The Fokofpolisiekar book revealed a large part of your early years public knowledge. Was the release of that amount of personal information into the public domain difficult? Being a relative private person, is the notion that it is public knowledge something that at times bothers you?
At first I thought it would make me feel weird, but Annie the author of the biography has become a close friend and she handled the subject with the utmost respect. I think ultimately the sharing of that personal information helps the reader empathise and relate to the lyrics and our story. There is of course a lot of stuff that is not mentioned in the book :)
Let's quickly touch on a subject that has been asked of you over and over. How did you inevitably make the choice between (Fokof offshoot bands) Die Heuwels Fantasties and aKING?
It was getting ridiculous playing in 3 bands. Something was going to have to give. Heuwels is on my own label. Andrew was originally also earmarked to play in aKING. It just made sense. It was the easiest and most logical solution, so that's how we knew it was the right one. I don't think people should try to categorise me. They'll end up feeling disappointed.
Being a strong musical force yourself, playing behind dynamic frontmen who thrive in the spotlight like Pierre Greef and Francois van Coke – how you experience the almost shadow-like roll ?
To be honest – I prefer it that way. I'm not a frontman and right now I don't ever want to be one.
Your lyrics refer to personal experiences and issues. Is it difficult to hand them over to a frontman, and have him make it his own, and many times – unknowingly – get credited for it?
Francois, Pierre and Laudo are 3 of my best friends. We talk about everything and know everything about each other. The performance of the lyric by someone else creates a sort of universal appeal. This helps with the accessibility thereof. It's not difficult at all to hand them over – keeping in mind that it is collaboration a lot of the times. The frontmen you mentioned are in my opinion some of the finest vocalist in the country, so them being credited for it is not something that bothers me - I don't worry about that kind of petty shit.
Since the birth of Fokof, you have secured your own cult-like following – many already referring to you as a bona fide rock legend within in the SA music industry. It must at times get difficult to keep your ego under wraps – keeping your mind in that neutral almost Zen-like place. How do you go about managing yourself?
(Laughs.) It doesn't affect me daily. I'm only really confronted with it at shows, so that naturally makes it quite easy to put it out of mind the rest of the time. Not really a lot of thought goes in to the "managing of myself". I love what I do and I feel proud and fortunate doing it. To quote Lucas in Dazed and Confused: "Who knows where ideas come from?" I don't feel comfortable with taking all the credit, but it is nice to know that people acknowledge your work.
In a band, there is usually one specific individual who takes charge of the writing of lyrics – Heuwels has very strong writers in yourself, Greeff and den Hertog. It's obvious that the three of you have very different personalities – and obviously a different line of thought and method of expression. How do you balance the creativity when writing your material? How do you make it work, without killing each other during the writing and producing process?
We try to put the song first. Obviously it's a constant tug of war, but being 3 makes it easier to vote. Sometimes more of one personality will shine through on a specific song. For instance Philip (our drummer) jokingly refers to "Klein Tambotieboom" as my song and "Leja" as Pierre's. We both contributed defining moments to each of those songs though.
How do you handle a situation when you are not happy with the end result of a collaborative piece?
It's each person's responsibility to voice their opinion. Inevitably an opportunity will present itself to comment on the piece before it's solidified in the recording process. We're all on the same page most of the time. We talk a lot and I think we're pretty in tune with each other's state of mind. It's silly to think that the song is going to turn out the way you planned it.
Hunter Kennedy the writer... ever thought of actively pursuing that avenue of your craft – journalist, novelist, screenwriter?
I was a columnist for Die Jong Burger at a stage and I wrote some pieces for Blunt magazine and maybe some other stuff. I tried to study English Literature through Unisa, but forgot about it in the 2nd semester! My fiancée and I wrote a children's book for her final year - 2 years ago - called "Ek Wil Voel Hoe Dit Voel om te Voel" ("I Want to Feel How it Feels to Feel"). I've written a screenplay for a comedy series with Rufio Vegas called 'Glorie Dae' ("Glory Days"). We'll see if it gets picked up. I'm going to see if I can write a screenplay for a film this year. So yes, I am interested, but it's tough finding the time.
Supra Familias – you have some big names under your label – Jack Parow, Van Coke Kartel and the emerging excitement that is Thieve. Managing/producing such big names in the industry must be challenging and time consuming – yet extremely fulfilling. How do you balance out Supra whilst still touring the country with one of the biggest bands in SA?
The internet makes it easier (laughs). But on a more serious note, we have great managers and booking agents in guys like Wynand (Myburgh), Pierre (Greeff) and Morgan Ross from G-management. A double-booking happens occasionally, but it works out in the end.
Is there anything left for Heuwels to conquer? Taking this into consideration - do fears of stagnation, boredom and failure to meet the standards you as a band have now set up for yourselves, ever manifest in your mind?
Of course it does, but dwelling on those thoughts wouldn't be productive. We constantly push ourselves in Heuwels and we're four very dynamic people. It's a lot of fun and right now we're moving. I'll think about that shit when it happens.
You and Greeff have reached that point in your lives where you are ready to start settling – Congrats on your respective engagements, by the way. How does a musician balance out his craft, and his personal life?
Thanks! We try to keep our schedules mellower. We're at home a lot more this year than we were last year. I spend every spare moment with my fiancée.
But it is a challenge. We don't have weekends together like "normal" couples do. There are positive and negative aspects – but an important aspect driving me, is having 100% job satisfaction.
Give me a one-liner that best describes Hunter Kennedy.
When will I learn? Life's answers don't lie at the bottom of a bottle, it's on TV!