South African Agro-Pop band Ethyl Ether plays music that’s not Rock n Roll, not Punk Rock and not Pop but something on the fringes of all three genres. They have simply named the sound of their band Agro Pop. Comprised of Andrew Charles Paine (vocals/guitar), Pabs (bass/vocals) and Pat Naidoo (drums), the band formed just over 2 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa and have been playing regular gigs to get there name and music out there to the masses. The band has released 2 albums, The Pleasure Room and the newly released Museum of Human Error, as well as their live Into Chaos EP. They will be releasing their 3rd album, Chrome Neon Jesus, later this year and recently released the first single from the album, “Cold Black Soul”, which was inspired by the realities of failed relationships and the negative feelings associated with them. They released a video for the song, which you can watch below, which was directed by Adam Donnelly and Denton Carstens of Zangtar Productions. With plenty of goals for 2019, including their hope to play their their first festival this year, these guys are sure to keep growing as a band and forging ahead into a bright future. You can follow the band and stay up-to-date with all band and album news and upcoming tour dates, as well as stream and purchase their music via the following links.
Ethyl Ether formed a little over 2 years ago and you guys have already put out 2 albums and an EP, with a third album on the way! Having recorded a lot of music in a relatively short amount of time, what is your process for writing songs? Andrew, I read that you do the songwriting in the band. What inspires your lyrics?
Andrew or Pabs present ideas or riffs to the rest of the band and it kind of grows from there. It’s an organic process with no set structures. Andrew finds a lot of his own personal writing comes from jamming/practise at home. His lyrics are inspired by life and the situations we often find ourselves in.
Did you all grow up in creative/musical homes and aspire to have a career in music? What led you to form a band together and what has it been like to combine all of your different musical influences into what you call “agro-pop”?
Andrew: I grew up in a family of piano players and in my early twenties was an aspiring DJ (untz untz) and developed from there into guitar playing.
Pabs: From the age of 6 my father started showing me the ins and outs of rock n’roll by exposing me to great music and it was then that I realised that I wanted to be as cool as my idols (still trying).
Pat: I started getting interested in music after watching live bands perform in my brother’s pub about 14 years ago. I was immediately drawn towards the drum kit and knew I wanted to be a drummer, especially focusing on rock, grunge and metal. My family is very musical and my uncles and other members of the Indian community had their own bands so I grew up around music. Mostly traditional Indian music of course. My dad was a keen vinyl collector so I guess that was the spark.
After Andrew left a punk rock band that he had been in for approximately 6 years, he recorded the first Ethyl Ether Album ‘The Pleasure Room’ with sessions musicians, with the hope of recruiting like minded band mates. He presented the album to Pabs who was also keen to jam “within a hassle free environment”. After a few months of drummers coming and going, we found Pat in a dodgy bar in Southfield (haha)! The natural combination of our varied musical tastes resulted in what we have proudly coined as ‘Agro Pop’. On the occassional morning Pabs has an agro poop…hahaha!
Andrew- I read that the first album released under the Ethyl Ether name, The Pleasure Room, was done by you with the assistance of session musicians. What can you tell me about the early stages of the project? What was the experience like in making that album and how has it been different to make the subsequent albums with the band?
I put together a bunch of songs with a punk/grunge/pop sound to try cleanse my pallette from the previous band that I had been in. It is always great to work in studio but the subsequent experience of working with band mates and their input is always better.
You recently got a new logo for the band. What can you tell me about the idea behind the design?
Andrew was rather interested in the nuclear fallout at Chernobyl and the band name Ethyl Ether is a play on words of the chemical and a female name. We captured the combination of the two in an image.
Pablo- You directed the music video for “Dead and Buried” from the album Museum of Human Errors. How did you come to direct the video and what was the experience like?Did you go into the process with an idea of how you wanted the video to look? Do you practice videography often?
The first time we met Pat at his cafe I was really baked and immediately got a feel of Tarantino’s ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’. On the way home I mentioned the idea to Andrew and knew exactly how I wanted the video to come out with me being a B grade horror fan. Having watched so many B grade movies, I guessed I was the guy to direct it as I knew exactly what I wanted. Having a low budget and a contact who could film the video made me put on my director’s socks and give it a shot. Andrew and myself like to film skits so I guess that we practice videography pretty often. Keyword on ‘practice’.
Pablo- Aside from the band, you also own your own brewery! How did you become involved in brewing your own beer and what has it been like to own and operate your own brewery?
I really love beer…and good beer, so I started reading up on brewing my first batch and the result was really good. I started making homebrew for a fine dining restaurant and in the first night sold out a month’s worth of stock. About five months into that, I got the opportunity to go commercial which has been a dream come true….being surrounded by music and beer with my mates is all you need in life.
Andrew- You also perform with the band Filthy Hippies and have a solo electronic project called Paradigm Shift. Is it challenging to juggle three different bands and what inspired your solo project? Do you feel that being involved with so many projects helps to keep the creative juices flowing?
It is not really challenging at all. Paradigm Shift is an electronic music project that I do in my spare time. I manage to balance my available time between Ethyl Ether and Filthy Hippies. Yes it keeps my varied creative juices flowing.
Patrick- You also own a cafe in South Africa called Chilli Cafe. Have you always had a love of cooking? How long have you owned the cafe and do you have a specialty dish?
The business was started by my folks 30 years ago, we kind of grew up in the business learning about food. I don’t have any formal training in food apart from 20 years experience in the kitchen learning from my mom and my aunt and various other members of my family that have restaurants. Our speciality dish would definitely be our curries. Lamb, chicken or vegetable curry.
You guys played a charity event for the South African animal rescue organization Tears in 2017 and are champions for animal rescue and welfare. Have you had a life-long love for animals and the desire to advocate on their behalf? How did you become involved with the charity event and do you perform for charity often?
We are all animal lovers. Pat and Pabs have rescue hounds and Andrew has rats and a cat. The charity show was brought to our attention and we jumped at the opportunity. We are always keen to participate in animal charity events as it is a cause very close to our heart.
Your lead guitarist Adam Brandon recently left the band to move to Amsterdam. Do you feel that the addition of a new lead guitarist will alter the sound and dynamic of the band in a significant way?
No we will break his fingers to make him sound like Adam…haha! On a serious note, we have a very specific sound so finding a guitarist to fill those shoes can be somewhat challenging as well as finding a good fit for the band.
You will be releasing your third album entitled Chrome Neon Jesus later this year. What can you tell me about the album and what people can expect? How do you feel it compares to the previous albums?
Chrome Neon Jesus will be the first album entirely produced by the band. This album will showcase some of our best work. The album consists of ballsy guitars and drums with sweet melodies and hooks that will be stuck in your head forever.
You also released a music video in January for the track “Cold Black Soul” from the upcoming album. What can you tell me about the making of the video and the idea behind it?
‘Cold Black Soul’ was shot during the course of a day at Andrew’s place. We tried to capture the essence of the Ethyl Ether spirit in the video.
What’s next for the band?
We have just gotten Adam 2.0 and are busy practising so that we can hit the live circuit again. We have many plans and aspirations for 2019 and are hoping to play our first festival this year.