SKYT MUTIES STORM THE BARRICADES
Skyt Muties have their roots in the alternative music scene of Joburg in the late 80s, and consist of Andrew Kay on bass and vocals, Dave Pickover on drums and Charles Grass on guitar.
The band formed in the wake left by the demise of Andrew’s glam-rock trash band the Party Dolls following a near-fatal motorbike accident that put him in hospital and left him out of action for a few months. Once he was back on his feet he worked in the props department on the Bles Bridges movie, and soon after, was approached by Dave Pickover and Stephen de Swardt to form a band. They used as their base of operations Stephen’s house on a farm outside Potchefstroom, where they would jam on weekends, and turn the volume up to 11.
“The Muties always had a BIG sound, as Stephen was partially deaf, so in order for him to hear anything we had to play really loud. Add to this Dave is a big lad, who knew only one way to play drums, and that was to pound the skins with all his might. Stephen was also in the business of making PA speakers, so we had an inside track to getting the gear we needed to play at top volume. I wanted our music to have a hard, industrial edge, which I felt should reflect the state of the nation at the time. Fashionable music had become soft, and I had this vision of a musical explosion in my head.”
Thus the Muties were born, the name taken from a character in 2000 AD, the pooular sci-fi comic that was best known for creating the character of Judge Dredd. The comic had at its core a humorously apocalyptic vision, and in one of the stories a mutant called Feral (half dog half human), a particularly rebellious mutant youth, had emblazoned on his T-shirt “Skate Muties” as he was a skater. Andrew adapted the name to take on the meaning of Skyt, as in a low-class South African male of questionable character. Andrew’s vision of SA was tempered by the vision in the comic, and this influenced the writing and early sound of the Muties. Andrew was also heavily influenced by the writing and songs of Jonathan Handley of the Radio Rats. In songs like 9mil, which have survived to this day and remain a firm crowd favourite, a gritty sci-fi edge posits the anti-hero in an uber violent, sexist and racist context, a comic-book portrayal of characters that were all too real in South Africa at the time, and naturally who remain so in the new, Democratic dispensation.
The Muties literally exploded onto the Joburg scene with a triumphant show at one of the Merv the Swerv events at Jamesons in 1989, that had on its bill the Genuines, the Dyslexics and the Unhinged, as well as many other great bands on the scene at the time.
“For some reason the Genuines decided to play a jazzy set that was laid back, and when we hit the stage, all hell literally broke loose,” remembers Kay. “It was incredible, chairs flying and a mosh pit that included the whole club, this mass of heaving humanity, sort of all screaming together as the Muties provided the soundtrack to a catharsis that was evidently in great need by the audience at the time. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before or since.”
Sadly, The Muties disbanded on Andrew’s artistic exile to Britian in the early 90s. “I had to leave as everything was freaking me out, I couldn’t take the hatred and violence anymore, and although our songs were violent, the Muties were definitely a peaceable band. We incorporated aspects of flower power into our apocalyptic vision, if you can picture such a thing.”
One could argue an early and tenuous link to sci-fi films such as District 9 and naturally the phenomenon that is Die Antwoord, who have expanded on the theme to a far greater depth. The Muties never limited themselves to the sci-fi angle, though and on Andrew’s return to the Beloved Country in the mid 90s The Muties reformed briefly. Andrew had taken up musical studies full time at the Wits School of Music, and had signed to peermusic SA, who fronted the money for a recording that became “unto Thine Own Self Be Cool”, five tracks recorded at Willem Moller’s Sharp Street studios. The writing is upbeat, melodic, catchy and carefree, a world away from the apocalyptic vision that was 9 mil, and also is a testament to the times in as much as the New SA was itself going through a honeymoon period of transformation during which so many positives seemed possible.
Gallo records showed interest in signing the band on the strength of the EP, and began negotiating on a deal with the Muties, which for various reasons never materialised, not the least being the band disbanded once more. Just before that happened though, the Muties recorded a number of tracks at Sharp Street with Willem Moller once again at the helm. Andrew is in contact with Willem at the present time, and who has so far unearthed a total of seven Muties tracks from the vaults, which will become the backbone of that first Muties album.
In the meantime Stephen de Swardt has tragically passed away, but after Dave contacted Andrew in 2012 and posted Unto Thine Own Self Be Cool on Youtube, it was decided to reform the Muties once more, and rope in the services of Charles Grass, with whom Andrew had worked in 2012 under the name AK and the 47s.
The Muties’ first gig is happening in Joburg on the 31st of October, literally 13 days before Andrew’s 50th birthday. The band is rehearsing the material off the EP, including 9 mil, and will showcase some more recent material that is more acoustically oriented, but which contains the characteristic bite and melody of the Muties of old. Thus far the Muties are also booked to be performing a New Year’s Eve bash in Estcourt, organised by Andi Grannersberger, a long-time friend of the Muties, and who recently pulled off a great musical weekend at Zingela Lodge.
For more info contact Andrew Kay on 082 456 2726, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Google Skyt Muties Unto Thine Own Self Be Cool to listen to those earlier Muties tracks.
You can hear tracks from Skyt Muties and a rare Party Dolls track on the NBTMusicRadio all over the 24 hour stream but specially during the 7 PM and 11 PM Berlin time slots
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