They’ve taken over stages at big name festivals like Synergy, Rocking the Daisies, Up the Creek and Rock the River, and now — after four years — Fox Comet has finally released their debut album. Blazing Trails and Fiery Tales is set to ignite South Africa’s rock circuit, and Fox Comet haven’t skipped a beat with their soulful rhythms. With their music dipped into a unique mix of funk, ska, reggae and rock, the band has blended a smashing sound that is rippling across South African rock. The Capetonian group comprises of Kyle Gray hitting out the drums, Nick Catto spilling some funky grooves on bass, Frenchman Stephane Corneloup helps tune the band’s captivating sound with his fierce guitar rhythms, and Rob Coutts — the original Ginger Ninja — is the band’s frontman, shaping their music with his wicked vocals and his dynamic performances. We sat down with the French rocker and the redheaded ninja to discuss fiery tales, rock festivals and pushing gingerness.

image: Laura McCullagh

image: Laura McCullagh

You guys have played at Rock the River, Up the Creek, and Synergy, but this is your debut album. How did you manage to book shows without an album on hand?

Rob: In Cape Town the industry is small, so once you’ve played good gigs and you get the right people to come check you out, the more contacts you make you kind of fit yourself in. We were very lucky that we did make the right contacts for quite a lot of the festivals. In certain places we haven’t made other contacts and we haven’t been able to play a lot of venues – in Assembly we’ve only played twice in four years, but we’ve played Rock the River twice, Up the Creek three times, Synergy three times, Rocking the Daisies only once. It’s very much you play as much as you can, but you try and make as many contacts as possible too in the same way.

Stephane: You going to the gigs for the past ten years, you know a lot of people in the industry are _ so it’s very good with networking, always talking to everyone, obviously it helped us to get the name out there even if we didn’t have an album yet.

These days CDs don’t get sold as much because of the Internet. Do you think festivals are a good way to get your music out there and make money at the same time rather than replying on an album?

Rob: Absolutely! And gigs, lately, that’s the only way you pretty much can make money is through gigs because the festivals we’d love to make money out of festivals but sometimes if you want to play at festivals you’ll take what they can give you. It’s tough, but for us we wanted to have a CD. For us being in a band, one of the iconic things is having your own album and not just putting the songs online. We wanted an actual physical thing right in front of us. For us, we’d rather spend the money and have that physical thing in our hands because that’s what all great bands have! We want to be a normal band, not just an Internet band! (laughs) You know we could’ve made everything on Fruit Loops or whatever these kind of programmes [people use], but we recorded it!

Stephane: Also the process of doing it was very exciting! Dreaming all my life of recording an album and finally we went through the process of doing it and it’s like to be in a studio with a sound engineer…

image: Carole Moreau

The album is called Blazing Trails and Fiery Tales. What’s the tale behind the album?

Rob: It’s pretty much as I said we’ve been going for four years and the journey that the four of us have taken together has been awesome because before the band the four of us… Steph I hardly knew, and Nick I went to school with but he left the school under bad circumstances so I thought he was trash! (laughs) I’d been friends with Kyle for quiet a few years but I never heard him play drums, so for me the last four years has been our trail together and we’ve made the songs that have been our tales and yeah, our ‘tails’ and the blazing and fiery just come together in the whole fox comet thing and comet and red hair. (laughs) No, but actually it comes together and that’s exactly it, the songs are very personal, and the lyrics play out our personal lives, personal development and the four of us coming together that’s a development story – the friendships, the band and the music has developed. None of us were really in bands before this. Well, Steph was in a band back in France –

Stephane: I was younger. (laughs)

Rob: — When he was younger. So yeah, it’s been a blazing trail and we’ve been telling our fiery tales. (laughs)

You guys have been working on the album for four years, but ‘Ginger Ninja’ is one of your oldest tracks, so it is in some way very close to you.

Stephane: You know, in four years we probably created about thirty songs so this is the eleven songs that we chose that represented the different phases we went through in those four years.

Rob: ‘See the World’ was also one of our first. One of the first gigs we ever played was in our friend’s garage in Vredehoek and I still remember playing that song in our soundcheck with literally two speakers and a friend of Kyle’s was setting it up. He was a DJ and he was the only guy who knew how to work these kind of things that we knew at the time. We played that song and for me that was the hardest type of rock I’d ever sung before. Out of singing I’d been in the choir and done jazzy songs when I worked in restaurants and random cabaret shows, but I’d never been that hard before. We had written the song and for me it was quite hard so I was a bit worried about doing the song. I remember playing that song with that one guy and his mouth just opened and after that it was like ‘that’s my favourite song’. We’ve literally played that song every single gig and it’s progressed, it’s got better. But for me it’s quite close to my heart because we played it almost 80 gigs and I was worried about singing that song at first.

Tell us about your affinity for gingers.

Rob: (laughs) How much time do you have?! No, I’ve always been a proud redhead and I always thought it was funny that people took the piss out of gingers. I never got ripped of because of my hair colour, but other people did and people got really worked up about it and there’s a lot of us, only 1% of the world’s population is ginger so I like to bring that minority – the South African ginger population – bring them towards me if I can! I think it’s slowly working. I’m stoked that we finally have an audible copy of the song that hopefully gingers can hear. I never wanted to be in a band that would just go up and play a song and then we go ‘oh that song was nice’. I wanted to be in a a band that when people came and watched up play they got entertained. Not just the music is cool, but they really enjoying it and they really liking it, they really going crazy. And for me personally, it’s just a selfish kind of thing. The more I can push the ‘gingerness’ the more it’s stuck in their head.


You also do some acting and entertainment is an important part of your work as a band. Does the acting help you on stage to be more entertaining and develop your stage persona?

Rob: My whole life I’ve always been a performer; I’ve always been an entertainer. I’ve never just been an actor, I’ve never just been a musician, I’ve been all of them. I wouldn’t say that I’m better at the one than I am at the other, so I combine all of them together. I definitely think that the acting really helps me confidence-wise on the stage but also the singing really helps me when I perform because all of them work together to create who I am and as a persona I would like to be known as the ginger guy who can do anything really entertaining except for magic.

Stephane: It definitely helped the band because from the beginning we saw that he had this thing of interacting with the audience and that’s very important. I’ve been to so many gigs in South Africa where the music is good and if you don’t have a guy on stage that can interact and really make the show then even if the music is really good, people get easily bored. So it definitely helped us to have this guy jumping all around and really confident with the audience and it shows on stage. Also, you can see with Rob that he’s not taking himself too seriously so I think it helps us because he can do anything on stage. Sometimes the singer could seem a bit arrogant, but you can see with Rob he’s just having a laugh all the time.

You had the launch and it was pretty successful. How did you guys experience your debut album launch?

Rob: It was our first gig of the year and going from the first two years where we were gigging all the time, all the time the third year not as much but we played big gigs we chose festivals and big gigs playing with big bands so playing this gig was such an important night for us. We really rehearsed and made sure that our performance would be top notch and we were so happy afterwards because for us it was kind of like a milestone done. We’re going for four years now and we finally have our album and we’re happy. To have a performance that went down so well to be able to have a five month break and go on and play thirteen songs was awesome and we were really really proud of the night and proud of our performance and yeah it was awesome.

Stephane: It’s a happy conclusion to that whole process.

Image: Nadine Aucamp

What would make the album a success?

Stephane: The video is very important so that’s something we going to do in the next few months, because in South Africa you need to have a video on MK if you want to do well, if you want to get good big festivals, if you want to get the big gigs you need to have a cool video on MK so that’s definitely something we’re going to do soon. We tried already and it didn’t really work out, we didn’t have enough budget, but now we’re putting everything together so that we can do something really cool.

Rob: I think what really equates to success in South Africa is a whole balanced and rounded product. If you have good songs, a good live performance, a brand that people can relate to and then a video or something visually to check out… If you can get all of that then it’s going to make you successful in South Africa. But it’s also hard to say what is successful especially in South Africa, because our style of rock music is still happening in South Africa and it’s so hard to actually make a living out of it, but for us to be successful would just to sell as many CDs as we can for people to want to listen to us and to still come to our gigs and still book us for festivals. That would make us a success.

Stephane: We want to send the album to all the radio stations and hopefully we can get a few songs played. That would probably also help us a lot to get the name out there.

Where can fans buy the album?

Rob: The best way would be to contact us online on our website and then we can organise from there. Will we be launching our iTunes in the next week, so stay tuned!

Kevin Mc Elvaney, Post-Production:


Images: image: Nadine Aucamp Photography, Kevin Mc Elvaney , Carole Moreau, Laura McCullagh, Facebook, banner: Michelle Ramsay