In five years of running GigRadar, we’ve only previously featured two bands from Africa. But we’re putting that right with the thrilling melodic rock sound of largely Johannesburg-based HeadFury, who summarise themselves as “three super sexy dudes making killer tunes just for fun.”
The band is actually a remote collaboration between Vince van der Walt (guitar and bass) and Wayne de Bruyn (drums), who are based in Johannesburg, and vocalist Gideon Kretschmer, who lives in Frankfurt, Germany. Despite forming the band last year, Vince and Gideon actually met way back in 2005 when their separate bands signed to independent South African label Musketeer Records.
As they explain: “Wayne performed in the same scene and the initial creative connections and drunk memories were made. Fast forward 15 years and Wayne is sitting in a jam room with Vince laying down the music for what is to become HeadFury. A WhatsApp share to Gideon was all that he needed to get on-board – this music needed to be heard! A few rounds of remote pre-production later and we were in the studio laying down our first EP A New World, which released in November 2020 via our German label HopePunk Records.
“Since then the creative floodgates have been opened and we’ve written a whole bunch of cool new songs that we’re slowly working through, demo-ing and getting ready for the studio.”
The trio have honed an engaging rock sound that they describe as “energetic, melodic and emotive.” As they explain: “We’re hard rockers by heart, and our sound is for sure influenced by the bands we grew up with during the 90s, early 2000’s, so you’ll hear some clear grunge, ‘American’ hard rock flavours which we spice up with more modern elements and vocal treatments ranging from alternative to metalcore to post rock.
“We believe this gives our sound a bit of a unique flavour. And our sound continues to evolve as we write and find our true creative spirit as a band, so we try not to put too much limits on where it might go, And its not all heavy and hard, we love a good ballad or acoustic anthem, as long as the song is good we try it out. Our debut hopefully shows a bit of this range.”
Our latest taste of this is the band’s debut EP A New World, from which our first taste was the EP’s opening track and lead single Paleface. It opens up with a cool little stabbing riff, which develops and kicks on under a huge scream and driving drums. That drops into an opening verse of engaging vocals and driving guitars and drums. It ends on a big scream that feeds into a powerful but catchy chorus “Sinking your teeth in, Why always alone? Uniform ironed with white guilt, It’s the end of the road, There you’re shakin’ in shiny boots, gold. See now your vile game is over, It’s the end of the road.”
It dives straight into another verse and variation on the chorus before a more atmospheric section of engaging vocals. A final blast of the chorus ends on heavy guitars that continue under big screamed vocals for a dramatic ending.
On the track, the band told us: “It released on 14 May with a really fun guerrilla-style DIY music video that we shot and edited all on iPhones, a super fun but challenging process. The reception has been really positive, and it’s been cool reading all the positive and supportive comments, a big thanks to everyone that’s taken the time to give it a spin and sharing your thoughts.
“The song itself is a good example of the core HeadFury sound – heavy and powerful, but also accessible, catchy and full of honest emotion. Lyrically the song deals with the fight against social injustice and what’s been happening around the world in recent years.” Check it out in the video below:
There’s much more where that came from on the debut EP, including powerful but engaging second track Phantom Lover. But a personal favourite is their debut single Monterrey, which opens with a cool heavy riff that drops into light vocals that develop into a big chorus. Check it out in the video below:
HeadFury’s music has been shaped by a range of different bands and styles which, despite Wayne’s best efforts to corrupt his bandmates with Westlife and One Direction, include the likes of Deftones, Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge, Chevelle, Sevendust, Tool, Stone Sour and Architects.
And on what influences them to write music, they tell us: “As most bands would probably answer this one, we try to keep it personal and authentic. We draw from personal experiences, whether it be dealing with personal loss, fighting inner demons or external oppressions, rising above challenges – real emotional experiences, but mostly with a positive underlying message.
“But we also tend to focus on the music and the emotional response this triggers vocally, letting the words and meaning flow from that, rather than the other way around, so sometimes it can be a bit abstract lyrically. On our debut, Gideon also collaborated with writing partner and Thailand based author Ramon Rabie – his amazing way with words helped capture some of the key messages that the songs needed to tell.”
As alluded to, we’ve only previously covered one South African band, so we asked the band for their thoughts on their local scene. They told us: “The SA rock/metal scene is definitely thriving in terms of the amount and quality of great bands and music. And while some of our bands are finding some real success overseas (Seether, Facing the Gallows), we think the rest of the world is largely missing out on the great music coming from SA.
“But the scene in SA is tough for bands, and the audience for rock/metal music is quite small (although they are awesome) and many great bands have fallen by the way side over the years, which is sad. Given the fact that our vocalist and label sits overseas we’re trying to break away some of the barriers of being based at the tip of Africa (mentally or real physical barriers), by trying to build a real connection with fans and friends overseas as well as in SA, from the start. But it’s a tough challenge for sure, especially these days. That’s why we try to keep the focus on the creative process, having fun just jamming and creating cool new songs together.”
HeadFury are already working on their next batch of songs and plan to release new music later this year ahead of another EP or album. They also have plans to play shows in South Africa and Europe when the world normalises enough to make that possible.
And the band adds: “Just check us out if you haven’t yet heard what we sound like, maybe you’ll find your new favourite band. And a huge thanks to everyone that has supported us so far!”