Pure Solid and Ben Sharpa are back from a six-week-long European tour in support of their collaborative effort, 4th Density Light Show. We caught up with Dplanet (one half of Pure Solid) in order to inquire how the whole ordeal went.
This was your first tour as Pure Solid. How was the overall experience?
Yes, this was our first tour. Ben is a veteran now – this must be his eight or ninth European tour – but it was our first one. It was an amazing experience. We played everywhere, from massive mega-clubs to small co-ops and even a squat. The quality of the sound systems was amazing, although the French laws prohibit more than 104 decibels which is a little bit frustrating, especially when you’re playing on a Funktion-one sound! Some clubs compensate for the lack of volume with an excess of bass, which I’ve got no problem with! In Switzerland we played on a rig so heavy we had to tape our equipment down – anything not taped down vibrated off the table!
It was also really interesting talking to his tour manager – just to learn more about the reality of life on the road. We also did three shows with Dope D.O.D., who I’m sure are going to be huge stars in the near future. They do hardcore/horrorcore hip-hop over dubstep and other dark electronic beats. Their crowd goes insane – stage diving, crowd surfing, mosh-pits, the whole 9. Fun cats to hang out with and genuinely nice dudes.
Being on the road is exhausting – lots of traveling, sleeping in less than ideal conditions, partying and stress (I was nervous as hell for the first few shows) – but it was one of the best experiences of my life. It made me realise beyond any doubt that being a musician is my calling.
It’s tough being with three other people 24-hours a day, often sleeping in the same room and sharing the same bathroom, but we all got on really well. We had a few little disagreements, which were mostly based on either pre-show stress or lack of sleep, but we had a great time together and I can’t wait for the next one!
What did you miss the most while on tour?
My daughter and clean toilets!
How do European venues and crowds compare to the ones you have experienced in South Africa? What, in your opinion, can we learn from them?
In terms of venues, we really lack the infrastructure in South Africa. The sound system at the squat we played at was better than the one at The Assembly. There is a team of sound engineers and lighting technicians at every venue and you do a thorough sound-check before every show. We also traveled with our own lighting technician who created and executed a lighting plan specifically for our show. Roots Manuva and Dope D.O.D. traveled everywhere with their own sound engineer. Bands take their shows very seriously in Europe – it’s standard.
The lesson is that it’s all about the experience. It doesn’t matter how well you can rap or play an instrument – you have to be able to put on a great show. Obviously that means something different to each band, but the common thread was how much work musicians put into crafting an experience.
In terms of crowds, I was worried that our show would go over people’s heads, or that the music was too niche, but the response was always great. Sometimes people would stand and stare at us, which was disconcerting as we couldn’t tell if they were bored or hating what we were doing – then they’d come up to us afterwards and tell us we had blown their minds! We’re hoping to be able to do the same to people in South Africa. We’re working on doing a couple of big shows here but we realised that we can’t do 4DLS on a small scale. It’s a big show and needs big stages!
Are there any future tours/projects we should be aware of?
We have another European tour lined-up for later this year. Nothing confirmed yet though. We are also planning a series of bigger tours in 2013, which is a cultural exchange year between South Africa and France. We also have a couple of possibilities in South Africa but I don’t want to talk about them until they are signed and sealed. Pure Solid will be playing at the Bombaada Records launch party at Everybody Love Everybody on June 29th.
What five tips do you have for touring musicians?
- Take your own toilet paper – it’s rough out there! We had nights where four people had to share a small packet of tissues.
- Don’t complain – like I said, it’s rough out there, but it gets worse when someone is whining all the time – don’t be that person.
- Don’t lose stuff- it’s easy to do when you’re always travelling but it’s a real pain for everyone – and it gets expensive.
- Make sure your iPhone / iPod has got lots of music on it – and you’ve got headphones – there’s a lot of travelling and it can get boring / painful having to listen to someone else’s music.
- Have a healthy sense of humour about everything. A lot of the time you’re tired or hungover – small things can turn into big issues unless you can keep everything in perspective.
words: Tseliso Monaheng
images: Anne-Sophie Leens (last three)