The prodigal son of underdog indie rock returns to the shores, high velds and low velds of South Africa during March and April. Brett Newski is already here, out and about the streets to search for his long lost love, the bunny chow, and visit his much loved friends he met five years ago when he first toured through SA.
No, you won’t be able to buy a beer from them. However, says Ryan McArthur of Capetonian folk-punk duo The Shabeen, if they did sell alcohol, the beers would be “as cheap as they could be, you know… so we could all just have a good party together.” Ryan accompanies previously established solo folk-punker Jon Shaban on upright bass and additional vocals, and I spoke to him about folk-punk as a genre, the launch of their new album, and folk music’s appropriation into pop.
While the band was formed in 2012 as an extension of Jon’s solo act, it has since evolved into a legitimate duo, where even the songwriting involves both members. “We both work on songs for The Shabeen,” Ryan explains. “Whoever brings an initial idea, we’ll work on that together. Jon is obviously more of the songwriter, so more of the initial ideas come from Jon, but we definitely work on the ideas together.”