Pre Oppikoppi Chat With Ryan from Woodstock Mafia

Woodstock Mafia was formed in April 2011, entered the SA Music scene and left blazing trails. The band’s unique blend of hard, grunge and alternative rock explodes into high-energy during their live performances. It has had their fans screaming for more.


Throughout 2012 and 2013 Woodstock Mafia have played numerous festivals including Rocking the Daisies, Synergy Live, Rock the River, Up the Creek, RAMFest and Splashy Fen. The band’s debut single “Electric Light” was playlisted on 5FM and was featured on 5FM’s Powerbytes compilation. They also received two MK award nominations for the music video.

In May 2013 Woodstock Mafia supported American rock band Chevelle on the Cape Town leg of their tour. Over the winter months they have been back in studio completing their debut album (which is set for release in September 2013). The band’s third single (‘Trigger and Gun’) along with a second music video will be launched in the coming weeks, so watch this space.

Woodstock Mafia are heading up to the farm near Northam this coming weekend to play at Oppikoppi 2013 Bewilderbeast. They are an independent and self-managed act and the band’s members are Joe Theron (on vocals), Nick van Rensburg (on guitar), Ryan Matthews (on bass) and Owen Ingarfield (on drums). To get an idea of their sound, check out the music video for “Electric Light” below:

I recently had the privilege to have pre Oppikopp chat with Ryan from Woodstock Mafia, this is what he had to say:

What are you currently working on?

We’re in the final stages of finishing our debut album set for release in September 2013. Its been a long time coming, but I can tell you it will include the singles ‘Electric Light’ and ‘Rebel Dreams’ (which some of your readers may know). We’ve used our own form of crowd-sourcing to pay for the album, and you can pre-order your copy on the Woodstock Mafia website (R150 including delivery anywhere in SA)

Ryan from Woodstock MafiaWhich band / artist is currently playing on your CD player / MP3 Player?

It’s Oppikoppi week, so I’m watching a lot of Manchester Orchestra videos and listening to Deftones in the office. In my car I’ve got Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ “Raising Sand” album – and finding it awesome.

Which local act do you think had the biggest impact on SA Music in 2012 / 2013?

There have been many that have impressed, but if I was a betting man I would put money on Gangs of Ballet forging a solid international career. However, on the electronic scene we’ve got guys like Das Kapital and DJ Naaldekoker who are doing really good stuff. We also have the folksy-indie Matthew Mole and on the metal scene Infanteria and Facing the Gallows are doing great things within their genre. We have immense talent, and the guys writing the catchy songs are going to go far.

You are playing at Oppikoppi 2013 Bewilderbeast this weekend. What are you most looking forward to at this festival and why?

The crowd. Cape Town festivals are awesome and we know the vibe for each pretty well now. We’ve had a taste of Splashy Fen and really fell in love with KZN peeps, but this is our first “up-north” festival. From the few gigs we have done in Gauteng, I know we can expect probably the most knowledgeable, yet totally insane crowds in the country.

Besides Oppikoppi, which other festivals do you like playing or attending in South Africa and why?

We’re on the Daisies main stage this year, a step up from the camp-side stage last year, and have had main stage slots at Ramfest and Splashy Fen. We’ve also played Up the Creek (which is amazing) and Synergy, as well as a few other smaller ones. Each has their own personality and merits. We like them all really, as long as people are chilled and there to enjoy themselves – I think we do that pretty well in South Africa, but relative to Europe, our festivals are small and easy to maintain. Up the Creek is probably our favourite in terms of a “weekend away” – its an intimate family festival and you can watch every single band on the bill.

What is the funniest thing that you’ve seen at one of your gigs?

We’ve had some weird moments from blow-up dolls to failed stage-diving attempts. We once rocked up for a gig and there was no backline or PA system… that was very fucking funny.

What do you think of the state of SA music at the mo?

The scene is in a constant state of flux. I think sometimes we take three steps forward and two steps back. I would love to see more “education” on the local scene happening outside of radio stations or the usual social media outlets. Taking the music to the people is critical to the growth of the industry. Look at the “Sugarman” story which all started with one guy and a Rodriguez tape, copying it and distributing it. Bands need to be clever about their distribution too. I have some ideas on this, and hope to share them in a couple of months once the ducks line up.

Which advice could you offer upcoming musos / bands in SA?

Do it yourself. Don’t expect anyone to be more passionate about your band than you. Gareth Wilson mentioned the exact same thing a few weeks ago on this blog. Added to that, understand your market. We might scoff at Parlotones and Prime Circle, but those guys make music for a living (and a pretty decent living). I’m not saying be some cheeseball pop-rock band, not at all, but if you want to take this a hobby to a career, take this shit seriously, and do it yourself. There is an amazing article in a back issue of Rolling Stone on Die Antwoord. The trek that Waddy Jones has been on, the ten plus years of pain and suffering and learning about the industry and failed attempts and abject poverty, but learning all the time… that’s what makes a successful band. Don’t be scared to try new things, don’t be scared to learn new things, play covers, play with other artists, practice four hours a day if you can. But, if you’re happy with this being your hobby, the thing you do for fun, then don’t stress about it, don’t be a dick and enjoy every minute of it you can.

Huge thanks to Ryan for taking time to answer these questions.  You can listen to more of their tunes of Soundcloud.  Make sure that you catch Woodstock Mafia live at Oppikoppi 2013 Bewliderbeast at 12 noon on Friday at the Wesley’s Dome stage.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring after all. Every time you share this article you’ll get a virtual high five from both Ryan and me.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

PS: Photo of Ryan sticking his tongue out was taken by Belia Oh.

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Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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