By Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
S: How cyberactive are you?
K: Well, the good thing about email is that you can connect with your fans. It doesn't bother you because you can answer whenever you like. It's not like someone coming and knocking on your door.
The other day I had to send a photo of myself to a newspaper and I went to the post office and asked if they could courier it for me and it was too late so I sent it as a letter and it was supposed to take three days and it's a week now and they haven't received it yet. It's probably lost. With email you can just download it or ask them to speak to Anton Grobler, the webmaster of my website Bomskok Babbelaas, and it gets done immediately. Otherwise I'm still a beginner. We're not at home much with all the touring but when I'm home I like to surf about a half-hour a day maximum, otherwise my phone bill is too high. I have organised a show in Belgium over the Net and I've met people like Stef Bos and others.
S: Steve Hofmeyr has had some success in Belgium as well. K: Ja and the Coleske brothers as well. The Coleske brothers did some backing vocals on my song 'Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie' on the 'Elke Boemelaar Se Droom ' album. I never met them though as they came into the studio when I had already left.
S: Do you mostly use email or do you surf as well?
K: I surf very little as I don't really know where to go. There's this Brazilian writer and everytime I try and search for his homesite, I get into these Brazilian porn sites. One night I discovered a site for the Flat Earth Society which is this world-wide movement. I haven't yet tapped the full potential of the Net.
S: So what do we call you?
K: That's another paradox as I was christened Andre but my nickname since school was always Koos. I made my name as a writer and in my early musical career as Andre le Toit. Then I wanted to switch to something more colloquial so I chose my old primary school name. My old friends from school all call me Koos even at my high school matric reunion the other day. Now that my stage name is Koos Kombuis the people close to me call me Andre just to keep that distinction. When I go overseas I introduce myself as Andre because they can't pronounce Koos.
S: Who did all the sound effects on the 'Elke Boemelaar' album, like the rugby commentary?
K: It was Anton Goosen who put that all together.
S: Any plans for a new album?
K: I do a new album about every four years so no plans at the moment. I may do a compilation album of love songs or something like that for next Christmas. I may write two or three new songs to go on the album.
S: What have your sales been like?
K: My sales have got progressively better but you can't compare them to bands like Just Jinger who have sold a lot of copies of their album.
S: Have you heard the Matthew van der Want and Chris Letcher 'e.p.Tombi' CD?
K: I saw the live show and it was very good. I like their serious songs, I haven't heard the funny stuff yet.
S: What about Trans Sky, the new Warrick Sony and Brendan Jury band who are doing, amongst other things, covers of old Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra songs?
K: This kind of thing is nice because there's not enough diversity in South African local music, there's a lot of good rock 'n roll. There's also Scooters Union, which is a new style. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet but it's really fantastic. (This CD was playing when we arrived at Koos's home.) I am also interested in the Honeymoon Suites. I have heard about them but I haven't seen them yet.
(Koos goes off to get his genuine Venus Flytrap potplant)
K: I have seen it eat flies but you're not supposed to feed it. It eats when it's hungry.
S: Tell me about that stick you are holding (Koos is holding a walking stick with the face of an elderly man carved into the top):
K: It's my worry stick. He does all my worrying for me (laughs).
S: Who are your major musical influences?
K: Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I was very interested when I was young in what the Beatles did separately shortly after they broke up. There was a very interesting eccentric phase that they all went through. I was especially interested in George Harrison. I was crazy about him at one stage, even that song he got sued for, 'My Sweet Lord'. I loved that song. Also that album that Lennon did with 'How Do You Sleep' on it. ('Imagine' - Trackspotting ed.)
S: What year were you born?
S: Well that makes us twins. We both lived through the same era and hit 1967 at thirteen. Perfect age for a baby boomer! We can remember when the best band in South Africa was Rabbitt!
S: So if an alien space ship arrived to whisk you away and you could take five or ten CDs with you, what would you take?
K: (Groans) I really like Squeal and would take their latest album. Also Valiant Swart's solo album 'Dorpstraat Revisited' which is the best Afrikaans album I've ever heard. I shared a flat and a girlfriend with him in Hilbrow in the mid-Eighties when we were in the army. I did my training in Voortrekkerhoogte and then I was posted out as a fireman, which was a very cool job. After the army I worked as a fireman in Jo'burg for a while. I would also take The Clash's 'London Calling' which I love and the John Lennon 'Imagine' album. I would take some Neil Young albums, specially the one that has that song 'Keep On Rocking In The Free World'. I like his early acoustic stuff but I prefer his later rock 'n roll stuff. He's actually the biggest rock 'n roller of all time. There's probably slightly more Neil Young in my music than Bob Dylan. Obviously Nirvana as well. I went through a very big Nirvana stage. I would also take a Violent Femmes album. I was also a big fan, believe it or not, of Yazoo. I would take 'Upstairs At Eric's'. I think that's the best techno album (laughs).
S: Which of your own albums would you take? Do you still listen to your own albums?
K: I'm a bit tired of them now. I like the Blues Broers - it's nice to relax to their music. I had a jam with them in Stellenbosch the other night. The first song we did was so enjoyable. They just recorded this new live album. I heard some of the tracks and I'm looking forward to hearing the full album.
S: Which live concerts do you remember being most affected by?
K: I recently saw the concert in Cape Town with the Deep Purple and Uriah Heep double bill. They are old toppies now but it was very nice.
S: I enjoyed the liner notes on the 'Madiba Bay' CD. Firstly I learned that the name Madiba Bay was borrowed from Valiant Swart and secondly you thanked the cops for helping you to quit your "green" habit. I also recently did the same thing. How's it been?
K: I've started dreaming again at nights, vivid dreams as well. Some nights you just want to sleep, you know! I never used to sleep properly, just used to park off. Now I sleep! I gave up cigarettes as well so I put on some weight. I only have one on special occasions. I have about four cigarettes a week. If you don't have three in a row on any occasion then you can control it, two at the most.
S: When you hit this age, don't you feel content that you've seen it all and done it all? Santana said that he'd embrace the rhythm of marriage, kids and domesticity with the passion he used to have for the rhythm of Hendrix.
K: Yeah! That's so true. I'm feeling happier now than ever before. We always worried about settling down back then, but as long as you can do it on your own terms then it's fine. That was the message on the last Lennon album and he had his wife on that album. I'm still not sure if I hate Yoko or if she was ahead of her time.
S: 'Madiba Bay' seems to be a celebration of the life you have found in Cape Town. The music coming out of Johannesburg is a kind of distraction while the music coming out of Cape Town is a celebration. Any comments?
K: Ja, that's true. I also like what's coming out of Durban although I wouldn't want to live there. I haven't been there for a while because I owe some people money there. David Marks is also in Durban and he has done some great work over the years with South African music. He's almost too kind - he's always losing money on people. There's also Syd Kitchen. (Is he Durban's English version of Koos Kombuis? - Ed.) next...