Gangs of Ballet is a Durban-based rock band.
Gangs of Ballet is a Durban-based rock band.

Gangs of Ballet: all the right moves

By Eugene Yiga Time of article published Jun 3, 2015

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There are so many moments in life that make you go: “Wow! I can’t believe that just happened!” But one that stands out for Jonathan Rich, who plays the keyboards and synthesiser in Gangs of Ballet, was hearing the band’s first song on the radio.

“I remember driving in my car,” he recalls. “Our friends phoned in and commented on the song. That was amazing. Quite a big moment. I was smiling from ear to ear.”

He’s referring to their debut single, Breaking the Silence, which released in September 2011. By early November of that year, it had entered the 5FM Top 40 chart. And by the start of the following year, it had peaked at No 7 and secured a spot on 5FM’s list of the Top 100 Hottest Hits of 2011.

Breaking the Silence was also chosen as the soundtrack for Cell C’s “Be” campaign, which featured on nationwide on TV and radio.

In August 2013, the band released their debut album, yes/no/grey, through Universal Music South Africa. Within 12 hours of its release, the album went to the top spot on the iTunes Top 10 SA Album Charts. In June last year, yes/no/grey won the MTV Africa Music Award for Best Alternative.

The album was also nominated for an MK Award last year for Best Album. And last March, it received five South African Music Award nominations: Best Newcomer, Best Rock Album, Best Duo/Group, Best Producer (Darryl Torr), and Best Engineer (Torr).

In January, Gangs of Ballet became the first South African act to premiere a full-length music video on Twitter.

The band released the music video for their latest single, Love is on its Way, which comprised footage of them performing the song to 30 000 people at 94.7’s Joburg Day in September.

“A lot of the shows we get to play are memorable,” Rich says.

“Performing for the first time was cool and not too different to how it is now. We were scared, nervous, and excited. We had never shown anyone these songs. And we were playing in this awesome, tiny little club in Durban. All our mates were there and we hoped they would like our stuff because then they’d like us. Or not!”

That first show went well, as have their performances since. And now that they have opened for bands like Switchfoot (on the Joburg leg of their South African tour in August 2012) and supported others like Civil Twilight (on their South African tour in December 2012), they’re about to open for One Republic.

“Can you believe it?” he laughs.

“We’re over the moon. We’re big fans of the band anyway so we would probably be at the show regardless. So we’re super excited to open for them and maybe even meet the guys.

“We’re holding thumbs and will see what happens!”

Gangs of Ballet open for One Republic at The Coca-Cola Dome in Joburg on June 19 and at the Grand Arena at GrandWest Casino in Cape Town on June 21. Book at Computicket.

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