This interview first appeared on the Strutter'zine website in July 2000 and is reprinted here with the kind permission of Strutter'zine editor, Gabor Kleinbloesem.
OFF THE EDGE from South Africa is a great female fronted melodic rockband that put out 3 albums so far. This band is actually quite sensational, and therefore I had to interview them, here's what bandleader Peter Hanmer (guitars) had to say...
When did you form OFF THE EDGE?
Off the Edge was formed in 1983, after
the demise of "BOSS" (Heavy metal band playing original music).
Did any of you do something musically before OFF THE EDGE?
I played guitar for the heavy metal
band "BOSS", along with Tony on bass.
Your debut from 1983 was very AOR/Pomp/Melodic Rock based, which bands influenced you?
Tony and I were heavily influenced by
bands like "BOSTON, HEART," etc. I think that the album that had the most
influence on me was that first "BOSTON" album.
Also tell me more about that debut and its songs?
The first OFF THE EDGE album was
merely a means of Tony and I being able to put our songs down permanently. Most
of these songs were written by Tony and I while we were in BOSS. The album was
never released and we only ever pressed 300 vinyl copies. The copies were given
to friends and fans of BOSS as a means of remembering the band after it broke
up. There were three drummers on that album because we just invited friends to
come and play on it. They would come and play when they were available. The one
drummer (Ingrid Herbst) that played on the album was from the all girl band
Your band didn't feature the female lead vocalist we heard on the later albums, how come?
I only met up with Judy in 1998 when
we were filming a music video of the band that she was singing with at the time.
I remember being very impressed with her at the time.
Did you had much success with your debut back then?
The only success that we had with that
first album was that we did get playlisted on national radio. There was no
actual band though. OFF THE EDGE just consisted of Tony and I with a few guest
musicians. Eventually Dave Sharp did join briefly and we recorded the two tracks
that can be found on the CD version of the first album. Initially Dave was just
a guest artist.
What happened after the release with OFF THE EDGE?
After the release of OFF THE EDGE Tony
was interviewed on national radio and we found ourselves being played on radio.
Did you do anything else musically between the debut and the second album of OFF THE EDGE
I played for numerous club bands
playing cover songs. I also lost contact with Tony. We did continue writing
songs, but not together. At this stage I didn't have any plans to record again.
Tony also played in various cover bands.
After many years you finally released a follow-up to the early 80s record, how come it took so long and also why did you recruit a new (female) vocalist?
In 1998 I finally gave up playing the various club circuits due to a change in career. The change in career meant setting up my own small studio at home to write and record music for multimedia CD Rom production. Once I was up and running I started thinking about recording some of the songs that I had written. I also wanted to re-record some of the songs on that first album because I didn't think that we had done them justice the first time around. I was very happy with the results and by chance I happened to link up with Tony again. He was very interested in what I was doing and suggested that we look at recording another OFF THE EDGE album.
The only problem was that he now lives
in Cape Town (about 1400km away) and I live in Johannesburg. We then worked out
that I could prepare all of the songs and he would fly up periodicly to record
his parts. It worked out quite well except that when it came to singing some of
the songs we found that sixteen years later he didn't have the range that he
once had. We realised that we would have to find a female vocalist because of
Tony's high voice. I then remembered Judy. She was no longer singing with
anybody and expressed an interest in being involved. Judy came in and finished
the songs that we hadn't completed.
Music styles come and go, but you are still offering the quality melodic rock of the 80s, I am really glad to hear your music, but do you think there's still a market for this type of music (especially South Africa is not really the place to be for melodic rock)?
I actually don't care whether there is
a market out there or not. We record the music because that's the music that we
enjoy listening to. We have no aspirations of selling millions of CDs or
anything like that. We are doing this as a hobby. We can't do anything more
because of the logistics involved. South Africa is definitely not the place to
be for melodic rock.
How is the scene actually for melodic rock in South Africa (and how was the past?)
I wouldn't say that there is no
interest in melodic rock, but it is definitely in the minority. It has never been
great but there is a very loyal following by a very small group of people. You
won't hear much on radio stations and if you do, it's usually the old standards.
('More than a feeling', etc)
The new CD is entitled "Just Another
Band" and the title reflects the way that this type of music is regarded in this
country. It consists of seven vocal tracks and three instrumentals. The three
instrumentals were influenced by bands such as Camel, The Alan Parsons Project,
etc. The seven vocal tracks were all sung by Judy this time and range from
SANTANA Influences to BOSTON, RTZ, etc. There is one particular song on the
album about a church in the city of Grahamstown, South Africa. There is a statue
of an angel outside the church that overlooks the church. At night the statue
casts a shadow through the stained glass windows onto the walls inside the
church. This song tells the whole story.
What are the plans for the future, any touring plans, and maybe try to break out of South Africa and get more known in Europe and The States.
Plans for the future depend on whether
we are able to sell enough copies to pay for the next album. All three of the
albums were funded by the band and each new album depends on the sales of the
previous album. We never expected to sell enough copies of ON THE RUN (second
album) but because we were fortunate enough to sell those CDs we could record
"Just Another Band". We only have a few albums of ON THE RUN still available. We
have started to record the fourth album. There are no touring plans, but we
would love to get a little more exposure as far as the CD is concerned in Europe
and the States.
How can people outside South Africa get your CDs, and finally, do you have anything to add to our readers?
People can order our CDs from our website at: www.cd.co.za/offtheedge. It really is refreshing to see how much support there is out there for melodic rock in Europe and the States. To everybody in Europe, thanks for your support and keep visiting our website for the latest news.