The Parlotones – LA is a great big freeway

It took them four albums, probably over 200 gigs a year, and a lot of work, to become one of the most loved rock bands to emerge from the modern South African scene.
One could argue whether Colourful was their breakout hit, and got them established with major airplay on mainstream radio. Others would say it was their rendition of Lisa se Klavier that got them noticed by the public. Whatever it was, young girls went gaga when they heard that the band were playing at a venue close to them.

Of course, as time marched on, like many a South African act, they felt that they had done all they could locally, and decided to relocate to Los Angeles, which is still the nerve centre of the world’s recorded music scene. They are obliged to return to local shores four times a year to perform, as part of their contract, but they have spent a lot of time overseas of late.

They join the ranks of many a local band who made the jump overseas, only to find it a lot more challenging than they initially realised. Just Jinjer confessed that when they were there, they went from playing gigs of 6,000 people in Jozi to gigs of 6 in LA. Likewise, Tree 63 spent a considerable amount of time in Nashville, with lead singer Jon Ellis returning to Durban for a while. Seether made a very successful go of it overseas, but it is believed that Shaun Morgan has a house in Cape Town and spends quite a lot of time there. Maybe once Africa is in the blood, there is just no getting rid of it.

It was Burt Bacharach and Hal David who spoke of LA being “a great big freeway, put a hundred down and buy a car, in a week maybe two they’ll make you a star, weeks turn into years how quick they pass, and all the stars, that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas.” And of course it was Dionne Warwick who sang about it. But whatever happens with The Parlotones in America, they can be justly proud of their achievements so far, and they should just keep doing there what they did here: work consistently, and keep working. Like all of us, they may have no control over where fate may take them, but at least if they’re aiming in the right direction, they are far more likely to get there. Good luck boys! We’re all rooting for you.

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About the author


Blogger Rob Rodell is a singer-songwriter, performing music artist, music business lecturer and singing teacher. Rodell was nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA) for his album A Cappella Christmas. Between 2009 and 2011 he was the head of music business education at the Soul Candi Institute of Music, which is linked to the Soul Candi record label. His hit House track Could This Be Love done in conjunction with DJ Shimza and Cuebur, received extensive airplay on both YFM and Metro FM, and was released through Soul Candi on various compilation albums, selling in excess of 10,000 copies and giving it ‘gold’ status as a single. Rodell completed his licentiate in singing through Rockschool and passed it with distinction, becoming the first person in the world to do the qualification. He is currently busy with his Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree.

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