The Gumbo Ya-Ya’s are a three-piece garage rock band from Cape Town, South Africa. Melissa Williams caught up with their frontman, Heino Retief, for some words…
Did you ever think you’d be a songwriter, front man and a singer?
No, not really. I’ve always been intrigued by songwriters like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, front men like Lux Interior and singers like Roky Erickson, so I guess it was something that was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m just trying it out. I guess you’ll never know unless you try.
When The Future Primitives broke up, were you stressed out about what you’d do next?
It was more like losing a limb than anything else. I wasn’t stressed out, just knew I had to do something soon. The Gumbo Ya-Ya’s has been a long time coming, actually. I’ve had an idea of what I wanted to do for a while, and The Future Primitives calling it a day just gave me the push I needed to really pursue it.
How long did it take you to write all the songs and how many songs have you written since?
I’ve had ideas for a few songs for a while, but since the end of last year really started to focus on finalising those ideas and making them work. So I’ve basically written a lot of songs, scrapped some and written new ones in the process – so there are about 11 original ones at the moment. It was just me, my bass and some things I wanted to say at the time, utnil I started jamming with Warren in the beginning of January. I had guitars in mind, but no guitarist until Gio joined us in April.
Everyone was intrigued by your mystery guitarist, Gio. Where does he come from and what’s his vibe?
I met Giovanni around February/March at Clarke’s Bar And Dining Room, as one does. He’s from P.E. and lived in Europe for a while, he skates and, as I found out eventually, plays guitar like it’s nobody’s business. He’s the perfect third member in our little cult.
You guys have already recorded, how many songs did you do, where did you do it and what are you going to do with it?
Yeah, we pretty much recorded an album’s worth of songs in one day, 31 May 2014, to be exact. We recorded 12 tracks live on Johnny’s 8-track reel-to-reel tape machine, which we setup in a home-recording style studio.
You’re playing at The Pit this week. Why should people come watch The Gumbos?
The First Thursday events at The Pit are usually cool parties (especially because of the DJ’s or something) so we’re just really down to play, maybe whip out a new song or two and have a good time with all ya’ll. We’re just a bunch of charmbags, really.
Photo: Juliette Raymer
Catch them tomorrow night!