‘Here Comes The Man’ was a minor hit for Boom Boom Room. And the soundtrack to a moody ‘80s TV ad for something like aftershave or deodorant or perfume or cologne.
In 2004 The Parlotones made it their own, heralding almost a decade of South African ubiquity: six hit studio albums, a rock opera with accompanying 3D concert film, international tours, their own range of wines, shows supporting Coldplay and Snow Patrol, and even a KFC meal tie-in.
But last year the wheels almost came off.
First, singer Kahn Morbee damaged his vocal chords.
“I always had a permanently gruff voice and at certain times it would just break or crack or change. I just knew something was wrong,” he shares, on the line from South Africa.
He was diagnosed with polyps.
“I was pretty devastated when the doctor told me,” he remembers, “but, thankfully, I could have the surgery, the damage wasn’t too bad, and I followed the proper recovery routine, so things turned out well.”
The problems weren’t over, though. Just months later, the band— rounded out by drummer Neil Pauw, bassist Glen Hodgson, and guitarist Paul Hodgson — split from the manager who’d helped them reach the top.
“We realised that, although we’d had a good relationship with our ex-manager, it wasn’t right for us any longer and, in order to ensure the stability and longevity and togetherness of the band, we needed to separate,” says the singer, who admits group were shaken by the experience.
“We were in a negative space because we weren’t happy with the working experience, so I think we might have contemplated breaking up for about five minutes,” confesses Morbee. “But it never materialised.”
The solution — managing themselves — has, like Morbee’s vocal troubles, turned out well.
“We’re in a much better place,” shares the frontman, “and we’re also enjoying the awareness of knowing exactly what’s going on in our business.”
And, in 2015, that business is booming: two exhaustive South African tours, Morbee’s first solo album, the singer’s appointment as a coach on ‘The Voice’ (“I’m really looking forward to it.”) , planned performances with a 10-piece chamber ensemble, an extended run of shows across Europe and the UK, and a new album, ‘Antiques & Artefacts’.
“It was recorded over the span of about four albums,” explains Morbee of the new release. “What would often happen is we’d document some songs as demos or get halfway through a song for an album and not complete it. So we had all these songs floating around as well as a couple in our heads that weren’t completed that we thought had potential.”
That potential has been realised on stage where the new songs have been going down a storm alongside hits like ‘Push Me To The Floor’ and ‘Giant Mistake’.
“It’s been really cool. The shows have been awesome, the reactions have been great, so it’s really good to be on the road and on the stage,” says Morbee.
“Look, it can be physically draining and you’re always on the go, but if you love what you do, it doesn’t really feel like work,” adds the singer ahead of a performance that, like all Parlotones shows, will begin with a round of high-fives backstage.
This week they’re bringing that energy to London — both on stage and off.
“I’ve got a shitload of friends in London so I just try and catch up with them when I have time,” says Morbee of his plans. “I just do what they do, go to their local, hang with them. Obviously I’ve done touristy stuff but, to be honest, I’m not much of a tourist. I get there with the best of intentions and then I see the queues and I’m out,” he laughs.
So don’t expect to run into him at the London Eye. Catch him and the band at O2 Academy Islington instead.
- For the latest on The Parlotones visit their website.