I’m pretty sure that when you look under “rock ‘n roll” in the dictionary, you’ll find one word there: Hellcats. This Johannesburg based two piece rock ‘n roll band (consisting of Warwick Rautenbach on guitar and Alessandro Benigno on vocals and drums) have been making waves in the SA rock scene over the last few years and have blown away audiences with their amazing live performances all over the country.
If you’re familiar with these rock ‘n roll cats and you’ve lost your shit at one of their shows, you’re probably curious to find out more about them, so without further ado, here are 10 Things You Did Not Know About Hellcats.
1. They don’t play covers.
“Mostly because we’re of the opinion that if you’re gonna spend all that time learning a song, why wouldn’t you just write your own song? It’s so much effort learning someone else’s kak, why wouldn’t you put that energy into making something that’s yours. Don’t get it twisted, there are dudes out there that play covers beautifully, and good for them, it’s just not our thing. We’re like, rather make a piece of shit for yourself and polish that turd until it’s the most beautiful golden turd that’s ever been shat into existence. That’s what we think anyway, but what the fuck do we know.”
2. They almost (accidentally) went to jail for drug trafficking
“We were on our way back from a Cape Town tour, we were hungover as fuck and we had hardly slept. So we get to the checkout counter and I hand Alessandro a backpack and say ‘here’s your bag bro- it was in the boot of the rental’, to which he says ‘that’s not my bag’, I say, ‘well it’s not my bag either’. The woman behind the check in counter goes ‘if it’s neither of your bags and we find anything illegal in it, you both go to jail’. We laugh nervously, finish checking in and take the mysterious backpack outside to the drop off area and start going through it. ”
“We find: a wallet with a driver’s license belonging to a guitarist from one of the bands we played with the night before, we’d given him a lift to the after party. We also find a bunch of other crap, but here’s the kicker: we find 3 baggies of powder of a questionable nature, just enough to get you sent to the chookie if you get caught with it in an international airport. We both turn as white as the substance we’ve found. There are cops everywhere. We can’t just chuck it in the bin because there are cameras everywhere. You can’t just leave the bag sommer anywhere because of that whole ‘please alert someone of unattended baggage’ thing you keep hearing on airport loud speakers.”
“At this point we’re coming to terms with the idea that we’re probably going to be someone’s prison bitch in the following 24 hours. In a moment of blind fucking panic, I grab the bag, walk over to a cab and ask the driver to take it to the address of its rightful owner. I give him R500 and tell him that is more than the fare would be and it’s his if he doesn’t ask questions. He agrees and takes the bag. We are in the clear. Thank fuck. That didn’t change the fact that we shat our pants for every cop we walked past right up until we both got off the flight and back home. Alex and I hardly spoke on the way home, we were fucking hungover and sweaty and fucking terrified. We laugh about it now but holy fucking shit, that could have been the end of Hellcats right there.”
3. One of their guitars once fell out of the boot of a car and they only noticed 3 blocks later
“We were in Durban, we played a fucking stonker gig at Durban Town hall. We got a lift back to our backpackers from a mate of ours. It was pissing with rain and we quickly chucked our gear into the boot and got the fuck of dodge. About 5 minutes into the trip the driver looks in his rear view mirror and notices his boot is open while we’re driving through a tropical fucking cyclone in the middle of Durban town. The car screeches to a stop and we get out to check the boot.”
“My Fender Eric Clapton signature Stratocaster is not in the boot. Alessandro and I look down the city street that is a one way that seems to go on forever and without a word, we start running in the direction we’ve just come from. We’re running in this fucking rain, drenched, we’re shouting FUUUUCK at the top of our lungs and this guitar is nowhere on this road. It’s nowhere on the road because we run past this homeless dude underneath this bus shelter and his sitting there with a huge fucking smile plastered across his face, holding my guitar in his hand. We crossed his palm with silver and got the Undamaged guitar back into the boot and proceeded to take our drenched asses to the nearest bar (guitar in hand) and got shit faced about it.”
4. They once paid R8000 for a table dance at a strip club.
“We recently got back from a 2 day Cape Town tour. We went to a strip club on the first night after our show, because, y’know, tour. On the second night we had friends that ‘dragged us’ back to the same strip club again. You know you’ve been somewhere too much when the bouncer as well as most of the dancers know you by your first names. We also missed our flight the next morning because we pretty much went from the club to the airport, making that the most expensive table dance we’ve certainly ever fucking had.”
5. They don’t play acoustic shows. Ever.
“Not because we hate acoustic music. We love it actually. And we love playing acoustic guitar in our own time. Hellcats, however, is a loud, sif, offensive, bare knuckle rock n roll band and that’s the way we would like to keep it. We’ve had to turn down countless rad gigs and radio interviews, but we are stubborn bastards and that’s definitely not going to change.”
6. They got their first gig at Arcade Empire when they only had 2 tracks as a band.
“Tanje Van Wyk, the fucking gem of a human that does the bookings at Arcade had heard the two of us had started a new band called Hellcats and without hearing us, booked us at Arcade. We gratefully accepted the gig, but little did Tanje know, we only had 2 tracks. Since we don’t play covers we had to pull a set worth of original songs out of our arses in two weeks to be ready for the gig. We wrote 10 tracks in 14 days and played our first show and it was rad. We still play those tracks today.”
7. They once got dissed by a religious group for having ‘devil artwork’
“We commissioned a brilliant artist/illustrator to do our artwork for one of our Cape Town tours. It came out amazingly and we were pretty fucking stoked. So we post it online and this closed minded chap starts saying that there’s devil iconography/messaging interwoven into the artwork. I wasn’t even upset, I was impressed that someone thought we were that deep, I also asked the guy ‘is this the year 1497 and are you you in fact a Amish?’ Anyway, we thought it was fucking hilarious and we invited the dude to a seance at his moms house, just to smooth things over.”
8. They have rocked out (hard) to Billy Oceans 80’s pop hit ‘Lover Boy’ on the way to gigs.
“And why wouldn’t we. It’s fucking gold.”
9. Warwick gets excited poo’s before he plays shows.
Every fucking time.
10. People keep stealing their setlists (sometimes while they’re still playing) and their drum sticks
“The drum sticks thing started off sweet but after dropping thousands of rands on new sticks, it’s less cute. People taking our setlists though is so cool for us. I spend time making them look rad before we jol so it makes me happy that people want to steal them. We did have this one kid that took our setlist while we were only 3 tracks into our set. I saw him take it and I asked him for it back and he was like ‘it wasn’t me’, so I jumped of stage, grabbed it out his pocket and carried on jolling. It’s rad to have fans that want your shit so badly, they’re prepared to lie and steal for it.”
I’d to like thank Hellcats for taking their time and putting a lot of efforts to share these facts with our readers on Running Wolf’s Rant. If you have not check these boytjies out live yet, make an effort – I promise that you’ll loose your shit every time that you do. If you’re not familiar with their music, crank up “Sunlight 1973” below:
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Facts categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.