Image: supplied.
Image: supplied.

#aTypicalInterview: Arno Carstens on living life to the fullest

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Jan 15, 2020

Share this article:

In this week's A-Typical interview we feature award-winning singer and songwriter Arno Carstens.

During his career as the lead singer of The Springbok Nude Girls, and subsequently as a solo artist, Carstens has released multiple albums in both English and Afrikaans, with a string of successful singles and awards including Best Rock Album, Best Alternative Album and Song of the Year.

Arno has also headlined every major South African music festival and performed at the Isle of Wight Festival, Glastonbury, V Festival, T in the Park and Hard Rock Calling.

He has also performed with The Rolling Stones, U2, and The Police on their European tours. Arno also features as lead vocalist and co-writer on three tracks on the Mike + The Mechanics 2011 album The Road.

The 47-year-old is also a celebrated fine artist who paints in oils or acrylic on canvas and draws with charcoal on paper.

JimiHendrix, Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page?

Jimi Hendricks. I like him because he revolutionized the way we thought about the electric guitar.  It was rough, raw, melodic and powerful. He also never rated himself as a good singer and in that was also inspirational to others for opening up the floodgates of originality as opposed to following the herd.

Rock stars are known for having raucous parties. What is the craziest party you ever had ?

I laugh about it now, but it's very true and also dangerous. Thinking back, it’s a miracle we’re still alive. The 90’s are a haze to me, with extreme highs.  I remember driving over Valiant Swart with a Datsun bakkie in Stilbaai by mistake; having a wild party with Michael Hutchison from INXS; getting thrown out of hotels in London;  having to pay for the guest’s rooms around ours for keeping them up all night with the noise from our room and, blowing our whole German record deal budget on booze and cigars at the Hilton in Hamburg.  

Today I think about it as living life to the fullest, but at the same time, as a journey that I don’t want to repeat.

Most embarrassing moment on stage?

At Oppikoppi one year I got trashed before a show and on top of that, smoked a joint before getting on stage. I went completely blank and couldn’t remember any of my lyrics.  I ended up lying on the stage, screaming my way through the disaster. 

It ended up in the papers to my great embarrassment . It happened again, maybe twice more during my 25 year career.  It was never nice and I regret those moments. Subconsciously it has affected me to the point that I have now given up alcohol completely. 

 With time I have come to realize how blessed I am and today I want to give my best to the audience without falling off stage or giving a sub-par performance.

You could choose any one band to do a world tour with. Who would you choose?

Pearl Jam and Springbok Nude Girls.  I’ve never played with Pearl Jam and I think it would make for a good combo.  If I had to choose for my solo career, I’d say Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’ve always wanted to share the stage with Nick Cave.  I’m a big fan.

What is in your fridge currently?

I’m on tour so I’m living on take out and restaurant food: Nando’s or hake and calamari from wherever.

Which album are you currently listening to in your car?

I make my own playlists by collecting music I discover on Twitter and from friends.  It’s half production research and half utter musical enjoyment. I also share these LP length playlist with those interested, on Apple Music and Spotify through my artist profiles.

It's the Roast of Arno Carstens. Which three people would you choose to have on the panel of your Roast?

Roasts are cruel.  But if I have to then John Vlismas, Rob van Vuuren and my wife.

If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Paranoimia by Art of Noise.

Favourite restaurant to visit in South Africa? And what do you order?

I love seafood and a great steak.  So I think I would have to say Nelson’s Eye in Cape Town.  Their steaks are incredible.

What's been the best concert you have ever attended? 

Shew, that’s difficult.   U2, Pixies, Rolling Stones and INXS are my top 4.  We were lucky to open for all of them and they all blew me away.  INXS was the first international band that we opened for, so I have fond memories of that.  So let’s say INXS.

What has captured your attention on social media in the past week? 

Australian fires, Donald Trump and Eskom.

The Saturday Star

Share this article: