Fokofpolisiekar ready for their biggest concert ever
The band, who hails from Bellville in Cape Town, performed an 18-minute set to a sold out crowd at the popular venue, where they played all seven of their songs.
Fast forward to today, and the band have gone on to become one of South Africa’s most iconic rock bands.
The band consists of Francois Badenhorst (Van Coke), Hunter Kennedy, Johnny de Ridder, Wynand Myburgh, and Jaco Venter. They have released three studio albums, five EPs, two compilation albums and one live album.
They have gone on to tour the world and have also produced their very own beer, Fokof Lager.
Now the Afrikaans rock band are getting ready for their biggest concert to date.
To commemorate their 16th birthday, the band will perform to their biggest crowd to date at the Loftus D Veld venue in Pretoria.
We caught up with band members Hunter Kennedy (lyricist, guitar, backing vocals) and Wynand Myburgh (bass guitar/band manager) to chat about their 16-year long journey in the rock scene with one of SA’s most iconic rock bands.
What has the last 16 years been like for the band?
Hunter Kennedy: F**kin hell! We were teenagers! So much has happened. Ups and downs, around in circles, dead-ends and endless tarmac. Like the side of the road it all becomes a bit of a blur.
Wynand Myburgh: It has been a life-changing journey and without a doubt a rollercoaster ride. It is a story of survival, but mostly about the unconditional love and friendship between the 5 band members.
What are some of the ups and downs that the band have gone through?
HK: The ups by far outweigh the downs, thankfully. It was all our own doing, so no-one to blame really. With our name it was basically like shooting yourself in the foot and then running the 100m dash. So let’s start there. We were shit poor. Living in a house that resembles the place you end up in in your mother’s nightmares. We had some he said/she said bullshit religious controversy. Our drummer fell out of the tour van and shattered his arm. We tried to break up, but it didn’t work out. Midday death-threat phone calls from concerned citizens who offered to hire recces to take us out. Bomb threats at the KKNK. We survived the substance abuse. That’s all that I can barely remember.
We are brothers now. The bad stuff was our own doing and the good stuff was all other people. Oppikoppi took us overseas in the first year of our existence and I think that made a massive impact on us. We played Pukkelpop in Belgium in 2004 to a packed-out tent. In 2006 When we tried to break-up the fans wouldn’t let us. In 2017 we tested the waters with a crowdfunding exercise that far exceeded our expectations. Fokof Lager; Fokof Bar. It’s better than it’s ever been.
When the band started off, were you guys always confident that you would go on to become one of the most popular bands in South Africa ?
HK: We thought it would either work or it wouldn’t. I thought we would be bigger to be honest. But I didn’t know shit.
WM: Once we started writing the music we definitely felt like we had something special. When we started playing the songs to our peers and saw their response we knew we had something special. The future was still unclear, but the five of us were willing to work hard and do whatever to make it things happen. We are without a doubt popular, but it still feels to me like we are getting even more popular every year. That is from keeping at it and doing what we love.
What was the initial reaction when you told family and friends about the name of the band ?
HK: My dad didn’t have a problem with the name. He thought I was stupid for starting a band. I don’t blame him. It really is a terrible idea. Yeah, people thought we were crazy for choosing the name. The name came about through a misunderstanding. Francois shouted “Fokoffamiliemotor!” one day at a station wagon that cut him off on the highway. It sounded good, but I forgot what he said and it changed to Fokofpolisiekar.
What were some of the challenges the band has faced over the last 16 years ?
HK: Staying alive was a bit of a challenge. We enjoy challenges. In fact we like to challenge ourselves. We’ve been friends for longer than the band’s existence, so we have grown into an extremely tight-knit group that’s ready to take on most things. Look, there were numerous challenges. Mostly related to the entertainment industry. I still don’t really understand how all the back-end royalty shit works. It was a challenge getting something sustainable up and running. Of course a myriad of personal challenges as well. But we support each other. That makes it easier.
WM: Our biggest challenge was losing our drummer, Jaco, for six months. He jumped out of our tour van and fucked his arm up badly. That was the first time that we, as the five guys unit, were challenged with losing a member. The dynamic changed and we ended that year with taking break. 8 months later we came back stronger than ever and since then it’s been a smooth ride. But, the break could very easily have been indefinite and we would not be busy doing this interview.
When you started playing in Afrikaans did you know it would be a massive thing and spur on other bands to write and sing in their first language Afrikaans.
HK: I don’t know if we thought of it like that. We wanted to make music for our friendship circle in Bellville. Sing songs in the Afrikaans we spoke. Turned out other people felt the same.
Can you tell me about the most raucous party the band has ever had ?
HK: I can’t tell you, unfortunately. We have calmed down considerably. Well, some of us.
WM: The wilder party animals in the band have calmed down drastically, so now the party is more balanced and not so out of control. But, there is still a continuous party going down.
The band has been a stepping stone for all of you and bands you've formed: Van Coke Kartel, A-King, Die Heuwels Fantasties. But would you say FPK has remained the glue that held you guys together?
HK: We are a bigger group of friends than just the band members and actually everyone has played in each other’s bands before Fokof. But yeah, in a way I feel like Fokof maybe proved it was possible to do something you like doing and making a living out of it.
WM: Fokof is definitely the grandpa band of all of these and the one that is probably still going the strongest after 16 years. Especially with our lead singer that has become a full-blown celebrity.
The band will play their biggest gig ever this weekend in Pretoria. How much are you guys looking forward to it and what can we expect?
HK: I don’t even know what to expect. We still have to practice all those old songs!
WM: I am living the concert as I am marketing and promoting it! I am super excited and it is going to be awesome. To have 3000+ people come to see us play a 2-hour career spanning set is going to be EPIC! Epic for everyone!
If the band could change one thing about the past 16 years, what would you guys change, if anything?
HK: I would eat less cheeseburgers.
WM: I also wish I looked after myself a bit better. At 40 my neck, shoulders, feet and various other body parts have taken its toll and is overworked. I have been going mad on stage for 16 years and only been fit enough to do it for the past three. I use to just take the adrenalin from a show and put my body through torture. But, I regret nothing. It has been a great school. But now I stretch. ;)
You guys are in your 40s now, but do you guys feel like you are still in your teenage prime?
HK: I feel the best I’ve ever felt!
WM: Same here and I am turning 41 this year! I don’t know about teenage prime, but I definitely do not feel 40! I just feel great.