By Emily May
South African rock band Son Of Hawk are already creating a buzz in the South African music community, having formed last year in the surfing town of Jeffrey’s Bay. Comprised of Heine van der Walt (vocals/guitar), Nathan Combrink (drums) and Ashley Jilton Jacobs (bass), their self-titled debut album was released on August the 3rd to rave reviews, blending their combined influences of jazz, metal and rock and roll. Their style has been described as a mix between hard rock, swamp boogie, modern blues, ska and the occasional metal groove. The band has hit the ground running since forming, playing their first show four days after forming and going on their first national tour after only three weeks as a band! The band has been touring consistently over the past year, supporting fellow South African bands and making plenty of friends along the way. The band is very serious about not being too serious. While they take their musicianship very seriously, they also take great pride in helping people to let loose and have a good time! You can stay up-to-date with the band and all upcoming tour dates, as well as purchase and stream their music via the following links. You can check out the album below!
You released your debut album on August 3rd. What was the writing and recording process like for the album? You had several guest artists appear on the album. Who are some of your favorite South African artists/bands right now?
Heine- Hi Emily. We can always mention the established guys but we’re really digging the up and coming boys. We have great artists coming up like After Robot, Undertone, Stones & Gold, Dirty Moonshine, No Comply, and a lot more. There is something magical about seeing bands that are still hungry and passionate, it means so much watching them play with vigour and pouring love into every note…
You formed last year in the surfing town of Jeffrey’s Bay. What is the scene like there? What led you guys to come together to form Son Of Hawk? Do you feel that the combination of your various influences of rock and roll, metal and jazz to form something fun and different was part of the appeal?
Heine- The scene in Jbay is mostly acoustic, surf rock, blues, folk, covers, karaoke stars and the like. I guess we just played what we enjoyed and it turned out pretty well outside of our hometown, so I guess that’s where we’ll be if anyone is looking for us haha.
Having formed in 2017 and shortly thereafter performing your first shows and going on your first national tour, it sounds like things have happened very quickly for the band! What do you love most about being on the road and performing? Your stories have been said to be like something out of a Jack Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson novel. What have some of your most memorable experiences been so far?
Heine- Playing to big crowds is always a nice checkpoint. The most memorable gigs though are some of the smaller ones where people really lose their shit and go wild. As for road stories, it’s pretty much endless miles, stupid inside jokes, and reckless behaviour that gets us into tight spots, close brushes with the law, bar fights, broken hearts, and a few serious injuries.
Heine- You come from a rock and roll family with siblings who play in bands, as well. Aside from your brother Chris performing in fellow South African band The Black Cat Bones, you both are a part of the metal band Boargazm. What has it been like to have those familial connections in the South African music scene over the years?
It’s pretty rad having a bunch of likeminded brothers with similar taste in music doing this sort of thing professionally. Chris and I have always, at any given time, played in some or other band together and we probably take it for granted. We are privileged in a sense of sharing our networking and connections, but in the same breath, we are cut from the same cloth and are a clan. So when booking any of us, you know what you’re getting. I hope that’s a good thing hahaha.
Ashley- You were born in Cape Town and are a multi-instrumentalist. What inspired you to learn multiple instruments? I read that you spent 3 months abroad a while back in Amsterdam, performing with various hip hop and soul bands. What led you to Amsterdam and what was that experience like for you?
I went over for to do another degree at the music conservatorium in Amsterdam and ended up spending 7 years there actually. I’ve worked with some incredible artists and really found some insight as to how the industry work in Europe. It was truly eye opening.
Ashley- You performed a couple of years ago with a band called De Wallen in the Battle For Iron Maiden competition, in which the winner would be given the opportunity to open for Iron Maiden on the Carnival City stop of their Book Of Souls tour. Although De Wallen was not chosen as the winner, what was that experience like? Which Iron Maiden cover did you play?
Making new friends and playing music is always great. We did Wicker Man.
The band recently performed at Africa Bike Week, the largest free biker bash on the continent. How was the event? Do you guys ride motorcycles?
Heine- Yeah, Nathan commuted on a street bike, and I used to ride peewee motocross myself hah! But my dad is heavily into Harleys and my elder brothers ride enduro, so we grew up around the stuff. But the funny thing is that ABW is way different than most biker events. It’s really something special and the vibe is incomparable to others. The setting, professionalism, and production level is bar none.
In January, you guys transitioned from a 4-piece band to a 3-piece band after Andre Ludik parted ways with the band. How have you evolved as a band since then?
Heine- Well, we’re back to a 4-piece now, with the addition of Dale McHardy on guitars as well. That really took us to the next level.
Dale- You recently joined Son Of Hawk on guitar! How has being a part of the band been so far? What was it like for you to have your first show with them be at OppiKoppi Festival? You are also studying music performance at Campus Of Performing Arts (COPA). What are your plans once you graduate?
It has been an immense honour spending time with Son of Hawk. These guys are a constant party! Playing my first show with Son of Hawk at Oppikoppi was insane, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick this journey off. Only 4 shows in, and I can see that I’m going to love every moment with this band. COPA is a lekker place where I will get my honours degree in music performance by the end of the year, which is pretty cool. But I don’t really care too much about academics, I just want to make music and immerse myself in the magic of it all.
Heine- You have been in charge of operations at Wolmer Bush Lounge, an outdoor concert venue, in Pretoria. How involved with the venue are you currently? How often do you book shows there?
Unfortunately, Wolmer Bush Lounge hasn’t been operating since the winter of 2017. I was hands on, on the entertainment side, managing bookings and doing sound in the early days. Eventually, with the help of some great people and my parents being excellent owners/landlords/benefactors, the place really did turn into a haven for the alternative community of Gauteng. At the current moment, myself and two partners are opening a new venue closer to the center of Pretoria called JARR Bar, a new bastion of rock and roll and good times which is launching in the next few weeks.
I read that festival figures in Belgium (Pukklepop Festival) and South Africa (OppiKoppi Festival) have partnered for the launch of Matchbox live, a new live entertainment venue that aims to grown the South African live music industry by producing unique events and festivals. Do you feel that it is an exciting time to be be a part of the South African music scene?
Heine- It’s always an exciting time at any given moment. Sure, there is an ebb and flow when it comes to the trend at the time, but rock and metal, especially metal and alternative music, has always stood the test of time. Not only it is great to see new partnerships and brands doing exciting things and developing talent and commerce for a scene that is rather small when you look at the bigger picture, but it also helps to nurture and grow artists across the board, bringing together folks from across the genre spectrum. The more the merrier.
What’s next for you guys?
Heine- A new album and content is always on the horizon. Never look back, we just wanna crank out more and more till everyone is sick of us.