The Vodun Haunts are a six-piece psycho outfit made up of Le Riche Meyer (on the Vox Box), Russell Hatton (on the Shredder), Lance Brandow (on the double bass), Ken Bull-Smith (on the beat), Shaun Ponting (on the Six String) and Cami Scoundrel (on the Bag of Tricks). Their Facebook description claims that they have been infected by a virus of which the effects include, ‘a lifeless complexion, uncontrollable bleeding and peeling of the skin, but most shocking is the effect on the infected mental psyche’. It didn’t come as a shock when we found out that they rehearse in a mental hospital. We got to know them better, so should you!

Image by Jacqui Van Staden

Image by Jacqui Van Staden

A bit about you – how did it all start?

Lance Brandow: Well, I think The Vodun Haunts basically started when the two of us got together via sheer chance. We walked into the Jolly Roger and we met Le Riche playing psychobilly, so we started speaking to each other, he bought us shots so I was happy about that and now we’re a six-piece band. Le Riche was the one to come up with the whole idea behind the name, which is…

Le Riche Meyer: What we’re trying to do, or what we’re about is kind of like playing predominantly psychobilly but with a very South African twist to it and thus making it our own.

So you wouldn’t say that you’re a straightforward psychobilly band?

Lance: Not at all. That’s what makes me enjoy the band so much because I’m not going to say that it’s easy to play rockabilly or psychobilly, but it’s become very generic.

Cami Scoundrel: There’s a style and convention to follow that makes it what it is.

Ken Bull-Smith: Also we want real music that’s interesting. You don’t want to do the same stuff over and over. It’s so much easier just to follow a set formula.

Do you have a band philosophy?

Lance: Personally for me and for this band it’s ‘the show must go on’. It’s because we’re six people and it’s really difficult for us to be at the same place at the same time and be on the same page. So we’ve always persevered over whatever obstacles have been in our way and for me that’s what this band stands for.

Le Riche: I think it’s ‘less talk and more rock ‘n’ roll’. A lot of bands do a lot of talking and we’re just rocking and rolling I guess.

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

So you’re just having a lot of fun.

Le Riche: It’s more about us and about what we’re doing than trying to be a glorified Cape Town celebrity. I feel like a lot of people just play music to get on a stage and be noticed. For us it’s just enjoying each other, enjoying what we do and what we write.

Lance: Yeah, it’s all about the music.

So it’s more about the music than the attitude?

Lance: Well,

we have the attitude but it’s all based on the music.

Ken: The attitude comes from the music…

Lance: It’s a show…

Cami: And different music makes a different show. There are also performance aspects in us.

Le Riche: There’s no choreography or any weird shit like that. There’s no set formula. When you go live on a stage and you feel a certain energy from the people you’re playing with, the music that you’re performing, the crowd – whatever the fuck comes out inside of you is what happens. So if that makes us dress a certain way or perform a certain way then that’s not a planned thing – it’s just what happens.

What bands have you been listening to lately and what bands would you ask for advice?

Le Riche: Locally there are quite a few bands that we really enjoy, there’s a fucking cool band that Ken plays in called The Bone Collectors, which is also completely original. I really enjoy them in terms of song writing and the performance is really entertaining and inspiring. There are also bands up in Jo’burg like The Slashdogs, The Carniwhores, Martin Rocka and the Sickshop, Submachine — there are loads of bands that we dig. In Cape Town there’s also Hog Hoggidy Hog — they’re also really entertaining live. And internationally the bands that stand out are Banane Metalik, Demented Are Go, Nekromantix

Cami: Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers.

Le Riche: There are a lot of bands that inspire us. I think the one thing that’s really cool about this band is that each person is an individual, each person has their own acquired taste, inspirations, their own style and everybody listens to completely different styles of music – predominantly alternative obviously – but when we get together we bring all those different elements and inspirations together and somehow make it work, which is very fun and cool.

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

And who would you ask for advice?

Le Riche: My band mates.

So nobody who’s more famous than you?

Le Riche: I don’t think we’re famous in the first place.


Everybody’s more famous than us.

Le Riche: If I needed advice on what we’re trying to do I would find it within the group of people who I’m surrounding myself with and who the group is playing with. I think you could get some damn good advice from the five other band mates. So I don’t think I need to go to any other place…

Cami: We have a plan and we put it together.

Lance: I enjoy a band called Mad Sin from Germany. I dig their song writing, I dig absolutely everything about them. I think if I had to ask anybody for advice it would be their lead vocalist on how to keep a band together for 25 years. They’ve just been rocking stage after stage — they just carry on regardless of what’s in their way. And they just bring out another album that’s better than the one before. It just carries on — it’s like a nightmare.

Ken: I’d probably ask you (Lance) for advice.

Le Riche: I mean we have made contact with a lot of musicians that are extremely well known in the industry internationally and we have spoken to them but I don’t think it was necessarily from an advice point of view. It was just making contact and telling them that we’re here, we dig what you’re doing and sharing ideas. We’re really trying to grow the scene here in Cape Town and in South Africa — and the only way you can grow a scene is to be pro-active in it. So we’re also trying to make the international market aware of what’s going on and indirectly also promoting the other bands that are a part of it. We’re sharing their sounds with the international crowd and international radio stations because that’s the only way that we can grow. We’re definitely not one of these egotistical fuck bands that are set out to look after themselves. And in order for us to go anywhere we have to have a whole lot of other bands on the same par, a whole lot of other people enjoying the same style and going to the same gigs. We’re definitely marketing a lot of other bands here that we enjoy as well. That’s our kind of logic I guess.

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

It’s a pity that there’s no club that you can go to and be sure to hear psychobilly every night.  Do you feel that’s a problem?

Cami: Jo’burg used to have London Calling. There was punk there every night of the week.

Le Riche: The whole style is pretty much in its baby stages here. All we can do is stick together and support the other bands that are playing the same kind of style and keep pushing. And stay original as well as creative and not become stagnant or boring because there’s one way of promoting a scene and there’s another way of breaking it for your own personal gratification. So you just have to be clever about what you’re doing.

Lance: Also, we’ve been together for four months and we’ve already got our EP out. For me that’s always been the most important thing: production, production, production. You can’t sell anything without having a product. It’s not going to happen. And a lot of the bands in South Africa – from Gauteng or Cape Town – will start to play but then there’s no product. If they do bring out a product, it’s one CD — it doesn’t make it on 5fm’s top 10 or whatever. And that’s the end of it. The band breaks up and they lose the whole plot. That’s not what we’re going for. We’re pushing out our product whether people want to listen to it or not – it’s going to carry on coming.

What’s planned for the future?

Cami: An album.

Lance: Definitely an album by March. And hopefully a music video before then, which we have some crazy ideas for but we’re not going to tell you anything about that. It’s going to be something special. That’s another thing about this band, we think a lot about what we put out there. It’s not just by chance.

Le Riche: We’re not trying to be anyone else but ourselves and that might come across as egotistical but it’s not. I think we’re very critical even though we’re having fun and enjoying what we’re doing — there’s nobody more critical about what we’re doing than us. So I think we’re our biggest fans and our biggest supporters. So everything that we do goes through six musical grinders before it gets put out. We’re in conversation with really big promoters of psychobilly and rockabilly in Europe. There have been talks of possibly going overseas next year and possible invitations to play at really big festivals. Nothing is set in stone yet but we definitely have an idea of where we’re going and what we’re doing.

Cami: And how we’re going to do it.

Le Riche: I don’t think that a lot is going to stand in our way to get there and achieve it. It’s just something that we’re doing for ourselves and that we want to achieve personally. It’s not a financial game, it’s more about fucking enjoying what we’re doing. And getting out there and experiencing really unique situations and circumstances while doing what we’re doing.

Cami: And just being psycho. (laughs)

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester

And you practice in a mental hospital right?

Lance: Yeah that’s right. (laughs)

Would you consider performing for the patients like The Cramps did?

Lance: We already have.

(Everyone laughs)

But most of them are just there to bum cigarettes.

Lance: They do give us an opinion. Normally they’re like ‘great’ (does the thumbs-up gesture).

Cami: Yeah we’ve never had a bad review from the mad house.

Le Riche: I think the only obstacle with that (performing for the patients) would be that there might be some band members less afterwards.

Lance: Yeah some of us might get stuck in the mad house.


For the main article ‘Let’s Rock This Party Like It’s 1955′, click here. For the interview with Th’ Damned Crows, click here. For the interview with The Ratrod Cats, click here.

Images by Stephan Bester, Jacqui van Staden
Interview by Christine Hogg

Image by Stephan Bester

Image by Stephan Bester