Here are some South African punk bands—old and new—that you should be listening to.
For many years, the punk scene in South Africa has been thriving through a hands-on DIY attitude in which bands can foster their own homegrown audience without relying on mainstream culture. Music festivals like Soweto Rock Revolution have played a big part in it. Bands like National Wake showed the way and TCIYF are following that path and making punk more relevant than ever in the country.
Here are seven South African punk bands you should check out.
The garage punk psychedelic band Runaway Nuns hail from Cape Town, South Africa. They released their first self titled EP in 2016 and their first album, Holly Collusion, last year. At first, the members had limited knowledge of how to write or play instruments, like many other punk bands before them, however spending a year performing at various venues in the country gave them the confidence and experience to take their music to the next level.
BLK JKS was formed in 2000 Johannesburg by two childhood friends, Lindani Buthelezi and Mpumelelo Mcata. The band released their debut album, After Robots, in 2009. Inspired by Sonic Youth and Duke Ellington, the punk rock band has performed at large stages like during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In 2014, they were the opening act for The Foo Fighters' South African tour and they also collaborated with The Brother Moves On. Despite lead singer Lindani Buthelezi leaving the band, they are still around and kicking. Hear their recent single "Harare" above.
Dookoom is a punk/hip-hop noise project from Cape Town that you've probably come across before. Isaac Mutant, the leader, has been in the hip-hop scene for years and collaborated with bands like Die Antwoord and Plain Madness. They released their first album No ! In 2016 and their second, Riffak, in 2018. They mix Afrikaans, Sabela (a SA prison gang language associated with The Numbers Gang) and English in their lyrics. The band openly calls for Black liberation, through their angry and unapologetic tracks. Dookoom has disbanded in 2019 and some members have formed the band A$CII Dagger.
Fruits & Veggies
Started back in 2008, the Durban-formed ska-punk band Fruits & Veggies has gone through drastic line-up changes. The original members were lead singer Purity, Jimbo, Sweet Lu, Zohan and Loopy. The band is influenced by many artists such as Nina Simone, Stimela and The Mahotella Queens. Purity left the band around 2014. It's unclear whether they are still active or not.
It would be impossible to mention Fruits & Vegetables and not PURE—the new project from band's former frontwoman Purity Zinhle Mkhize. The now Cape Town-based artist's new musical excursion is inspired by Gorillaz, The Strokes and Miriam Makeba. She released her Vocal Alchemy EP in 2018. Check out the video for single "Treasure," which is full of afro futuristic influences.
The blues punk duo Afr0naut, composed of Fumani Mahane and Thulasizwe Nkosi, was formed last year. The members' hip-hop background is a big influence in their music. Nkosi plays guitar in TCIYF and mentions that the project is a chance for him to work on a different music with a calmer sound..
The reclusive and mysterious frontman Lindani Buthelezi created the jazz-punk band GSAND in 2012 and left BLK JKS shortly after. He gathered other musicians such as drummer Sello Skhalo Montwedi for the project. In GSAND, Buthelezi sings isiZulu and English stories for his daughter, he mentions.