Q&A: Conrad Jamneck Of The Fake Leather Blues Band

POSTED: By William Welfare

We chat about The FLBB's onstage rivalry with the Black Cat Bones; this year's STRAB festival and more

The Black Cat Bones vs. The Fake Leather Blues Band
The Black Cat Bones vs. The Fake Leather Blues Band
Louise Pieterse

He's the son of legendary Afrikaans comedian, storyteller, musician and actor Jammies Jamneck and the brother of folk duo Hoot 'n' Annie's frontman, Franco Jamneck. He's the guy who sources the bands and does the stage, sound and lighting logistics at the annual STRAB music festival in Mozambique. For the past 11 years, he has also been fronting The Fake Leather Blues Band. His name is Conrad Jamneck.

But you knew that, didn't you? If you haven't seen him and his legendary, graffiti-styled VW-combi [named Maybelline] at Up The Creek, Oppikoppi, Otterlake, White Mountain Folk Festival or Splashy Fen, then you've been living under a rock these past 15 years.

The Fake Leather Blues Band is all about entertainment and having fun with serious musicians who can play "the living crap out of their instruments". With only a handful of rehearsals, they rely on their instincts and skills to always pull off the gigs. Their most recent live show sees them collaborating with The Black Cat Bones in a theatrical stand-off – both bands battling it out on stage to see who can rock the hardest with the help of some magic tricks.

Rolling Stone caught up with Jamneck to chat about these live battles and what we can expect from their set at this year's 10th anniversary STRAB festival.

The Fake Leather Blues Band is known for being a live band first and foremost. Why haven't we seen an album yet?

It's a dream of ours! No two Fake Leather shows are the same, a lot of improvising, sometimes something we have never even played – The Fake Leather Blues/Reggae/Disco/Funk/Jazz et cetera. What we are planning is to bring out a double album, live on the one "side", and in studio on the other "side". So watch this space....

What's the story behind The Black Cat Bones vs. The Fake Leather Blues Band stand-off?

I got the idea randomly one evening after... shall I say, a few drinks ... and this is, like, five years ago, believe it or not. I just thought it has to and will work. I phoned Mr. André Kriel [Black Cat Bones guitarist] and asked him what he thought of the idea. His reply: "Fuck Yeah!"

Two drum kits, two bass amps, four (sometimes up to six) guitar amps, depending on how many surprise artists we invite – a choir of front men... and there we go... an extravaganza of solos, magic tricks, voodoo, energy. A circus of laughs, fun, love and rock 'n' roll! [Laughs]

When it comes to STRAB festival you source the bands; do stage, sound and lighting logistics and you perform... Is there anything you don't do? How do you cope with all this multi-tasking?

I do not eat warm tomatoes! [Laughs] How do I cope? I have a partner, Andries Burger... he has taught me so much, yip, even rock 'n roll can be filed and labelled. STRAB has a small, but seriously potent team... it will be impossible to do any of this without them. With Fake Leather... I fake it, brother. If you can't take it... fake it.

What's the biggest misconception about the STRAB festival?

The ocean is there the whole year through. We did not organise that.

Seeing as this is the 10th year anniversary of the festival, are you guys planning something special?

Hold on to them hats ... that's all I am going to say.

*Rolling Stone SA's Podcast - Ep 13. STRAB Organisers Andries Burger & Conrad Jamneck*

STRAB - The Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience - is one of kind music festival in Mozambique will take place from 21 - 25 May 2014. Bookings are now open.

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