An Interview with Peter Blackbeard from Satanic Dagga Orgy

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The name Satanic Dagga Orgy is something that battled to go down well in a post-apartheid, very-much-still-Calvinistic South Africa a couple of years back, but the band’s relentless efforts to keep on going in spite of judgment, name-calling and being branded as cat-sacrificing, devil-worshipping, pot-smoking sex addicts, has paid off.

South Africans have grown to love and adore this band for their witty yet soulful lyrics and folk music. The bearded boys are far from shy and have performed in speedos at venues such as Park Acoustics. Their on-stage antics have attracted many fans to their shows and in my opinion, they are a breath of fresh air to the music scene.

Satanic Dagga Orgy will be performing at Oppikoppi – Nomakanjani this year so I thought I’d catch up with them before the hype commences.

Satanic Dagga Orgy: three words used for a band’s name that must have created quite a stir in post-sanctioned South Africa. Our country has its fair share of Calvinistic ignorance. Please tell us about your funniest reaction from a member of the public regarding your band name.

There have been a few – well, more than a few. There are still a couple of venues that refuse to book us because of our name, but we don’t really care. The name is a kind of litmus test for idiocy, if you can’t get past those 3 words; you’re probably not the type of person we’d want at a show anyway.

The best response, for me at least – was when we were booked for Park Acoustics. A lady on Facebook just commented “SATANIC!!!” which sparked a whole comment thread by itself. It’s funny that it’s only the satanic part that people take issue with, especially considering he doesn’t exist.

We’re dying to know how you came up with the name. Enlighten us.

The ghost of Aleister Crowley came to us in a shared dream in November 2013 – he told us there were too many bands making sad music about how sad they are and that the live music scene needed a kick in their party pants (we may be misquoting him here). He then kissed us on the forehead and when we woke up we had a WhatsApp group called Satanic Dagga Orgy on our phones. Magick.

You’ve done the Oppikoppi gig before and we’re delighted that you will be performing again this year. What are your expectations for this year’s Oppi?

 We are fucking pumped to be back at Oppikoppi this year! It’s our third one and we are planning on making it our best show yet. We’re trying to organise a couple of pole dancers and the return of the Ess Double Ds (the Satanic Dagga Dancers) from 2016’s show. In terms of the festival as a whole this year, I think it’s great that it’s a 100% local line-up and even better that the tickets are more limited than the last few years. A smaller festival is better for everyone.

What do you guys do when you’re not performing or writing songs? Do you have other sources of income, or are you gigging full time? And what do you do for fun?

Only one of us is a ‘full-time’ musician – if you call waking up at 11 full-time. The rest of us are prostitutes and drug-dealers, and part-time clergymen. Sometimes we find time to sacrifice small animals to Steve Hofmeyr. In our spare time we like to pretend to be traffic policemen, and to drive past Rhema church shouting “Keep god out of Randburg!”

I am completely in love with your sound. What are your influences?

The influences at the beginning of Satanic Dagga Orgy were mainly Frank Turner, blink-182, Fuzigish and Hank Williams III – but in the last 4 years it’s grown to include Shortstraw, Alkaline Trio, Pennywise, Taylor Swift, The Shabs and more of our own home-grown talent. What’s great about the Orj is that we have diverse musical interests, from country to pop to hip-hop to hardcore to punk, and the fact we are called Satanic Dagga Orgy means we can make any type of music we want. We’re writing a metal song this year, we’ve got a hip-hop track in the works; we like to keep it interesting.

Satanic Dagga Orgy
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Photo by Wayde Flowerday

Your music video for “Believe in Yourself” is something I watch every morning. The song is so uplifting and beautiful and the video is such fun to watch. I’ve now labeled it my “Happy Song”. Tell us more about the video. Why the chillies? Getting Fokof Lager involved was a nice touch too. Tell us more.

Is it in your spank bank? Just kidding. Yeah it’s a very happy song with a pretty cool message – you don’t need to rely on anyone but yourself – no gods, no masters – you are the captain of your dreams. The chillies were a visual and literal representation of the message – we believed in ourselves and managed to get through the fiery torture that those wings put us through. Plus, I really love hot food and wanted to challenge myself whilst enjoying the pain that most of the rest of the band was in. Fokof Lager were kind enough to sponsor us some beers to help wash away the spiciness and make us look cooler than we are.

The lyrics to your songs are catchy, witty and clever! Who writes the lyrics to your songs and where does the inspiration come from?

Up until this year, Zam (Lead Guitar, Sleeping until 11, Second best beard) and I (Rhythm guitar, prostitute, best beard) wrote most of the lyrics, with a handful being written as a collective over a blunt or beer, but this year we’ve encouraged everyone to write songs and Shaun (Okayest bassist, best moustache, loses things) has written an awesome track about John the Baptist – so the short answer is everyone in SDO is a lyricist.

Lastly, where do you see SDO in the next 5 years? Do you have major album or touring plans? And tell us about upcoming gigs so we can diarise!

This year is already shaping up to be pretty epic. We’re going to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a full-length album which we’re calling ‘Prawnography’. We’ve been booked too play the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at the end of June, where we’ll be popping in to Bloem as well.

Oppikoppi in August and we’re hoping to be accepted at a few more festivals before the end of 2018.

When we started the band, we agreed that when we stop having fun, we are calling it quits – I hope we are still having fun 5 years from now. Anything else will be a bonus, but if you want to know what my dreams are, I’d love for SDO to play overseas – the UK, Australia, Japan are all places I think we’d do well – and for our brand – in terms of merchandise and other cool shit – to be a stand-alone business by itself. Mainly though, I want to still be having a jol with some of my best friends.

Check out the video for “Believe in Yourself” below. It was shot by Dizzy Khaki:

A big thanks to Peter and the band for taking the time to chat to us! Here’s wishing you talented bearded ladies all the best!

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