Martinique Pelser and Andreas Schönfeldt are from Kilner Park, a suburb of Pretoria, and a place not widely known for garage rock music. A quick Google search reveals the Casbah, a roadhouse serving questionable food, but little in the way of rock n roll.
But over the years, as garage rock duo Make-Overs, Martinique and Andreas have managed to release a bunch of records of ramped up, psychotic and psychedelic rock music. Recording to tape in their makeshift home studio, they have released six full-length albums and three seven-inch singles and are currently working on their tenth release.
Last year at Memphis’ Goner Fest, the duo met Gary Daniels from Columbus Ohio label Heel Turn. A friendship was born and a deal struck. The result is Try Me, a new album of tense and dark garage rock.
Take a listen to "Internal Logic”, a track from the record, and read a quick chat we had with the duo.
Noisey: What is the biggest misconception about bands or the music scene in South Africa?
Andreas Schönfeldt: On tour people always assume that we are from New Zealand for some reason.
Martinique Pelser: The few times I have met someone with an incorrect misconception it would have nothing to do with the music scene or bands but rather with politics or nature.
What are the scenes like in South Africa? Do they vary much from city to city?
Andreas: There’s only about four or five cities big enough to cultivate anything that could be considered a scene. It does seem that places have their own tendencies when it comes to fashion and music. In South Africa scenes tend to become very genre specific and saturated to the point where everyone looks and sounds the same. I’m hopeful for our home town Pretoria at the moment but there’s a shortage in venues willing to take a chance on live music.
Martinique: Yes they vary, it depends what your scene is. At the moment Cape Town has a bigger psych scene going, Durban and Johannesburg is more punk and metal and Pretoria is mostly rock. But you have to remember it’s a third-world country where more then half of the population lives under the poverty line so for most people food and shelter are their main concerns.
You are very independent. You record your own music and have releases some of your records yourselves. Is this out of necessity or DIY spirit?
Andreas: Back when everyone converted their studios from analogue to digital we managed to buy some decent tape machines and equipment real cheap. Now I can’t justify paying someone to record us when we can just do it ourselves for free. Engineers also have a way of forcing industry standards and the latest technology onto bands and we just don’t always see eye to eye with them. So instead of wasting time trying to get it right and then blaming it on the engineer, I'd rather just spend my whole life trying to get it right myself. It’s always rewarding to create something out of nothing, no worries about recouping money spent and no one to answer to if it flops, actually I don’t think technically a record can flop if you didn’t spend money on it. We are very independent because we are either unwilling or unable to play the game that goes with being on a bigger label, we have turned down some offers in the past for better or worse…but the opposite of independent would be dependent and that sounds kinda weak.
How has your sound changed?
Martinique: We started the group in 2010. We've been a couple for 13-years, but there were a lot of bands we started prior to Make-Overs. Looking back my drumming style has changed a lot from when I started. Our early videos show me much more calm and not as energetic as I am behind the kit now, but that’s very much because I only had a month to learn the drums and write and practice the songs before our first show. I’ve played bass in all my other groups, sometimes guitar, but we needed drums and I wanted to give it a try, however Andreas booked a show a month away insisting that the best way to see if I can do it is to play live asap…
Andreas you also play in Brown Spiders. There are more people in the band but who would you say the sound is different to Make-Overs?
Andreas: Brown Spiders is a very bass guitar driven band whereas Make-Overs is all about getting away without bass. I only do some back up vocals in the Spiders, Jaco writes the lyrics and tends to just repeat one sentence over and over like it’s a mantra but with Make-Overs it’s all over the place.
'Try Me' will be available soon on Heel Turn Records.