This interview was originally published for Seether-Online.com on February 5, 2012.
Hailing from South Africa, Herotide have been making a name for themselves. Started by John Dirker after breaking his back from a dirt bike accident, the band has trudged its way through the local music scene attracting much attention. Beginning with a 5FM Unearthed contest under the name Switchback, Dirker ended up winning the contest with the song “Troublegirl.” It’s never been about selling millions of records and claiming fame for them. They do what they love, and it shows through their music. Occasionally, criticized for trying to imitate bands like Seether and Theory Of A Deadman, the truth is that they just write what they feel, and any similarities are simply coincidence. Dirker’s personal story of how he started writing music is inspirational, to say the least. Being laid up in bed, losing many who were close to him, and almost never walking again, it’s a testimony to something greater looking out for him. It’s something that has inspired others and helped them keep going.
There’s a certain honesty in your lyrics that I feel anyone can relate to. How do the lyrics come about when writing your songs?
Thank you. Yeah, I just write about what bothers me, or what is going through my head. I don’t try and be a poet or over think it at all, or try and impress people that I have a vocabulary, just plain English and plain feelings. We all have love, miss, hate, etc.
For most of the fans I’ve talked to, “Want You” is the reason they started listening to Herotide. For me, the song “Friend” was the song that hooked me when I first heard it. While most of your other songs are upbeat, this one slows down the tempo and seems somewhat mournful. What was the inspiration behind “Friend?”
You are so right about “Want You.” I think it’s the song and sound people liked, and that they can compare it to their favorite artists, place it so to speak. It wouldn’t be bad idea doing a music vid for it.
“Friend” — The inspiration about that song was from being in the hospital. I had many, many friends, until I broke my back. I could count them on my right hand. I wrote it lying on my back and the words just came out by itself from what I was feeling.
Within the last year, your fan base has exploded and you are playing RAMfest 2012. What are you anticipating for that festival?
Thank you, it surely has. It’s merely ‘cause I got members again and we started doing shows. Thats how it all flamed up again. We landed some big gigs as a new band “Herotide” doing a massive New Year’s show and Ramfest coming up. The Festival should be cool and very well received. They will be having it in 5 cities across S.A.
Being in the US, I haven’t had the privilege to see Herotide play any shows. What songs do you usually play in a setlist?
It depends what crowd there is. We always have to feel them, or if it’s a conservative setting, but “Track of Time,” “Losing Me,” and “Want You” are normally on the setlist, but we always throw in new ones and test them out too.
What’s your favorite song to play live?
Track of Time
I originally discovered your music because I found a blog saying you sounded a little like Shaun Morgan of Seether. How do you feel about people making comparisons to what you write and other bands?
Yeah it’s becoming old news, its irritating, but it’s a good and bad thing at the same time. But I guess it makes people notice right? lol nothing against Shaun or Seether though, cause I know him. He’s even been at my Recording Studio, Tanglewoods Studios, and home.
I guess it’s the Nirvana influence we both have, my accent and my voice, like Sick Puppies from Australia. There’s a few bands in Australia that sounds similar to them ‘cause of the vocals department.
What does your pedalboard look like when it comes to effects. Is it the standard clean/distortion, or are there other nuances that you add?
I play with a Mesa Boogie Triple rectifier with 4/12 Cab.
The core of Herotide has been you and your brother Andre. Is that how the band started?
Not at all. Long story short, there’s been many members that have come and gone and that’s actually how Andre started. He saw with what nonsense I had to put up, he wanted to do it. Well he pulled it off big time and now I couldn’t ask for a better drummer, and being my brother, what a bonus.
You’ve been competing against other bands in the South African music scene for almost a decade now. How do the other bands differ in sound from what you do?
There aren’t bands really from SA that has a similar sound to us. Most have a Indie sound, like The Killers. A lot play with synths and tracks, or your metal bands.
Halo was released in 2008 under the name Track Of Time. You changed your name from Switchback to Track Of Time, to Herotide now. The one thing that I’ve noticed remained consistent through most of it was the use of the angel wings in your logos and promotional material. What is the meaning behind the wings?
Yea, both names ended up with legal issues, but hey at least we have a name now that comes up first on all search engines haha.
The angel wings inspiration comes from me being nearly paralyzed, like I had a guardian angel watching over me, and that I could walk again.
When can we expect the next album to be released, and what is the possibility for you to be signed by a major label?
We will be releasing EP’s this year. It’s more material and content in a short span, and then do a album compilation after a cycle.
Don’t know about the major label thing as we haven’t given it any thought. The industry isn’t big here, well for English rock there isn’t. There was a lot of interest in the U.S. from many industry people. Roadrunner was one of them. I even have the e-mails still, but each time when something great happened, it fell through. I guess its cause were on a different continent, and it’s a risk for them, but who knows what the future holds or who’s eyes are looking at us.
You’ve recently played Mossel Bay, the KFC sessions, and other huge shows, and it seems like Herotide is gaining momentum. What’s in the near future for you guys?
Thank you, it’s just keeping at it and what you love to do!
We will be doing a crossover to a different language Afrikaans and release Afrikaans material that were currently busy with but join us to see what were up to www.facebook.com/herotide.