Formed in Hermanus, Retro Dizzy is a psychedelic surf rock band who now resides in Cape Town and is part of the ever-growing psych, garage and surf scene within The Mother City. Now with the release of their third album Just Relax, the group is looking to expand their reach to the rest of South Africa. I spoke to guitarist Andre Vlok about their latest album and their epic Garage Sale tour.
Come On, Baby
First of all, what was the creative process behind the new album?
Andre: The album was quite a long process. We recorded it over the course of a few months. Most of the music had been written pre-production although there was a bit of writing in the studio itself. It was quite a roller coaster.
Andre: It went quite smoothly throughout the whole process but then there came a point where we realised we need to really finish things up. There was a lot of experimentation also because I joined the band about a year ago and in that context we had to find our feet. It takes time because in the end it is a musical conversation between people and then I joined the conversation. In terms of that we had to find what we wanted to talk about as a four piece band. The recording process was all fun but then there came a point when we started to push ourselves. And I think that added to it becoming quite a roller coaster, but in a good way.
“...We departed here from Cape Town and were on the train for thirty-six hours, which was total chaos but a lot of fun...” - Andre Vlok, Retro Dizzy
In terms of ideas for songs, who puts it all together?
Andre: It is funny that you are calling me now because I am actually sitting at the exact same spot where I wrote one of the songs. On the morning before we went into studio, I was very early for the session that day and so I drove up Signal Hill and wrote the song. We went into studio two hours later and recorded it. In terms of other songs, I think a lot of the ideas spring from personal accounts and experience between the four of us.
Do still see yourself as a surf band, are you still going in that direction?
Andre: Most definitely, there is still a strong element of surf in it. If you ook at the past two albums, there was a bit more of a rough edge to it in terms of the actual sound and structure of the songs. Whereas this album has a more laid back feeling to it, but surf can also be very rock n rolly. I still see us experimenting and exploring a lot. When we have random jams in between rehearsals, there are a lot of interesting stuff that comes up. It is difficult to say in which direction we are going because obviously one can't set the path and expect it to be exactly as such. Within this album we did explore a more lowered or simmered down dynamic.
Tell me about the Garage Sale Tour, what was that about?
Andre: That was total madness.
Andre: That was one of the best times of my life. We decided to go on tour with another band the Deaththreats who are very good friends of ours. Two film makers came along as well to document the whole thing. We decided to go on train and basically it was a tour we did going up all the way to Johannesburg and Pretoria.
I remember you mentioned last year something about a train tour?
Andre: Exactly, we decided to go ahead with it. We departed here from Cape Town and were on the train for thirty-six hours, which was total chaos but a lot of fun. We played in Johannesburg at the Good Luck Bar and in Pretoria at Arcade Empire before ending the tour at the Mieliepop Festival. There wasn't a lot of time for relaxation but when we were on stage then it was total relaxation. The turnout was really cool as well, there was a really nice turn out at all of the shows.