WONDERboom needs no introduction – after 22 years, nine albums, multiple awards and a lifetime of experiences behind them, they are still going strong as one of South Africa’s most legendary rock bands. Best-known for their fundamental rock sound, the band has surprised listeners over the years by experimenting with different genres, ranging from funk through to punk and even afro-dance, but it is their live performances that continue to captivate audiences. Now, fans can look forward to a surprise hat-trick from the band – a brand new single, music video and South African tour!
The recent release of their ninth album, Rising Sun, after a lengthy hiatus – it’s been seven years since the release of their last album – signalled the start of something very special, and WONDERboom is now set to unleash their brand new single, Praying Mantis. Penned by band members Cito and Martin Schofield, the song is about the fatality of falling for a femme fatale.
“We wanted to capture the tragedy of falling for a femme fatale, while also depicting her sadness. It’s about the realisation that your demise is inevitable and, although she must do it, she feels devastated about taking you out,” explains Cito.
The single, which forms part of a beautiful story weaved together throughout Rising Sun, is fresh territory for them.
“It is different from anything else on the album and anything WONDERboom has ever done,” says drummer Johnathan Bell. Bassist Wade Williams agrees: “As a musician, I think the greatest satisfaction comes from being part of something that listeners can relate to while pushing the boundaries into a place that is fresh and unusual.”
The music video for the track will be released on 30 July 2018.
“The concept for this crazy fantasy tale about being heartbroken was initiated by Roger Williams, our resident artistic genius,” explains Schofield. “We wanted to do something dark but light-hearted, to show that you should never take yourself too seriously, even in dark times.”
WONDERboom was formed in 1996 and consists of Cito (main vocals/guitar), Martin Schofield (guitar/vocals) and Wade Williams (bass), founding members who have been writing songs and performing together for over 22 years, and Jonathan Bell (drums), who joined them after the death of their friend and drummer, Garth McLeod, in 2013. The band took their name from a road sign pointing to a small town outside Kroonstad. “We liked the idea that it means different things to different people and can be pronounced in different ways,” explains Cito.
As one of South Africa’s longest-standing rock bands, WONDERboom boasts an impressive resumé – they have headlined many major South African festivals and have been nominated for five Best Rock Album SAMA’s. They also won the South African leg of the 2004 Global Battle of the Bands and came second worldwide at the finals in the London Astoria. Asked about a career highlight, the band’s answer is unanimous – in December 2017, they travelled to Chengdu, China to represent South Africa at the Silk Road Indie Music Festival in a music performance competition and won gold! Other highlights include sharing the stage with Muse, Korn, Chris Cornell, Kaizer Chiefs, 30 Seconds To Mars, Good Charlotte and some amazing local bands at Cokefest in 2008.
To commemorate their remarkable journey to date, WONDERboom will be touring South Africa from August. Explaining the reason behind their The Best Side StoryTour, the band says: “Our usual performances are balls-to-the-wall rock production shows, where we make sure the crowd is exhilarated and stomping. This, however, is an unplugged, storytelling type of show that will let our fans in on our most intimate experiences. Sometimes the stories behind certain songs are not what people expect and to have the opportunity to share these stories is rare. With The Best Side Story Tour we hope that audiences will get to know us better; individually and as a band.” In addition, they add: “Touring is a fantastic way to go around the country and play to audiences and in venues that don’t usually get to see us perform.”
WONDERBOOM will perform their two act, unplugged show around South Africa on the following dates:
AUG 31 FRI MIDDELBURG Rustique Boutique
SEPT 6 THU JHB Barnyard Silverstar
SEPT 15 SAT JHB Casalinga
SEPT 21 FRI PLETT Barnyard Plett
SEPT 22 SAT CT Vinyl Knysna
SEPT 23 SUN CT Cafe Roux
SEPT 27 THU EASTRAND Barnyard Emperors
SEPT 28 FRI JHB Barnyard Rivonia
OCT 13 SAT WHITERIVER Barnyard Whiteriver
OCT 25 THU PTA Musiekskuur Rockwood
OCT 26 FRI KZN Caversham Mill
NOV 3 SAT BRITS Die Ou Pastorie
NOV 10 SAT JHB Radium Beer Hall
THE MEN BEHIND THE MUSIC
For founding member, lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Cito (Martin Otto), music is his life. He has been involved in the music industry since he was seventeen and wouldn’t change it for the world. “When I’m not on stage or in studio, music continues to pulse through my heart. I love the role that music plays in this bizarre existence. Music has the power to make or break you,” he says. As for finding inspiration, he never runs short: “Sometimes it’s a groove that I hear in my head, other times it’ll be a line that someone has said, that just sticks and demands to be elaborated. It’s also wonderful to collaborate and when Martin sits in with me, we come up with the craziest ideas. Playing on new or other instruments also inspires me.” Cito is currently working on a number of side projects – one of which is his debut solo album – and does music direction and sound design for corporate and special events.
Martin Schofield, founding member, lead guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, is a British born and African raised lover of dogs, guitars, travel, tattoos, bacon and 50’s culture. Having worked in the industry since the age of sixteen, he has a long list of career highlights, but cites “being in WONDERboom with my brothers and paying the bills from music” as his personal best. Musically, Billy Duffy, John Squire, John Fruciante and Brian Setzer have had the biggest influence on his style. Martin is currently working on several side projects with Cito. He also does studio/session work and deals in vintage and used musical instruments.
Bassist Wade Williams has also been with the band from the very beginning. He has loved music from a very young age and, while his style is akin to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea “because of my funky rock white boy thing”, it was George Michael’s special combination of production and emotion that got it all started for Wade. To him, playing live is an incredible privilege. “There are few better experiences than playing a show where you feel completely connected, as a band and with the audience. That’s what I live for.”
Drummer Jonathan Bell – who is also a qualified attorney – grew up in a musical family and has wanted to be a drummer for as long as he can remember. He started playing at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped since. He enjoys all kinds of music, from the Beatles to Elton John, and everything in between. While he lists playing Oppikoppi 2014 in front of a massive crowd and winning gold at the Silk Road Indie Music Festival in China as career highlights, he believes the best is yet to come.
WONDERboom is undeniably one of South Africa’s greatest musical success stories, and their latest offerings – from Praying Mantis to The Best Side Story Tour – is set to continue to cement their place as local rock legends.
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