Ne bucură tare mult când trupe de unde nici cu gândul nu gândești ne calcă pragul. Deși nu ne așteptam, am primit un email de la o trupă din Africa de Sud care va cânta anul ăsta la Rockstadt Extreme Fest. Ei sunt Mind Assault și vă invităm să-i cunoașteți și voi în rândurile de mai jos (doar n-aveți probleme cu engleza, nu? 🙂 ).
Would you like to experience something unusual at Rockstadt Extreme Fest this year? Make a note on your festival schedule to be in front of the Second Stage at 22h00 on Sunday night for South African metal band Mind Assault. This will be a European exclusive as Mind Assault travels the 8,870km distance from Cape Town to Râșnov where the band will perform their first concert outside of Africa.
“We are very excited to jump into the global mosh pit and introduce our new Romanian friends to metal music from our distant home. Romania seems a good place for us to start this journey because we are told that it is also still a growing scene. Perhaps it will feel like home where the metalheads and rockers are deeply passionate about good music and a united family of headbangers, no matter what culture, language, or religion.” ~ Patrick Davidson (guitar, Mind Assault)
Although the band has not toured internationally before, they are respected in their own country. Formed in 2004, Mind Assault has headlined many concerts across South Africa, played the big local festivals, and even toured as the support band for USA’s Lamb Of God who visited South Africa in 2014. Over recent years, Mind Assault has also appeared as opener for international visitors like Aborted, Belphegor, Kataklysm, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass and Bring Me The Horizon.
“We know that we have fans abroad, but have not thought of ourselves as an international band because a lot of our material is written in our home language of ‘Afrikaans’. But we’ve been getting good feedback from many sources lately. It will be a great thing for us to play an event where lots of our own heroes in the genre are also playing, but away from our home crowds. Playing at home has become easy, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of introducing ourselves to an audience of strangers and winning their friendship. We also feel very honoured to be representing the underground scene of an entire continent at this festival. It’s not every year that Rockstadt has a band from Africa!” ~ Patrick Davidson
Mind Assault describe their music as thrash-infused melodic death metal. Patrick tells us that each member of the band listens to a completely different style of metal and that the Mind Assault practice room is the only place where they can agree on anything musical.
“I think that is what makes what we are doing special somehow if compared to what a lot of other local bands do. Most people start bands together because they like the same style, and so tend to become a copy of it. With Mind Assault, the band is what bonds us together as music lovers, because the rest of the time we are mostly just arguing over which sub-genre is better and why we think so. Making music together lets us shut-up about those sort of things and just enjoy creating something we can appreciate equally.”
“The result is actually quite ‘epic’ a lot of the time, strangely enough, and that is because some of us also love listening to cinematic soundtracks. We like it if individual songs can be woven into a bigger narrative that way. And then we also have a very simple formula to deciding if a song is working or not – if we can’t headbang to something we’re creating in the band room, then usually we’ll stop what we’re doing and start something new.” ~ Patrick Davidson
Of course, it is often a surprise for people in other parts of the world when they realize that a band from the Southern tip of Africa consists entirely of Caucasian people, rather than ethnic Africans.
“Some people we have encountered online are actually disappointed by this issue. I think that there is an idea of something exotic if non-European people are playing metal. We understand that, because for us it is also cool to see that. But what is not widely known about our country abroad is that South Africa has actually got a huge population of European descendants. About five million, in fact. If you take that part of our population which is of European ancestry only, we can can be compared to an entire country like Norway, for example; and if you take skin colour out of it, the South African population is larger than Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia combined! But all of us who play in this band are children of Africa. We don’t have any other place to call home. We have no connections to Europe because our ancestors have been settled here for many generations. We have our own culture now, and even the ‘Afrikaans’ language which developed here between the European settlers and some of the indigenous peoples.”
“But this country also has a very complicated history, for those who know a thing about the infamous ‘apartheid’ government policies which ended in 1994, and the story of Nelson Mandela. For the longest time, White people and Black people did not mix. The government would not allow it. Those who were born truly African were denied free access to the full spectrum of Western learning and culture for many generations. What is interesting to see in the last few years is that among young Black people who are mostly part of the ‘Born Free’ generation (what we call people born after 1994), there are finally metalheads coming to join the headbanging family. We are very glad for that because there are always political forces at work which will benefit from breaking us apart. As heavy metal people – the ‘rebels’ of society – our minds are always rather wanting to question authority, no matter what colour of skin, culture or creed. It is becoming more normal to see Black guys joining metal bands in South Africa lately, or even forming bands consisting of all-Black members. They are growing quickly in experience and determination, and I’m sure the world will see much more of this very soon.”
“Of course, there are also not only Blacks and Whites living in South Africa. Another five million or so fit into a category which here is broadly termed as ‘Coloured’, although in truth consists of a number of indigenous, migrant, and Creole ethnicity. They were also subject to harsh segregation for many generations, but you see more of them participating in local metal today, I think because there are fewer language barriers which made the social transition much easier. Most Coloured people speak ‘Afrikaans’ as well, or even English as first language. Then there are Indian and Asian minorities too. We’re quite a mixing pot over here, and heavy metal has been playing it’s small part in bridging the gaps and building a nation.”
So what makes Mind Assault different from their international metal counterparts? Western-cultured people living in a Western-based society, who look and behave like Westerners everywhere, why should anybody pay more attention to this band than any other from another part of the world?
“Well, this is where a place like South Africa seen as a ‘Western Society’ can be a bit of a contradiction. Our nation and it’s constitution is based on Western ideals, yes, but is that what is best for the country? As Westerners, we could argue ‘the quality of life is better our way’, but is that true for the quality of living for the people who have lived here for countless millennia, if that makes sense? I feel as though the Western ideal evolved naturally where and when it did because at that place and time, the people were ready for it and the land suited to it. It worked. Then because it was an advanced way of organizing society, it had an advantage over other societies and so it began to spread. But not in an organic way – rather, it was spread by force.”
“The effect that this has had on regions like Africa and The Middle East has been massive and in many cases seems to be disastrous. Here, we all live our lives within that chaos and conflict of ideals, and the whole population seems confused about how to process it. For example, the concept of ownership of land. This is a big issue in this part of the world still, with many arguments and sly political maneuvering around the subject. In most African nations, the majority of populations still live in rural areas without access to normal ‘Western’ education. That can lead to a very dangerous national situation, and the fact that with big language barriers, many people simply cannot communicate with each other.”
“So as a band, we like to believe that we’d be worth a moment of people’s time because although we’ll look the same, sound more or less the same, and in many ways behave much the same as the typical sort of metal band people are used to, we definitely do bring into the music a variety of elements of our own culture and the experience of AFRICA as being our home. The way we see this place, and the way we see the rest of the world; it must be from quite a different perspective from where metal is more ordinary to find. There are some spine-chilling themes to explore in this, lyrically and conceptually. We’d really like to hear what people think, so that is all the more reason to come and check us out.” ~ Patrick Davidson
Well, fair enough that Mind Assault should know all about Africa, but what would the band care about visiting Romania? This country has it’s own history of triumphs and tragedies. Should the Mind Assault musical experience really matter to the Romanian people at all?
“For us, music has been an amazing way to connect with people, both socially and emotionally. It’s easy to listen to what somebody says and think you know what they mean, but do you understand how they feel? That is what makes music such a powerful medium and why we feel so privileged to be able to travel and explore. Obviously we are excited to visit Romania and of course we’ll go see the Bran Castle, but for us as artists and communicators of feelings, we’re most excited to meet the people. We hope that when we leave, we will also understand the people, and they understand us. This is the basic human connection which is always lacking in the world, so we try to put a lot of effort into that. Sometimes we succeed and other times not so much, but that is always our goal.”
“We’ve known for half a year now that we would be playing this show, so we’ve had a lot of time to think about a good set to perform. We always like to arrange our songs into a sort of narrative – to put them in an order which tells a story and then fill the spaces between with some atmospheric stuff to create a mood and bring each piece together. Sometimes we have to be careful with this. After all, we are a metal band and metal bands deal with some serious and dark subjects. As entertainers, we don’t want to put people too much on edge or send them home with a bleak view on life. A show must be fun too! At home, our last set for a major event was focusing on the very serious subject of genocide. We decided that for Romania, maybe that is not the best idea. As students of history and humanity, we know that Romanian people suffered under nazi rule and policies for a time. Let’s not get too serious on the first date! We thought, rather we would like to transport the minds of our audience back to our own home of Africa, the mysterious ‘Dark Continent’, so you can have a completely new experience. Then we’ll bring the two worlds together slowly through songs that can also include a sense of celebration about something so it’s not all just doom and gloom. We’ll make it worth your while, we promise!” ~ Patrick Davidson
With the band having been around for longer than ten years, it comes as a bit of a mystery as to why there seems to not be all that much material available in the form of videos or albums. Certainly nothing available via major distribution channels.
“Keep in mind that we’re from Africa! Everything around here is pretty much D.I.Y (do it yourself) or die. Although we’ve got the spirit for survival, we still have to take the long way around with everything. We do whatever gets done outside work hours and at our own expense as and when cash allows. That’s been the only way. There has been no industry-level support here. No record labels that dealt in the genre. No full-time studios that specialize in heavy music, and no distribution channels at ground level which caters to underground music. Even media. At the time we came to be a band, whatever had existed during the 1990’s had already collapsed. In media, there was nothing until we put some heads together and created something. This metal scene looks after itself entirely, and in our economy, that’s even a miracle. What has been put out there by Mind Assault: it’s rough; it’s raw; but it’s ours and we made it, so we love it!”
“It’s also very exciting to see the new technologies and methods becoming available to get things done. There are some kids coming along in the scene these last few years who are really revolutionizing how this country can participate in the global arena. When we were at school, there were no such things as mobile phones – and I got my first computer at the age of twenty-three. I’m still not sure I actually know how to use the thing! But this new generation; they know their business. Us older folk are left a little behind now, but we’re slowly figuring it all out. We’re not complaining though. We don’t always need all the glory for ourselves. We’ve long been seen as ‘the big brother’ of local metal bands and done a lot to develop the live scene down here during our years. That will be Mind Assault‘s legacy here. Abroad, we’re dying to see what kind of people we can meet whilst at Rockstadt. Hopefully we can make good contacts with people who know more about the way the global industry works and how we can take more part in it. Knowledge has been our biggest weakness in Africa, so a lot of things ended up having a sort of amateur vibe about it. It’s getting somewhere – just not fast enough for our liking. We’d like to change that.
Sperăm să vă placă show-ul lor și să-i faceți să mai vină în România.