Catherine Grenfell: Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you were musically influenced.
Simon Hodgson: I was raised in a musical home. I am one of three brothers and we all had our fair share of music lessons at various stages. We all learnt to love music at an early age. I remember being permanently tuned in to 5fm (or Radio 5 as I recall it!) and loving the likes of Bon Jovi, Chesney Hawkes, and yes, Roxette! In later years I became obsessed with Counting Crows. My favourite local band as a teen was Henry Ate – I recently downloaded their iconic album ‘Slap In The Face’ and am rediscovering why I loved it so much back then. I think the first gig I ever went to was Sugardrive, and since then I’ve been to hundreds of local gigs and seen so many amazing local bands. Then again, I’ve also seen many not-so-awesome local bands, but hey, I love that they gave it a go anyway!
Both of my brothers, Paul and Glen pursued music full time and have been in The Parlotones since the bands inception. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to see them play everywhere from shady, half empty venues through to headlining at the Dome and playing at the opening of the 2010 World Cup. I am so proud of what the band has accomplished – they are proof of what is possible in the South African music industry!
I have remained involved in music over the years, mostly through my involvement in the media. I have also been a judge at the South African Music Awards for the past six years.
CG: What is Love SA Music all about?
SH: Love SA Music is a platform that exists to promote our amazing local music industry. We have been accused in the past as trying to get people to blindly support all local music just for the sake of it being local. That is not what we’re about. We just feel that there is a monumental amount of brilliant local music out there – which often lacks our support. Love SA Music is a platform to expose and promote what we feel is good local talent.
CG: What made you start Love SA Music?
SH: Seeing far too many great local bands playing to empty venues, and seeing far too many excellent local albums sitting in the discount bins at music shops.
CG: Did you ever want to be in a band?
SH: Of course! Doesn’t every guy dream of being a rock star?! I am a musician and have played in a couple of different contexts here and there. I’m actually toying with the idea of recording some stuff at the moment. If I do, of course Love SA Music readers will be the first to know about it!
CG: What do you think of the SA music industry at the moment?
SH: I am honestly so stoked about the local music industry. I have recently completed a series of showcasing local upcoming artists at Montecasino and have once again been blown away by the depth of talent we have in this country. (You can see videos and interviews with these artists on this site). I think that although the industry is young it is growing and developing quickly and effectively. I reckon a big problem lies in the lack of quality support structures for bands and artists. It seems to me that for every decent manager or promoter there are twice as many dodgy ones. But I think as the industry grows this will improve. I love seeing more local tours, more local festivals, more and more opportunities for bands to follow their dreams. I still think there is a lack of excellent live music venues in this country.
CG: What makes a band stand out to you?
SH: There are a few things that make a band stand out to me. The first thing that stands out to me is how long they’ve stuck it out. Bands tend to come and go so quickly, so when I see a band that is willing to give it more than five minutes I pay attention. From an industry perspective, it really irritates me when a new band takes themselves too seriously and think they can immediately charge the same rate to book them as that of a long established band. I think it’s right to make money from shows, but I also wonder where the bands are that are wiling to do whatever it takes to get themselves out there. If I had a newly formed band I would play wherever and whenever I could – because this says far more about a band than any well-crafted press release! Make your passion the main thing, and the money will follow. Bands that are obviously enjoying their journey and having fun doing what they do definitely stand out to me too.
CG: Any advice for young upcoming bands about doing it on their own.
SH: My advice is that you can do it on your own. We are living in a time where the tools are available to you – you no longer need to wait for that elusive big record deal. My advice is to build up a solid fan base, play, play, play, develop good working relationships with the media, get your music out there, and continue to play, play, play!
Also see Simon’s interview with Catherine here: http://lovesamusic.co.za/?p=1428