leader which sees a church leader scandalously be reduced to a music store clerk by the end of the song. And although they are quick to point out that their songs aren’t necessarily autobiographical, they bring a perspective only they could’ve had to the lyrics.
“We grew up in the church as our dad was a minister,” says Shane, “so we’re very familiar with church life. It’s a community so just as what happens in any other community, people gossip. And there was an incident once when a youth group leader tried to hit on a girl in his class. So the song is about that. In a weird, suburban way.”
Speaking of suburbia, another song that is catchy, but carries the same comical style, is Pretoria Girls. It paints the Tshwane girls as those who are Superman-strong and walk around with no shoes. It’s meant to be a lighthearted and funny take on how things go where the band is from.
“We grew up in the Moot in Pretoria,” Craig says, “and it’s a super middle-class Afrikaans area.” And even though the lyrics poke fun at the girls, says Shane, “we get the same kinds of comments a lot. Like, what about Cape Town and Durban girls?”
A remix by fellow PTA boys, Bittereinder, started doing the rounds when Desmond and the Tutus dropped an EP-length teaser of this album, but the original material is still more loved.
“This album was a strange process because we made four songs in batches,” explains Craig, “so we started writing it in 2014. So the whole year, we’d write then go into the studio and record only four songs in one go. That was important for us to get good quality songs.
“If you record 12 songs in one go, it’s easy to say there are maybe four good ones out of the 12,” Craig continues, “but if you only record four at a time, none of them will be rubbish or just album fillers.”
This strategy worked because Enjoy Yourself – which was titled so because “we got it from the Rick James skit that Dave Chappelle does and we always say that to each other in that weird way,” says Craig – is a good offering to help celebrate the band’s 10th year in the industry.
Desmond and the Tutus turned 10 last month, but they are nonchalant about age. “We perform at clubs and festivals so in South Africa, you’re very aware of how old you are in relation to your audience,” Shane laughs.
“We always said, if we were still in the band in three years, we’d just leave,” recalls Craig, “and then we said that at seven years. But now it’s been 10 years and we decided we’ll just ride this out.”
The restaurant business has been good to the Durrants so far so if they decide to stop the ride, they’ll at least still have chicken and beer.
Enjoy Yourself is in stores.