“It’s an incredible event,” Hellcats say, about the annual Capital Craft Beer Festival. “Probably the best beer festival in the country.” They’re on the lineup for this year’s event on 11 June at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens, providing just one part of a wide and eclectic soundtrack to accompany your appreciation of the craft beers on display.
We’ve been to other beer fests where SAB beers are the only thing on sale and Kurt Darren is the headliner, and the organizers wonder why everyone’s blikseming each other at sundown.”
Hellcats is a two piece, stripped down, bare knuckle rock n roll band from Johannesburg. They are Alessandro Benigno on drums and vocals, and Warwick Rautenbach on guitar. And they believe it’s very important to keep the age-old traditional combination of rock & roll and beer alive. “If people didn’t have beer at our gigs, we probably wouldn’t have any fans.”
Which is only one of several statements they made that exemplifies their tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. On the band name, for example, they explained: “All the Hellcats left hell when the hounds came because it was just getting a little too commercial down there for their liking. Stupid dogs.”
“We’re all about 70’s rock n roll, Led Zep, Black Sabbath etc. It’s what we grew up on. Also current stuff like Graveyard, Blue Pills, Death from above 1979 and the like but there is such a fucking plethora of good music that influences us and I’m sure you don’t want to be bored to death by our weird niche tastes.
In live performance, they’re a powerful, loud, two-piece band, with only drums, guitar, and vocals. “There’s obviously merit in more than a two piece band. For example, you can actually hear a musical composition of all the instruments working in unison, as opposed to the loud, offensive mass of sound which we produce.
“That being said, the 2 piece thing works for us. We were both in a 4 piece band before – there was so much drama and so much less music. The two of us used to arrive earlier for band practice before the other guys got there and just jam and have the best fuckin’ time, until eventually we said ‘fuck the 4 piece’ for a laugh, and we started Hellcats.
“There’s something so raw and pure about playing in a two piece, you cut through all the bullshit and there’s no room for error, and even when we fuck up, we’re like, everyone can go fuck themselves – there’s only two of us making this noise, deal with it.”
Is it best to drink beer before, during, or after gigs? “Yes.”
On their Facebook Page, it says ‘Hellcats are a live band.’ I asked them about it: “That sounds so douchey, we need to change that – hahaha.
“By saying we’re a live band I guess we mean that we put a lot of our effort and love into our live shows, it’s something we love to do and something we’re pretty proud of. We try bring the heat whether we’re playing to 2 or 2000 people.
“As far as recording goes, we record all the time. Our Soundcloud page is filled with shitty recordings from our band room. We write new tracks, record them with a mic in the middle of a room and upload them to Soundcloud on the same night. We’ve also recorded two EPs: A Coffin Full of Hellcats Vol 1 & Vol 2.
“We love playing dingy bars and venues. Nothing like the smell of a beer soaked floor that gets you in the mood to play rock n roll.
“That being said we are digging on the festival vibes at the moment. It lets us play to a bunch of new people that we would not ordinarily get to play to. People also get weird at festivals, they let go of their shit and they live their best lives, that makes us happy and we play harder.”
And they’re excited for their part in the upcoming Capital Craft Beer Festival 2016 – especially getting some of their favourite, Soweto Gold. “The line up at Capital Craft represents relevant local bands and hosts quality local beer brewers. It’s got more perks than a high paid government job. Our relationship with Craft beer is great. We can take it out, mistreat it, have our way with it, and not even call it the next day. And it still, loves us.”
We tried brewing our own beer once and it ironically ended up tasting like cat piss, which is as good a name as any for beer. Cat Piss, By Hellcats.
Hellcats are a two piece, stripped down, bare knuckle rock n roll band from Johannesburg. They are Alessandro Benigno on drums and vocals, and Warwick Rautenbach on guitar. They’ll be performing at the Capital Craft Beer Festival 2016. A Coffin Full of Hellcats Vol 1 is on iTunes. They’ll be launching A Coffin Full of Hellcats Volume 2 on London’s Team Rock radio on the 5th of June.