They came. They rocked. They conquered.
South Africa’s The Parlotones, have been a dominating force this past fall season. Before embarking on their US tour, the band kicked things off as the opening act for both the Cape Town and Johannesburg concerts of Coldplay’s tour in South Africa. Now after traveling all over the US throughout the month of October and sharing the stage with Chicago’s Scattered Trees, the tumultuous rock band — which include Kahn Morbee (vocals, guitar), Paul Hodgson (guitar), Glen Hogson (Bass) and Neil Pauw (drums) — are now back across the Atlantic performing shows throughout Europe.
Their performance at The Crocodile was a low key, yet arousing affair. The show opened with Scattered Trees. Having recently performed at the Sunset Tavern back in July, the clarity in sound and showmanship had greatly improved. Their sound seemed like pure grace, echoing the lyrical voices found in their songs from their critical praised debut, Symphony. Then The Parlotones took the stage. Neil Pauw started with a drum solo introduction all while the guitars followed in hot pursuit to the anthem of “Life Design.” Morbee’s sharp vocals filtered the club breathing, “this is our story…this is our life design…” They kept the catchy pop introductions flowing with the next single “I’m Only Human.” This tune is a breezy, whimsical dance track which satirizes one man’s morality crisis, “I played devil’s advocate, I played into his hands, I played the fool, I played with fire, I played the victim’s hands.” Morbee had true charisma and sex appeal during this number. He gallantly portrayed a man who was a victim of the choices he made whether they were good or bad. Concert goers felt (and echoed) the unapologetic words of, “I fell into the trap, I fell into her lap, I ate the apple of lust, lust, lust…I ate it up, the apple tree of lust.” The song was brilliant live, listening to the rhythm and beat of the sincerity in those words. The band played a wide variety of songs from their two previous and heavily praised albums, A World Next Door to Yours and their most recent, Stardust Galaxies.
They proceeded with the softer ballads of “The Stars Fall Down,” and “Baby Be Mine.” With their popular single “I’ll Be There,” it acts as an ode for every guy out there who has created a song for the one girl that will never be forgotten. Now this usually would make the teen girls back in South Africa swoon or perhaps faint on the spot, but the melody proved to be a slow dance track here. The heat picked back up with “We Call This Dancing.” Morbee graced us with his slick dance moves and aerial splits with the guitar in hand. He wailed around the stage like a younger Mick Jagger in his cigarette legged jeans, and I admit, at this point I was admired by his fancy footwork. They bled into the next track, “Should We Fight Back,” a symbolic song that captures their views on a universal level. While not in the studio recording, the band continues to participate in raising awareness of the suffering back in their home country. Their character rings true in this song, “…Pride in who we are and this battle will be won, in dreams we’re invincible, we taste victory on our tongues…”
Just before closing out the show and leaving Seattle, Morbee noted that in April the band would return. Then they broke out with the crowd pleaser “Push Me to the Floor.” It was a fun vivacious sing-a-long romp that left audience members humming the tune well into the cold crisp fall evening.
This Coast: You and the band have been performing constantly since the release of Stardust Galaxies. From performing at Live Earth, opening for Coldplay, and performing at the kickoff concert for the World Cup in 2010. What has this experience been like and how did you come up with the song, “Come Back as Heroes” for the World Cup?
Paul Hodgson: It’s been an unbelievable experience, traveling with the guys and the shows we get to play, truly an honor. The song was actually written by a German writer who was searching for a South African band to play, given the history between the two countries. Once we played it, it was on the radio non- stop for the next few days even after the match [laughs].
This Coast: So besides being a recording artist, you and the guys are also wine entrepreneurs correct?
Paul Hodgson: Not really, we were just trying to create alternate ways to help spread the name of our band. This was just a good way of branding our name. The brand of wine is called ‘Giant Mistake’ named after the first single on the A World Next Door album. We have a white wine called “Push Me to the Floor” and a rose wine called “We Call This Dancing.” They should be available in US next year I believe.
This Coast: I really enjoyed the Elvis Presley hit, “Burning Love.” Is he a particular artist you cover from time to time?
Paul Hodgson: We like to surprise. [Laughs] Sometimes we sing Lady Gaga or Black Eyed Peas. But also we like to educate some of the younger crowd. Some don’t always know who Pearl Jam or Nirvana is, and we like to play a few mixes of their hits. Elvis is a favorite, and we wanted to do a different punk rock style of the song.
This Coast: Since you are wrapping up the US tour, what’s next? I hear there is a new album coming out; do you know when it will be released?
Paul Hodgson: Well in December we are working on completing the last few tracks for the new album. We are at the hard part of choosing tracks we want to add. We have a lot of great material to use, but can choose only a certain number of songs. The title is Journey through the Shadows. It is set to be released next year, sometime during March/April.