The interview was done between Neil of Friends Like You and Jen and Matt of Neshamah the first week of November '01
So how and when did you guys get involved with the Hardcore scene?
Matt: Well... Tooth and Nail started to come into South Africa and I found out about bands like Unashamed, Focused, Strongarm etc and its just grew from there into looking for more hxc. I got onto victory stuff… and then more and more underground stuff. I like all types of hxc.
Jen: Well I started going to focal point church, and well lots of the kids were into hxc and punk.. so I kinda got introduced just by being friends with everyone..mostly Matt for the hardcore.. I loved what I heard and started getting more involved.. and later joined neshamah..
On your web-site you said to "come to a show and have fun sing along, unity and brotherhood, respect each other hardcore is not about the music but whats in your heart..." What's in your heart that makes you part of the hardcore scene?
Matt: Expressing your self in a art form which you love…hxc is awesome.
Jen: Well, whats in my heart is my love for Christ and my friends.. its not about how hardcore you are.. its about being apart of something you love, and have fun doing.. not just going to shows and singing along to look cool, or cause all of your friends do it.. if you don’t enjoy it, rather don’t take part.. its all about having fun.. and remaining true to yourself.. why do something you don’t have a great desire for.. rather do something where your heart lies.. why else come to shows??
From that statement I take it you think that in some way Hardcore is about Unity? Why and How does that work?
Jen: I think nothing works if there isn’t some kind of unity.. in the hardcore scene [specially in cape town] we do it to have fun, And spread words that have affected us in such a huge way we cant not tell anyone.. for a scene to grow you deffinately need unity.. what unity means to me is sticking together through thick and thin, encouraging brothers who fall and always having a warm heart towards them, no matter what their beliefs or actions.. its a feeling that comes with your local scene, unity requires mutual respect between bands and audiences, no matter where they come from, what style of music they play or how they look.
Is Unity a big part of the South African Scene?
Jen: Yeah I'd say so.. Seeing the scene here in South Africa is still quite young [say 2 years old] we needed to stick together, specially being one of the first hardcore bands in cape town, it was really tough to break through the metal scene, because guys had never ever heard this “weird, different” kind of music before.. and well some heard it and it took a while for them to open their narrow mindsets.. but now that they're being more exposed to it, they’re loving it, we still only have 3 hardcore bands here.. but a few are in training ;).. I just cant wait until we can have a full on hardcore show, with out having to play with pop punkers hehehe.. so yeah we had to stick together when times were tough when kids skeefed [translation.. gave us skew looks] us out..
Any band that is worth anything has got to have some pride for their local scenes. Tell us a little about what is going on over there? What bands should we keep an eye out for?
Jen: The other hardcore bands are aftertaste and crossing point.. aftertaste [www.punk.co.za/aftertaste] is our sister band and best friends, we always play together, and well always hang together.. they started out being a nu-metal band [well they didn’t know better ;)] until they got introduced into REAL music HAHAHA.. now theyre a rocking hxc band.. theyre the only hxc band I can dance too ;( and theyre kick ass!! Crossing point [www.punk.co.za/crossingpoint] is from Durban.. yeah I still haven’t seen them live [theyre about 18 hours drive away] but im really good friends with the guys.. theyre sxe hardcore - in the vein of old earth crisis.. really cool.. we have many punk bands here..well too many hehe.. lets see a few worth mentioning.. definately ridicule [www.punk.co.za/ridicule] an old school, school band in the vein of rancid.. dijit [www.punk.co.za/dijit] are also school kids playing emo punk.. really awesome guys and band.. new world inside are the newest punk band to the scene.. and wow theyre amazing.. they get better every show, they play emo punk, with horns..very cool.. we also have a grindcore band in Johannesburg [18 hour drive] called groinchurn, theyre awesome grindore.. and doing really well in the European grindcore scene [www.groinchurn.com] one more band that rocks my world locally is fuzigish, they're a phat ska beating band.. full on african ska.. really awesome guys.. and wow sick ass live performance.. if they don’t get you skanking.. then I dunno.. theyre coming down from jhb this weekend I cant wait to see them and play with them again..YAY..[www.fuzigish.co.za]..
What bands have played the biggest influence on your sound?
Jen: well on our album “grass withers” id say focal point and strongarm.. but our newer stuff is more influenced by bands like no innocent victim – theyre just the kings of hardcore.. point of recognition, figure four, zao, xdisciplexAD and poison the well..
You guys just came to the U.S. this summer. How did that go for you?
Jen: Well being my first time out of South Africa I was a lost fart, hehe, I was like ooh aah, it’s a whole other world in the US.. I mean nothing is the same.. new currency, different sides of the road, different accents..wow just everything is soo different [yeah even the food and sodas ;)] so it was awesome for me.. I loved it soo much.. the shows were awesome too, though it felt like I was playing my first show ever..being so used to having your friends in the front singing along, and now, you're like playing in front of strangers, and even your most favourite bands.. it was weird.. im sure I will enjoy it more next time.. just because the first time was so weird for me.. it was awesome meeting members of bands that we have loved for years and well meeting kids we chat with online..it was raaad!!
Where all did you play?
Jen: we only really came down to play cornerstone festival, but got a bonus show with no innocent victim, point of recognition, the deal, seventh star, figure four, xdisciplexAD etc organised by Jason.. it was awesome of him to let us weird african get onto the bill hehehe..it was a pre-c-stonme fest in Peoria and rocked.. bare in mind I was on a stoke because im like playing with all my fav bands I listen to every day ;).. and then we played c-stone festival.. it was awesome..and a aweseom response form some labels etc and got our name out wich is good
Was it any different than playing shows back in S.A.?
Jen: oh yeah of course, the whole scene is a tiny bit different, we have a different style of dancing, and well we’re not used to playing in basements of churches hehe, we usually play schools or clubs, but it was real fun.. another thing that was a real bugger was the heat..WOW man I dunno how you kids survive, cause I know I sure didn’t..hehe.. yeah when you think Africa you think scorcher..but in Cape Town we live on the coast [not a forest or desert hehe] so we have coolish weather and copable heat [not humidity].. also your dancers are way hardcore, hehe because we have such a close friendship scene, we dance baring in mind we are all friends and don’t wanna hit the crap out of each other, but there in the USA you guys are tough guys and dance really hard.. kicked my ass [well that’s not hard seeing im just a girl hehehe].. but yeah it was a dream come true.. can't wait too come back..
Pulling away from music now, Are the people of S.A. affected at all by what is going on between the U.S. and Afghanastan right now?
Jen: yeah definately, I think it's affecting the whole world. An incident that happened with me is that I do a zine called silent screams[www.punk.co.za/silentscreams], and I sent one to a guy in the states, and the mail man called the FBI, and got them to check the envelope out, thinking it might contain anthrax because it came from south africa [p.s. It was on the news website for the times] I forgot to put my sender address.. and they dissed me for having “sloppy handwriting” hehe, well anyways I think it woulds been awesome when the lab found out that all that the envelope contained was a punk rock zine.. it sucks that the world has come to this.. where u cant even send a freaking zine out to someone and get accused of maybe sending anthrax!! Also the dollar costs us R9.20 that means I earn $1 per hour.. so when I come over again youre all ganna have to feed me and supply me with clothes HAHA..
How do the S.A. people feel about what is going on?
Jen: everyone cant believe what happened and whats going on.. I dont think its really even hit me, being so far away and only having the news telling me what up.. im not really living in it, so we just think it sucks.. and pray it all gets resolved real quickly..
O.K....From your lyrics it is obvious that you are all Christians. Now on your web-page it says you are "anti rape, anti abortion, anti-drugs [and] are a pro-life band" Granted, I hope everyone is Anti-Rape... It seems like a lot of Anti's. Is this what Christianity is all about? What exactly does it mean to be a Christian?
Jen: Yeah well of course we’re anti all that stuff.. cos it sucks and screws up your life.. we are specially anti rape.. having me a female in the band I guess it brings other and more antis in.. rape is real big here in south africa.. its real sad.. and disguisting.. well I don’t think it has anything with being Christian.. being Christian to me.. is having a relationship with Christ.. all the antis are just what I personally despise, because it corrups our world, and definitely isn’t from Christ, and I despise all that is not from our father.. it causes heart ache, sicknesses, and complications.. stuff we just don’t need in our daily living today..
How does this affect your life?
Jen: well being anti stuff does affect my life, its just choice I have, and what I am for and against, simple morals..me being having a relationship with christ will always come first before anything..and that is my life..living to do whats Christ has planned for me..
How does this affect the band?
Jen: Well I think if you don’t have anything worth singing about.. why have a band..
Are there kids in S.A. who give you guys a rough time about it or does this all come back to the idea of Unity?
Jen: Well of couse you always get the guys who think they're soo main(???).. in the begining I used to get a lot of slack, guys saying I'm a girl trying to be a guy [haha] and well being Christians in the scene we get the one or two stupid comments and stuff.. but yeah most kids accept us for who we are.. we have many friends who are both Christian and secular.. I love everyone!! And treat them all the same.. wherever you go you will have some wize asses having comment, only because they know what is right.. just choose to do opposite..
What does the name "Neshamah" mean?
Jen: breath of god in Hebrew
I saw someone telling you to cover "In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle." Do you get crap like that a lot? Does stuff like that tick you off at all?
Jen: HAHA yeah that was a joke between me and this one guy from florida, he jokes allot about us walking around with loin cloths and lions and wild animals.. because so many people don’t know anything about south africa, they look straight to the movies, where they show mid africa, where people live in clay huts and hunt for their food.. we live in a city just like you guys, and I haven’t even seen a lion in real life before either.. though my drummer knows a guy who has a pet one, so we will prolly have band photos taken with it.. I think it will be lank funny..also we had a lot of Americans that didn’t belive we were from Africa because we don’t look like bushmen..HAHAHA.. we even had to show our ID books.. yeah we’re even had a few dumb kids asking we have have electricity while chatting to them on the internet, HAHAHAHA..
Well...That is all I've got for you. Is there anything you'd like to leave us with?
Jen: id like to leave you with a smack on the nose, HAHA jokes thanx 4 the inty
bro.. I was real bored and you rescued me ;) .. um yeah check out my zine, I do
allot of stuff on the local and international scenes and allot on social issues
and stuff.. its called silent screams [www.punk.co.za/silentscreams] and is
distributed in many places over the world, so if youre looking for one in your
area mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check on my site under distro and mail the
kids nearest to your home town, also I love chatting so if you have aim add me
xjen24 or msn email@example.com.. Yeah also a word for encouragement for girls
in the scene.. don’t ever let guys or even girls put you down for what you do..
if u love hardcore.. do it!! If youre not musical in any way organize shows,
start a zine, help out with zines, I dunno do what you feel best for you to do..
but don’t look back one day regretting that you never had a part of it.. and
yeah when a guy gropes you on the dance floor.. KICK HIS ASS.. hehehe..love you
Thanks Jen! Thanks Matt!