Zebra & Giraffe - The Wisest Ones
'We'd always planned on doing a new album and now just seemed like the right time.' - Greg Carlin
It's hard to believe that it's already been two years since Zebra & Giraffe released 'The Inside'. It's even harder to believe that it's been four years since the band recorded their hugely successful, SAMA award-winning album 'Collected Memories'.
A lot has changed since then. Members have come and gone and the band's sound has moved from straight-up, radio-hit rock to a place far darker and more daring than even they could have imagined. Zebra & Giraffe's latest album, 'The Wisest Ones', is the result.
"We know some of the songs from this album won't be played on radio, and to a certain degree with 'Collected Memories' and 'The Inside', I always worried about a song's commercial appeal," says front man and lyricist, Greg Carlin. "With 'The Wisest Ones' we really just wrote songs that felt right - songs that almost needed to get out. Whether they had a catchy chorus, or a chorus at all didn't really matter.
"That's not to say there isn't a lot of catchy stuff on this album; there is. We just haven't been afraid to experiment with our sound and push ourselves with this album. It still sounds like us; like Zebra & Giraffe; but it's definitely darker, noisier, and lyrically, a lot more honest."
With Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, A Perfect Circle and Marilyn Manson having a significant influence on the mood of the album, The Wisest Ones showcases Zebra & Giraffe's desire to experiment while continuing to solidify their roots as one of South Africa's most prominent alternative-rock groups. Which is exactly why the band connected with US-based mix engineer, Mark Needham, who has worked with both seasoned performers, such as Chris Isaak, as well as up-and-coming artists.
"He's mixed some amazing stuff in his career and we managed to strike a deal with him where his long time assistant Will Briere mixes and Mark oversees. It's really worked out well - the mixes sound amazing. When Will and Mark sent a spec mix of 'All I Gave' - we went with them. They have not disappointed."
The album's first single, 'I'll Blame You' comes after a string of chart-topping hits for the band, which includes the hugely successful track, 'The Knife'. Having had 13 singles playlisted on national radio since their inception, seven from 'Collected Memories' and six from 'The Inside', Zebra & Giraffe are ready for the next chapter.
"It's been about six years since I wrote some of the first tracks for 'Collected Memories' and as a writer I definitely think I've matured and learnt a lot," says Greg. "As players, we have all grown and learned about our strengths and weaknesses. With every album that passes you learn new things. The lyrics are a lot more honest on this album and really reflect what I was going through when I wrote them."
While the departure of drummer Darren Leader and bassist Andrew Maskell threw the remaining members off guard, it simultaneously gave Zebra & Giraffe the fresh start they needed to record a new album.
"Mike moved over to the drums and I took on the keyboard and bass duties," says Greg. "We took a little trip to Plettenberg Bay, set up a small studio and just started writing and jamming. This really solidified the three of us as a group and we came back feeling like we had it in us to finish up the album. From there on out, the songs just started flowing and we loved how they sounded.
"We also decided to record in batches. We'd write three or four tracks and then book studio time to complete them. This really allowed us to get some breathing space and reflect on what we'd recorded up until then. It also helped create a flow in the writing process because we could listen to what we had and let that direct us."
Having sold over 25 000 albums, Zebra & Giraffe have certainly earned their place as one of South Africa's best-loved and most respected bands. They beat Coldplay and Green Day to win Best Alternative at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2009, and snatched the trophy for Best Rock Album in the same year at the South African Music Awards.
With nominations streaming in and singles on continuous radio rotation, it's no wonder Zebra & Giraffe were chosen to perform in front of 60 000 people alongside Oasis and Snow Patrol at the Coca-Coca Zero Fest. Later in 2009, The Killers picked Zebra & Giraffe to support them on the South African leg of their world tour, where the band performed to over 50 000 people.
This year, Zebra & Giraffe will focus on achieving success on both local and international levels. With a local album launch tour planned for September this year, the band will also be heading to the USA in October and Europe in early 2013. 'The Wisest Ones' will be available on iTunes worldwide and in music stores nationwide.
Release Date : 30 Jul 2012